What's a “blog hop”? It's a trail of links from one author's website/weblog to another. This trail leads to articles about the characters populating books in progress, soon to be published, or recently released novels. Now meet mine: Nick Andrews, an American who joined the Army just in time for the Korean War.
I created a story set in Korea during the war there to explore this issue. I created a character, Nick Andrews, an ordinary person with whom readers can identify. He's been well-trained to fight as an Army Ranger, but never taught to kill. That's a skill that can only be learned on the battlefield.
No, he's not an agent from the CIA or MI5. He's no James Bond cavorting with the rich and infamous. Nick is a ghost. He's a man who enters enemy territory, hides in plain sight, gathers intel, and walks out.
America had such military spies until Harry Truman signed the act establishing the Central Intelligence Agency. I knew a couple of them. One was a US Marine who made a couple of trips to mainland China to observe their military capabilities. It took several years for the CIA to assert their political power and eventually induce Congress to defund the various military spy operations. The Army's spy school at Fort Holabird, Maryland, where I was once a guinea pig testing systems for learning foreign languages, is now a memory.
CIA agents work differently than military spies. They recruit and handle indigenous personnel. My hero, Nick Andrews avoids them until he can't. Then he blends in.
How does a soldier become a spy? In Nick's case, it's by accident. He's the sole survivor of an Army Ranger reconnaissance patrol that parachutes onto the heads of a Chinese horde crossing the Yalu River into North Korea. General MacArthur assured President Truman that the Chinese wouldn't become involved in the Korean War, but he was wrong.
Trapped behind enemy lines, Nick follows them south trying desperately to rejoin the American forces who are retreating ahead of the invading Chinese. Along the way Nick makes detailed observations of enemy supply depots, ammo and fuel dumps, and the places where they hide from warplanes during the day. His records are sufficiently accurate to direct attacks on these strategic targets because, as a boy, Nick has learned and practiced the art of navigation. With nothing more than a compass and a notepad, he is able to craft his own maps and plot targets with uncanny accuracy.
Although Nick attempts to avoid all contact, contact with refugees is inevitable. A young female Korean intern, trained in medicine in America, attaches herself to Nick in hope that he will help her survive. An American deserter and the survivors of a civilian massacre he is escorting, join Nick's band. Finally, a Gurkha, the consummate warrior, teaches Nick his skills.
My story is a lesson in the harsh realities of war. It's true history played out with fictional characters. Maybe, it will help readers better understand their own feelings on this tragic subject.
Hopefully my novel, Soldier Spy, will be completed and published by the end of this year. Watch here for updates.
And, while you're waiting, here's another character for you to check out: Virgil Jones, an Indiana State Police detective who appears in State of Anger and State of Betrayal by Thomas Scott. Tom is an accomplished writer who I've been sparring with these past few years. Writers always work best when they're challenged, a game that Tom and I have played on several occasions.