Back in 1999 - in the dying days of the last century - the country of my birth was attacked. The bombing campaign cost lives, and cost me pieces of my childhood, as the things I had known and grown up with vanished before my eyes. Close members of my own family were driven away into foreign lands as refugees. Places I had loved burned and twisted in flames. And yet somehow the world - ignorant and driven by propaganda - screamed that it was all deserved.
It was not, but the voices saying that were stifled, muffled, gagged, driven away, shouted down.
I was heartsick, and angry, and appalled - and in this darkest hour a man came riding up like a knight on a white horse and handed me salvation: "Use your strength, use your passion, use the things that make you strong, and tell the other side of the story to those who would otherwise never have heard it."
So was born "Letters from the Fire". It is a modern epistolary novel told in emails between two characters, Dave and Sasha, during the fury of this "war". I was living in New Zealand at this time and R.A. Deckert, my co-author, who goes by "Deck", was living in Florida, USA. We literally wrote this book around the clock because his day was my night and vice versa - I would write a character-penned email as Sasha, and go to bed, and at the same time he would be getting up, and reading that particular day's communication, and replying as Dave, and then he'd go to bed and I'd get up and find the reply and answer him, and so it went. Sometime during the first third or so of this book I spoke about it to a New Zealand publisher, and he leapt at it - and I rashly told him that the book could be finished in two or three weeks.
My co-author, when I relayed this commitment, yelped "WHAT?!"
But we did it. The book was written at white heat. It was handed to the publisher and rushed into production. It was on the shelves less than six months after we had begun it, and those who know and understand how publishing works will gasp at this faster-than-light speed. The book was published in paperback in New Zealand, earned out its advance within the next six months or so, garnered some great reviews and a lot of reader response - see some of the comments on its website, which is still in evidence and is to be found here:
And then it went out of print, eventually, as books do, and as its searing subject matter sank quickly into the oblivion that is human memory (especially when it comes to things that people would rather not remember at all).
But, reader... I married "Dave", in the end. And we are going to be celebrating our twelfth wedding anniversary this July.
We have decided to re-release the book in e-book format, with an updated cover and probably a necessary note telling a new generation of Internet users just what a "newsgroup" was. The book will be out - on Amazon and on Smashwords - very soon, before our anniversary, as it happens.
And if you want to know a story about a real life war and love and a passionate engagement between two intelligent and committed human beings - if you want to know some home truths about things you already thought you knew everything about - I urge you to pick up a copy. If you want to be alerted when the ebook comes out, leave me a message here with a notification email and I will do this. And also... we still have a few original NZ-published paperbacks - and if you leave a comment on this blog, I will do a drawing when the ebook comes out and offer up a SIGNED paperback edition to one commenter (remember - out of print; these are collectors items now).
It's a book of power and passion, and above all it is a testament of how somehow love came through the flames and was made the stronger for them. And my husband and I - and Dave and Sasha - give this story to you, as our gift.