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Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders: A Fictional Character Is Fiction
Submarine in the South China Sea

The technothriller ebook LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS started out as a screenplay written with my husband Mitchell R. Miller and originally titled “Triangle Trade.”

Writing strong female characters is very important to both of us, so we choose as the protagonist a woman. And as Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders is a fictional character, we could choose to make her very good at certain skills – in the same way that Tom Cruise’s character in the “Mission Impossible” films is very good at certain skills.

The screenplay “Triangle Trade” morphed into the screenplay “Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders,” which was a 2005 Nicholls Fellowship competition quarterfinalist. (The Nicholls competition is run by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the same people who run the Oscars.)

Mollie has a secret that motivates her to be the very best. And we decided to explore this motivation further in a prequel screenplay – “A Needle in a Haystack.”

Mitch is a long-time member of the U.S. Naval Institute, whose monthly magazine provides excellent information that we often use in our writing. (He is also a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.)

The U.S. Naval Institute magazine frequently features articles about the Coast Guard, including how the Coast Guard is tasked with defending two long shorelines (Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean) with a small budget.

When Mitch and I decided to write a prequel screenplay, we focused on highlighting the Coast Guard’s plight in terms of limited resources to fight terrorism.

This meant that Mollie would have to help out the Coast Guard (she could not very well be in the Coast Guard in one screenplay and the Navy in the next).

Then I put the two screenplays together — and bridged them with a short story we wrote about Mollie working on the problem of IEDs — in order to create the technothriller ebook LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS.

Thus far the technothriller has gotten rather good reviews except for some critical ones complaining:

• There are no problems with women being treated well in the military

• Mollie is unrealistic because she is a superwoman given how good she is at certain skills

• The Coast Guard and Navy would not cooperate the way they do in our technothriller

First, fictional characters are allowed to be bigger than life.

Second, we give Mollie a plausible reason why she would be driven to excel (to be revealed only when you have read the ebook). Plus she cannot stop a speeding train, jump over high buildings, or utilize any supernatural skills.

Third, since the Coast Guard detaches units to serve with the Navy, we do not see any reason why it is a stretch for our fictional Naval officer to serve with the Coast Guard.

(Mitch was a U.S. Army intelligence officer with the 18th MI Bn in Munich, Germany, from September 1970 to May 1972. I worked as a civilian for the 66th MI Gp in Munich at the end of 1971 and the beginning of 1972. We both know how even units within the same military branch can be resistant to working together.)

Fourth, while military men may want to believe that women have equality throughout the military community, they do not. For a year starting in November 2008 I was the co-host of a BlogTalkRadio show on military topics. The rape of female military personnel by male military personnel was one of the topics we covered.

Finally, this question of women serving on a submarine is not so easily handled.

As I’m a member of the Department of Defense’s Bloggers Roundtable, I was privileged to hear “from the horse’s mouth” about the plan for having the first women on an Ohio-class boomer submarine. (See the post “Technical Skills of Women Needed on Submarines” and note the senior female officer “chaperoning” the junior female officers.)

Mitch and I are imagining a sub much smaller than an Ohio-class boomer in which only one female officer is serving for the first time. Visualize how small the living and working spaces are on a sub. Can you really swear that old-timers would welcome with open arms any female serving on “their boat”?

In conclusion, you may enjoy our technothriller ebook or you may not enjoy it. But do keep in mind that this is FICTION!

The technothriller ebook LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS is available for $2.99 in all major ebook formats, including the iPad.