I like writing romances based in the military, romances between men. Especially during times of war, such as Vietnam and WWII. When you look at it, some of the closest and strongest relationships are those formed between these men in the simple act of trying to survive day to day. Survive the enemy, incompetence, exhaustion, loneliness and often just themselves. In Vietnam, so many young men were drafted right out of high school- seventeen, eighteen, nineteen years old. We tore them away from everything they knew, gave them a gun and sent them thousands of miles away. More often than not, to die. It's well documented just how vicious and determined the Viet Cong and the NVA were.
Under these circumstances, I can't help but want to write about it. About something that back in Vietnam and WWII was considered a mental disease- certainly not a sexual preference. It could never be considered love- not between two men. Really. Right?
I'll interview anyone who's been in the military with experience especially in Vietnam and WWII. It's as important to me to get the language, military culture and feel for the area as it is to building believable characters that I want you to fall in love with. Everyone knows what jarheads are, but those same jarheads referred to the Army infantry soldiers as dogfaces during Vietnam. (So did the Navy.) There was no love lost between them, they were and still are extremely competitive. And well the Navy and Marines- my friend who works as a contractor for the Marines say that they refer to themselves as the "Men's Department" when put together with the Navy.
It's not just the language, although in Vietnam, the GI slang is rather colorful. :) Understanding what it's like to be on a firebase as opposed to a regular military base, what it's like to fly in a "slick"- a Huey helicopter, the feel of the jungle, the color and heat and insects. Did you know the soil in Vietnam is red?
I've interviewed several former vets who served in Vietnam, and a few from WWII. And although I'll tell them that I'm gathering background for a novel, which is the truth, it is unwise for me to say that it's for a romance between two men. It's just not wise or prudent- however regrettable it is. And that's the rub I guess. But I'll keep trying to find men who served and want to tell their stories. They are amazing stories to hear.
And because I want to make my stories that much more "real" for you, whether I pin you down in the middle of a firefight or have you riding in the back of that slick as the wind washes over you. It's a helluva rush, don't you think? :)