Researching Tears of the Saint
Guest Post by Ethan Gaines
I remember my first memory of World War II was when I was in grade school watching Saving Private Ryan with my stepfather at the time. Then it was Band of Brothers. I was avidly reading Louis L’Amour and watching western legends so the last greatest conflict in history was not anywhere near my mind. I don’t remember exactly when the passion was fanned into flame for World War II, but I was reading nearly everything I could, including Stephen Ambrose’s books on the war. I believe I’ve read them all but probably not.
In researching World War II for pleasure or a story, I’d come across acronyms, primarily SOE and OSS. I didn’t know it but these were the CIA operatives of the day. SOE was the Special Operations Executive enacted by ironically, Neville Chamberlain. He died a few months past but it was Winston Churchill who said to the man who would run SOE, Hugh Dalton, to “set Europe ablaze.” OSS stood for Office of Strategic Services and was the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency. They dropped behind enemy lines in France, same as SOE, in their Operation Jedburgh and organized the French partisans into a formidable fighting force.
This is when my interest of spy’s and espionage really took root (other than watching James Bond). I dug into the Cold War, which is a very complicated time period, full of agendas, satellite countries, double agents, and proxy wars.
Throughout the years I read and watched almost anything I can get my hands on. The frustrating thing for myself and other INTJs (see Meyer-Briggs personality) is that when I read something I can remember it accurately, if I’m interested in the subject. I just don’t remember where I got it. Books I’ve read or articles about the Cold War, World War II, or any other time period is locked in my head and I couldn’t tell you where I got it. That’s what makes researching frustrating. I get a piece of information I know is true but I want to find the book and look at it again to gleam more from it, to see if what I know is in the book, as well. Or when someone asks where I got it and I tell them I can’t remember, they doubt me. Which frustrates me and I fight for recognition…then I’m proud.
One of the books that helped with understanding the setup of the Army Special Forces was Aaron Banks book he wrote, From OSS to Green Berets: the Birth of Special Forces. I didn’t have the time I needed to read it all the way through, unfortunately, but focused primarily on the creation of the Army Special Forces. An operation Bank oversaw appears in the novel as well, Operation Iron Cross. The plan was a group of anti-Nazi Europeans would storm Hitler’s Austrian redoubt to capture/kill him. It was cancelled when he was located in Berlin. I inserted Jack’s father as the man who was placed within Berlin to clarify whether or not Hitler was still there.
I enjoy delving more and more in the Cold War just to see how institutions were established to prevent a war with the Soviet Union, and to prevent another World War. In light of recent events, I believe it is important to take a look back.
One of the most difficult tasks, was making sure I was writing these military characters accurately and the combat as accurate. Like most people of my generation, the only experience I have that can be linked to combat is playing Call of Duty or some such game on a video game console. Granted, I’m sure there is some pieces of truth in there, but nothing is as real as actually being shot at and killing.
I couldn’t find many people who wanted or had time to look at the manuscript and tell me it was garbage or not, so I read books by soldiers. I tried to draw on their voices on combat, loved ones, politics—although I think when it comes to warfare, the grunt takes politics and throws it away. When the bullets fly, politics goes out the window and the only thing that really matters is they guy next to you.
I have so much respect for those who decide to go and fight America’s wars that when I sit down to write or think about a plot for a new novel, I am in a state of anxiety. I do not want to produce something that disgraces our servicemen and –women. I do not want to write something that makes the average citizen think, “Oh, war can’t be that bad, then.” I don’t want to make warfare appear to be something that it’s not. Not something glamourizing, not something not deserving of respect. Everything I read, everything I watch, points to the misery and danger of combat. Also, it points to the courage and bravery of those who go there…and will be willing to go back in a heartbeat, unwilling to leave their buddies.
Everything I write, every bit of research I do, I do with the intent of presenting the truth. I want to present it how I see it but also how the grunt or Special Operations soldier sees it. If I write anything misleading or misrepresenting of the Armed Forces, my email is on the website.
About the Book
Author: Ethan Gaines
Genre: Military War Thriller
Length: 186 pages
Release Date: March 25, 2015
Synopsis: All Jack Logan wanted was a normal life but fate had different plans. At the end of World War II, Jack’s father returned home in a pine box while his eldest brother returned unharmed. After years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of several stepfathers, he ends up joining the new elite Army Special Forces.
Based in Bad Tölz, West Germany, his Operation Detachment-Alpha team gets their first big mission. Just across the Iron Curtain, a Soviet commander is amassing troops for a potential invasion of Western Europe. Trained for such an event, the ODA-Team is dispatched to thwart the commander. While Logan and his teammates are on the operation, he uncovers information that will change his past, present, and, perhaps, his future.
Currently Available at:
BARNES & NOBLE
About the Author
In early 2012, Ethan met Reegan Bennett whom he married later the same year while he worked on Tears of the Saint. Through her encouragement, Ethan self-published Tears of the Saint just before the birth of their son, Jack Grady Gaines. He now lives with his family in Kalispell, Montana, where he is attending online class for a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication.