I hate it when I have completed a great story, which is my humble opinion about my novel, Family Secrets, only to feel like I have missed the mark.
I am referring particularly to my antagonist, Gerald, my heroine Jennie's unfaithful husband who is deployed to Afghanistan. The focus of this novel is on Jennie ferreting out the secrets in the lives of her mother and maternal grandparents and using the lessons of their experiences to help her work through her own challenges. One of her challenges is her husband.
However, in the process of developing Grandpa Mike's character, I not only drew upon my own husband's Vietnam War experiences, I did some research on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as it applies to Vietnam War veterans. Some of my more current sources also covered the challenges of combat stress, PTSD and concussion, or mild Traumatic Brain Injury, as it applies to those returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That brings me back to Gerald in Family Secrets. He is an unsympathetic character by reason of his poor choices made prior to his most recent deployment to the war zone. However, the more I learn about the challenges facing our most recent returning combat veterans, the more I wish I had written a book with a focus on them. Greater understanding needs to be shared, not only with the nature of combat stress, but also the challenges of those family members left behind. What can veterans and their family expect, and how do those families adjust to and work together with the returning combat veteran to help everyone in the family return to the normalcy of civilian life?
I have decided to bring this subject a little more in focus in future books in the GOLDEN OAKS series.