Happy Thursday everyone! It’s that time again to hear from one of our talented authors about their writing journey. This week, Howard McGee was kind enough to write us a feature. Enjoy!
I have always held a “quiet desire” to write since my early years but lacked a “story to tell” and to a degree, the self – belief. Iraq 2003 changed both – I then felt (strongly) that I had a story to tell, but took, for a wide variety of reasons, quite a while to convince myself to do so.
My adult life was overwhelmingly dominated by the British Army, I joined the Army Air Corps as a teenage soldier in the 1970’s and left 36 years later as a Major, having been commissioned “from the ranks” and experienced most of the Nations conflicts during that period including several years in Northern Ireland, plus more enjoyable service overseas in Germany and various parts of the U.K with my family. My two sons now have families of their own, who hopefully will grow up in a peaceful and conflict-free era.
In purely professional terms, you could argue that the Anglo- American Iraq Invasion of 2003 and my participation in it was the culmination of over 20 years training and preparation on my part – I enthusiastically volunteered for Iraq in 2003, my book is a classic case of “be careful what you wish for” in many ways. Since leaving the military I have worked in the UK, Afghanistan (as a civilian), Malta and North Africa and now back in U.K. but the “pull” for me personally towards telling this story has grown steadily during this time. I strongly believe it’s a story worth telling, and one that many people would be both surprised and interested by – ultimately Iraq was both a war “of choice” by our political leaders and simultaneously hugely unpopular with large parts of the public.
My writing has been influenced by several writers from different eras and nations – British, American, German and French, mainly ex-soldiers or eye-witnesses over the decades recanting their experiences from “their war” and the emotions and thoughts evoked from being a “normal person in an abnormal place”. Soldiers are still human beings when all is said and done, and the effects of war are long term and enduring in nature.
After penning this story, I approached various publishing houses – most of which deigned not to reply and the few that did were abrupt in nature – with the singular exception of Olympia – whose help and patience I found simply both refreshing and remarkable. The publishing process itself was, at least from my perspective, quite trouble-free and straight forward – Olympia did the hard work, providing constant advice and assistance throughout – with an impressive degree of patience thrown in. This was especially true of the help given to improving my grammar, prose and writing style – for which I was, and am, very grateful.
At the end of the publishing process itself, the arrival of my box of books was hard to believe – I found it difficult to accept that I really had got a book published!! I found myself staring at the box thinking “Wow” … In summary, I would say to anyone who is considering writing a book – just do it!