About two weeks before Christmas I was talking with a friend of mine who is a Colonel in the army about what life is like for the troops in Afghanistan. The words “bearable” and “boredom” kept popping up. Col. Rich said that, for the troops in his former command, books and magazines were worth their weight in gold.
So this got us thinking, and as the conversation continued we came up with the idea of supplying books for every member of his old unit, Charlie Company of the 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion. But not just a big box of books, we wanted something special for the troops. Each book was to be unique — signed by the author specifically for that soldier. 32 soldiers, 32 books, 32 inscriptions.
So I sent out a message through Facebook to a number of writers. Some are close personal friends of mine, some are casual acquaintances I’ve met online and through conventions, and some are writers who, quite frankly, don’t even like me. But within minutes the replies came — “You bet” or “Count me in” and the subtle response of the magnificent John Skipp, “Fuck yeah!”
Within 48 hours I had commitments from 32 authors, and within 72 hours, the first book arrived. Over the next few weeks books arrived at my house for the troops, all with notes for the soldiers thanking them for their courage and service.
On Superbowl Sunday I tagged and boxed the books and gave them to Col. Rich. Right now they are in transit to the men and women of Charlie Company, somewhere half a world away. So I offer a deep and sincere thank you to the following authors who said “Yes, for the troops.” They surely represent everything that is right within the genre; and for all those reading this, you should support them and pick up two or three of their titles.
So thank you Kim Paffenroth, Cody Goodfellow, Harry Shannon, Nate Southard, Michael Laimo, Maurice Broaddus, Bob Freeman, John Skipp, Steven Shrewsbury, Gene O’Neil, Scott Nicholson, Tom Piccirilli, Brian Knight, Mike Oliveri, Gord Rollo, Lee Thomas, J. F. Gonzalez, Mort Castle, Kelli Owen, Brian Keene, Mark Rainey, Nate Kenyon, Sephera Giron, M. Stephen Lukac, Bryan Smith, Elizabeth Massie, and Weston Ochse. (And a second thanks to Brian Keene for letting me borrow his blog and one to Brian Knight for finding a few extra “RARE”ities!)
And though I normally wouldn’t speak for the horror genre, in this case I will by saying to the men and women of Charlie Company, thank you. Thank you for your courage and bravery. Thank you for your service and sacrifice. Thank you for the commitment to liberty that allows us writers the freedom to do what we do. We write about a lot of heroes in our books, but you are truly our heroes.