Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Author Interview with Gareth Crocker
Today we're talking with Gareth Crocker, author of Finding Jack
(Note: All photos
FQ: You mention getting the idea for Finding Jack while visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. What originally brought you to the memorial?
FQ: What sort of reactions did you get from friends when you mentioned your desire to write a tribute to these wonderful dogs?
To be honest, I kept it largely to myself. Until I was sure I had done a reasonably fair job of it, I didn't want anyone to know. Fortunately, friends who have since read the book have been very kind in their feedback to me. But friends are like that, aren't they? They'll seldom give you a completely honest response. I much prefer the feedback I get from general readers.
FQ: What sort of research went into writing this book? Did you meet/interview any vets who had worked with dogs during the Vietnam War?
sealed the fate of the Vietnam War Dogs. That was very important to me. It was not my war. I was not there. Who am I, a voice kept telling me, to point fingers?
FQ: While reading about war dogs in the book, we learn that German Shepherds were the most commonly used breed during the War. Why then did you decide to make Jack a Yellow Labrador?
FQ: There are some very powerful (and realistic) scenes of searching out the enemy in the jungles of Vietnam in Finding Jack. Were these scenes a product of your imagination or were some (all?) based on various veterans' experiences?
FQ: Part of what really moved me in your book is the profound effect Jack had not just on his handler, Fletcher, but on the whole unit. Would you tell our readers a bit about how the real war dogs helped save so many, not just physically, but emotionally, during the Vietnam War?
The Vietnam dogs were more than just tools of war. They were daily reminders of the soldiers' lives back home, of their own dogs that were waiting for them. They were loyal companions who never judged their handlers, never tired of them and were literally willing to lay down their lives for them.
In real terms, they were classified as either tracker, sentry, scout or combat dogs and they were used to sniff out the enemy (patrols, installations, etc), detect booby traps and explosives, to engage the enemy
directly, to protect bases, etc. It's estimated that they saved the lives of more than 10,000 US and Allied soldiers. Based on my interviews and the accounts I've read, I suspect the number is a great deal higher. Either way, the Vietnam Wall, carrying the names of the 60,000 or so American soldiers who were lost in the conflict, would have been at least another 100 feet long were it not for the dogs. That's a hundred feet of wives who would never see their husbands again, fathers who would never see their children and, most poignantly, children who would never again see their dads.
FQ: While the protagonist, Fletcher Carson, was a character I truly enjoyed, I admit to favoring tough, hard-as-nails Lieutenant Rogan. Without giving the story away, I loved what you did to him as the story progressed. Is he based on a real person?
If I'm honest, Fletcher is based loosely on myself - a pretty normal family-orientated guy who would be absolutely lost if anything happened to his family. I needed a strong character to initially bump heads with Fletcher, and Rogan just emerged. In many ways he is a composite character. Don't laugh, but he is part Sylvestor Stallone, part one of the soldiers I interviewed and partly my father, from whom I drew his inner resolve.
FQ: Finally, fess up - do you have a dog? If so, would you tell us a bit about him/her?
To learn more about Finding Jack please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.