iUniverse is delighted to present an article from author Kathryn Quigg, whose To Any Soldier, co-written with G.C. Hendricks, has received excellent reviews from Blueink, Clarion, and Kirkus. The book, subtitled “A Novel of Vietnam Letters,” is an epistolary novel, and delineates an emotional time in our history in a very personal way. Here’s Kathryn to tell us more . . .
To Any Soldier: A Novel of Vietnam Letters is about a college freshman who writes to a serviceman during the Vietnam conflict as her effort to boost morale. A Marine attack pilot picks her letter off the bulletin board and begins to write back. The year is 1968. During that year, the two correspondents share their lives as they both grow and develop in those tumultuous times. They even begin to dream of a life together as they share opinions, history, gender issues, religion, hopes and possibilities for the future.
Each one changes because of the shared letters. The contrast between college life and bombing runs is extreme, and that was one of the initial reasons for writing this epistolary novel. The Kirkus Review ends its extremely positive review with these words: “Together, the authors craft a marvelously sensitive portrayal of an affectionate relationship, conducted in epistles over thousands of miles. It’s an affecting depiction, sweet but never cloying, and brimming with wisdom about the strength and fragility of love. A beautiful, achingly affectionate love story in correspondence.”
The only other epistolary novel I have read is 8 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. I am an avid reader and there are amazing and powerful books that I have read that have certainly influenced me. I know what is good and what is mediocre. I believe that To Any Soldier is writing at its best, not preachy or profane, but evocative of thoughtfulness and emotion as well as informative about the times. It is also a way to show the importance of letters during a different technological time. I have read that the space between notes creates the music. I believe the space between the letters creates the story.
I wanted to show the separation between people in this country and those on the front lines in Vietnam. It felt like a world away — just as it does now, if we have no one we are close to fighting for the United States. However, now I believe we are even more removed because the draft during the Vietnam era brought people from all levels of incomes into the War. Now the poor fight our wars and there is no immediacy in ending these wars for the vast majority of Americans.
My co-author and I wrote the novel for approximately a year and a half. One of us wrote a letter and the other responded, trying to keep in mind the rich history that occurred throughout 1968 which we mentioned in our letters.
Letter writing is becoming a lost art. Letter writers reveal more of themselves in letters than they would in face-to-face encounters. It is a way of growing, examining and possibly changing beliefs just through reflection in letters. It is a chance to share one’s heart though miles apart, and it is also possible to misunderstand each other without immediately being able to rectify the differences.
The one message is to examine issues deeply and come to a better understanding through reflection, not just immediate responses and knee-jerk reactions. Letters and time create the music of life.
During March, April and May, I am speaking to a Rotary club, going to Virginia to speak to several groups and speaking to a library group. The novel has also been a book club pick. Blueink Review will be recommending To Any Soldier in Booklist Magazine which goes to over 60,000 librarians in the United States. This was totally unexpected and exciting. I have had two book signings in my hometown and a front page article in the weekly newspaper. Clarion and Blueink also reviewed the novel along with Kirkus and each gave glowing reviews. Nothing is promised when one signs up for the Trifecta Review (an iU marketing service). Each review was amazing and each gave a positive review of the novel. I am so very proud of the book and the way it is seen by others.
My favorite experiences with publishing were getting the Editor’s Choice and Rising Star designations from iUniverse, talking with the Rising Star Board and working with the designer for the cover. The cover is incredible and we were able to use one of our pictures on the back cover. I must say that holding the finished book in my hands was the most exciting feeling after all the hard work. I was not disappointed. If covers draw people in, our cover is a magnet!
My advice is to believe in your story. Be open to advice that will enhance your work and don’t be satisfied with less than stellar work. It is a learning process, and opportunities abound if one is open to the process. I have already talked with someone in Hollywood. I have no idea whether anything will come from this, but just interacting with someone in a positive way was a great experience!
Many thanks to Kathryn for her touching and well-written blog. We’ll be publishing a separate blog article containing the superb feedback her book has received from reviewers!