Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Alex Drinkwater JR.: The IAN Interview

Alex Drinkwater JR.
I am a retired US Government employee who recently finished a second career as a Defense contractor in the United Kingdom. I started writing fiction some 20 years ago but, with a full-time job and other obligations, I never gave my writing the time necessary to become truly successful. Now, I hope to devote full-time to being an author. I have written three novels and several short stories, a couple of which have appeared in online publications.  The first novel, "The Ghosts of Hanoi," is available as an ebook at several ebook distributors. The second, “Duly Constituted Authority,” is a political thriller about a struggle between the Pentagon and the White House and is now available for the Kindle reader at Amazon. I have recently finished the first of three planned science fiction novels about terrorism in the near future. My novels can be described as being halfway between Alan Drury and Tom Clancy. The short fiction tends toward horror and SF.

IAN. Hi Alex. Please tell us about your latest book: 
AD. “Duly Constituted Authority” concerns the struggles of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (and his fellow service chiefs) to maintain combat readiness and effectiveness of the US armed forces in the face of extreme “political correctness.”  Their adversary is not the Russians or the Iranians or even terrorists but the president of the United States, a radical who, with his equally radical Secretary of Defense, is determined to use the armed forces as a giant laboratory for social experimentation regardless of the consequences.  The result is a crisis with the Pentagon and the White House virtually at war with each other.  As this is going on, America’s enemies wait in the wings, looking for a chance to take advantage of the stalemate.  It is a tale of political intrigue, dueling political philosophies, and  the corruption of power.

IAN. How long did it take to write Duly Constituted Authority?
AD.  I worked on it on and off for about three years.

IAN. What inspired you to write the book?
AD.  Working for the Defense Department most of my adult life, I saw first hand how every social trend that came along had to be mirrored in the armed forces, regardless of the consequences.  From the most trivial to the most radical, these policies were implemented mostly so that military leadership would not appear to be “behind the times.”  One day I started thinking “what if a courageous flag officer or Defense official stood up and said “Stop!”  And “Duly” was born!

IAN. When do you normally write? In the morning or evening?
AD.  It’s catch as catch can with me.  I now have time to write so it’s pretty much whenever I feel like it.

IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft? 
AD.  I just start writing and see where it goes!

IAN. How is “Duly Constituted Authority” different from others in your genre?
AD.  Many of the political/military fiction works today are techno thrillers and/or they are concerned with giant conspiracies in the government to take over the country, with the military and the CIA usually the bad guys.  “Duly” is a story of patriotism, courage, and the struggle to preserve the warrior spirit in the face of radicalism.

IAN. Is your book published in print, e-book or both?
AD.  For the time being, it is available as an e-book for the Kindle reader.

IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading “Duly Constituted Authority?”
AD.   An appreciation for what can happen to our military (not to mention our country) if we forget what the military is for, as well as having read an entertaining and provocative story!

IAN. Where can we go to buy your book?

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand alone? 
AD. I am currently working on the Book Two of “In the Name of the Sun,” a combination of science fiction and “spy” fiction.  It takes place in the latter half of the  21st century and deals with an al-Qaeda-like terrorist group determined to prevent man from colonizing outer space.  I have not decided yet whether to publish the series as e-books or try the more traditional route of publication.

IAN. Any other links or info you'd like to share?
AD.  My first novel, “The Ghosts of Hanoi,” a story about the POW/MIA situation after the end of the Vietnam War, is available in several formats at these websites:

For the Kindle:

For the Nook reader: 

A sample of “In the Name of the Sun” is available here:

 (Samples of other work are available on Wattpad as well.)

My website is: www.alexdrinkwater.com  and I can be found on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Duly Constituted Authority by Alex Drinkwater, Jr.

Political/military thriller
348 pages

   Congresswoman Doreen Latourette, D, Louisiana, stood in the well of the House and held up a piece of paper.  “How much time do I have?”
The Speaker Pro Tem answered.  “The gentlelady from Louisiana has five minutes remaining.”
“I would like to read to the House from a letter I received recently from a young lady from my district who earlier this year enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.  Now this young lady, one Private Darla Wiggins from Bogalusa, is currently undergoing Marine basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina.  She has written and told me that she has been the target of unfair treatment at the hands of certain male personnel at that camp.”
Congressman Fred Baxter, Jr., R.- Texas closed his eyes.  Oh shit, here we go again.
Latourette continued.  “Private Wiggins, who is an African-American, tells of some of the most depraved treatment and language.  And why?  Because she had a little trouble completing the obstacle course which, I might add, is constructed in such a way as to put people with less upper body strength, such as women, at a distinct disadvantage.  Let me read you some of her--”
“Will the gentlelady yield?”  It was Baxter.
She ignored him.  “Let me read you some of her letter.  ‘Dear Representative Wiggins:  I am writing to tell of you of the grossly unfair treatment I have received at the hands of my Drill Instructor.  I enlisted in the Marine Corps--”
“Will the gentlelady yield?”  Baxter hated using the word even as he said it.  After all, he thought, isn’t “lady” the feminine of “gentleman?”  But the House had its formalities, no matter how ridiculous.
She finally gave in.  “For what purpose does the gentlemen from Texas wish me to yield?”
“For a question.”
“Then I will yield, but I reserve the balance of my time.”
The Pro Tem piped up again.  “Without objection so ordered.  The chair recognizes the gentlemen from Texas for a question.”
Baxter got up.  “I might remind the gentlelady from Louisiana that Marine basic training is not intended to be a picnic.  The purpose of the training--”
Latourette turned to the Chair.  “That is not a question, Mister Speaker, I said I’d yield for a question.”
The Pro Tem wielded his gavel as several voices were raised as once.  “I would remind the gentleman from Texas to limit his remarks to a question.”
Baxter shook his head.  “Fine.  Does the gentlelady from Texas realize that Marine basic training is intended to weed out the weak sisters from the rest -- ”he realized he’d made a  faux pas as soon as he said it -- “of the troops?  It’s not supposed to be a picnic, it’s supposed to  . . . ”
The expected explosion came.  Latourette could barely conceal the anger her voice.  “‘Weak sisters?’  What is that supposed to mean?  Is the gentleman insinuating that women have no place in the Marine Corps?  Mister Speaker, I demand an explanation of that remark!”
Before the Speaker could respond, Baxter spoke up.  “Hold it, hold it, I meant no offense.  It was just an expression.  What I meant was that the wheat has to be separated from the chaff, so to speak.  Basic training is meant to separate those who cannot physically or mentally hold up to stress.  It’s training for combat, for God’s sake.”
Latourette stood facing him, hands on hips.  “Did it ever occur to you, Congressman Baxter that perhaps the training is unfairly biased toward the male gender?”
“Sex,” he responded.
“I beg your pardon?”
“The male sex.  Gender is a grammatical term which is used in the wrong context here.”
She was becoming infuriated.  “Please answer my question, Congressman Baxter.”
The Pro Tem turned to a clerk.  “I forget who has the floor.”  The clerk shrugged.
Baxter went on.  “If the gentlelady is intending to further weaken the already weakened standards of our armed forces because some little lady couldn’t hack it, I would have to say, with all due respect, that she will find some stiff opposition from this side of the aisle.  And probably on her side of the aisle too.”
Latourette’s anger got the best of her as she sputtered.  “Why of all the -- I don’t believe what I’m hearing -- Mister Speaker . . . ”
Several voices joined hers.
“Mister Speaker!”
“Point of order!”
“Will the gentlelady yield?”
The Pro Tem finally slammed the gavel down sharply.  “The House will be in order.  The gentlelady from Louisiana has the floor.”
The “gentlelady” in question finally calmed down a bit and continued where she had left off.  “As I was saying, Private Wiggins goes on to detail the most demeaning and I must say, unfair treatment of her at the hands of her drill instructor.   I quote--”  She proceeded to read portions of the letter, describing Wiggins’ experience with Gunnery Sergeant Gore -- though she did not mention him by name -- with repeated statements of the overall   “unfairness” of the obstacle course as well as other aspects of the training.  Latourette ended with an impassioned plea for “fairness” in the training given in the armed forces.  “And so, Mister Speaker, I will introduce a bill which will insure that men and women are given equal treatment when to comes to military training and that people like Private Darla Wiggins are not treated in such a disgraceful manner.”
Her speech produced quite a bit of applause, especially from the more liberal members of the House (most of whom were on her side of the aisle), and an almost equal amount of groans from some on the other side.  Baxter turned to Congressman Bill White of Kansas.
“‘Gender norming.’ ”
“They call it ‘gender norming.’  Making the standards lower so women can meet them.  But it’s another ‘BOHICA.”
White smiled and shook his head. “‘BOHICA?’  What’s that?”
“It’s an old expression government employees use a lot - 'Bend Over, Here It Comes Again.’”

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