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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Oh No!! The Fact Police are at it again!

When I wrote my first SEAL book, back in 2011, I was afraid of getting things wrong. My relative, who was an active duty SEAL at the time, actually stopped calling me back, I had so many questions. But I wanted to be as accurate as possible.

I've since learned to trust my research, and if I can't find reference to things, then they are obscure enough not to make a difference. Getting the characters right, IMHO, is what it's all about, and makes for a compelling story. The details can sometimes take a reader out of a book if they are grossly wrong, like SEALs flying their own Helo on missions with the Team, or having a Navy SEAL own a whorehouse for secondary income. Yes, I've actually read those SEAL books.

It's an interesting discussion. My SEAL relative sat me down and we went frame by frame though Act of Valor, which was the documentary they were shooting as a recruiting tool for SEALs, and later decided it was too good for that and turned it into a full length feature film. "Yes, we do that on a mission," or "Well, they did that, but we do it this way." Truth is, every squad has their way of doing certain things a certain way. And depending on the expert, their combat experience and when he was on active duty, the answers to our questions for accuracy could be vastly different.

I corrected an expert this weekend, who had many more years in the SEAL community than I. But his experience was from nearly 30 years ago. Things have changed.

When the SEALs were first created in 1962, there was a need for medics in the field because they were losing too many men before they could get evacuated to a hospital. The SEALs training didn't include medical or paramedic training like it does today. So, medics were brought up through the Navy to play support to active duty SEALs, and these men didn't go through the BUD/S training like the other SEALs. But they got to retire as SEALs.

Today, medics are chosen out of the SEAL class, not chosen to accompany them in a support role. They can do one or two other disciplines as well in case their squad expert is incapacitated. Everyone is cross-trained today.

I spoke with an author who was being edited by a New York house, and the editor was actually giving wrong information, requesting her manuscript be changed.

We all have to remember that our romance novels are a work of fiction. Just about everything I write about never happened although parts of it might have happened in a different context. Some of my characters are based on real people I know, but never on a real SEAL or other character. I once had someone question my use of the term medic, instead of corpsman, which used to be the standard label for a Navy Medic. But in time, these terms have morphed in the SEAL community, and they more commonly use the term Medic or Corpsman interchangeably.

In otherwords, you have to pick your battles carefully. As an author, do as much research as prudent but don't copy. And remember, it's your story, afterall. I do a lot of "what-if's" with my sources, and learn tons from non-fiction readings, especially biographies.

But at the end of the day, it is still your story. My story. Our story. Just do the best you can and don't worry about the Fact Police. Most readers will never know the difference. They're looking for a story, after all. If they wanted reality, they could read a dictionary.


Cara Marsi said...

Wonderful post, Sharon. I admire the research you've done, and your SEAL books reflect that.

Melissa Keir said...

Wonderful. It is hard to remember that different times and different trainings lead to difference experiences. I have family in the military and try to get factual information but as you pointed the end of the day... the characters and story are what matters! :) Congrats on doing service to both.

Pamela Reveal said...

Thank you for always sharing such awesome facts. I love readkng them and your books. There are so many amazing and diffucult adventures in the military world

Sharon Hamilton said...

Cara, Thanks for the compliment. Research is the only form of reading I get to do on a regular basis. There are so many good books out there to choose from. Even the older ones are good too, because the characters are so strong when it's a biography.

Sharon Hamilton said...

The military we see as one entity, and actually it's a conglomeration of many "companies" all with their own personalities and history, and in many ways, fighting for public approval, defense dollars, recruitment and always veteran support. They've had to worry about their equipment and general funding so much, I think that's why they haven't been more of an advocate for the Vets. Just my opinion. When they're fighting for every piece of body armor, it's an all-inclusive task. We can't let them get into harm's way. Yes, very complicated.

Sharon Hamilton said...

Thank you, Pamela. So true. And you know of it first-hand. I think that's why they're still heroes to me, even when flawed. Running the large companies like the military, it takes a business manager, and they are all trained in tactics and warfare. Not much in running a business, and trust me, the military is a business, and I'm glad it is so. The government should have their backs, and yet, that has fallen sadly short.

thank you for showing up today! Love hearing from you!

julie beasley said...

Nice post Sharon. With modern technology being up graded at a fast pace it would be nice to think that these brave men have the best equipment to do their jobs. Unfortunately the same thing that was rife in the First World War was foot rot. When my cousins son who was a paramedic with years of experience and very good at it, treated the same thing in Afghanistan nearly hundred years later foot rot was rife again. Luckily with advanced medicine they healed quicker . It's so important that we all play are part to help even if it's sending cotton socks to the front line. Better care is being given to veterans, but not quickly enough. I read a comment on a book release the other day where a young woman who was pregnant with twins couldn't go to the sessions for her ptsd because she couldn't afford child care for her young daughter. More help is needed for things like that

Sharon Hamilton said...

Sadly, we don't ever treat Vets as they should be treated. A country's greatness is measured how it treats its elderly, children and women, and Vets who come home and need assistance. But of course, we're too busy relocating refugees and giving them stipends just to get votes. Sometimes I think we treat others better than we treat our own, and I'm not saying we shouldn't treat others, but after our own people are helped first.

Just my take. There is an outbreak of measles in our public schools now, and it was wiped out nearly 100 years ago. Also, whooping cough. They're even telling teachers to watch for small pox. The unvaccinated are coming in, and of course, our most vulnerable, our children, are being infected. Not a very proud way to treat our families. I pray a change is in the wind.

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