Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Please Help Welcome Charles C. Anderson to Book Readers Heaven - Join Discussion!

Welcome Dr. Anderson to Book Readers Heaven! You’ve been busy! If I remember right, your first two books came out about the same time and now you’ve released Nuclear Farm and Blue Farm! Do you plan to always publish two at a time...LOL?

When I finished Nuclear Farm, I had a powerful urge to keep writing.  I hate hawking manuscripts to publishers.  I’m 66 years old.  Writing is a second career for me.  I’m seeking neither fame nor fortune. Marketing is not my strong suit.  I don’t like book signings.  I write mostly for my own enjoyment—telling stories.  I believe my ultimate goal is to be appreciated as a writer after I’m dead. To be more direct, I will never try to publish two books together again.  Publishing one book is a monumental task.

Can't imagine even trying to market two books at a time, but, of course, your books already have a fan base which is growing fast! 
You have two distinct topics—a thriller series is obviously moving ahead, but you also wrote about violence within America’s hospitals emergency rooms, what’s been happening on that front?

Some very exciting things are happening.  I began my Healthcare Violence Blog,  at the time I published my novel, The First To Say No, almost two years ago. (Check out my Review of this book!)  Many people are not aware that the healthcare workplace accounts for 60 per cent of all violent incidents in American workplaces. Healthcare workers, like emergency care nurses, are being forced to be victims of patient violence, without recourse.  Hospitals are loathe to prosecute “customers.”  
The First To Say No is a graphic novel, but the characters in it were not fabricated.  I took the most violent patients in my own career as an emergency physician and made them characters in this book.  Every murder, every rape, every physician or nurse assault in this book occurred before my own eyes. In the book, I assembled all of these real people into a gang.  Interest in healthcare violence is at an all-time peak.  As I have outlined the factors that contribute to healthcare violence in my blog, visitors to the blog have mushroomed. On some days, the blog receives over 15,000 hits. These are from healthcare workers, government agencies responsible for safety in the workplace, hospital organizations, hospital administrators, physician and nursing organizations. I believe the tide is turning. New legislation and regulations will be forthcoming. I’m excited to be a small part of this process.

I first learned about this issue when I read your book and, even today, seeing the 60% rate is, to me, quite outrageous! To me there is no legitimate reason for the hospitals to simply call them patients, rather than treating them, first, and then, calling in the police! Or better yet, do that simultaneously! This is soooo illogical it boggles the imagination to comprehend how the personal rights of healthcare employees are taken from them! Anytime BRH can help promote this issue, reblogging or whatever, let me know! In the meantime, let's move on to your two recently released books--the second and third in The Farm series... 
First, I have to ask about your setting for the Farm series... Is there really a place? Are the cave systems there? Do you own it? and When can we have a tour?

I live on a Civil War battlefield that was a plantation until the Civil War.  My immigrant ancestor, Richard Anderson, arrived in Virginia in 1635 in Jamestown. Four Anderson brothers bought over 4,000 adjacent acres from King George II along the Appomattox River in the early 1740s. This farm has been at the crossroads of history several times. The physical description of my farm in the Farm series is quite accurate. Even the presence of Confederate gold in the caverns underneath the farm is a treasured belief of my ancestors, including my own father, a minister not prone to exaggerate.  
Protecting a piece of property like this is a full time job.  Since over a thousand Civil War muskets have already been recovered here, along with many edged weapons, cannon, buttons, belt buckles, and Minnie balls, somebody is always interested in digging here in the middle of the night. The plantation house is restored and original. While not as elaborate as mansions along the James River, the descriptions of rooms in this house are accurate. While I occasionally allow small groups of kids to visit my functional 19th century grist mill and my covered bridge, I am almost as paranoid about visitors as Andy Carlson is.  The more the public sees, the more likely they will return to steal and dig and break-in. This cycle has been repeated many times. An aunt currently owns the plantation house. We can’t choose our ancestors, nor should we revel in their accomplishments or the people they rubbed shoulders with. Nevertheless, I am proud to be a steward of this property and I have taken steps to see that it will never pass out of my family.

Certainly can't blame you for your security issues...Maybe you could blindfold me just to see some of the Caverns... I wish I would have discovered spelunking when I was much younger! But I've toured a few and marvel at the beauty to be found!

Second, you have created a Farm family that are quite formidable with a, shall we say, quite strict disciplinarian at the head...Soooo, how does your own family compare, especially your wife—does she “stand down” to your commands?
Whoa!  My protagonist teaches his children to follow orders, but he does not command his wife Lindsey, a strong-willed woman and a former CIA operative.  They complement each other, as husbands and wives should. I’ve been married to the same wonderful woman for almost 44 years.  Only a fool would attempt to command his wife. We are partners and equals. We have a joint checking account. My wife is still working full-time as a nurse, while I stay home and write.  You better believe that I have learned new household skills and taken on new duties since retiring in 2012. This is as it should be.
LOL! I just had to give you a little jab about your "created" characters... With the concern expressed in your books, I have great admiration for what you are working to achieve...

The Farm, your Debut novel, I think, was my favorite. I fell quickly into the intrigue of the setting, loving every moment that something had been enhanced by Andy and Ben. I was surprised, therefore, that you moved quite rapidly into an older family. Clearly I was wanting to see a longer series, watching the children grow. Which leads me to the question—what are your plans for The Farm series?
I wish that I had taken my writing seriously earlier in my life, but my profession as an emergency physician was too demanding.  Jack and Ava Carlson were born at the end of The Farm.  They are ten years old in Nuclear Farm, and sixteen in Blue Farm. I have completed a fourth novel in this series, Desperate Farm, where the twins are eighteen.  This book will be released within six months. My own children are in their late thirties now and my grandchildren are more like Jack and Ava.  While I have written 15,000 words of a fifth Farm series novel, I plan to put this on hold while I write a historical novel.  I’m an amateur historian and the Civil War is my specialty. I loved the book and movie, Cold Mountain. I want to write a novel like this, taking advantage of my lifelong fascination with the Civil War and its battlefields.

It is clear to your readers, or at least to me, that you have a deep concern for the protection of family and the country in which we live.  I’ve earlier enjoyed the “Citizen Warrior Series” by David H. Brown, who also expressed his fear to protect... The thing is that many of us are growing weary of the increased level of violence as well as the seemingly inability to control drugs and its concurrent violence and I’ll mention but not say much except for my personal fear of human trafficking of our young girls and boys. Do you feel that fiction has any role in helping pinpoint these concerns and give your specific ideas about that?

I, too, am concerned about the future of children in America. An emergency physician is constantly exposed to the worst human behavior.  Working night shifts for decades in trauma centers left me with a somewhat jaded view of mankind.  I’m not the guy you would want to visit Disney World with.  I see danger everywhere. I’m constantly observing crowds for unusual behavior.  I spent years observing violent patients, looking into waiting rooms and trying to identify the next person who would explode and harm someone. I can often spot criminals, drug abusers, and pedophiles on the street.  This annoys my wife. Once a person is fully aware of what an adult can do to a child, he can’t erase that knowledge.  By the time an emergency physician retires, he has a form of PTSD.  I sincerely hope that fiction has a role in highlighting violence and child abuse in America.  The First To Say No was my effort to do this. There is a character in this book who raped mentally impaired school girls and kept their jewelry on a necklace around his neck. I met that man. I wish I hadn’t.  I look at the necklaces men wear today. I don’t want to, but I know too much.
Let’s get specific now... What would motivate any man to teach his children that killing other people was appropriate, not to mention teach them how to do it?

I’m glad you asked me that. Exposure to random violence changes everybody. Most people are now aware of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Soldiers learn quickly that artillery fire, rockets, IEDs, and mortars do not discriminate between adults and children. Adults may know how to protect themselves from some of these indiscriminate killers, but children must be taught. The London based International Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers estimates that over 500,000 children have been used in more than 50 wars---carrying guns, fighting, serving as spies, porters and cooks, and being used as soldier “wives,” mostly in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. According to relief agencies, in today’s era of combat, 85 to 95 percent of those harmed or killed by modern conflict are civilians. Of those, about 50 percent are children. Think about that. Palestinians strapped explosives onto children and forced them to walk toward Israeli targets, both military and civilian. The same thing happened in Afghanistan. The Viet Cong used the same tactic. Imagine a child walking toward you with explosives strapped to him. Whether you could shoot that child or not, you would never be the same.

But you say—we live in a peaceful country. Depending on the year, the top five most violent nations on earth are Iraq, the United States, Somalia, Colombia, and Afghanistan. Even though we have not had a war in the continental U.S. since the Civil War, we are always in the top ten nations by homicide. Being a child in America does not protect you from mass shootings.

There are almost 800,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S. These are the convicted ones. The Justice Department says that nine out of ten sexual offenders prey on someone they know and have no record of sexual offenses. The exception is pedophiles, who have a high rate of recidivism and molest many victims over years. Recent revelations about Catholic priests are the tip of the iceberg. Law enforcement agencies running internet sting operations find that they cannot efficiently arrest and process all of the adults who want to sexually abuse children.

Like me, Andy Carlson is an emergency physician. Like me, he served in the military. Both of us would rather teach our children how to protect themselves than see them become victims. In Nuclear Farm, an adult objected to ten-year old Ava’s use of cardboard targets shaped like humans. She replied, “Humans are the greatest predators on earth. What are you prepared to do when someone points a gun at you or a member of your family?” Is Andy Carlson paranoid? Of course. How could anyone look at so many dead children and not be paranoid about the safety of his own?

I understand perfectly the objections that parents have to educating their children about violence and sexual abuse. Until something happens to a child you know, a parent is like the soldier who steps off of the ramp of a transport jet that brought him to war. He thinks he’s prepared for it, but he’s not. Teaching a child to use lethal force is a terrible thing that should not be necessary in a civilized world. Perhaps the only thing worse is to see dead children who never had a chance against adults.

One of the most difficult historical facts I struggle with is the use of any religion to support violence or child abuse.  Yet no real scholar of religious movements can deny that religions have been used for thousands of years to condone violence, persecution, stoning, beheading, war, inquisition, crusades, and witch hunts. Our country’s 21st century enemies, Muslim Fundamentalists, believe that their God wants them to kill all infidels (non-believers). They want nuclear weapons. This is Andy Carlson’s fight, to prevent this from happening. I tremble when I hear anyone say, “God told me to kill,” or “God is on our side.” The scariest thing about the buildup to the second Iraq war was GW Bush claiming that God was leading him.

Obviously your protagonist, Andy Carlson, is a brave man.  Do you think, though, that he has a character flaw?

Yes, I do.  I admire Andy Carlson.  I was never a SEAL, but I treated SEALS as a physician. I've hunted with them. I noticed that we had something in common.  We were epinephrine junkies.  Andy Carlson and I are both emergency physicians with the same character flaw. The world needs epinephrine junkies, people who crave excitement, danger, and life and death situations.  Although we crave excitement, we rarely admit it.  We don’t tell our friends, or even our wives, that we need that rush.  Certain jobs not only attract people who need excitement, those jobs require people who can function under great stress.  And not just function---perform efficiently in a controlled manner inside a senseless environment---like in a trauma center or a battlefield.  Not everybody can insert life-saving tubes and lines into a dying patient with steady hands. Not everybody can function like a SEAL in a firefight.

Is there a down side to being an epinephrine junkie?

You bet. Both Andy and I experienced two down sides to a life of craving excitement.  At some point the cumulative effect of all that epinephrine overload takes its mental toll.  We fool ourselves into thinking that we can look at what human beings do to each other indefinitely. One day I woke up, after thirty eight years of being a physician, and my brain couldn’t tolerate any more “spiritual punches” ---sudden death, senseless shootings and stabbings, rape, dead babies, child abuse, drug abuse, alcoholism, mental illness, and random violence.  Andy experienced this kind of burnout as a sniper.

What was the second downside that you and Andy Carlson experienced from being epinephrine junkies?

A common mistake for an epinephrine junkie is to allow his yearn for excitement injure his friends, family, and colleagues.  This can be as simple as encouraging your children to take the same risks that you take on a ski slope.  In Nuclear Farm, Andy recognizes that his own need for excitement could be the reason that he put his family in jeopardy, not the necessity of the mission.  In war, epinephrine junkies can be heroes, or they can lead their buddies into a slaughter. When the battle is over, the epinephrine junkie may wish that he were not a survivor.

In Nuclear Farm the king of Saudi Arabia is portrayed as a friend of Andy Carlson’s, not necessarily a friend of the United States.  How did this relationship come about?

In the initial book of this series, The Farm, Andy Carlson is a SEAL stationed in Bahrain.  Andy’s job was to infiltrate Arab countries and assassinate targets for the CIA.  In Saudi Arabia, these targets were supposedly approved by the king.  The targets were usually people who supported terrorists or threatened the House of Saud.  Andy was given orders by the CIA to kill people who were not approved by the king, but were targets of the CIA. He discovered that the CIA had their own nefarious agenda, and he was their sword.  Even General Douglas MacArthur had problems with “duty, honor, country.”  In what order should a soldier respect the elements of this code?  General MacArthur said that he did his duty “as God gave him the light to see that duty.” Andy Carlson had a personal code of honor.  He reported the illegal killings and CIA mischief to the king. The king respected any man who put honor before country.

From your books, it’s clear that you do not have a complimentary opinion of the U.S. Government, and especially the CIA and the president.  How would you explain this viewpoint?

I think I’ve lived too long.  I remember every president back to Eisenhower.  All of those presidents stood in front of the cameras and lied to the American people, even the presidents that I admired the most.  For a better understanding of this I would refer you to The Constant Weave of Deception—Famous Presidential Lies by Pat Shannan. Some presidential lies were more damaging than others.  LBJ’s claim, “We were attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin” committed the U.S. to escalation of the Viet Nam war. GW Bush’s desire to control Iraq’s oil led him to his certainty about WMDs. Many presidents claim before their inauguration that they will be truthful.  One president actually tried it—Jimmy Carter.  His style was quickly rejected for a man who lied so smoothly that even today people believe he didn’t know he was lying about Iran-Contra. Politicians who survive learn that the public doesn’t reward honesty in campaigning or in office.  Pat Shannan lists twenty public lies by the current president. We have grown so accustomed to being lied to that we haven’t come to grips with the logical conclusion---we have a hopelessly corrupt government.

Our intelligence services have a knack at missing the most important turns in history, like the fall of the former Soviet Union.  We spend billions on these agencies, whose record of success is miserable.  
There is a joke going around---“The CIA couldn’t find its own butt without a flashlight, ten years of looking, and a Bin Ladin courier to show them.”  Thank God for SEALS. The CIA should thank God for Jessica Chastain, who played the diligent CIA agent in Zero Dark Thirty. Although the movie depicted torture as important to finding Bin Ladin, the CIA director denied this.  I would like to believe him, but since he makes his living telling lies...I believe that the American people have lost all privacy, and we have little to show for it.  The CIA and the NSA deserve scorn.  That’s my opinion.

Why didn’t we go in and kill Hussein in Iraq like we did Bin Ladin instead of going to war, losing many lives and costing America billions?

The real goal of the second Iraq War was control of Iraq’s oil and establishing a permanent force in the Middle East. Killing Hussein would not have accomplished this goal.  We failed miserably so far as gaining control of Middle East oil by theft. There never was credible evidence for WMDs.  Even the CIA told GW Bush this.  We are leaving the Middle East even more unstable, having strengthened Iran’s hand and incited more Sunni vs Shiite conflict.

Let’s go into Blue Farm... First, please tell me that you don’t plan to have the ending move into a family feud?!  Will we see any more of the second twins in the future?

There is no family feud in Desperate Farm, the follow-up to Blue Farm.  I admit that I left Jack and Ava in severe distress in the closing chapter of BF, but the reader should take heart that the twins will see Nate and Tory again under happier circumstances.

I must admit that I was surprised with the sexual discussions and activities of the twins. Do you see this as similar to teaching children to protect themselves from violence... because surely you wouldn’t write it purely because that’s what young people do these days???

Jack and Ava had to grow up sometime.  None of their martial arts skills or survival skills had prepared them for relationships with other teenagers.  This is the first time I have attempted to recreate coming of age anxieties.  I thought that Jack and Ava had to struggle in this area because home schooling does not allow an orderly progression of social skills.  Let’s face it.  Jack and Ava are socially immature.  They can talk to each other frankly, but they don’t know how to relate to the opposite sex.  Ava attempts to conquer boys just like she has conquered everything else in her life.  She’s manipulative. Jack is gullible. They are not thinking with their brains so much at this point in their lives, and neither was I.  I was trying to develop their characters apart from being warriors.  The sex wasn’t meaningless to Jack and Ava.  Character development over several books is surely tricky, but I have a good memory of my own anxieties as a teenager, and I wanted to write about them.

I’d like for you to explore a little about the mental intelligence of a child as it relates to how they should be treated by their parents...would you mind? Is there really a difference for parents?

That question hits close to home. My own father was a strict disciplinarian with a military background. As a child I constantly felt stifled. I don’t claim to be a mental giant or as multi-talented as Jack and Ava.  However, my father had the idea that all children needed to do certain things and all children needed the same kinds of discipline.  This is not true. I had six siblings, some more talented than I. Do you know how frustrated I was when told repeatedly that I could only do so many things well at a time?  My father and I argued constantly about the sports I wanted to play and the music I wanted to play.  School work was easy for me, and boring. Nobody ever needed to tell me to study, or read, or do my homework. I felt that since I had never been in trouble with the law, I had perfect grades, and I had proven myself at every activity I was allowed to participate in, I should be given the freedom to do as many things as I could--- as opposed to being forced into mindless, make-work activities at home.  I was not allowed to play all the sports I was capable of playing, nor was I allowed to play the music I was capable of playing.  I was forced to take piano lessons for five years.  Even though I learned to play every kind of music, I was only allowed to play religious and classical music.  I stopped playing altogether. These kind of regrets lasts a lifetime. I still feel cheated. I feel that I could have done much more with my life had I not been shackled to inappropriate restrictions and other people’s low expectations until I escaped to college.  Now do you understand why Andy Carlson encouraged his twins to take the roads less traveled, as many roads as they could handle?

I questioned a couple of murders in Blue Farm which seemed premature; e.g., when Andy was watching the twins new home and an armed couple came near but not “at” the house.  Isn’t there a law that those individuals must go inside before any action can be taken...or is that something I’ve just read in another novel? LOL

The farm the Carlsons live on had been assaulted by Indians, the British, the Yankees, the carpetbaggers, the revenuers, the CIA, the KGB, and Iranians seeking nuclear weapons.  The caves under the farm had been used as an arsenal for over 270 years, not to mention the Confederate gold and the warheads in Lindsey’s lab. As a matter of family principle, anyone who entered the locked confines of the farm with a weapon in his hand was killed and buried there.  Real enemies who are intent on killing you cannot be warned and prompted to draw their weapons, as in old western movies.  The decision to kill your enemies must be made in boot camp.  Andy Carlson taught Jack and Ava this principle.  It’s a warrior’s principle. Having a moral dilemma with each shot is hazardous.  A real life example of this is the SEAL who recently published Lone Survivor.  In his book, the SEALS choose not to shoot a goat herder who could give away their position.  The title of the book says a lot. What a burden to carry. I'm not sure what I would have done. I wasn't there. Unlike the goat herder, the people killed on the Carlson's farm and near the house occupied by Jack and Ava in Charlottesville were armed intruders, threatening the Carlson family. That's enough when you have 4,000 acres to bury your enemies. Andy Carlson had no intention of involving the police. To a SEAL there are few problems that cannot be solved with a well-placed bullet. Everyone can't think this way, but warriors must have this mindset to stay alive.

I enjoyed talking with you about the FARM series. 

Charles C. Anderson

Hey, I hope you don't mind, but I invited, oh, thousands, to come join the, if you have the time, stop by during the day...!

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