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Welcome to the world of unicorns.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Real Honest-to-Goodness Military Writer!

Today, I have the great honour of hosting a real military guy - Stan Hampton! Usually I host kids writers, but this guy's different. I'm utterly fascinated. Here's his bio:


Stan Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, and a published photographer and photojournalist. He retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Nevada Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007) with deployment to northern Kuwait and several convoy security missions into Iraq.

            His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.

            In May 2014 he graduated from the College of Southern Nevada with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis. A future goal is to study for a degree in archaeology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology (and also learning to paint).

            After 13 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters.

            As of April 2014, after being in a 2-year Veterans Administration program for Homeless Veterans, Hampton is officially no longer a homeless Iraq War veteran, though he is still struggling to get back on his feet.

         
Pretty impressive, eh? I'm fascinated. Now here's his book:



BLURB: Sometimes there is a blurry division between life and… An Army platoon is holding a combat outpost near Las Vegas. None of them can remember much about their lives before the war, or even the details of the war. Their final battle only hints at a possible soul shattering truth.

I'm definitely getting this for my husband. He loves anything military! The part I love the best, is Stan Hampton comes from the same era as me - the era of Twilight Zone. Here's what he has to say about it.

I believe that a lot of what I write, including military fiction woven with the supernatural or surreal, was influenced by the era I grew up in.

            I came of age during the Vietnam War (1965-1975), a very divisive war whose impact can still be felt today. And, there was also the television show The Twilight Zone (1959-1964), created and produced by the remarkable Rod Serling. He also wrote many of the scripts. From start to finish, with stories that often ended with a surprise twist, The Twilight Zone was a magnificent example of visual storytelling.

            Somewhere along the way I discovered I had a need, a passion for writing and telling stories. I was not published until the early 1990s, and then not again until the early 2000s. After that my writing credits grew and grew on a fairly steady basis.

            But as for the military fiction woven with the supernatural or surreal?

            I have to tell you—entering the Army was a big, scary step for a 19-year old boy from a small Oklahoma town. I arrived at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri on a cold, rainy wintry night. It was after midnight when we new recruits arrived, greeted by helmeted and poncho clad Military Police who called out the timeless phrase, “You’ll be sorry!”

            By 4:00 AM we completed initial in-processing and went to sleep. Maybe an hour and a half later we were awakened by shouting Drill Sergeants. And there was morning physical training (PT) in the winter cold and snow flurries, wearing t-shirts, pants, and combat boots…

            I spent 11 years in the active duty Army, including 5 years in the then-West Germany (with an official trip to West Berlin and side-trip into East Berlin), 3 years in Washington, D.C. (I saw the Iranian hostages come home, and for several short weekends I was a volunteer tour guide at the newly unveiled Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall), and I learned the tactical side of Army life at Fort Carson, Colorado. Then I spent another 10 years in the Army Reserve, left the military, and at the age of 50 I enlisted in the Nevada Army National Guard; I wanted to serve in the Global War On Terrorism because maybe if I did, my grandchildren wouldn’t have to. I retired from the Guard in July 2013.

            An initial 3-year enlistment turned into almost an entire adult life of wearing the uniform of my country. And meeting and respecting some of the best men and women I ever encountered.

            I suppose the high point of my career, the defining moment as it were, was deploying to a Convoy Support Center in northern Kuwait, a mile south of the Iraqi border. The gun trucks from my battalion escorted convoys to Coalition Forces bases and camps scattered throughout Iraq. In many ways that was a long, lonely year.

            Yet, imagine standing in an ancient desert that is hot even at night except for the brief “winter monsoon.” You are standing in a land once dotted with mud brick cities and ziggurat temples, once populated by a people who gave rise to the Sumerian Question, paraphrased, “Who were the Sumerians and where did they come from?” Except for sandy mounds or excavated ruins once hidden by the desert sands, the Sumerians, and as well as many others, and their cities are gone now. Vanished as if they never were.

            In such an ancient land it’s easy to stand under the stars and try to imagine what the past was like or even what a distant future may look like. It’s easy to start writing down ideas to turn into stories.

            So yes, I write what I know—military fiction with a dose of the supernatural or surreal tossed in, because they seem to go together. As a result, if there is a Twilight Zone feeling to my stories, then wonderful!

Here are the purchasing links: I'm going to get one!

Dark Opus Press

Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing

Melange Books

Musa Publishing

MuseItUp Publishing

Amazon.com Author Page

Amazon.com. UK Author Page

Goodreads Author Page

Well that's it! Definitely a new one for me! Like stepping into another world. I'll be talking about this one at the military dinner I'm attending tonight.

13 comments:

  1. Amazing post. Thanks for sharing your story, Stan, and for protecting us. I'm a Twilight Zone fan, as well. I recommend Anne Serling's As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling. It's an excellent read.

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  2. I remember in university, we used to have Twilight Zone Marathons, usually on long weekends. We'd watch episode after episode. It was so much fun.

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  3. Heather,

    Thank you - it was my honor and privilege in serving. I'll have to look up Serling's book. I've always appreciated his skill and imagination, plus I believe he too was a military veteran. Have a great week!

    Stan

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  4. Suzanne,

    Used to be I didn't have Cable, and would only order it for the New Year's Twilight Zone marathons. Now that I have Cable, even though I can see the episodes on Netflix and YouTube, I still enjoy waking up in the, coffee cup in hand while watching an episode of Twilight Zone on Cable.

    Thanks for hosting me!

    Stan

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  5. Ahem. "...waking up in the morning, coffee cup in hand..."

    (Sheesh - where's an editor when I need one?)

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  6. Stan, you certainly have a long, impressive military history.

    The thing I like about you, from what I've seen, is that you say it like it is. You don't beat around the bush. And you don't candy-coat. Oh, and that you read The Shadow of the Wind, my favorite book, and liked it...lol.

    I wish you luck in your writine endeavors.

    I remember watching Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock. Those were great.

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  7. Susan,

    Hi. I try to say it like it is, though sometimes discretion is the better part of valor (and common sense), lol. Yes, I still have The Shadow of the Wind in my section where I keep special books that I value for their impressive technical quality and storytelling. I rarely watched Alfred Hitchcock; after Twilight Zone I loved The Outer Limits. Thanks for visiting, and have a great week!

    Stan

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  8. I didn't care too much for Alfred Hitchcock because he wasn't scary enough for me. Rod Serling was the best.

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  9. Suzanne,

    Rod Serling, then The Outer Limits. Looking at YouTube in recent weeks I've discovered there were Zone-type programs back in the 50s before Serling. "One Step Beyond," and a Boris Karloff series that for one reason or another didn't make it on-air. "The Veil" or maybe "The Thriller." Maybe 12 B&W episodes or two. Karloff doing a series was a complete surprise to me. And, there's also "Tales of Tomorrow." These series are fascinating!

    Stan

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  10. Hi, Stan:

    I greatly enjoyed "Better Than a Rabbit's Foot." It was a realistic, moving short story that made me feel the heat, the sweat, the sand and the dust of the desert, as well as the feelings of the soldiers in the unit. Bravo, Sergeant!

    I, too, came of age during the Viet Nam era and remember The Twilight Zone. What writer doesn't cringe at Burgess Meredith finally having all the time in the world to read uninterrupted after surviving a nuclear holocaust while reading in the bank's vault only to smash his glasses. Or the girl trying to survive with the Earth moving closer to the Sun only to discover she's burning with fever as the Sun has disappeared and the Earth is freezing. Or the old woman fearing Death. Ummm, Robert Redford!

    I only wore a uniform (Navy) for two years (1971-1973) and only came close to combat on New Year's Eve & the Fourth on Waikiki (fireworks). Thank you for serving in harm's way.

    I try to give back by doing volunteer work at the Captain James A. Lovell Health Care Center, a pilot program where they've combined the Great Lakes Navy Hospital with the North Chicago VA Medical Center. I participate in two programs--My Health eVet, helping vets sign up for a computer program that lets us refill our meds, check our labs, tests, etc., on-line, and e-mail our docs. I also take the mid-watch for No Veteran Dies Alone. In fact, if my kids get my car fixed, I'll be there tonight, as we have a patient who just went into Phase 2 Hospice care, which is when we go into 24-hour vigil. If we're there at the end, we also participate in the Final Salute. No anonymous white sheet on the hollow gurney for our vets. They ride to the basement with a red, white and blue spread and an electronic candle. During the day, the chaplain says a few words, we play Taps, and there's a line of people in uniform. At night we just have the OODs (Officers on Deck) and volunteer/s. It's very moving, a real privilege to participate, and the least I can do in return for all the VA has done for me over the years since my disability (bi-polar disorder) is not related to my service.

    Again, Sergeant, thank you.

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    Replies
    1. I remember that episode of the person wanting to read all the time and smashing his glasses! What a great show! Such good memories.

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    2. Rochelle,

      Thank you for your kind comments. And thank you for serving. You're doing something important for No Veteran Dies Alone. Very important. My respect to you and your comrades. I'm sure it must be difficult, so do not forget to take care of yourself too. Thank you for visiting.

      Stan

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  11. Suzanne,

    Yes, I remember that episode, and liked it. Two others that immediately come to mind are "Death's Head Revisited" and "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." That was a wonderful show!

    Stan

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