Author Interview: Laurell Galindo

Author Interview, Misc.

Meet Laurell Galindo.

Laurell GalindoSocial media links
Website: www.laurellgalindo.com
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurellgalindo  
Twitter: https://twitter.com/laurellgalindo
Instragram: https://www.instagram.com/laurellgalindo
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLaurellGalindo

 

The Interview.

Hi Laurell! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

I was raised in Meridian, Texas, and graduated from Meridian I.S.D. in 2003. In 2004, I enlisted in the United States Army Reserve to serve as a Public Affairs Broadcast Specialist. I was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2005 to 2006. There, I completed multiple missions to create broadcast news stories and anchored the Baghdad based program, Freedom Journal Iraq for the American Forces Network. I separated honorably in 2012. I was prompted to write VET-ONATION because of a personal goal I’d set for myself. In May 2016, I began writing. I wrote several chapters but had to put the book on hold due to my late husband’s illness. He passed away on April 1, 2017. Afterward, I took some time to re-evaluate my life moving forward as a widow and single mother of three. Then I took a deep breath and recommenced writing. I did not want to write a book about war. It has been done. I’ve read several. In my opinion, war should never be glorified. In many of these types of novels, it is. War is a misogynistic and challenging endeavor. War changes a person dramatically. I wanted to address the internal aspect of war, but more specifically, military sexual trauma. I wanted to provide a narrative women could relate to in VET-ONATION.

 

How did you feel while writing your first broadcast?

One of my first broadcast stories was about the Iraqi referendum which took place on October 15, 2005. The threat of terrorist attacks did not phase the Iraqi people. They took advantage of the historic political process by voting in record numbers. At that time, approximately 15.6 million of Iraq’s 26 million people were eligible to vote. On that day, election officials confirmed as many as 65% of those people made their way to polling stations throughout Iraq, surpassing the 58% recorded in the previous January elections. The high voter turnout caused several polling stations to run out of ballots. Iraqi police and election officials rushed to re-supply these stations so voting could continue. It was an amazing day to witness and document. The Iraqi people made a great stride toward democracy. Their determination to vote showed they were open to a new way of combating violence and political problems in Iraq. It truly was an honor to be able to cover this historic event.

 

Was there a story at any point in your life that really struck you; that then you needed to tell people about?

A story that I was fortunate to be a part of and like to share is that of the Ibn Sina Hospital in Baghdad, Iraq. This hospital took Yugoslavian architects and Iraqi engineers nearly two years to build.  In 1964 the hospital opened, meeting Iraq’s need for a medical facility in Baghdad. The aim of the founders was to provide a hospital giving the highest standards of medical care and attention to its patients.

During his reign, Saddam Hussein took over the hospital using it as his own private medical facility for his family and the Baath Party elite shutting it off to the Iraqi people. After the U.S. invasion, the hospital became the referral hospital providing medical care to the majority of U.S. Troops, Coalition Forces, and resuming care of the Iraqi people.

Dr. Kadhim Shubber was one of the founders of this facility. I was able to document the day his children, Anisah Shubber and Dr. Jawad Shubber, toured the hospital for the first time in many years. Their visit brought back many memories which they shared as they posed to take pictures in front of their father’s old office. It was touching to see how proud they were to see their father’s hospital. Dr. Jawad Shubber shared that he was very proud of his father’s legacy and added it was a privilege to tour the hospital and to see the work of the U.S. forces in its mission to restore the facility. He added that he felt his father’s hospital was in good hands. I was privileged to be a part of many different stories. While some were happy occasions, others were somber ones. I feel blessed every day to have gotten to experience as many stories as I did.

 

Are there any characters or scenes in VET-ONATION that are influenced by real life experiences?

A scene that is influenced by a real-life experience is that of the sexual assault in chapter seven. I am a survivor of a military sexual trauma (M.S.T.) which took place in Baghdad, Iraq. I chose to remain a silent survivor for many years due to shame much to the dismay of my sanity. That choice almost destroyed me. Even after I disclosed the event through the proper channels, this information was on a need to know basis as far as I was concerned. I then wrote a book which discussed sexual assault. Unfortunately, I erroneously thought I would be able to skirt the issue and not address my own experience with inquiring minds. I was wrong. It’s difficult to talk about something you’ve kept a secret for so long.

Since VET-ONATION’s release, I have had a lot of tough, anxiety-inducing, emotionally exhausting conversations. I’m still working through the lasting effects of M.S.T. within myself. I hope others who have been affected by sexual assault will read VET-ONATION and be inspired to continue working on their recovery as well.

 

What is your writing process?

My writing process isn’t too technical. I start by contemplating the topic I’d like to write about. Then I work on a general outline. I try to have at least five main points I’d like to cover within each chapter but keep these general as to allow the characters to grow and change through a natural progression. I don’t give myself deadlines because I don’t want my writing to read like it’s forced. The most important thing is to start writing. The first draft is not going to be great, but at least it’s out of your head and on paper. I never write hungry. I don’t beat myself up over writer’s block. I am patient with my characters and myself. In all honesty, I wasn’t sure how VET-ONATION would end until the morning I sat down and wrote the last chapter. It had been two months since I’d written anything. I needed to give myself and my character, Lauren, time to decide what was best for her. It came to me unexpectedly, and I knew without a doubt it was exactly how the book should end. When I read the ending now, I’m so glad I gave myself time.

 

From VET-ONATION, what is the main thing you want readers to take away from the novel?

Although the protagonist, Lauren Mayer, is a veteran, she’s still just an average woman struggling with her journey. She faces many tests along the way. While she doesn’t navigate them all well, she’s determined to confront her failures and overcome her obstacles. Her life is a tangled mess of romance, sweet memories, painful moments, and regrets. Lauren’s strength demonstrates what’s possible when we shine a light on our demons and embrace the changes in ourselves.

VET-ONATION is a fictional story. I wrote it with the hope that the protagonist would resonate with any woman who has struggled with a life-changing event and difficult circumstances. It is a book that is close to my heart.

 

What to you makes a strong storyline?

A strong storyline is made through storytelling and creating believable characters whom the reader truly cares for.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

VET-ONATION, which is derived from Veteran’s Detonation, talks about relationships, service in Iraq, military sexual trauma, mental health, and recovery from a female veteran’s perspective. VET-ONATION is an excellent book for female Veterans or any women who has struggled with aspects of service and life following this type of traumatic event, including addressing sexual assault and mental health.

Guest Book Review: Out of the Dusk

Book Reviews, Guest reviewer
***Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. Book not suitable for a younger audience.

 

out of the dusk cover

 

“It was only thoughts of you that pulled me

from the depths of hell and kept me moving forward…”

-Leigh Robbins, Out of the Dusk

 

Out of The Dusk (A Military Romance) Review

By: Lindsey Jane Philipson

 

Brett Parker is a war-torn veteran serving in Afghanistan, risking his life on a daily basis for his country and fellow men.  Coming back to see his ill mother after a thirteen-year absence and protected by his family, Brett is shocked to find that his mother is dying. In her last moments, his Mother tells Brett that she is worried about him, that in serving as a Marine he has lost sight of his own life and his chance for love and pleads with Brett to find someone to “show (him) the beauty of life again.”  Brett admits to his Mum that he did indeed find the one, Lauren Cage, a woman who he met in hospital whilst visiting her injured brother Matt, another serving military man.  However, although the pair enjoyed a heady romance, he lost her after she found out he was lying to her about having a fiancée back home in Texas.

Making a promise to his dying Mother to reconnect with her, Brett embarks on a new mission to reclaim Lauren as his soul mate.  After researching on the internet, he finds that Lauren, now Terrelini, although remarried, is now widowed and running a successful bakery with her best friend.  Brett bites the bullet and makes contact with her, inviting her to meet up with him before his final deployment.  The pair meet and immediately the heady attraction between them is reawakened.  But Brett is a very changed man to the one that Lauren, his beauty, knew eight years ago: ravaged by war, he is scarred by the events he has witnessed and due to the role he has served, considers himself a beast and consequently is now fighting an internal battle of his own.  Although the passionate side of their romance is instantly relighted, obstacles are thrown in their path which leave both in doubt about their future together.   Can the lovers overcome these and beauty have her beast or will their respective pasts and the baggage they now carry, mean that these two broken souls will never be…

Wow!  This was an intense but highly enjoyable read.  Although essentially a love story, the author cleverly used her account to demonstrate the plight of those who are in active service and the after effects which some military personnel succumb to: i.e. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The author, through her narrative, highlighted the pitfalls which some returning military members have to endure as they re-adjust to civilian life and how the traumatic events which they witness can have a lasting effect on their psyche.  The story of Brett and Lauren was a real roller coaster to read.  Both are wary of each other: Brett struggling to cope with the horrors of war and Lauren, recently widowed, is scared to love again, as Brett previously broke her heart.  The two cautiously navigate around each other and the author creates a wonderful sense of tension between them so you really find yourself rooting for the pair as they fight to be together.  Moreover, offset to the main story, there are also sub plots running with secondary characters, which add dimension and substance to the tale, as a whole.

This was an immensely moving, wonderfully written love story.  Would highly recommend.  Not suitable for younger readers.

 

My Rating: 4 / 5

 

Check out Robbin’s website to learn more about her and her other novels!