Welcome back to my summer bash. I just came back from swimming and the water's great. Now grab yourself a margarita as Stan Hampton Sr. joins us. Welcome Stan.:-)
01: What is the first story you’ve published. Tell us a little bit about it.
The first story published was “The 24th of December” back in late 1992. It is Christmas Eve and a man writes a letter to a close friend, telling her of a Christmas Eve incident during the Vietnam War when he was a little boy. He fell asleep waiting for Santa Claus but was awakened by his father, a soldier who was still dressed for combat. His father visited one last time to say good-bye to him. Of course no one believed him. Days later word came that his father, a Special Operations Group soldier, was missing in action.
02: What inspired the story?
I’ve always been fascinated by, and in awe of, the small teams of Special Operations Group soldiers who undertook secret missions against the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos during the Vietnam War. It took special guts for soldiers to land by helicopter deep in enemy territory, knowing that the enemy would be hunting them as soon as they landed. A lot of men were killed and wounded on those missions; sometimes they simply disappeared and to this day no one knows their ultimate fate.
03: Do you have a writing process? If so what is it?
Not really. I have an idea, I research the subject if needed, write brief character biographies, a brief outline, and start writing. Usually.
04: What do you currently have in the works? Give us a small preview.
Okay. Here’s an excerpt from “Moloch.” But remember, this is a Work In Progress. I do not have an editor to make me shine as if I was a magnificent writer. Anyway, there are several novellas that I am working on. One novella is about a Kansas couple who decide to change their daily routine after sending their daughters off to a university. Another is about a haunted German Tiger tank in North Africa during World War II. A third takes place in the Pacific during World War II, and is inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.
05: Who are some of your favorite authors?
Frederick Forsyth, H.P. Lovecraft, Tom Clancy, Stephen King, James Michener, Bernard B. Fall, and Cornelius Ryan.
06: Do you have one author in particular who inspired your writing career? Who and why?
No, not really. I have been inspired by the imagination and story telling skills of many authors. If there is one early influence, it was Rod Serling and THE TWILIGHT ZONE. The show caught my interest the first time I saw it—I do not remember the first episode I saw, but I have been a lifelong fan of this wonderfully imaginative and fascinating show.
07: Are your stories based on real events or people?
Sometimes stories take place against a backdrop of real events, and sometimes a historical person may make a brief appearance. Otherwise, I do not base anything on a “real person.” Because I generally write military fiction (with a strong flavor of the supernatural or horror) I will not base a story on a real person, meaning someone I know. If I did, and I wrote that the character was killed or crippled, I would feel like I had cursed the real person to suffer such a fate.
08: How much research goes into your work?
It depends. It depends on the time period, if an historical event is important to the story, even what a character does for a job, if that is a part of the story. Regarding a story set in Rome or Greece, oh yes, a lot of research is needed.
09: Have you ever killed off a character based on someone real? If so why?
10: If you could visit any period in history, what time would you go to? Why?
The Roman Empire in the first century A.D. Rome was at its height of military prowess and civilization, while beyond the frontiers were mysterious lands that were labeled (to use a cartographic phrase from centuries later) “here there be dragons.”
11: If you could gather any three people in the world, living or dead together, whom would you want to meet and talk with?
I have been asked this type of question before; most of my adult life I have either served in the military or been associated with it, so I usually name military figures. This time I think I will stretch my wings. I would like to visit with Sappho, William Shakespeare, and Edgar Allan Poe.
12: What do you do for fun when you aren’t busy writing?
Ah, maybe gamble a couple of dollars while drinking a beer, or drink a couple of beers with friends.
13: What is the one thing people believe about writers that upsets you?
Nothing that I can think of.
14: Is there any genre you haven’t written that you’d like to try your hand at?
Steampunk, and maybe a romance.
15: If you were independently wealthy what is the one place on Earth you’d most like to visit? Why?
I have always said the Himalayas because I love mountains, and “Himalayas” sounds mythical and mysterious. But these days as I get back into photography, an old dream has reawakened. I would love to visit the ruins of Crusader castles in the Middle East. The ruins would be wonderful backgrounds for photographing women, who by the way, happen to be my favorite photographic subject.
16: What is your favorite color?
Either red or royal blue.
17: What is your favorite food?
Steak, French fries, creamed corn, and thick Texas toast.
18: What is your favorite movie?
Ah, either BLACK HAWK DOWN or LORD OF THE RINGS.
19: What is your favorite TV show?
THE WALKING DEAD!
20: What is your favorite holiday?
I can’t decide if it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Year’s.
Feldwebel Helmut Schneider wrinkled his nose at a faint odor carried on the dusty wind that swirled through the cab from the open window of the Opel Blitz truck. The growling truck at the head of a dusty column bounced along a rugged, barely visible path that wound across the haunted, timeless Tunisian desert toward a range of rugged hills on the horizon. It was another bright day, gloomy nonetheless because the Fifth Panzer Army was in continuous retreat, closely pursued by the British Eighth Army. He remembered that a “fighting withdrawal” was the preferred phrase for their westward movement, but he also remembered “a rose by any other name…”
Helmut was a stocky man with broad shoulders, short cropped hair, and piercing green eyes within a narrow grimy face. The eyes were tired now, exhausted. Through half-closed eyes the rifle squad leader become acting platoon sergeant, armed with an MP 40 Maschinenpistole across his lap, peered at the tan and yellowish sandy desert of low rocky ridges and flowing sand dunes, peppered with scattered brush. Dust clouds gathered by the wind drifted across the rolling landscape.
Two years of see-saw battles from Tunisia into Egypt and back, and the savage battles at Tobruk, and El Alamein, wore a man down. So did endless days and nights of hunting and being hunted, of rationing water, living on cold food, broiling by day, and freezing by night. A man was worn down by the bittersweet smell of frying bacon from burning tanks that young crewmen never escaped from, or burying comrades in the ocean of sand knowing that soon their final resting place would be lost forever as if they never existed.
This wasn’t the life that the young Helmut Schneider had dreamed of while growing up in the Bavarian Alps among the vineyards that his family tended. He wanted to be a famous explorer. Perhaps his father, a World War I veteran of the disgusting trenches and horrific gas warfare of the Western Front, felt the same at one time. Helmut discovered and pored over his father’s books of the German19th century explorers Gerhard Rohlfs and Gustav Nachtigal. Separately the men had explored the vast expanse of North Africa in the last half of the 19th century. Even in the 20th century there were vast stretches of Africa that remained to be explored in detail. Who knew what might still be discovered?
SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, a published photographer and photojournalist, and a member of the Military Writers Society of America. He is a serving member of the Army National Guard with the rank of staff sergeant, with prior service in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the 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); he has recently been told that he must retire from the Army National Guard on 1 July 2013. 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. Second-career goals include becoming a painter and studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology. After 12 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 December 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Hampton officially became a homeless Iraq War veteran.
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Thanks so much for being here Stan. I'll see you all next week.:-)