We figured we’d expand on Richard’s post from yesterday in sharing some more information about Hearts and Mines author Russell Snyder.
Why did you decide to write this book? What prompted you to put this story down on paper?
I began the manuscript seeking a kind of catharsis after repeated deployments to Iraq. As I continued to write and read I discovered an almost total absence of stories like mine in the marketplace. It became more important for me to share the story of Hearts and Mines as I recognized both my ability to actually complete it and what I perceived to be my responsibility to share a story of the human cost of war in a time defined by conflicts across the globe.
How much research did you do for the book? Can you give us some tips on this?
Most of Hearts and Mines was written from memory and personal notes. Additionally, I consulted contemporary news accounts of the events described in the book and the stories of fellow service members, and read several books written by other veterans of the Iraq war. Ultimately, your voice must be your own. Aside from personal experience and research, your greatest resource is likely to be eye-witness accounts and the relationships you build with mentors and fellow experts.
When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?
As a child, I never imagined I would become a writer. I much preferred playing in the dirt to picking up a pen, and dreamed of one day becoming an archaeologist. Perhaps that’s the reason my handwriting has always been so poor. It was so terribly illegible, in fact, that one summer my father bought me a fountain pen and encouraged me to practice my penmanship by writing a short story. I found a certain satisfaction in the way writing allowed me to express myself as spoken words seldom could. Unfortunately my handwriting has not improved much since that summer, but I have kept on writing.
Do you have any advice for budding military history authors wanting to get published?
You will be rejected. You will be discouraged. The key to your success, though, is persistence. Take the time to read the guidelines for submission posted on many publishers’ websites, and follow them. If you can, find an agent willing to represent your work, as many publishers simply refuse to accept unsolicited manuscripts unless they come from an agent. If you are lucky enough to receive back constructive criticism along with a rejection, welcome and internalize it. Recognize as well that publishing is a business. Knowing or reaching the right people can be just as important in getting your work published as the words you write. Be professional, be organized, and above all, never give up on yourself.
Thank you Russell, and we look forward to reading Hearts and Mines in March 2012.