Long Way Home: A World War II Novel is historical fiction and I have been at work on the project for more than five years. The idea began in a very informal way after a series of conversations with a friend’s aunt who was a WWII veteran and one of the 150,000 members of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. Her memories of life at the Ft. Huachuca Army base provide the novel’s setting and emotional center.
My father also served in WWII as a Private First Class. He enlisted in 1943, just shy of 18 years old and worked in the Transportation Corps. We spoke only a few times about his army service but he recounted fondly the many places he’d seen during his service, among them: New Orleans, San Francisco and Liverpool, England. He wasn’t one of the “stand out” black soldiers of WWII–like the Tuskegee Airmen or naval hero Dorie Miller–he was just a regular soldier.
After Ken Burns’ produced his iconic The War series (amidst allegations of omitting the contributions of Latino soldiers*) I began to imagine there were many men and women, like “aunt” Lil and my father, who never won Medals of Honor during WWII or even got to the front lines, but whose service was nevertheless honorable.
The research that was required of the storytelling was daunting and many times I thought I’d bitten off more than I could chew. Ultimately, doing the research became an exhilirating treasure hunt.
Long Way Home has romance, conflict, celebration, humor and also detail about the tenor and tone of a segregated Army experience that is a microcosm of the Negro experience in 1940’s America.
* Hundreds of thousands of Hispanics served in the military during WWII; and 13 Hispanic servicemen were awarded the Medal of Honor for their WWII service.
Long Way Home is available as an eBook
updated July 2013 (original post April 2011)