In college my least favorite era was the 1960s. Hippies, free love, war, protests, drugs and strange music – I did not relate to it at all. It wasn’t until I watched Miss Saigon on Broadway did I really start an interest into the time period I had avoided. One day I was sitting in the parking lot of my law firm job in Danbury listening to the music from the amazing musical and I started wondering what the story would be after Tam goes to live with Chris and Ellen. From there, just like The Blue Lute, an idea crept into my brain and Beneath the Wall was born.
It was the first full story I created that didn’t involve the New Kids on the Block or Superman fanfiction. I had written a lovely short historical fiction only once before about the Titanic, but this was the first one I was going to write with the intent of maybe it could be published. That whole summer I studied the 1960s and the Vietnam War. I learned so much and kept folders full of notes and time lines of the whole skirmish.
Soon the story I came up with didn’t resemble Miss Saigon at all. It was its own piece and it was beautiful. I fell in love with my characters and felt what they did more than any other story I had ever written. It was then that I knew that I wanted writing to be dream career.
I haven’t written a formal synopsis for Beneath the Wall yet but I can give the gist of the plot:
The book opens at the funeral of Juliane Parker. She is being mourned by her husband and three grown sons: Cal, Nick and Jesse. After escorting their distraught father away, a man approaches Jesse about his mother, but his description of her life was not of the mother Jesse knew. The information plagues him and soon Jesse and his wife are searching Juliane’s house for more evidence to support the old man’s characterization. With the years before 1970 absent from all of Juliane’s meticulous notes, Jesse finds one paper – a probate court document stating that his older brothers were adopted by Juliane not born to her like they were sought to believe. Renewed to find more information Jesse goes into a closet and steps through a broken floorboard. Inside is a journal with the dates 1966-1968 written on the first page.
As Jesse and his wife read the journal, the reader is transported to 1966 through Juliane’s vivid account of her time spent as a combat photojournalist in Da Nang, Vietnam living in a Marine camp.
Juliane Parker is an outsider working at Camp Dakota with the U.S. Marine Corp. She is ridiculed, teased, and left out of the life of the solider merely because she is female. After one night that ended in embarrassment at her expense, Juliane fights back and gives becoming a Marine her all. She is mildly accepted but only by a few. One in particular is Mack Roberts, a sergeant who’s lineage includes a Naval Captain father and a Japanese mother. He too, is not accepted by his peers because he is fighting in a country where the Asian man is the enemy and the others see him only for what he looks like not for the American that he is.
Juliane and Mack form a bond that last their time in the war. They see battles and controversy together enough to bring their friendship to the point of love. From there on our there are a few twists and turns that lead to the final revolution of the elusive biology of the three Parker sons.
(I really need to work on a better synopsis :)… but you get the point.) Thanks for reading!