With the publication of John Moody, Navy SEAL; The Kola Peninsula Conspiracy a month away, I thought an introduction to this John Moody adventure might be in order–as well as an introduction to John Moody himself. And don’t miss the reduced-price, pre-publication order-period special!
When I write a novel, I first come up with a theme for the story, then develop a plot around that theme. Plot development usually entails, at least for me, a problem or issue that has to be resolved by some sort of special-operations response or military special-operations mission. More recently the action has been driven by a terrorist or some nefarious non-state actor; the clandestine maneuvers of an unfriendly government, like China or North Korea; or an evil secret plan by a rogue element within a friendly government. With the plot in place, I then go about staffing the story with characters—the good guys and the bad guys, and setting them into motion. When I’m really on my game, the characters take over and do all the work. I just run along behind taking notes and recording what they do. When it works, it’s great fun. Yet, that was not the case for John Moody.
Before I hatched the plot for The Kola Peninsula Conspiracy, John Moody appeared. One evening over a beer with one of my military pals, he asked me to describe the ideal Navy SEAL–who was he, where did he come from, what might be his background, what might be his mind set, and so on? Well, I came up with the usual bromide; he had to be fit, focused, comfortable in the water, a good runner, and really–I mean really– want to be a Navy SEAL. Later on, I got to thinking, just what are the traits of this ideal SEAL? Who is this guy, and what makes him tick? Having myself struggled through SEAL training, I knew there was no such prototype. In every SEAL training class, there are those trainees who enter UDT/SEAL training with a full measure of the physical and mental gifts they need to succeed. Yet they fail. And in every class there are those “grey men” in the middle of the pack, guys who at first glance appear to be unimpressive and marginally qualified. They seem to go along unnoticed. But they refuse to quit, and at the end of the ordeal, they are still standing. So in real life, there is no ideal SEAL candidate or, for that matter, a perfect template for an operational SEAL. There is no silver-bullet-type who is predisposed to success, just as there are no written tests or personality inventories to test the heart of an aspiring SEAL or any other special operator.
But in fiction, I can do this–I can invent this person. In fact, it’s my job. After giving it some thought, if there were to be this ideal Navy SEAL–this paragon, he would be someone like John Moody. He, like Moody, would be tough, versatile, smart–maybe more crafty than smart, and a guy who likes to raise a little hell. He would lead from the front, take pride in his professional skill, and care deeply for his teammates. He would not be fearless but could overcome his fears to get the job done. He might question his orders but not his duty. He would never ask one of this men to do something he was not prepared to do himself. His men follow him because they trust him. His senior enlisted leaders value him because he listens to them. He has a sense of humor, and the best laugh is the one that’s on him. His word is his bond, he speaks truth to power, and he knows loyalty works up and down the chain of command.
John Moody is the kind of Navy SEAL and teammate we all wish we could be or wish we could have been. In The Kola Peninsula Conspiracy and beyond, he’s the best of the good guys in all my novels. He’s not just one of my characters; he’s my friend, my fictional teammate, and my hero. To me, he’s very, very real and the essence of a SEAL leader. I hope you will come to like John Moody as much as I do.
A word about this first John Moody adventure. Our story begins in late 1992 and carries into the first few days of 1993. Physically, it takes place in the northern reaches of the new Russian Republic on the Kola Peninsula at the confluence of the Barents Sea and the White Sea. It’s a story of nuclear proliferation on the part of the Russian Federation and our efforts to put a stop to it. In retrospect it was a very dangerous and uncertain time. The final days of the Soviet Union were unsettling and chaotic as the first Russian leader was chosen in a democratically-held election. For the long-suffering Russian people it was a time of instability and crisis, and one no less unsettling for the Russian military.
For reference in time, the Berlin Wall, the symbol of the Iron Curtain and Cold War, came down in November of 1989. In June of 1991, Boris Yeltsin was chosen as president-elect, followed by an aborted coup attempt by reactionary factions in August of 1991. The coup failed when the Russian army refused to fire on crowds that massed in Moscow in support of Yeltsin and democracy. The last President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, resigned on 25 December, 1991. The Soviet Union was dissolved the following day as Boris Yeltsin was sworn in as the first president of the Russian Republic. Then began the slow transition from a centrally-managed Soviet economy to the unruly brand of capitalism we find in Russia today. It was a time of struggle and uncertainty for this writer as well. I first wrote the book with the Soviet system and power structure still in place. After the birthing of the Russian Republic, I had to go back and recast the story to account for the new order in Russia.
In preparing this reprint, I again reviewed the manuscript and I did a little fact-checking. Not surprisingly, I found a few errors; not many, but a few. And this took me back in time. When I first wrote the book, I spent a lot of time in the library, prowling the stacks in the reference, looking up data. The web did not arrive until 1990 and first search engine, the Web Crawler, not until 1994. The novelist’s friend, Google, was not in common usage until 1998. I also recall that I first wrote this book on my new and very first word processor; my previous two works had been done on a typewriter. It was a Selectric II with a self-correcting feature, but still a typewriter. So it was a much different world back then, both for Russia and an aspiring writer working on this third novel.
For those of you who have followed my fiction, please again note that this first accounting of the exploits of John Moody was in Silent Descent in 1993. Now he’s back in the lead book of the John Moody series. I hope you enjoy the exploits of this special Navy SEAL as much as I did in revisiting his first adventure.