On Afghanistan’s Plains has been ‘on the streets’ for two months now and I thought that I should share some of my journey with the world as it has been an amazing experience.
The first very pleasant surprise was that there was sufficient interest in the book to mean that I had sales from Day One. The biggest fear when sharing such a personal story with the world is that nobody will want to buy it. So, the book has not shot to the top of the amazon charts and I have not been inundated with phone calls from national newspapers, or any newspapers for that matter, but it is selling. To date, between the paperback and kindle editions, I have sold more than 100 copies, which is great considering my initial aim was to sell one!
The second greatest fear was that the book would not be well received. Again, because this is my story, told in my own words, in publishing the book, there was a strong feeling that I was putting my head above the parapet. This sense was heightened by inviting some of those that I had served alongside and who feature in the story to read the book. Thankfully, the book has received some very positive feedback from friends and strangers alike:
“Just a quick note to say how humbled I was by the words in your book. The last 2 pages certainly put a lump in my throat. Your actions in the aid of our soldiers will live with me forever.” Steve (formerly Platoon Sergeant of 10 Platoon, C Company, 1 Royal Anglian).
“Finally received my copy today. The book got stuck in the BFPO system. Haven’t been able to put it down, bringing back many great memories. Thanks Baz and well done on keeping such a detailed diary.” Phil (formerly Officer Commanding C Company, 1 Royal Anglian).
“A thoroughly compelling read, recounting a six-month tour in Helmand Province in 2007 in the role of senior nursing officer. The vivid, no-nonsense prose brings to life the setting, the characters and the grim facts of day-to-day existence in this brutal, asymmetric conflict.” ‘Ersatz Coffee’ (Amazon Review).
“This is not the usual run of Afghan fayre. It is a triumph that will leave you humbled, proud and confident in the quality of our young men and women in uniform. If you want to know about leadership this book will give you some powerful clues. If you want to know how to be an Army nurse then this book is a seminal work. No library should be without it and no professional, regardless of his or her field, should not have read it.” Anonymous Amazon Customer.
The best thing about writing and publishing the book is the new friends that I have made. In week that the book was published, I was invited by Mick Cook, Australian Army Officer and podcaster, to be interviewed for his Dead Prussian Podcast. Mick has interviewed an eclectic bunch of artists, wordsmiths and academics who have in interest in war and conflict. My interview with Mick was recorded two days after launch day and was a great experience. Mick’s podcast can be found here, my interview is Episode 11. A week or two after launch, my book was discovered by Dr Viv Newman. Viv is a historian and author of a series of books about the role of women during the Great War. One of Viv’s books Nursing Through Shot and Shell tells the story of nursing and nurses during the Great War – which has a clear link to my own story. Viv and I also share links to Essex (she lives there, I used to live there and much of my time in Afghanistan was spent with C (Essex Company) 1 Royal Anglian) and her daughter is married to a Warrant Officer in an English Infantry Regiment. You can find more details of Viv’s books on her website.
Through Viv, I have been invited to serve as a judge for the Never Such Innocence poetry competition. This competition commemorates the centenary of the Great War and accepts entries from children aged 9 to 16 in the UK and Commonwealth. It is a great honour to be invited to take on this role and I cannot wait to be involved. The poetry competition is one of several projects run by the Never Such Innocence charity, other projects include the staging of Shakespeare plays by a company of players consisting of Combat Veterans. You can find out more about Never Such Innocence here.
Rhiannon Harradine was one of the first people to read my book, as a young lady with a soldier in her life, Rhiannon was kind enough to leave a review and explain that my book had helped her to understand him and his world a little better. Rhiannon has a keen interest in politics and frequently posts to her politicsgirl blog. I do not agree with all of Rhiannon’s political sentiments, but she writes with insight and maturity beyond her years and I am always enjoy reading her posts.
The last people that I must mention are from across the pond in the USA. Mary Tabor has been a wonderful mentor throughout the creative phase of writing On Afghanistan’s Plains and her friendship is truly valued. She is also the only person I know that has a Wikipedia page as well as a website! Romance author Liz Madrid has been a real ‘force multiplier’ by being brave enough to let me loose on her blog as a guest and creating some great cover reveals and generally telling people about my book. Last but not least, ‘Charlie Sherpa’ has been great at re-tweeting me and was kind enough to give my book a shout-out when he was interviewed by author Katey Schultz about FOB Haiku, his anthology of Afghanistan-inspired poetry.
So, two months in and proud to be able to officially call myself an author, stardom and riches are certainly not on the horizon, but I am enjoying the ride and love that I have discovered some wonderful people along the way.