So, yesterday saw the release of my non-zombie novel, UnCivil War: A Modern Day Race War in the United States. It was a difficult thing to write knowing that there would be people angry right away. However, it is a story that I felt I needed to get out of my system. After all, it has been brewing since 1993. It is just that I never had the homefront support in my writing career that I have now. So, instead of a blurb or excerpt (which I have already done) I thought that I would share my introduction. That is a part of the book that I know many people skip just because they want to get to the story.
Have a great weekend.
This book is going to make some people angry.
I want to apologize in advance for what is probably going to be the longest forward that I have ever written. What I won’t be apologizing for is the content of this book. It is meant to get you to consider the precipice that I believe we have been walking for over two decades.
I first started tinkering with the premise for this novel way back in 1992 during the “Rodney King Riots” that swept through South Central Los Angeles. That said, I was not as dedicated to writing then as I am now. I get to do what I love for a living and this project was pulled off the shelf and given top priority when things began to unravel in Ferguson, Missouri.
The original idea was more in line with a Tom Clancy novel. I was going to write all these battle scenes and really give this epic image of a war-torn nation. Well, I am no Tom Clancy. I lack his knowledge of our military weapons and such. Sure, it is all out there and easy to research; but I eventually decided that that was not my actual message.
Yes. You read that correctly. I actually do have a message couched in this book. No, I am not going to reveal it. I think it is more important that you find it for yourself. If I tell you ahead of time, then I will have formed how you go at reading this book.
So, a few things to bring up here; I fully anticipate having people call me a racist after reading this book. White. Black. Every shade in between. There is some very unpleasant language here. Sorry, but people use this sort of language. It is difficult to write from the POV of an angry Black man or woman and not use words or introduce thoughts that can be offensive. It is also hard to write from the view of a white supremacist and have him not say things that most will consider vulgar. That is simply the way it is.
You might notice that I interchange the term “Black” and “African-American” not only in the story, but in general. Honestly, I don’t know what to use any more (and that is part of the cultural problem of talking about this subject). I have Black/African-American friends who scold me either way. Also, I use caps not only with “Black” but also with “White” just to make a point that this is a book about race. It has nothing to do with what is correct according to any style manual.
There are two semi-explicit scenes where women are sexually assaulted. I am sure many will say that I absolutely could have omitted them. Sorry, both were to push things in a certain direction. One was about hate, the other was actually about breaking a stereotype. They are unpleasant. Trust me, I know this and realize what doors that opens for reviewers and critics.
While I certainly do not believe that my having written this will inspire any sort of immediate rapprochement in the world of race relations, maybe it will get a few people talking about things if I am lucky. Even better, perhaps it will take down the walls we have of actually holding meaningful discussions about this with people of other races.
I can only speak for myself, but broaching this subject in mixed company can seem awkward at best. To me, that is part of the problem. How can we really make any headway in a problem if we can’t even talk about it? And if we think that the “Powers That Be” have any care or concern about really making changes here, then we are being delusional. There has to be a change down here at the human level. It has to come from each of us every single day.
One of the things that you often do as a writer is dream of what will come of your new release. “Will this be the one that shoots me up the charts and has me invited on talk shows and the like?” Or, more simple things such as, “Will this sell enough to pay a few bills?” I would not be honest if I did not admit my high hopes for this particular book. It is a hot topic right now, and I will openly admit that even when I got back to writing, this sat on the “to-do” shelf until things began getting hot in the news again. It almost seemed like there was a story every week about another incident involving a police officer, a gun, and minorities. I had to clean this up and take a chance.
A few things I want to make very clear, although I imagine only the hardiest few have ventured this far into my blathering, so I don’t imagine it will be read that often, but I do not have any problems with police. They are like anything else; there are the good and the bad. And as far as skin color…I simply don’t care. I have met the best and the worst people…color is not an issue on how wonderful or awful a person can be. I use overblown stereotypes throughout this book to make a story. That is why this is called fiction.
That said, do I think something like this could ever really happen? More than I do a zombie apocalypse. I refer back to a quote credited to Tom Clancy, author of the military techno-thrillers I used to devour. When referring to the terrible events of September 11, 2001, he said:
“Four planes? That many people willing to die for the same cause at the same time? If any writer would have handed in a story like this, the publisher would have just handed it back and said ‘No way. Not believable.’”
When this book was in its infancy, I was ready to include scenes of street fighting between the civilians and the military. I had this epic story that would have probably run about triple the size of the book you are holding. As I said, I was a bit of a Clancy fan. However, I do not feel that is the important part of the story. I want to make it more about how fast we can plummet down this hole if we don’t fix things. I am certain that Rome thought it would remain an empire for all eternity. We all know how that turned out. I do think we have the ability to tear ourselves down from the inside.
Believe it or not, this book has been some of the most difficult writing of my life. Most of my zombie fans will probably skip this one. Some of my hardcore “TW Brown” fans will grab it just because I penned it. However, I anticipate that this will see a much different audience than I normally see.
In the end, I hope that you are at least entertained. I hope that you will post reviews after reading this story. More than anything, I hope this will maybe get a few people talking. Laugh at the premise, but maybe consider the ramifications of that tiny “what if” possibility and see where that conversation takes you. I would LOVE to hear about it.
As always, I want to thank you for taking a chance and picking up my book. I want to thank my many Beta readers who helped make this a better read (Jeff Shoemaker, Jamie Smith, Leesa Austin, April Cable, Heath Stallcup…you were all wonderful…and Melena Duff, you are simply priceless) without each of you, this book would be not be what it is. Thanks to my wife for her support and for leaving me to an empty house every day so I can make up stories. Last but not least, I want to thank the men and women who put their lives on the line every single day—the members of the law enforcement community, the military, and all who serve the public. Criticism is easy, praise is often lacking, and so let me just say that I am grateful for all of you