Thinking must precede writing done well. I have been accused of doing too much of the former and not enough of the latter, though in my mind things have settled out just as intended on a higher level. Writers, along with everyone inspired, recognize the experience of being set to a preordained purpose. So it is here at Single Candle Press approaching September 24, 2016. The date will be the official release of Novel8/Sean3, King of a Lesser Hill.
Sean’s third is set in 1995, specifically the turbulent time of the Bosnian Civil War immediately prior to the lifting of the siege of Sarajevo. This intermediate title in Sean’s File is another look at the making of the man who has become for many their favorite of my characters. The Daniel Sean Ritter we met under one of his many pseudonyms in my debut novel—quiet, unassuming, settled in the philosophy supporting his duty, and very deadly—appeared after living twenty years of a serviceman’s life. I felt compelled from the beginning to discover the rest of his story.
Operation Naji and Romeo Down: A Short Story started that, and his third title fills in more blanks. His time line designated the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a waypoint. Little did I know how researching Lesser Hill would affect me. KLH will publish with a trigger warning, my first to do so:
*This novel portrays acts of atrocity during the Bosnian Civil War of the 1990s. Though presented with sensitivity, some scenes might prove disturbing to survivors of conflict and/or violence against women.
The media called it ethnic cleansing, which is a sanitizing phrase for the worst of what opposed demographics of our species choose to do to each other. It is difficult to see good people suffer. It’s a personal challenge to write, and might be more than some care to read. But such things happen in life, as do the violence, profanities, and sexual situations which have caused some readers problems in my fiction.
Some react with avoidance, others with criticism. The folk I hope can appreciate what I am doing are ones who can encounter such themes without shying away. Lessons as provided only by a story from trying times provide the worthwhile payload for Lesser Hill.
Ritter’s novels, like Jon Anthony’s, are about the people he encounters as much as they are about the man himself. Terrence Bain Bradley, a fixture in my Boone’s File novels, appears here in his capacity as a young CIA analyst. Likewise, you will meet fledgling Bosnian journalist Lucia Dorotea Crnjak, whose efforts at maintaining her written accounts give us deep insight into her bright, brave soul.
“There must be some difference between what they are and what we become, or it no longer matters who wins,” Luci observes. The events portrayed in my fiction are a means to an end, which is the small goal of going forward with my readers from then on. Conflict is a vital element of fiction done well, and a story’s antagonists need to contrast through their depravity the virtues one hopes will carry the day. Faith says it is the same everywhere, though sometimes our perspective might not be farsighted enough to provide that assurance. May it be so always.
“I write so that people do not forget what happened,” Luci also says. So do I. King of a Lesser Hill was a tough novel to produce, a challenge to edit, and doubtless will be equally difficult for some to read. But we cannot shy away from observing the ugliness of inhumane choices and be the source of wisdom and means for correction a fallen world needs.
Civilized folk cannot be derelict in their duty to such an extent without enabling insufferable decline. As more people yield ground faith should have them contest, it is occupied by the enemy. The same dynamic occurs in nations, communities, congregations, and individuals.
The fire having consumed so much of 1995 Bosnia could rekindle in the United States of the near future. Absorbing the lesson of the world’s late intervention there is our challenge today as our polarized nation debates its future. It must matter which side wins here also, as it did for Luci and Sean in King of a Lesser Hill. I can only hope you will read the novel and agree.
Choose to love, -DA