How did you come up with the idea for this story?
While researching an earlier novel set during World War II (The Homecoming), I came across an amazing story about a young man who had done some extraordinary, heroic things in battle; saving countless lives and almost losing his own. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor, then went home after the war and lived in virtual obscurity, working as a janitor in an
. Decades later, one of the
cadets was reading an account of World War II heroes and recognized the name of
this same janitor he and his fellow cadets walked by everyday and never paid
attention to. Of course, life changed dramatically for this forgotten war hero
after that. Air Force Academy
It got me thinking about all of the “invisible people” we pass by every day in life, particularly the elderly, and it made me wonder what amazing stories some of them might tell if we only took the time to listen. I decided to make my forgotten hero in The Reunion a Vietnam War vet, which gave me the opportunity to honor a whole generation of forgotten war heroes. I grew up during this difficult chapter of
history and saw how terribly we treated the vets coming home from that war
compared to the way we treat them now.
Of course, I’ve woven in a significant love story sub-plot into The Reunion, as well.
It wouldn't be a Dan Walsh novel without that love story. If you were planning a party with Christian authors of contemporary fiction, what six people would you invite and why?
Karen Kingsbury – She’s the biggest seller of contemporary Christian fiction and she also did a series with Gary Smalley (like I’m doing now). Would love to listen and learn from her. I’d invite James Rubart and Dr. Harry Kraus, two good friends and great authors (we’re about to start a new blog together). Terri Blackstock and Colleen Coble, both write great suspense novels (of course, Colleen also writes historical). Both of these ladies have helped me in some wonderful ways. And finally, Deborah Raney, another friend and one of the sweetest ladies in Christian fiction, IMO.
Now let’s do that for a party for Christian authors of historical fiction, what six people would you invite and why?
Lena, you’d be at the
top of that list. I wouldn’t think of having such a part without you there. I’d
invite Sarah Sundin, another Revell author who writes great WW2 love stories. I
suppose I could invite Colleen Coble to this party, too, since she writes
historical novels also. I’d have to invite Julie Lessman, who also writes for
Revell, is a good friend and a funny lady. I’d also invite Davis Bunn and
Francine Rivers, both legends, so much I could learn from them.
Thank you, Dan. I’d love attending that party. Many times, people (and other authors) think you have it made with so many books published. What is your most difficult problem with writing at this time in your career?
Definitely would need quite a few more readers than I have now to say I “have it made.” Hoping that happens, where my readership is large enough to sustain my writing career indefinitely. But I’m still working very hard at it and, at least for now, I’m not earning anywhere near what I was paid as a pastor. But I think my biggest challenge at the moment isn’t the money. Sadly, writing 8 books in 4 years has taken a toll on my arms and hands. It’s mostly my fault, writing with poor posture on a small laptop, but I’m recovering from both carpal tunnel and ulna nerve damage right now. I’m doing all my writing from a headset with a voice-recognition program (so grateful for that).
I’ve wondered if I should do that, too. Tell us about the featured book.
Here’s a recent review of The Reunion that summarizes the story quite well:
Aaron Miller is a hero. A fact very few know. Most wouldn’t glance twice at the aging handyman who lives in a storage room. The
Vietnam vet himself doesn’t believe
he’s a hero. Not after he returned home only to lose his family and everything
he cared about because he couldn’t get his life together. Despite cleaning up
his act and turning his life over to God years ago, his ex-wife made it clear
that there is no room for him in the life of his children. They have moved on
and so should he. With Christmas coming up, Aaron is resigned to spending yet
another holiday alone with little more than memories and an old picture of his
kids as company. But three men haven’t forgotten the one who saved their lives
40 years earlier in a far-away jungle and they are determined to find him.
Dave Russo dreams of writing a book about
veterans in an attempt to connect with the father he lost to that war. To fund
his project, he undertakes the task of finding a man who may not even be alive.
With little more than a name, he sets out on a practically impossible mission.
Along the journey he meets people that will change his life forever.
Dan Walsh delivers another heart-wrenching novel with The Reunion. Honestly, I felt a bit apprehensive starting out. I absolutely loved Walsh’s The Discovery and couldn’t imagine how anything could come up to that. It didn’t take me long to realize I worried about nothing. The Reunion is a beautiful story that tugs at the heart-strings and plays with the reader’s emotions. I lost track of how many times my throat constricted and my eyes filled with tears only to have a huge smile appear on my face a few minutes later. There were moments, especially towards the end when I experienced both at the same time.
Please give us the first page of the book.
There are only a few scenes more beautiful and tranquil than a forest of live oaks. They are not like the jungle, crowded with thick tangles of foliage that slap you in the face as you walk by. That mattered to Aaron Miller.
Even forty years later, Aaron was afraid of jungles.
The ground around live oaks is mostly bare. The trees give each other plenty of space. With massive trunks rising up from the earth, often several feet in diameter, limbs as thick as trees themselves. Sprawling outward the limbs mingle with the branches of other live oaks forming an intricate network of curves and arches. Spanish moss hangs from almost every bough, whispering when gentle breezes blow.
A hundred years ago, the place where Aaron Miller lived was just such a forest, splendid and majestic, untouched by man.
Aaron thought about all this during his quiet time that morning. Maybe it was the picture he had seen the day before, taken some sixty years ago. A black and white photograph of a simple farmhouse, built between two of the largest trees in the forest. The house almost seemed to belong there, resting in the forest’s shade, enjoying its protection.
Today, that farmhouse stood where it always had. But a few more rooms had been added. The biggest addition housed pool tables, video games, pinball machines and a public restroom. Another served as a general store where any number of woodsy things could be bought. Citronella candles and mosquito spray, fuel for a Coleman stove, bags of ice.
From that sixty year mark to the present, more than half the original oak trees were gone, the majority cut down to make room for trailer hookup sites and bumpy dirt roads. All of this to create Bentley’s Trailer Park & Campground.
Aaron was the handyman at Bentley’s, lived in a storage room just across the way from the main house. Mr. Bentley only docked his pay a hundred-and-fifty dollars a month for the privilege.
I absolutely loved this book. How can readers find you on the Internet?I’m all over the place, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, Goodreads. But probably the best place is to come to my website. You can connect with me on most of those other places there. It’s www.danwalshbooks.com
Thank you, Dan, for the wonderful story ... and for sharing it with us.
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Reunion, The: A Novel - paperback
Reunion, The: A Novel - Kindle
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