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A Few Words with James Savik

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Today I'm interviewing Awesomedude author James Savik. James, how are you?

Not bad. Installing some fiber optic stuff for a local contractor. Making some cash. I'm feeling it though. I'm not as young as I used to be and its hard work.

So how old are you now.

Old enough to know better.

In reading your work, there is something of a dark side to it. Shadows of the Dragon and Operation Hammerhead are both revolve around war and conflict. Isn't that odd for someone who started out in gay fiction?

I'm very much a child of the Cold War. I wasn't supposed to be gay. I was supposed to be another good soldier in a long line of soldiers and kick Uncle Sam's enemies in the scrotum. Most people probably don't know that I was born on an Army base in West Germany to a Army Colonel who commanded a company of tanks. When the Six Day War broke out in the Middle East, my Dad's unit went on high alert. My Mom, older brother and I flew to the states shortly thereafter. He stayed in the Army and retired with 30 years in 1972.

You and your Dad- I get the feeling that...

Let's not go there OK. I know I'm still trying to live up to the man. I've always been in awe of him. He was a farm boy from Smith County, Mississippi. He joined the Army Air Corp at 17 in 1942 and became a bomber crewman- a flight engineer. They soon discovered that he could fix most anything and he won a pile of decorations for patching up his plane after flak chewed it up. He ended up with a Bronze Star, Distinguished Service Ribbon and a lot of "fruit salad" for his uniform.

He came home and became the first man in the family to go to college and finished his degree in 1950- just in time to get called up for Korea.

That was a very different experience.

Yes it was. he went from bomber crewman to infantry platoon leader and it was a horrible experience in the mud and blood.

He distinguished himself in Korea.

He did but he never talked about it. I knew he had a silver star but didn't know the circumstances of it until after his death. He was in the 2nd Infantry Division. It was activated and arrived in Korea just in time to relieve the Pusan Pocket. The men of the 2nd ID got off the boat and were literally on the front lines in a matter of a few hours. They had their first casualties two and a half hours off the boat.

The Pusan Perimeter was the last toe-hold on Korea that UN forces had and the North Koreans were throwing everything they had at it: tanks, artillery, mortars and hoards and hoards of infantry. They would move at night. One night soon after they arrived the North Koreans backed by tanks and artillery decided to push right through his part of the lines. They were almost over run. In desperation, he called in artillery and air strikes (the following morning) almost on top of his position.

The platoon lost almost a third of its strength but they held. My father never claimed his Silver Star and never wore it because I think some of his men were killed by friendly fire and he blamed himself.

How did he end up in tanks?

He rose to the rank of Captain by the time Korea ended. He told his commanding general that if he ever had to go to war again, he wanted to ride. He ended up with the 3rd Armored Division in Germany and stayed there until ~1972.

Your father sounds like a tough act to follow.

He was. I tried but finally realized that it wasn't a competition. I would have been a lot better off if I had learned that much sooner.

You seem to return to war and conflict in your writing.

That's where the drama is: high stakes, suspense, tension and of course- conflict. I don't want to read about Hester Prin and the Scarlet Letter. People talking about their feelings... that's an alien concept to me. I want to read some thing that exciting, has some action, suspense and challenges the character to grow.

Something tells me there is a lot more sub-text here.

This isn't politically correct and will probably shock some people but I believe that mans natural state is war.


Incredible? Not really. By now you've probably grasped that I've studied history in depth. You know how long the world has been at peace in the last two thousand years?

I don't know.

The total time in days and years the world has been at peace in the past 2000 years is exactly ZERO. Right now there are at least a hundred hot and cold wars going on around the world.

That astonishing.

Not really. Human nature is what it is. The really sad part of it is that most of the planet is living in denial of our very own nature. It's the reason that plays written centuries ago still work. It's the reason that Henry the V and Julius Ceaser still stir the mind and make the heart race. Men fight. It's our job. It's in our blood and genes and until we realize it, until we meet the inner warrior, we are lost.

Dude. You are seriously insane.

No- think it through. We all fight for something in one way or the other. It is the battles that we chose that define us: the stands that we take, the sacrifices that we make, the hardships that we endure and the risks that we are willing to take. Those are the things that define us and make us worthwhile human beings.

The world is what it is. People are what they are. You decide what you are and what you stand for.

Is that why you return to martial themes?

That's where the life or death drama is. I don't want to write about crime. I think the media glorifies it and when you look at most criminals, they are sad people that need to be looked after. The real masterminds of crime are in congress.

What are your plans?

Finish my current book: Operation Hammerhead hopefully this year. Revisit Shadow of the Dragon, dress it up and try to publish it.

Are there any sequels in the future?

Maybe. I would have to see how they stand up.

Thanks James. You're completely insane but it sort of works for you.

Good night.

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