Take it away!
(Q) Thanks for stopping by my blog! Let’s start with the basics: where are you from? Is there any place online you’d like to direct us to learn more about you?
Meradeth, thank you for having me. I’m from Muskogee, Oklahoma. As for knowing more about me, well, there is my Facebook – S Hampton Sr.
(Q) I always love hearing about how the idea for a particular book came about. Please fill us in on how you got the idea for “Better Than a Rabbit’s Foot.”
Serving in the Army National Guard, including being mobilized for Federal active duty away from home followed by an overseas deployment, presented a wealth of opportunities. I had infrequent contact with my children while mobilized and deployed. Because I was one of three Mail Clerks in my company I saw up close the happiness when Soldiers received letters and packages from home, particularly when from wives or girlfriends. I felt a sense of happiness when I received a letter or package from kind strangers who took the time to write “TO AN AMERICAN SOLDIER.” I also thought how much better it would be if I did have a loved one who wrote to me. The mission of the artillery battalion that I and other Soldiers from Nevada and Maine served in as volunteers was a SECFOR mission—security force for supply convoys bound for a variety of camps throughout Iraq. Just about everyone had a lucky charm of one sort or another—I wore a Celtic cross on the chain with my “dog tags,” the little metal ID tags that identify your blood type, or simply to identify you, just in case. So among the many ideas and thoughts developed through my deployment, was the story of a Soldier who discovers his own lucky charm.
(Q) Which authors have most influenced your own writing?
The writers who most influenced me are Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Frederick Forsythe, Jean Larteguy, H.P. Lovecraft, and Robert E. Howard. I appreciate the writings of James Michener and Leon Uris. I am also, surprisingly to me, impressed by Steinbeck and Faulkner.
(Q) What do you do for fun other than writing?
I like to paint, though so far I have not discovered any unique talent for it. One can always hope, though. I like to visit with my grandchildren, and meet with fellow Guard Soldiers for lunch or dinner, and a few drinks. Because I live in Las Vegas, once in awhile I like to go by a casino to gamble less than $5.00—I dislike losing money, and Vegas was built on the money of losers—and have a couple of beers.
(Q) If you could describe your ideal writing spot, where would it be? What music would you listen to (if at all)? What treats would you have on hand?
My ideal writing spot would be a carpeted study and plenty of bookcases for hundreds of reference books, a big wooden desk with everything I need at hand, particularly coffee with French Vanilla Creamer, and a pack of cigarettes (I have been advised to give up cigarettes, but decades long habits are difficult to break). A couple of beers substituted for coffee is okay too. The music I like ranges from Blackmore’s Night to Buddha Lounge to Eric Clapton to Enigma to Lady Gaga. My favorite treat is apples with Kraft Caramels.
(Q) Plotter or pantser? Both? Neither?
It depends. Usually I will plot what I am going to write, but sometimes the writing takes on a life of its own, and the plot goes out the window. Sometimes the change is the result of seeing how the work might be better, other times the change is simply because a shift in direction without knowing how it will impact the overall work feels better. It is kind of like a gut feeling. And when I listen, my gut feelings have never failed me.
(Q) Do you have any new projects that you are working on? Care to share?
Well, I am working on a short story presenting my version of a zombie apocalypse. I also have a Cthulhu-based novella in progress that takes place during World War II. And, there is another novella in progress—a haunted German Tiger tank in North Africa during World War II. Though I enjoy writing in a variety of genres, I tend to lean toward horror and the supernatural, usually combined with a military background.
(Q) What kinds of marketing do you think are the most successful in terms of getting your name/book out there? (Curious minds are taking notes!)
At the moment, the only marketing strategy I use is guest blogging followed by a promotion of one of my works. I do not have any figures that can prove or disprove the success of this avenue. I also bought my first SWAG a couple of months ago, bookmarks, so that the editors from one of my publishers could take them to a writers gathering. I do not know if that resulted in any increase in sales either. I also plan on trying different SWAGs during the coming year. And someday soon—I have been saying this for six months—I will have my own website up and running. Also someday soon, I plan on putting up an Author’s page on Goodreads, and Amazon, among others.
(Q) If you'd like to add anything, please do so.
Well, considering the time of the year, I’d like to wish everyone Happy Thanksgiving. To those serving on the far frontiers, stay safe, and when you finally return home, “Welcome Home!”
(Q) How about an excerpt to tantalize the readers?
EXCERPT: “People like a happy ending.”
Sergeant Jerry Stanton, an M4 Carbine slung across his chest, glanced at the dark form that trudged alongside him in the hot, early morning darkness. It was all the darker for the dust storm howling across the small camp, a dusty and sandy convoy support center, CSC, a mile south of the Iraqi border. He placed his hand over the tall styrofoam coffee cup from the messhall that was open at all hours to serve those about to head out on a mission. He felt the itchy dust filtering down his back, along his arms, and coating his fingers.
In spite of his short time deployed to Kuwait, he had learned that dust storms were worse than sand storms; they were hot and itchy while the sand storms stung exposed skin and chilled the air. Breakfast was good but tasted flat, more due to the question of whether their mission would be a go or no-go because of the storm that roared out of the midnight darkness hours before.
“People like a happy ending,” the soldier repeated. He was a gunner from another gun truck as the squat, venerable M1114 HMMWVs, which were never meant to be combat vehicles, were called. He held up a rabbit foot that spun frantically in the wind and added, “I like a happy ending. Especially now.” They rounded the corner of a small building, actually a renovated mobile home trailer with a covered wooden porch lit by a bare electric bulb. The gunner pointed to a small black flag, suspended from a log overhang, flapping furiously in the wind.
“Oh shit.” Jerry sighed as a cold chill raced through him.
“It’s been there for an hour or so,” the soldier said as he enclosed the rabbit’s foot within both hands and brought it up to his lips as if to kiss it. He glanced at Jerry. “I’m not superstitious, but still, I mean, there’s nothing wrong with having a lucky charm. You know?”
“Yeah.” Jerry nodded as he watched the twisting flag. “I know.”
The soldier looked once more at the black flag and then walked toward the shower and restroom trailers beyond which were the air-conditioned sleeping tents they called home…
|A bit about this picture, because it's incredibly cool:|
It's taken on the steps of Great Ziggurat of Ur, Sumeria (Tallil AFB, Iraq).
SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 grandchildren, and a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). He served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004; he was mobilized for active duty for almost three years after his enlistment. He continues to serve in the Guard, where he holds the rank of staff sergeant. He is a published photographer and photojournalist, an aspiring painter, and is studying for a degree in anthropology—hopefully to someday work in underwater archaeology. He has wanted to be a writer since he was 15 years old; his first short story was published in 1992, after which it wasn’t until 2001 that he had another short story published. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories, and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, Ruthie’s Club, Lucrezia Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. As of December 2011, he became the latest homeless Iraq war veteran in Las Vegas, Nevada.