Three times I wish I hadn’t been right…

When I write, I like to push the limits. Doing so allows you to increase the tension and make a book more engaging and fun to read, obviously.

But at the same time, we all know the moment an author crosses the line into the unbelievable, you’re immediately tempted to stop reading. And not just that book, but possibly even future things the author writes. Thus I tread carefully, before I even get close to that line.

Nonetheless, here are my Top 3 push-the-envelope moments, which have unfortunately all been born out by reality after I published the book. Each in REALLY big ways. (And don’t worry, I’ll keep all three vague enough that they’re not spoiler alerts if you haven’t read the books.)

1 ) Prison breakout, Mexican Heat. In Mexican Heat, I needed to have a cartel leader break out of the country’s most secure prison. I knew there were real life instances of break outs in more moderate prisons, but it would be seriously unrealistic for my character to be placed in a medium-secure facility. So in Mexican Heat, I had to take my chances and write that he was able to break out of the country’s most-secure prison. I thought I could take some heat for this, but thankfully readers agreed that in a country with a drug war that’s killed more than 60,000 people, a prison break out wasn’t that unbelievable. And then just a year after writing the book, ‘El Chapo’ Guzman escaped — even after our country warned Mexico he might.

2 ) Friendly fire incident, Afghanistan. In Afghan Storm, in order to facilitate some future turns of events, I needed to have a pretty serious friendly fire incident occur. Friendly fire incidents had occurred several times in the past decade-plus, but we’ve gotten better at preventing them. Unfortunately, I needed this to be a pretty serious incident, which I knew would be pretty unlikely. But it had to happen to make the book plot work, thus I wrote what I thought was a push-the-envelope attack, instigated by the Taliban, and hoped I wouldn’t be lambasted for it being outlandish. But just days after finishing the book, a Doctors Without Borders hospital suffered a far more horrendous and difficult-to-explain attack.

3 ) City seized, Afghanistan. Finally, in Afghan Storm, I wanted to have the Taliban seize a major city. But I knew I was pushing my luck BIG TIME on this one. ISIS has been pushing into Afghanistan, threatening the Taliban. And the country has seemed to stabilize and suffer fewer major Taliban attacks in recent years. But I believed I could make this attack believable, so I strategized with a prior Army Captain (and good friend) and did plenty of research on how it might occur. I SOOO did not want to be ridiculed for this scene, or hurt the possibilities for this book, which I felt was easily my best. In the end, I went with my gut, but worried greatly about the entire scenario. How would readers react? How bad would the reviews be? Could I even lose readers over it? But as you all know, while the book was literally publishing, the Taliban captured Kunduz, the capital of one of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. And they not only captured it, they controlled it for 15 days and freed hundreds of fellow militants from the local jail — neither of which I would have dared predict.

So on the positive side, my author career is likely safe for at least a little longer. But on the negative side, each of these things were horrendous events that have caused unbelievable harm and loss of life.

I can honestly say I wish none of them had come to pass, and that I was forced to vigorously try to defend such “outlandish” events in my books. That, certainly, would have beat the alternative.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

About meStan R. Mitchell writes some of the most action-packed, fast-moving gunfighter novels around. Tired of slow-paced, investigative novels that take 300 pages to excite you? Look no further! Stan is the best-selling author of 5 novels in 3 different time periods. He’s also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a former journalist who spent ten years in the newspaper business, learning how to hook the reader, cut out the filler, and just tell the story. In short, Stan is knowledgeable, he’s fast, and his books will blow you away. Don’t forget to subscribe for email alerts to keep up with his latest works.

12 Comments

Filed under National security, Nick Woods, Stories about my life

12 responses to “Three times I wish I hadn’t been right…

  1. You worry to much! Write for yourself, you know the story, write the
    story. Some will love it, others will hate it. You can’t please everyone,
    so don’t try. If your gut says take a chance, go with your gut, if someone
    doesn’t like it, tell them to go write there own dam book.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Stan,
      You read what Bruce said, and I’ll double it:
      “If your gut says take a chance, go with your gut,…”. As for the rest of his sentence, he is a whole lot more polite than I.
      You’ve got good instincts. Trust them.
      BTW, today I picked up a 1944 Winchester M1 Carbine in ‘like new’ condition.
      Email to follow, because it ain’t going to stay ‘like new’ for long.
      SF,
      OG

      Like

  2. Unfortunately it happens. Click on the attached link for an article on Coast Guard personnel killed in wounded in Viet Nam by friendly fire from the U. S. Air Force.
    http://www.uscg.mil/history/webcutters/point_welcome.asp
    You will find the report under the section: Cutter History.

    Bill

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing that, Bill. Had I not read it, I would have almost found it inconceivable that a ship of that size could be mistakenly attacked… Just very sad.

      Like

    • Like the part where the Chief takes charge and saves the day.
      Significant error in the armament – the “82mm” mortar is a communist bloc weapon. The good guys (that would be us) used the “81mm” mortar – about 100 pounds of hurt locker that got much heavier as the day wore on

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t find any of these totally unbelievable. In fact, the friendly fire scene in “Afghan Storm” was kind of eerie to me, the way it presaged the hospital incident.

    I’m such a cynic that when staff at the hospital that got bombed immediately started screaming “atrocity,” I wondered what they were trying to cover up.

    Oh well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hey, I’m a cynic, too, Tim! lol!

      I’d love to know the real truth about this attack because there’s no way they didn’t know it was a hospital. (They’ve even admitted they knew, if I recall one story correctly.)

      I’d just love to know what target (or targets) were in that hospital. The cynic in me says someone made a calculation and decided it was worth the collateral damage. Maybe not, but that would be my guess.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Doctors w/o borders chose sides a long time ago – the side that is NOT us. The political side of that outfit won’t ever change, but their troops in the field do good work.
    Prescience is a pretty amazing trait for an author – think of Tom Clancy in “Debt of Honor”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Prescience is a pretty amazing trait for an author – think of Tom Clancy in “Debt of Honor”.”

      Yep, and I’m not sure if you remember or not, but he took some heat after 9/11 for that. But I watched one interview (I believe on CNN) and he said in it that he took the idea for using planes in “Debt of Honor” from the Japanese themselves in WWII — their Kamikaze pilots, of course.

      Like

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