Book Launch: For the Love of Armin

The launch of my latest novel, ‘For the Love of Armin’ from the City of Albury Library at 14:00 hours yesterday went well!

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What inspired you to write this book?

After initial despair arising because of the loss of citizenship and being made aware that this could soon be coupled to a loss of my driver’s licence (in the Australian state of New South Wales it is not legal for someone to hold a driver’s licence unless that person has either Australian Citizenship or Approved Residency Status – both of which must come from Department of Immigration & Citizenship (DIAC)), I was very irate and suffered a number of PTSD attacks as a direct result of what was being done to me, both factual and perceived.

As I had been under the guidance of a very good treating psychiatrist, I was able to stand back from everything and to analyse the situation correctly. Having done this, I was not impressed
with my own analysis of my situation and I became acutely aware that urgent action on my part was needed as my state of mind had now entered into a phase where I could have become a dangerous person. One of the things that my treating psychiatrist taught me was to let out the anger and hurt in small manageable dozes and he suggested that writing about the situation would be a good way of “Getting the dirty water off my chest” This meant that I was already doing some writing in the form of notes and research as a means of controlling my PTSD. A few days later, a function was held at my home and a small number of people attended this.

During the course of the evening, it was suggested by one friend that I put these experiences, including the full story about both the refusal to grant me a passport and the cancellation of my Australian Citizenship Papers into a fictional novel. He said, “Mick, put what you have told me into a fictional novel, the story is astounding and it should be a best seller. As an ex-newspaper man, I can tell for sure that a novel along these lines will be a hit once it is known about.” It was during the next morning that my real work on Full Circle for Mick began.

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How many hours per day do you spend on writing?

While working on Full Circle for Mick, my day would start at 06:00 hours and this would include a twenty (20) minute walk followed by either a half hour on the bench press or else a half hour of lifting weights from ground level to over my head. This in turn was followed by the ablutions for the morning and then breakfast. The aim here being to start writing by 08:00 hours and to continue writing (this included research and editing until 20:00 hours. The above times were not always strictly adhered to, but rather, the above was used as a flexible time table.

It is enough to say that the work was very beneficial to me in that it kept me occupied in a constructive manner and therefore helped to combat my PTSD. I served with 1RAR in Vietnam during 1968 and 1969. After obtaining the official records of the Australian Army’s role in the Vietnam War, some Defence Department publications and written permission to include these as well as
illustrations in my book, I wrote the army part of this book around the official record of offensive operations against the enemy during the Vietnam War during the time frame of 1968 and 1969.

Having permission to use some text and illustrations appearing in official Defence Department publications made the research and development of this story a lot easier.

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Can you give me a short synopsis of your book?

In 2013, Carolyn and Michael Georg Kaspar Friedrich Lampman applied for passports at the Albury Post Office and while hers went through immediately (she is Australian born), his application resulted in a phone call being made to Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) and that department refusing him a passport on the grounds that his Australian Naturalisation Certificate “did not say if his gender was male or female.” It did however; state that “Michael Georg Kaspar Friedrich Lampman presented himself before me at the Millicent Council Chambers on …. To swear allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, her Heirs and Successors. This makes one wonder if the clerks at DIAC are conversant enough in the English language to know that “himself” can only mean a male.

Michael’s reason for wanting his passport was to return to Vietnam and to fulfil his promise to a Buddhist Monk to return as a qualified engineer to help to rebuild the country that he had helped to destroy as a young Australian soldier in the Vietnam War during 1968 and 1969.

At a later date, DIAC cancelled his citizenship and papers, (he was a naturalised Australian citizen, originating from Germany) even threatening to send him to jail for two years, for “Falsifying an Official Document,” resulting in him then using “Engineering Problem Solving Techniques” to rectify the situation as he was now also driving illegally on the grounds that in NSW it is not legal for someone to hold a driver’s licence unless that person has either “Approved Residency Status” or Australian citizenship. This is the story of a man’s battle and final victory against rampant bureaucracy, racism and PTSD. It deals with the first symptoms of PTSD, its diagnosis and its treatment and self-help strategies.

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What is the hardest part of being an author?

I do not know what you mean by asking “What is the hardest part of being an author?” The fact is that I enjoy writing and all of the other things which come into it. The answer is simply
– “There is no easy path to success. It always comes at the cost of work and effort, no matter what sort of activity is being envisaged.” To illustrate, part of writing is research, which must
always be as accurate as possible. In my own case, after I have finished writing for one day, that is followed by proofreading of the material written earlier that day and I have found that
this is a good way to keep the text accurate.

I find that it helps to proofread as I write, as this saves a much harder and larger job later on. For example, I am currently awaiting some third party research before I can fully launch into a writing project about a severely disabled person, who not just has the courage to keep on striving for excellence, but actually does so, and is currently close to qualifying for the award of two (2) degrees. People like this one are dear to my heart, for they have the courage to keep on going when other people would simply give up.

OK, so we can say that an author must make sense and must research her/his material and present her/his findings and story in a logical and entertaining way. I believe that has been accomplished with my first novel, Full Circle for Mick, and there are customers both in Australia and in USA who share my view.

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Do you have any works in progress that you’d like to tell us about?

Yes, I have two (2) writing projects in progress on which research has begun and another which will need even more work. In all three (3) cases, much more research has to be done.

One of these new writing projects is a historical fiction book set during the time of the first Roman Emperor, Augustus. It is about the struggle to rid Germania of the Romans who always tried, but never could conquer the Germanic peoples. This is currently at the point where much research has been carried out and more must be completed. This work currently has 54,000 words written and I expect it to be well received by the book-buying public once it is published.

Two more of these projects are simply greatly extending two characters which were invented for Full Circle for Mick. If I can get enough information from my research, one or even both new books can become factual. If I cannot obtain enough information that is required, then the books must remain as fictional.

If research yields the results that I am hoping for, I will write the books about these people under their true names, however, if I cannot obtain all of the information required, or the necessary permission to write about these people, then one or both of them shall be presented as fiction. The third book shall be about someone who suffers a major disability but has the courage to keep on striving for greater improvement, no matter what the effort and cost. I am currently awaiting the result of the activities of a third party as to necessary information about this writing project.

I will not elaborate further, as to do so at this point could jeopardise my intellectual property rights.

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Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

When you start inventing the characters of your book, it will be extremely helpful to have sufficient large white cards on hand on which the names of the characters, along with their details like date of birth, age marital status, health status, employment status, education level, wealth level and political views can-all be recorded and always easily found by going to the card in question (with the character’s name etc. on it.) Similar large cards of different colour should be filled out and these could be used to record events such as operations against enemy forces.

The use of such cards will save much time otherwise spent on going back over text to find what was written about the character/event/place on previous occasions. You will find that this sort of practice will save you a lot of time. This will be of particular important if, for some reason, you are away from your writing project for a time.

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Why did you choose this genre?

At least a half of this story is about war experience, training for war and the aftermath of war, in particular Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), its symptoms and treatment and self-
help strategies. It explores some of the effect of PTSD on the sufferer, his/her colleges and other people in general. I have tried to illustrate the effect of PTSD in a wartime army and
how this is not so easily tolerated in a peace time army, often resulting in the soldier so affected being discharged on medical grounds.

It was my experience that the soldier affected by PTSD often does not know it and indeed, does not generally realise that he is different to other people (those not suffering from PTSD)
and in general, he/she does not realise that his/her actions are unacceptable to many others. In my own case, it was suggested that I undertake and complete tertiary studies as a way of
keeping my mind focused on the positive and thereby helping to keep the darker side of PTSD under control. What started as a mere diploma in engineering has turned into an Associate Degree and this will in turn develop into the Honours Degree. After that – who knows? Perhaps a PhD or similar?

What I do know is that I must keep the dark side at bay by focussing on the positive at all times.

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Have you been writing long?

No, my book Full Circle for Mick is my first major work. This has taken me a year of full time work, during which I was trying to write between one thousand (1,000) and one thousand five hundred words per day. This often meant that I had twelve (12) hour long work days, because after finishing the typing for the day, I found it beneficial to review and edit the work that had been done. As well, research had to be fitted into the time available and at times this meant that the story had to change in order to be in accordance with recorded facts about the Vietnam War.

A thing I found to be of benefit was to use a number of large white cards which had the dates of birth, the age, and character traits of the characters appearing in the story. As well, I found it beneficial to use coloured large cards upon which I kept details of various events, e.g. the actual names of operations against the enemy by the Australian Forces in Vietnam, the dates that these occurred and the results obtained. Because I thought it to be a good idea to have factual input from the Australian Department of Defence, I applied for and received written permission to use that department’s written work where appropriate.

I am encouraged by the reviews and positive opinions about my book which have been expressed by many readers, both in Australia and in the United States of America. This has encouraged me to start thinking about my next novel. Currently there are two areas that I am thinking of writing a novel about. In both cases these shall be fictional in that there are already areas where I cannot be absolutely certain that all information on hand is totally factual and because of this, I am considering fictional novels loosely based upon the activities of two people who were inspirational to me and also had a great effect upon my life as they both did upon the lives of others.

The first novel I am currently thinking of completing may end up being based upon a nursing sister and if this goes ahead, then I am thinking that it will not be before much before the end of 2016 – 2017 before it is completed. The other novel that I am considering is a completely factual one (if possible, depending on how much factual information about this person I can obtain.) about the activities of a German engineer who built the first railways (including the necessary bridge design work) in Southern China. In particular, in the area of Shanghai and the Southern Border with Vietnam and going on to Hanoi.

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