Author Dan Westerlin was thinking about how, in real life, bad guys aren’t always pure evil and good guys aren’t necessarily saints. While traveling to Vietnam to research another project, Westerlin came up with the idea for Shadow Men: It Should Have Been an Easy Kill, a military-themed action-suspense story that explores this idea through a compelling cast of characters.
“I wanted to create a main character that inherently displayed great honor and dignity, but was placed in a situation that forced him to make instant and impossible decisions in the foundry of combat, and then deal with the consequences of those actions,” Westerlin explained. “Because those decisions are often life-and-death, their importance is instantly magnified, and the ramifications can never be fully anticipated. I incorporated current events related to the conflicts in the mid-East, but was often unpleasantly shocked to see fictional scenes I had written become reality within months.”
While Westerlin never served in the military himself, he grew up with a father in the Air Force who had his own dramatic war story. “My father was a flight engineer with the U.S. Army Air Force in WWII,” Westerlin explained. “He was saved off the coast of Ireland by Irish fishermen. His Heavy Weather Squadron was conducting weather reconnaissance on May 29th, 1944, in preparation for D-Day. They flew out from England, their engines failed, their lifeboat leaked, and the Irish fishermen saved them.”
“I’m very proud of my father’s service. He was still serving until the 1980s, and when he retired he built Douglas A4 Skyhawks. When the planes came off the assembly line he was the last person to touch them before they took off and first person to touch them when they returned from test flight.”
Westerlin also has an uncle who served under General Douglas MacArthur in WW II and then in the Korean War, a cousin who was killed in the Vietnam War, and brothers who served in the Army. “I was always around the military, hearing stories, and have a great respect for the military. I believe those who serve in the military display their dedication and sacrifice daily and demonstrate great heroism. This story was written to honor all the men and women who have served or now serve in the armed forces.”
Because of his admiration for service members, Westerlin decided to donate all proceeds from Shadow Men to organizations that serve them, including the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.
The book is available as an e-book for $2.99 and as a paperback for $7.99. You can read more about it or order a copy on Amazon or on Goodreads. Goodreads is sponsoring a giveaway of the book that ends June 16. Enter the contest.
Westerlin welcomes feedback from active duty and retired service members and invites comments and questions at www.shadowmenthebook.com.
He may continue writing about the characters in Shadow Men and always strives for accuracy in his depiction of the military and military encounters. He hopes the book will eventually become a television series.
By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso