Carrie: Ronie, you are both an “Army brat” and the wife of an Army veteran. Besides the themes, how have these distinctions shaped your writing?
Ronie: Since I grew up around the military and married a veteran, I am positively impacted by these experiences. They have helped instill in me a deep respect for our military heroes and their families. Not only that, but it’s shown me a the toll, how much being a hero impacts these individuals. And that formed a conviction that I could not simply write about the heroes and “glorify” what they do, but I had to show how much it costs them, in time away from their families and in psychological impact.
Carrie: What was the best part about growing up in a military family? What was the most difficult?
Ronie: I would probably say the best parts were belonging to a tight-knit community and the ability to travel—I lived in Germany! The most difficult? Ironically, the travel was also the most difficult because we moved at least every three years, and that negatively impacted not only my academic progress as a child, but also my ability to make and maintain friendships. I envy people who’ve had the same best friend since childhood. I have no idea where my friends from my younger days are now.
Carrie: Your husband is your “real-life hero”. Tell us what makes him a hero in your eyes.
Ronie: Brian is truly the best man I’ve ever known. He has a red/white/blue heart and he bleeds patriotism. He’s also incredibly intelligent (he earned a 4.0 for his bachelor’s degree), very loyal, and he makes me laugh. When I am discouraged or my heart is sagging and I want to give up, it’s Brian who inspires me to keep going. He’s a great husband, father, and friend. One of his former employers called him “honest to a fault,” but that was only because Brian wasn’t willing to compromise his integrity to sell more product.
Carrie: Ok. Be honest now. Between your novels and your husband’s military service, would I need a military lingo dictionary if I were to drop in for a visit? In other words, do your kids say things like “I’ve gotta hit the head” at zero dark thirty?
Ronie: Haha! Too funny. Ya know what? There are days *I* need a dictionary to survive here. Though we have four children, our girls have flown the proverbial coop. Now, I’m left with my husband, 16 year old twin sons, and two male dogs. My twins are totally into gaming and all things military. One of the twins wants to be a Navy SEAL sniper, and he reads biographies of former Navy SEALs…and knows weapons. He can look at a picture and rattle off the name of the gun/rifle. Some days, I’m totally lost when the twins and my husband get to talking about games, weapons, or even military history.
Carrie: Your military novels reflect your heart for both active-duty military and the “discarded heroes” – those who aren’t getting the recognition/respect, or even the care, they deserve and need. What is something that the average citizen can do to help these discarded heroes? Or IS there anything we can do?
Ronie: Absolutely—there’s always something we can do. It can start with or be as simple as thanking our veterans when we see them. There’s a barista at the mall who has “Air Force Veteran” on her apron, and I thank her for serving every time I see her. Also, don’t be afraid to let them talk, if they are willing. It’s not a comfy chat (because we often feel powerless to help or understand), but opening that dialogue may be a release valve for them. That’s my intent with my fiction—to open dialogue. There are so many other ways to honor our veterans these days—through reputable charities who give back, organizations that offer different types of therapy (equine, canine, etc.) that need monetary help or volunteer help. There’s a fantastic organization that allows you to donate a cup of coffee for those who are deployed. I’ve done that a lot. And Books-A-Million is doing a drive where you can buy a book to send to veterans. So many ways to thank and honor our veterans exist today. There’s really no excuse for not helping in some way.