1--What is the title of your latest release?
THIS TROUBLED GROUND
2--What’s the “elevator pitch” for your new book?
The war in Afghanistan impacted Americans in profound ways, yet only a small percentage of Americans know what it’s like to be there, fight there, come home from there, and then live the rest of their lives wondering if their service made a difference. This Troubled Ground goes there—to the cold, dark, and heartbreaking tarmac at Dover AirForce Base, to the Kabul newsrooms, to briefing rooms, and to the deadly battlefields in their many forms across Afghanistan. Inspired by true events, this book follows a haunting, sometimes uplifting but ultimately tragic journey into war through the eyes of an Air Force officer searching for meaning as his path intersects with a mother’s desperate quest to find hope after her son is killed serving with the US Marines in Afghanistan.
3--How did you decide where your book was going to take place?
The novel is set in the two places that most profoundly impacted my military career – Dover AFB and Kabul, Afghanistan
4--Would you hang out with your protagonist in real life?
I don’t know. He seems like an okay dude. I know he cares, but would probably be boring to hang out with.
5--What are three words that describe your protagonist?
Carrying, Conscientious, Incomplete
6--What’s something you learned while writing this book?
Since the story is part memoir, part fiction, I wasn’t sure I would learn that much. But what I know is that words are powerful, and if my words can move readers, or give Gold Star families a shred of hope, then I know that I should tell my stories to the very best of my ability.
7--Do you edit as you draft or wait until you are totally done?
I try to edit as I write, but that doesn’t always work. The “finished” manuscript went through many drafts, and in the future, I’m going to write and edit more effectively as I go.
8--What’s your favorite foodie indulgence?
Too many to name. Usually ice cream in a cup with milk at night.
9--Describe your writing space/office!
I have a home office, which is where I do most of my writing. But I also sit on the bed or sofa with my computer in my lap and write.
10--Who is an author you admire?
I read a lot of David Halberstam books twenty years ago. I was enthralled with the way he could take one singular event and weave an amazing story around the event, why it happened, who the players were, why it was important. In recent years I’ve read a half dozen or more David McCullough books, and feel like every time I read one, it’s like taking a college history course. I read a lot of John Grisham, Harlan Coben and love the warm stories of writers like Norman McLean. I also read a lot of Anne Tyler back in the day. She was and is an amazing writer.
11--Is there a book that changed your life?
“Ordinary People” is one of the first books that I remember having a profound impact on me and made me want to write.
12--Tell us about when you got “the call.” (when you found out your book was going to be published)/Or, for indie authors, when you decided to self-publish.
I submitted the manuscript to John Koehler at Koehler Books and he called me with an offer to publish the book. It was about a 13-year project, so I was excited and relieved to finally get it done.
13--What’s your favorite genre to read?
I love good novels, modern-day and classics (Hemingway, etc.) I read a lot of John Grisham. I love great non-fiction, David McCullough being my favorite of many admired writers, like the aforementioned David Halberstam, and in recent years, Sebastian Junger and others.
14--What’s your favorite movie?
I have a Top Ten list, so it’s hard to pick one. I love “The Sound of Music” and the 1968 production of “Oliver” with Mark Lester, etc. “Saving Private Ryan,” “Hoosiers,” “Field of Dreams,” “Shawshank Redemption,” “Forrest Gump,” “Top Gun,” “The Ten Commandments,” there are so many!!
15--What is your favorite season?
There are things I like about all the seasons. Spring means baseball, and the prelude to summer. Since I live on a lake, I love the summer and all the fun that comes with it, boating, swimming, fishing. But that summer also means blistering heat in South Carolina, so I welcome the coming of Fall – football, weather, The World Series.
16--How do you like to celebrate your birthday?
These days, with peace and quiet
17--What’s a recent tv show/movie/book/podcast you highly recommend?
I’ve enjoyed the Netflix Europe-based adaptations of Harlan Coben’s novels.
18--What’s your favorite type of cuisine?
Steak, Pizza, Burgers, all the least healthy stuff.
19--What do you do when you have free time?
Fish, boating, watching too many shows on Netflix and Prime
20—What can we expect from you next?
My next planned novel is “Charlie Minto’s Pyramid Scheme,” I hope in August 2024
The war in Afghanistan impacted Americans in profound ways, yet only a small percentage of Americans know what it's like to be there, fight there, come home from there, and then live the rest of their lives wondering if their service made a difference.
This Troubled Ground goes there-to the cold, dark, and heartbreaking tarmac at Dover Air Force Base, to the Kabul newsrooms, to briefing rooms, and to the deadly battlefields in their many forms across Afghanistan. Inspired by true events, this book follows a haunting, sometimes uplifting but ultimately tragic journey into war through the eyes of an Air Force officer searching for meaning as his path intersects with a mother's desperate quest to find hope after her son is killed serving with the US Marines in Afghanistan.
Non-Fiction Biography [Koehler Books, On Sale: September 12, 2023, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9798888240878 / eISBN: 9798888240885]
Les Carroll grew up in South Carolina, served in the Air Force and Air National Guard for twenty-eight years, and retired in 2013. He served two tours in Afghanistan and one tour at the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center at Dover Air Force Base. This Troubled Ground was created out of those experiences. He is an award-winning military and civilian journalist and acclaimed documentary filmmaker. His documentary Bringing the Fallen Home aired nationally in 2014. He wrote and published three books in the mid-1990s.
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