© The Secret War, characters, names, and all related indicia are owned by Keith James
The Story Behind the Story
The inspiration for The Secret War series grew out of a divergence between the way I was raised and the realities I've experienced in life. As I mention in the personal page of this site, I grew up in a conservative Christian family, but as it turns out I'm gay, which has strained my relationships with them. Please understand, I still love my family very much, and they love me. They only want what's best for me, we just happen to disagree on exactly what is best.
I could bore you with details of the countless exchanges we've had discussing the finer points of the Bible and homosexuality since I came out, but I won't bother because the end result has always been the same—nobody's views have changed. But that makes sense; no person changed my mind to begin with. I believe I'm where I am now because I was blessed with my sexuality. Yes, blessed. I'm glad I'm gay. Having to deal with these feelings forced me to question what I'd been taught, and even if it turns out that homosexuality is a sin, at least now I can claim my beliefs for myself.
See, up until I finally came to terms with my sexuality, I had blindly agreed with my family on the subject, and it troubled me that it took being gay myself to force me to actually think about it. I worried what other issues I hadn't thought about, causing me to question my faith and beliefs entirely. After a lot of thought and prayer, I found my way back to faith, but it was balanced by a new outlook.
At that point, I stopped trying to persuade my family to my way of thinking. Who am I to say what is and isn't right? My new goal was, and still is, just to get them to understand me and why I believe what I do. What God does in their hearts with that understanding is between them and God.
The idea of writing a short story to achieve my goal had been brewing in my mind for some time. I thought, rather than talk about myself directly, maybe I could take my family on a journey with a character; I hoped it would allow them to experience the subject from another perspective. However, while I came up with some of the characters and specific events, I could never come up with a proper story in which to incorporate those ideas. I had no framework, no outline.
Then one day a family member and I were having one of our regular arguments discussions, when the subject of marriage came up. He, of course, maintained marriage is between “one man and one woman,” while I argued that gender shouldn't dictate who we're allowed to love. My family member leaned heavily on the legal aspects of marriage, because at that time, gay marriage was a political focal point, and not yet a legal reality. I tried to challenge him with questions about what makes a marriage a marriage, and in a heated moment I created a quick scenario asking, “So, what if . . . ?”
“What if a man and a woman get stranded on an island? They live there together for years and fall in love. The island has no legal system and no religious authority figure to declare them man and wife. If these two people committed themselves to each other, in your opinion,” I asked my family member, “are they married in God's eyes?” The answer I got was frustrating. He skirted around the issue and got locked up on unimportant details, but ultimately settled on, “Well, that would never happen.” And with that, I had my outline.
In my efforts to address all the details he could possibly get hung-up on, and because God made me a creative person, the short story grew into a full-length novel. And though the marriage question still applied, the expanded story created an opening for me to add a gay character to address homosexuality more directly. So I split the man in two . . . into brothers, Jack and Frank.
Once I finally began writing, the story exploded; scenes practically wrote themselves. And while writing one of those scenes—truly, I didn't even mean for it to happen—suddenly I found myself setting up a much larger adventure. I actually spoke out loud at the time, “Well . . . I guess this is a series now.” But I didn't question it. It was too perfect. It offered me more time to do things than I could in just one book. I could challenge my family with more questions but also do what I'd wanted from the beginning: express myself in this creative way, to help them understand what I believe and why.
At the risk of sounding melodramatic, the story became a labor of love that I have poured myself into. That said, despite everything mentioned above, I believe the story is actually quite a bit of fun. Everything I told you above is at the story's core, but it's not just the big gay book about being gay, and if you don't want to focus on the religious, social, or political commentaries, you don't have to. Every time the story grew, it made room for more adventure, mystery, and new twists and turns which can still, and I believe do, entertain. That's the first reason I decided to share the story with the world and not just my family. But if it can help anyone, in any way . . . maybe someone else going through what I am . . . perhaps help them communicate with their family in a different way . . . well then, it's beyond worth my while to share it.
As each book in the series is released, the map will "grow"
I’ve written a book – the first in what will be a series titled, “The Secret War”
The series is going to be 5 books long. The first is finished and for sale now (link provided at the end of this post) and I've already finished the rough draft of the second book and begun writing the third... not to mention a handful of chapters for both the fourth and fifth books as well. If you'd like to read the story about the story, look at the bottom of this page. Here's the teaser for Book 1: “Return to Death’s Province”
The rumors had circulated for the last five years: Jack Waramond, one of the greatest soldiers of Idoless, had attempted to murder the prince.
Facing the penalty of death for his crime, Jack had fled to the outskirts of civilization and assumed a new identity. He always knew the army would come looking for him one day. However the squadron that tracks him down—strategically staffed with his brother, Frank—is not there to arrest him, but ask for his help. Jack’s the only man who's ever survived the perilous region known as Death's Province, and they need him to go back!
Agreeing means not only mortal danger, but also facing a past he tried to leave behind. Jack’s return home is a parable of discovery about himself, his brother, their nation, and the world they live in and it's just the beginning of a much larger adventure.
Currently "Return to Death's Prvince" is available in paperback and/or Kindle via Amazon. In time there will be an audio vesion available, so if you're not much of a reader, but still interested in the story, there will be that option, but I'm still working on recording it.
If you're an eBook user, I'd like to note: The technology of creating the file went a little over my head. I did the best I could with it, but the nature of how it had to be was very "unforgiving and well... it sucked out a lot of my creative options with the layout. So while I'm certain the story is there, I'm equally certain that it doesn't look as nice as the printed version. That's not to say you can't get it, it's definitely the cheapest option, but I just wanted to be upfront and honest about it so no one who gets it feels cheated.
Feel ree to pass on the word to anyone who might like it.
TO PURCHASE A COPY, GO: