Lloyd Lofthouse - Action-Packed Special Ops Military/Political thriller

Lloyd Lofthouse - Action-Packed Special Ops Military/Political thriller
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Lloyd Lofthouse is a US Marine (1965—1968) and combat veteran, living with and managing PTSD. After the Marines, he attended college, where he heard Ray Bradbury speak in 1968. After getting bit by the writing bug, Lloyd earned a BA in journalism and later an MFA. A few years later, he found himself teaching English and writing to middle and high school students (1975 - 2005). During his early years as a teacher, he also worked nights and weekends as a maître d’ for The Red Onion (a night-club restaurant with a glass ceiling in one of the dining rooms and a club that held a 1,000-party people), where Lloyd was introduced to the art of seduction. He’s traced his ancestors back to the reign of Britain’s King Alfred the Great around AD 900. In fact, the village of Lofthouse is located in West Yorkshire.  As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about his book, "The Patriot Oath."

Please give us a short introduction to what “The Patriot Oath” is about.

The Patriot Oath has many plot threads. I don’t want to cover all of them.

One plot thread in this story deals with the complications that come from being in love with two women at the same time. Because of Josh’s moral beliefs, he will not allow himself to be with both of the women he loves at the same time.

Will he end up with Rachel or Mia?

I’m over two-thirds of the way through the third thriller in this series, and I still don’t know that answer.

Another plot thread explores the fact that military combat vets are not the only victims of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Josh’s only sister is a rape victim, and she needs his help to learn how to manage a trauma that’s threatening to destroy her.

Also, when someone serves in the U.S. military and retires their oath to defend the country’s Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic never ends. In Nazi Germany, for instance, the German military swore a loyalty oath to Adolf Hitler.  There has never been a loyalty oath to any president or individual in the United States.  And Josh lives by his oath to defend the U.S. Constitution.

What inspired you to create the character of Josh Kavanagh and his journey back to his family’s Montana ranch?

A prompt in a VA, PTSD writing therapy support group. We meet once a week and share writing about topics related to PTSD, followed by discussions.

In 2018, the prompt that launched Josh’s story was to write for 15 minutes about a combat veteran returning home for the first time since joining the military. That’s when Josh Kavanagh was born. I didn’t know at the time that his story would become not one thriller, but two, with a third only a dozen chapters from completion.

How did your experiences as a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran influence the writing of this thriller?

There’s an expression that’s been traced back to as early as 1907 that says, “Once a Marine, always a Marine?”

Being a Marine is a mindset, a perception of the world and of ourselves, at least for most of us.

The Marine Corps teaches us to work/fight together as a team and what we do is almost always mission oriented.

Heck, I still make my bed every morning like I did when I was in the Marines, except for bouncing a quarter off the blanket to make sure it’s tight enough.

For special forces operators like Josh Kavanagh, who started as a Marine, multiply that belief system 100x. Before I joined the Marines in 1965, right out of high school, I was an undisciplined, wild-child without a mission, who didn’t know it. MCRD tamed me and taught me the discipline that supports my purpose in life today.

The book tackles heavy themes like PTSD. Why did you find this important to write about?

Without knowing it, PTSD followed me home when I returned from Vietnam a few days before the end of 1966. That unrecognized, unnamed trauma dramatically influenced my life, and not in a good way. In the 1970s, I was a heavy drinker and thought about suicide to put an end to the demons in my head.

Still, after I stopped drinking in 1982, anger was still an issue that exploded without warning.

Then in 2006, when I was in my third marriage, I ended up at the VA, where I learned through counseling the name behind that trauma. I also learned that anyone can end up with PTSD. They don’t have to join the military and end up in war to get it.

The government’s National Center for PTSD says, “About 5 out of every 100 adults (or 5%) in the U.S. have PTSD in any year. In 2020, about 13 million Americans had PTSD. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men. About 8 of every 100 women (or 8%) and 4 of every 100 men (or 4%) will have PTSD in their life.”

Psychiatry dot org adds to what that government site says. “PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults every year. The lifetime prevalence of PTSD in adolescents ages 13 -18 is 8%.”

Josh Kavanagh is depicted as a war-hardened hero dealing with personal and professional challenges. How did you approach developing his character to ensure he felt authentic?

First, I’m a Marine and combat vet. I don’t think that makes me a hero, but my time in combat gave me PTSD, a trauma I’ve lived with for about 58 years. In addition, for years, I’ve been meeting with a group of combat vets, who also live with PTSD, and their stories have had an influence.

Two of the vets in those PTSD support groups served in Special Forces. One fought in Vietnam and the other in Somalia over 25 years later. From them, I learned a lot about what it means to qualify and serve in Special Forces. Jim served two tours in Vietnam and wrote short stories and published them. Robbie served 13 years in the military, first as a Marine and then in the Green Beret. One Special Forces team he was a member of was sent to Somalia right after Black Hawk Down. Robbie’s memoir also started in that PTSD support group. I’ve included links to their books.

https://www.amazon.com/Warriors-Friends-Alter-Ego-Forbidden-Memories-eb…

https://www.amazon.com/Next-Mission-Combat-Veteran-dealing-ebook/dp/B08…  

Can you talk about the dynamic between Josh and his high school sweetheart? How does their past influence their interactions in the story?

Josh has only loved two women in his life, not counting his mother.  He’s loved Rachel and Mia, who is not a major character in the first thriller in the series. Mia is a major POV character in the 2nd thriller, Never for Glory, and the 3rd, Fiddling with Death (a work in progress that’s two-third completed).

After Mia rejects him before the 1st thriller starts, the only love left in his life are memories of Rachel and what they had.

So, when an opportunity presents itself, he wants to rekindle the fire they once had.

Still, when Josh joined the Marines, his life diverged from the path Rachel followed.  His was a military life. She was a mother of twins, who were also Josh’s children that he didn’t know existed until he returns home after 24 years.

The two individuals that meet again after 24 years are both different people, but they don’t see that. All they remember is what they had as childhood friends from 2nd grade and then lovers through high school.

Rachel’s life turned out to be an unending struggle to make ends meet, often working two jobs and being a single mother.

Josh didn’t have to struggle with paying the bills and raising children. The military life suited him. He thrived in that world of discipline, order, and danger.

When Josh returns to Rachel, she thinks he might by the hero who is going to rescue her from that never-ending struggle to survive. She loved him in high school; maybe that’s enough.

The book features a strong family element, especially concerning Josh’s sister. Why did you find her important to incorporate into the story?

The most common events leading to the development of PTSD include combat, child abuse, and sexual violence (mostly rape or attempted rape). Some individuals have been exposed to all three.

Josh’s sister’s PTSD came from a violent rape. While writing the rough draft, I wanted to show combat vets weren’t the only abuse victims living with PTSD.

What message or questions do you hope readers take away from the novel regarding loyalty, justice, and personal redemption?

I want readers to understand that loyalty should never be blindly given to individuals like Donald Trump.

 I also will never be blindly loyal:

·       To a flag. 

·       To any president or individual 

·       To any Congress 

·       To the national anthem 

·       To the US Supreme Court 

·       To any country.  

Still, I plan to fight, willing to die, defending the United States Constitution against all enemies both foreign and domestic.

Josh Kavanagh, the primary POV character in his thriller series, has those same values.

The theme of technology and gadgets plays a significant role in the book. Can you share some insights into the research and imagination that went into creating these elements?

I researched projects DARPA has been involved in and went beyond what I learned by using my imagination where some projects still in development might end up.

“The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is a United States Department of Defense agency that invests in research and development of emerging technologies for military use.”  Source: Google’s AI Overview

One example used in the thriller by a character in an early chapter was the One-Shot sniper scope. “One Shot XG accurately measures the range to the target, the atmospheric and geodetic conditions and the crosswind velocity down range utilizing an invisible laser beam. Calculating all this data into a ballistic solution, One Shot displays a corrected aim point on the sniper scope’s reticule.” Source: military dot com.

Another combat toy in the novel was based on what I learned about the SMART Invisibly Cloak. Source: https://news.mit.edu/2011/invisibility-cloak-0125

Considering the strong reactions to the book’s themes and plot twists, how do you navigate potentially sensitive topics in your writing?

If a reader contacts me about their reactions using the email address provided at the end of my books, I reply.

One reader who emailed said if I changed a section where he didn’t agree with the politics a character expressed in one paragraph, he’d write a 5-star review but wouldn’t if I didn’t remove it.

I replied I would not do that and told him to please explain why they liked the story but gave it a one star review, anyway.

And sometimes, contrary to a few reviewers’ allegations that I broke into the story as the author and stated my opinion on what they thought were sensitive topics they did not agree with, I never did that.

Still, I might have agreed with that character’s opinions.

After all, most, if not all, authors have their own opinions. Why wouldn’t some characters we create not think the same way?

For instance, Mia, Josh’s former lover, a French citizen in France, learns near the end of the thriller that some trafficked children kidnapped in other countries and being trafficked into the United States through Montana to become sex slaves have been rescued by The Oath Group. She agrees to help smuggle them out of the United States to France so they won’t end up in Trump’s cages. She helps because of an opinion piece she read in an Irish newspaper written by a real person about President Trump taking children away from undocumented parents and having them locked up in cages.

That pull quote that Mia thought of was credited to the actual writer and Irish newspaper. If that reviewer had fact checked that paragraph, they would’ve discovered that opinion piece was not fiction invented by the author, me. It was real.

The BBC also covered this issue in 2018, with photos showing some of those cages and what it was like living in them – for children!

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44518942

 

Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?

I’m not sure my writing habits are interesting. I have written goals that define my average writing day. Those goals say I have to write at least one hour or more a day and work on marketing my writing at least a half hour or more a day.

Most days, I get the marketing out of the way first, before tackling the writing. To succeed each day, those goals say all I need to do is meet 95%. Still, I seldom miss a day and almost always spend more time than a half hour working on marketing and more than an hour on writing.

Yesterday, June 24, 2024, I spend 2.5 hours on marketing and another 2 hours on writing.

I also exercise one to two hours a day, divided into three sessions. Before I start on marketing and writing, the first session of exercise, the longest, must be completed first.  The second exercise session usually takes place between marketing and writing.

I keep track of everything on a whiteboard.  Starting and ending times written. If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on Fiddling with Death, the 3rd thriller in the series. With about 10 chapters left to write, 25 are completed, although a few of those are still going through revisions. Since I start all my stories as a pantser, I didn’t have a simple concept of the novel and where it was going. Still, I have that title, that seems to have influenced what’s happening to the major POV characters, and they are all fiddling with death.  Not just Josh.

Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?

https://www.lloydlofthouse.com/

One of my five blogs has a military theme. Readers that want to read free short stories about Josh Kavanagh and to discover when the next thriller in the Josh Kavanagh series comes out, should follow my Soulful Veteran blog.

https://thesoulfulveteran.com/

I don’t have a dedicated newsletter that collects interested readers’ emails.

The Patriot Oath
Lloyd Lofthouse

He fought for his country. Now he’s home and engaged in the deadliest of battles. A Marine hero. A high-stakes black ops mission. Can he protect his country and family without paying with his life? The Patriot Oath is the riveting first book in the Josh Kavanagh thriller series. If you like war-hardened heroes, action-packed fight scenes, and powerful political agendas, you’ll love this thriller.

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FEATURED AUTHOR - Kimberly Packard is an award-winning author of women’s fiction. When she isn’t writing, she can be found running, asking her dog what’s in his mouth or curled up with a book. She resides in Texas with her husband Colby, a clever cat named Oliver and a precocious black lab named Tully. Her debut novel, Phoenix, was awarded as Best General Fiction of 2013 by the Texas Association of Authors. She is also the author of a Christmas novella, The Crazy Yates, and the sequels to Phoenix, Pardon Falls… Read more