I was fortunate to meet Ronie Kendig at the ACFW Conference in Dallas last year. Ronie is great mates with a certain Melbournian friend, Rel Mollet of RelzReviewz. Rel was kind enough to connect the two of us.
Soon after I read my first Ronie Kendig novel: “Trinity: Military War Dog”, the first in the “A Breed Apart” series. Trinity is the name of a sixty-pound Belgian Malinois (she’s on the book cover below) I was amazed that a relationship between a man and his dog would feature so prominently in a novel series. Having become a dog lover late in life, I was curious how Ronie would manage to share the depth of relationship between the two.
Now this is no ordinary man/dog relationship. This is one between a soldier and his Military War Dog (MWD). I’ve since come to learn that MWDs have a vital role to play in combat situations.
“Trinity” is much more than a man and his dog story. You can read my review here. It whetted my appetite for “Talon: Combat Tracking (A Breed Apart#2)”, the second in the series which was released last week. Talon is a Labrador. I’m about halfway through it and it’s a thrill a minute.
Let me hand over to Ronie who was kind enough to respond to some questions I posed.
Your novels have a strong military theme. You’re a self-proclaimed military brat but could you tell us a little about led you to write novels about the military experience.
I think it was a rather natural thing for me to write military fiction, since the military community is what I grew up around and the people I admired the most. My husband’s military career was cut short by a training accident, and I always ached for him–he’d wanted to be career military like his father. My inclination to honor our military heroes and talk about PTSD was important to me before it sort of became the fad to write about it.
Seeing the lives and families of soldiers I knew torn apart by this tragic repercussion of combat stirred in me a passion to make sure I never wrote about our military heroes again without showing the toll it took on them and their families.
What prompted you to write a series about Military War Dogs (MWD)?
Ironically–the idea sparked from an email a dear friend sent me about a military working dog whose handler had been captured and he rescued her. The email content turned out to be a hoax, but the idea still sparked. I started researching and found out the MWDs were a rapidly growing component of the current combat theatre.
Trinity, the first in the series, had much action based in difficult to visit countries like Afghanistan. How did you go about performing research to ensure authenticity?
The cliché answer is “research, research, research.” But it’s true, and it includes hours upon hours of searching through online journals from those who live there, photos, videos, talking to those who’ve been or lived there. There is so much at our disposal nowadays with the internet and social media to make stories plausible and adventurous!
As an addendum to this, Ronie recently wrote a post on Novel Rocket about how research gave her so much more than sheer details for her novels.
Now, a little question on your home life. Home-schooling. It’s not something we in Australia are that familiar with but it appears to be big in Christian circles in the US. Why is this and why does it work for the Kendigs?
It’s actually not just limited to Christian circles here in the States, although a great number of parents do it for purposes of religious freedom (in many schools, God is no longer an accepted topic. Also in many schools, subjects present material and/or content contrary to the Word). In fact, our family just moved from Texas to Virginia, and with that came the monumental task of understand the state laws here and finding groups—and there are the “Heathen Homeschoolers,” “Muslim Homeschoolers,” etc., groups around the country. The fundamental difference here is that governance of education is not left up to the federal government, but to state governments, and most will vehemently defend a parent’s rights to educate their child.
My children study regular subjects, but we might do it in an irregular way. For example, my 13-year-old twin boys are studying US History, in particular–Abraham Lincoln, right now. To do that, they are creating “lap books” where they assemble different topics and write information, and then they put together their notebook and explain to the family what’s in them. Sort of alike a book report, but in a much more simplified manner, since (with their special needs) writing is a difficult task for the boys. They still do math and English through workbooks or computer programs. They just do it all at home with me as their teacher (and sometimes Daddy).
Hmmm, there’s much more I’d like to understand about home schooling but I’ll leave that for another day. Final question, what else are you working on?
Right now I’m working on Raptor Six, the first book in a new series called Quiet Professionals–it features the team known as ODA452 in the A Breed Apart books, so I think readers will find it to be a lot of fun!
Can’t wait for that series to launch.
Talon: Combat Tracking Team (A Breed Apart #2)
All Air Force veteran Aspen Courtland wants is her brother back. The US Marine Corps says he’s dead, but Aspen won’t believe it till she sees his body. Her only hope is her brother’s tracking dog, Talon, but a brutal attack has left the dog afraid of his own shadow.
The truth is something Military Intelligence Operative Dane Markoski has never faced. But now it’s the only thing that can save him—along with Talon’s help. But working with Talon means teaming up with Aspen as well, and Dane swore he’d never work with a woman.
Eventually they join forces to battle the elements and extremists. But if Talon can’t rise up to his former glory for one last mission, the only outcome for all three will be game over.
Here’s the fab trailer for the novel too:
And there’s a third in the series, “Beowulf: Explosives Detection Dog (A Breed Apart#3)” due out in January 2014. Ronie’s been kind enough to provide the first chapter of this installment. However, I will add it to my review of Talon, which will feature later this month.
I’m excited that we’re going to give away a copy of both Trinity and Talon. Just express an interest in both novels in your comment below. The winner will be notified by email next Wednesday 15 May.
Thanks Ronie and wishing you every success with Talon.
Visit Ronie’s website