They had their whole lives to look forward to – if only their husbands could survive Vietnam.
In the spring of 1970 – right after the Kent State National Guard shootings and President Nixon’s two-month incursion into Cambodia – four newly married young women come together at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, when their husbands go on active duty as officers in the U.S. Army.
Different as these four women are, they have one thing in common: Their overwhelming fear that, right after these nine weeks of training, their husbands could be shipped out to Vietnam – and they could become war widows.
Sharon is a Northern Jewish anti-war protester who fell in love with an ROTC cadet; Kim is a Southern Baptist whose husband is intensely jealous; Donna is a Puerto Rican who grew up in an enlisted man’s family; and Wendy is a Southern black whose parents have sheltered her from the brutal reality of racism in America.
Read MRS. LIEUTENANT to discover what happens as these women overcome their prejudices, reveal their darkest secrets, and are initiated into their new lives as army officers’ wives during the turbulent Vietnam War period.
Hi Phyllis Zimbler Miller.
Welcome to Paperback Writer
Will you share with us how you came up with the idea for this book?
I lived the story of being a new Mrs. Lieutenant in the spring of 1970. Because of both the ongoing Vietnam War and certain women whose husbands were in the same Armor Officers Basic (AOB) class as my husband, this was a very unique experience. For 38 years I’ve wanted to tell the story.
Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as write it?
This story closely follows the actual nine weeks of AOB so I didn’t outline. But it turned out that having what I thought was an automatic structure didn’t work out that way. In several rewrites I had to work on story structure.
Do you know the end of the story at the beginning?
Because I fictionalized the actual events I knew that I wanted a more dramatic ending yet an ending that would be consistent with the story’s reality. As I wrote the novel the dramatic ending I needed became clear to me.
Do you have a process for developing your characters?
In this case I took pieces of real people and then mixed and matched those pieces to create the characters I wanted to portray.
It is said that authors write themselves into their characters. Is there any part of you in your characters and what they would be?
Of the four female protagonists in MRS. LIEUTENANT, I’m the closest to Sharon Gold. Yet there are many differences between us and, in fact, I gave her a more interesting backstory than mine.
What is your most favorite part about this book?
I actually like best the first four chapters of the book – one from the point of view of each of the four women – because I think the individual women are really set up well in these chapters. (If you want to see if you agree with me, you can go to my website at www.mrslieutenant.com and download for free those first four chapters.)
When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?
I’ve been working on this book for almost 20 years since two female film producers optioned the story for a movie. Then they decided I needed to write a book first. By the time I had written the first draft, they had moved on to other projects. Over the years as I rewrote and rewrote I tried to get a publisher.
What struggles have you had on the road to being published?
I have had the most bizarre rejections: One New York editor rejected the book because she said the book wouldn’t be relevant because there was no longer any racial prejudice in the U.S. Another top New York editor rejected the book because she said the women couldn’t meet through their husbands’ jobs. They had to meet through their own jobs, such as all working at the same law firm. That editor missed the point that the book is exactly about women who meet because of their husbands and are then forced to try to accept each other within the parameters of being proper officers’ wives.
What has been the best part about being published?
Achieving my goal of sharing this specific slice of women’s social history with young women who don’t know about this period as well as with older women who remember this period when a married woman’s identity was based on her husband’s identity.
What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your novel?
Because there still is racial and religious prejudice in the U.S., I would be very pleased if readers would think about their own attitudes towards “others” and then try to be more accepting of people’s differences.
Do you have plans to write another book?
I’m working on the sequel now – MRS. LIEUTENANT IN EUROPE – about living with the army in Germany as an occupation force and during an intense period of the Cold War.
Would you care to share with us how the virtual book tour experience with Pump Up Your Book Promotion has been for you?
The knowledge and planning of Dorothy Thompson are amazing. She really knows what she’s doing and what she should be doing. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to do a virtual book tour through Pump Up Your Book Promotion.
Where can readers find a copy of your book?
The best places to find MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL are on Amazon or through my website www.mrslieutenant.com.
Do you have a website for readers to go to?
Besides the first four chapters of the book, www.mrslieutenant.com has original 1970 army documents along with information on organizations that support military families today. I also write a blog – www.mrslieutenant.blogspot.com – that can be accessed directly or through my website.
Thank you, Phyllis Zimbler Miller, for sharing your book and characters with us today. It has been a pleasure and I hope you have had a successful virtual book tour.
MRS. LIEUTENANT VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ’08 will officially begin on June 1, 2008 and continue all month. If you would like to follow Phyllis’ tour in progress, visit http://www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/ in June. Leave a comment on her blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy of her book! One lucky winner will be announced on June 30!