The incomparable Hotel Metropole Hanoi in Vietnam where The Apology begins.
I call it the ‘Ah-ha’ moment – that moment when things come together and you think you might have a story on your hands. I’d been writing a crime/adventure story for years. My protagonist was Aiden – a man mixed up with murder, mafia and deception. Sounds good, right? It was, but the only problem was that around page 30 everything dried up.
Putting pen to paper. The author shown with sculpture by French artist, Xavier Veilhan.
Tracing our steps through Vietnam – eating, drinking and meeting so many interesting people while doing our research for THE APOLOGY.
But then I took a trip to Vietnam with Emily and that’s when everything changed. I have to be honest, we were both a bit worried about what kind of welcome we’d received as Americans. But we were humbled by the kindness of the Vietnamese people and how accepting they are of Americans. We heard countless stories of moments of compassion from American soldiers and how they never blamed the American people – instead blaming both of our governments.
We heard heartbreaking stories of American veterans who came back to Vietnam and broke down in tears when they saw how amazing the country is today. It was such a contrast to the tortured, haunting memories of their own time there as soldiers. So these big burly Marines, Air Force pilots, and soldiers would suddenly burst into inconsolable tears. I thought about what that must feel like and the big questions it raises. How do we come to terms with the past? Can we ever make peace with what’s happened? Slowly a picture emerged of a tough, fearless but intensely vulnerable man…a man who became my protagonist, Christian Lindstrom.
Suddenly, in one trip I knew the story I wanted to tell. I won’t lie and say the rest was easy because it wasn’t, but I felt excited and ready to dive in. My personal ‘ah-ha’ moment was Vietnam and the result is The Apology.
The Charlie Chaplin Suite in The Metropole where dreaming up the story started.
The never-ending game of “chicken” crossing the streets in Saigon. Terrifying!!!!
Emily and author in front of the Saigon Opera House.