Gina McKnight, Monday Creek Publishing Author, Freelance Writer, Equestrian, Blogger, and Poet! Welcome to my international blog about horses, writers, authors, books, cowboys, equestrians, photographers, artists, poets, poems, and more horses.
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Monday, March 4, 2013
Judith Sanders, Author
Sanders is the author of In His Stead, a novel based on a father’s desire
to take his son’s place in the military. Retired US Army Ranger Thomas
Lane is the book’s main character, vying for a chance to serve in his son’s
place. In His Stead captures the essence of family life in wartime;
the good, bad and hopeful.
Is there a precedent for being
able to replace someone in the military, or is it artistic license?
is grounded in solid historical fact. Yes there is a precedent. Paid
substitutes were allowed during both the Revolutionary & Civil Wars. You
may recognize some of the names of those who in 1863 paid for substitutes to
fight for them. People like Andrew Carnegie ($850 Irish immigrant); J.P. Morgan
(paid $300). And future president Grover Cleveland, who paid a Polish Immigrant
6 years his senior (Cleveland was 26), to serve in his place.
Why is it so controversial and
unheard of for relatives, friends or even an acquaintance to go to war in
someone else’s place?
Can you imagine the outcry, if today a soldier tried to pay/hire someone to
take his place? In 1863, it led to riots in NYC and the largest civil
insurrection in America’s history. Of course, at that time Lincoln established
the draft. Rioters dubbed the Civil War “the poor man’s war” and a subversion
of the freedoms granted in the Constitution; they were correct to a certain
extent. The Union forces numbered approximately 2,100,000 men –of that number
(the vast majority were volunteers with 2% were drafted) 6% (126,000) were paid
substitutes. (Some of these substitutes were unpaid sons replacing an older or
ailing father. Or an older father replacing a son. Leaving the son free to stay
home and take care of the farm and family.)
army had about the same percentage of substitutes. But in this case there were
also slaves replacing their masters.
Could the scenario on which In His Stead is based actually happen today?
early 20th century (W. Wilson 1917) the draft laws were revised to make it
illegal to PAY for someone to take your place. Then we did away with the draft
after the Vietnam War in 1979. But during my research with an Army lawyer, I
discovered what makes the plot of In His Stead
plausible is that NO MONEY IS EXCHANGED. And it is that loop-hole that Thomas
Lane uses to his advantage.
Could a father go to war instead of his
If it was
attempted, I’m sure the US Army would put up some sizable roadblocks. BUT, what
is happening is that due to the duration of this war, 13 years, fathers who
served in Iraq are now seeing their sons or daughters serving in Afghanistan.
How has war affected your family?
been the backdrop of my life. I was born at the end of the 2nd world war…. My
brother served in Japan after the Korean War. I lost high school friends in
Vietnam, my brother in-law was an Army sniper during that war and still
suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My husband is retired from the
Army. My father in-law served in the Navy during WWII. I worked as a civilian
nurse for the Army. And right now I have two grandnephews serving; 21 year old
in the Army & a 19 year old in the Marines. Both have just returned from
their first tours in Afghanistan.
What are your thoughts on Michelle
Obama and Dr. Jill Biden's big cause - Joining Forces?
mission of Joining Forces’ is to
bring attention to the unique needs and strength of America’s military
families. One of the themes in my novel In
His Stead is the family and how war /deployment affect the family. http://www.whitehouse.gov/joiningforces
You are donating a portion of the
book’s proceeds to Hearts Apart. What is Hearts Apart? Why this organization?
Hearts Apart was started in Wilmington, North
Carolina, USA, by local businessman Brett Martin and professional photographer
Brownie Harris. Its goal is to keep military families connected. Brownie and
his cast of volunteers take professional photographs of families who have a
member deploying. The family receives photos to keep at home and the member
deploying receives a vinyl bi-fold card. The vinyl is dirt, water, rain, and
sweat proof. In other, words war proof. It can be rolled up and stuffed in a
helmet or pocket. These professional photos link between home/family and wherever
a loved one has been deployed. You might say a lifeline that can stretch around
Where did you get the idea for the
plot? It’s certainly not common knowledge that years ago people were able to
pay someone to go fight for them.
I was in
the middle of writing the sequel to my first novel Crescent Veil when my nephew came to me. His son wanted to join the
Army right out of high school. He was concerned about his son’s safety. This
was particularly alarming to him since just a few years earlier his daughter
was involved in a near fatal car crash. His
worry touched my heart. Especially when he said he would do anything to protect
his children even if it meant taking their place.
He had a
point. After all isn’t it a parent’s job to protect our children. Isn’t that
what we do? We discussed this scenario. Once I validated the possibility, I
Why this book? This plot?
write what they know. I know the cheers and fears of parenting. And I have
always had a fascination with the Cradle of Civilization / the Middle East. My
first book took place in Iraq. My husband worked as a weapons inspector in
Iraq. With In His Stead I’m back in
the Middle East with a focus on family. Families exist everywhere.
Judith, you are a nurse, a wife, a
mother who at one time was a single mother, and now a writer. With all of those
hats, how do you find time to write?
I love to
write…I can’t imagine not writing. I am inspired by the people I’ve met, the
stories I’ve heard, and the books I’ve read.
What’s your next project?
the middle of three other novels. One is the squeal to Crescent Veil. Another is a fantasy for kids, and Diamond Island is an adult Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Who are your heroes?
Scagliotto, a teacher who encouraged my interest in science, my father- who
attended every softball and soccer game. Kids need heroes. It should be their
Who is your target audience?
anyone would enjoy reading In His Stead.
It’s about our potential to do the extraordinary. You may cry at the end but
you’ll also feel good. I’ve also had many readers say that In His Stead would offer a unique choice for YA males and one of my
grand-nephews, an avid reader at 13, just loved the book, so I’m exploring how
to expose YA males to the book.
What is the message you want
readers to ‘take home’ ?
example. To parents I’d say, ‘your kids are watching you. Be a hero.’