Chuck served four years in the Elite 75th Ranger Regiment–the same unit profiled in the movie “Black Hawk Down.” Chuck saw combat in Panama in 1989. After leaving active duty, Chuck flew helicopters in the Wisconsin National Guard while attending the University of Wisconsin.
In 2004, after ten years as a stockbroker, Chuck left that profession to pursue full-time writing. At the same time, he began working as the adventure correspondent for CBN.
Today, Chuck, Connie, and their five children live on a farm in Appalachia, where Chuck now pursues his varied interests of farming, writing, adventure travel and public speaking, among other things. Chuck and his family are currently living in Panama on a short term basis with Chuck pursuing more research for future books.
Thanks so much Chuck for spending some time at Relz Reviewz. Tell us your thoughts:~
Please share some of your writing/publishing journey with us
I was blogging before that was even a word. I started writing humorous stories, because my wife liked them. Then one day I had a dream about the parachute assault into Panama in 1989 – reliving it like I was there again. Thinking that writing it down would be cathartic, I did, then posted it on my blog. That was the beginning of this journey. A writer friend recommended I attend a writer’s conference, so I did. I came home with a contract for A More Elite Soldier.
Having written a number of non-fiction titles including Bulletproof, what led you to turn your hand at a novel?
It’s something I’ve always wanted to try, and so when Gayle Roper suggested it, I thought it would be fun. Little did I know what hard work fiction is!
Why Christian fiction?
If it’s not potentially life changing for my reader, it’s not worth my time. Writing is about more than entertainment for me. It’s a way to leverage my reach – a way to allow me to help people whom I’d never meet otherwise.
What project or book are you working on now?
I’m editing a project for Oliver North for the next few months, then back to writing book 3 of Task Force Valor.
As a father of five what does a regular writing day look like for you?
Hiding in my office, trying not to get distracted. Failing. Then going out and spending some time wrestling with the kids and working around the house until nightfall…then getting some writing done after everyone goes to sleep.
ON ISLAND INFERNO…
How much of your experience as a US Army Ranger finds its way into your novels, Allah’s Fire and Island Inferno?
Oh, a lot. I go back and remember certain missions, certain feelings I had when I was in that life, and try to put them into my characters.
What was your favourite scene to write in Island Inferno?
The ending. I’d wanted to do something different than the standard mushy stuff. So I asked myself, “what’s something my characters can do that is much more intimate than kissing, something that will surprise the audience?” I was really happy with how that turned out.
How did you find writing solo on this novel?
If Island Inferno was made into a movie, who would you cast?
Hmmm…I think Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing.” I try to live by that maxim and spend my time doing both. Unfortunately, that doesn’t leave much time for television or movies, so I’m kind of an uncultured boob when it comes to actors. Sorry.
You have recently returned from a research trip to Coiba Island, the location of Island Inferno. Tell us a bit about that trip?
When I decided to set Coiba as the backdrop for Island Inferno, I went there last year for research and spent three days hacking around the jungle with some buddies. That’s when I realized that most of the island is untouched, unexplored virgin triple-canopy rainforest. There are lots of places in the interior (it’s a large island, about the size of Barbados,) that had probably never been seen by human eyes. So I hatched a plan to cross the island from coast to coast, right through the wild interior. We put together an amazing team this year, and completed the journey in four days. On the way we saw some amazing things: trees up to fifteen feet in diameter, poisonous snakes, lizards and some really scary bugs. We also saw lots of crocodiles. The last night it rained like I’ve never seen before, and we were forced to flee a flash flood that washed over our camp. It was quite intense! The story of this trip will likely go into a non-fiction adventure narrative telling the history of the island, from the pirates to the present. I’ll probably write that one next year.
Can you give us a sneak peek at what might be in store for Task Force Valor in third book?
Sweeney will be the main male character, and Phoenix will be the female protagonist. They have to find the source of the ITEB chemical, and it leads them to an incredible discovery that will shock the socks off the readers.
ON MATTERS PERSONAL…
Do you read Christian fiction yourself? If so, some favourite authors or books both Christian and/or secular?
Sure. Randy Alcorn and Jeanette Windle are two of my favorites, because their writing styles are SO good! Honestly, I think Christian fiction is a higher quality of writing than most mass-market secular stuff.
What are you reading at the moment?
I just finished Alcorn’s new book, “Deception.” It’s hilarious.
Favourite movie and favourite line from a movie?
Gladiator. I love the line from Braveheart, though, “Every man dies. Not every man truly lives.”
Who inspires you?
My children and people who put themselves on the line for their faith.
Since leaving the Rangers, what gets the adrenaline pumping?
My life now has much more adventure than it did in the Rangers. I recently returned from reporting on the civil war in Burma – we had to sneak across the border and meet up with the Rebel army…which was very cool.
I was raised in a Christian home and dedicated my life to God at an early age. And He’s been so faithful to bring me along and make my life an incredible adventure, teaching me along the way. Most of the wonderful things I’ve been able to accomplish and experience happened almost in spite of me, not because of me. God’s good at making sure I can’t take the credit.
Some essential Aussie questions…
When/if you make the trip Down Under what do you want to see first? A platypus or a koala?
Oh, a croc! Okay, if you force me to choose, I’d take the platypus. Just because the name is fun to say.
Vegemite or Peanut Butter?
I like trying different foods, but Vegemite sounds like fertilizer.
Barrier Reef or Uluru (Ayers Rock)? The rock.
Chuck, we appreciate the fascinating interview and look forward to reading your future books!