Debut thriller author Brian Boland is with me today and we’re chatting about his military fiction, Caribbean’s Keeper: A Novel of Vendetta.
Brian Boland is a graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy and holds a master of arts in military history from Norwich University. After an initial assignment at sea, he completed naval flight training and was designated a US Coast Guard aviator. With more than a decade of operational experience, Boland has deployed extensively throughout the Caribbean, Central America, and the eastern Pacific, supporting search and rescue, migrant interdiction, and counternarcotics missions.
Welcome, Brian. Please tell us about your current release.
It’s a novel, first and foremost, but based on experiences I’ve had over the past 15 years or so. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in and around Central America and the Caribbean. I wanted to tell the story of all the illegal stuff that occurs on a daily basis and the types of characters that I’ve interacted with. Rather than telling it from the right side of the law (my side, just for the record....), I thought it would be more interesting to tell the story from the perspective of a smuggler.
What inspired you to write this book?
I was nearing the end of a master’s degree in military history from Norwich University. It was a great program, but I was mentally bored with the writing style. I’ve never been very good in an academic environment. So one afternoon, I poured myself a rum and coke, dropped a lime wedge over it, and wrote a few paragraphs just to clear my head a bit. I suppose I had the idea of the book bouncing around in my head for a while, but after I re-read what I wrote, I committed to it. It took me three years to write what I thought was a decent draft. It took another year of edits before I had something that would stand up to a publisher. I was lucky enough after that to get the attention of Warriors Publishing Group and they liked the idea. More edits followed after that, and a book deal followed shortly thereafter.
What exciting story are you working on next?
This took just a bit over five years to get where I am today with Caribbean’s Keeper. I’ve got another side project that I’m working at the moment that I hope to finish up this Fall. It’s got less to do with writing and a lot to do with my guitar, and I hope to put a bit more out shortly on that one. Beyond that, I’ve got some ideas to solidify, but I would like to continue on with another book centered on the darker side of the Caribbean.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In high school, we had some kind of annual journal or something to that effect. I remember the teacher who ran the thing demanding that something I had written be included. He more or less told the student committee that they could choose everything that went into the journal, but this one short story I’d written would be in it no matter what. I don’t remember exactly, but that probably gave me the confidence to think of myself as a writer.
Other than this book, I’ve been published in a few magazines and journals, but it’s all military related stuff. The Naval Institute has a magazine, PROCEEDINGS, that has printed a few articles and my favorite by far is the semiannual journal from the National Museum of Naval Aviation, FOUNDATION. It’s all stories about naval aviation and I’ve been privileged to have a few articles published there as well. It’s a smaller audience, but the readers are my kind of people.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’m a pilot in the Coast Guard. That consumes the bulk of my time. I travel a lot, and with that I find plenty of inspiration along the way. I’ve written sitting on beaches or at bars in some pretty amazing places, I’ve spent some bad nights writing in hotel rooms in some horrible places, and I’ve even written in the back of a plane during legs where I’m not on the hook to be up front flying. I need to be on the road to write. It’s not the kind of thing I can do for ten minutes, then go do something else…. If I’m going to sit down and write, I need a few hours with no distractions. That doesn’t happen at home.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I hate exclamation points. I mean, I really hate them. I don’t get why they even exist. I read a sentence in a normal voice then all of a sudden there’s a damn exclamation point at the end and the word comes out in my head really loud, like yelling. I hate it.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was a lifeguard in high school. I got tan, I sat outside, I talked to girls, and I made almost double minimum wage – it was great. I also watched a lot of Baywatch and there’s the occasional Coast Guard appearance in the show. So it seemed like a natural fit for a guy like me. I am incredibly lucky to be where I am today, but it really just happened by chance.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thanks for reading.
Thanks for being here today, Brian. All the best with your writing, and USCG career!