When I started writing Dal Segno I knew nothing about writing a novel, or the story for that matter. As I wrote I knew Cam needed a best friend who would balance her out. In my life, that role is played by Sarah (I might not be great with naming characters…).
Sarah and I met, just like Cam and Sarah, while in MOS school in Pensacola. My first real memory is of her inviting myself and my ex out with her and her ordinance classmates. They were going to study at a nearby bar. That statement alone tells you something about young Marines. That night there were six pitchers of beer polished off by six Marines. Our glasses were never allowed to empty so I have no idea how much I drank that night, but it was a lot more than usual. I’m a total lightweight, never having enjoyed drinking.
My favorite memory, though, is of listening to Ani DiFranco in her room. If you’ve read Marine Awakening you know this is mentioned. In fact, I still associate Little Plastic Castle with Sarah. Over the years, we’ve slowly opened up. But writing Dal Segno gave me reason to ask all sorts of questions as I was figuring out Cam and Sharon’s backstory. I needed to understand why Sarah gravitated toward me (in a completely platonic but forever family way). Her answer has been worked into Marine Awakening as well. I was real. I felt like home playing my guitar, even if I did so poorly. And I felt safe. I wasn’t hitting on her like everyone else.
The biggest shock that came out through these discussions was a story that became her entrance into Marine Awakening, and is referenced in Dal Segno by Sarah having more than three strikes when talking to Cam and Laura. That’s still one of my favorite scenes from that book. It turns out, before Sarah had ever spoken to me, she overheard some Marines complaining about the fact that a lot of us female Marines were not sleeping alone at night. I genuinely couldn’t tell you how many, but I know I rarely slept in my room (though there wasn’t nearly that much sex happening). These Marines decided they should take things into their own hands and they discussed raping me by name. Thankfully, Sarah’s reaction was to slam one of them up against the wall, holding him off his feet, and threaten him. She wasn’t alone, but there were a handful of guys there. That was the night Sarah earned the nickname Kali, the goddess of war.
She didn’t tell me this story for 20 years. Seriously. Why? Because she didn’t want me to think that she did that because she wanted to be friends. She would have done that for anyone. And her and my wife decided it was best for me not to know. That may be true, but I’m still amazed they kept that secret between them for that long. When Sarah told me this story I knew it was a story that had to be told. But I also recognized the greater value in having Cam and Sharon walk up on Sarah in the midst of this situation.
Sarah is completely aware of her doppleganger. She’s contributed to these stories in many ways and has read them both. They are a bit surreal to read for her and her fiance, but we genuinely laugh about it. This is also why the character Sarah will never have her own book. That’s just too weird for me. I’m grateful that Cam has her as a friend though, especially when she needs a friend the most. As I write the sequel to A Marine Awakening, currently titled A Marine Discovery, I’m still learning where Sarah fits in her current life. Cam is gaining new friends, but Sarah is always important.
I hope this peek into the books was interesting and not too spoilery.
To purchase the series: getbook.at/CamSeries