Techno-thriller about Taiwan, China was 10 years in the making
June 16, 2014 | 6:25 pm
By Dan Bloom
For T.J. McFadden, writing the military thriller Dragon Storm— about a potential war between China and Taiwan — was a labor of love and part of a ten-year learning process. A recent thumbs-up review in a newspaper in Taiwan has given the Ohio author a feeling of success, even if sales are still slow.
To write the Kindle ebook, McFaddeen was able to use many of the things and terms he learned in serving as a military journalist in the U.S. navy, he told this reporter in a recent email.
”I was a journalist assigned to the USS Ashland,” he said. ”Most military journalists are assigned to various commands as their embedded public affairs person, to write articles and press releases about the ship for military and civilian newspapers. In the civilian world after I left the Navy, I worked as a local reporter for a few years, most notably for a weekly paper in Canal Fulton, Ohio.”
Out of those two careers, one in the Navy and one as a reporter in Ohio, the seeds of writing a techno-thriller were born. Although the author has never set foot in Taiwan or China, he follows the news about the two nations on opposite sides of the Taiwan Strait, and that’s where his novel comes in.
His novel didn’t start out the way it ended, and there’s a story here. “‘Dragon Storm’ is an extensive rewrite and expansion of an earlier ebook I wrote titled “Formosa Straits” which I put out through DiskUs Electronic Publishing, ten years ago,” McFadden told me. “DiskUs is an innovative company and was one of the first epublishers, but I don’t think it’s kept pace with developments like the Kindle and Nook. In addition, the story was an early effort on my part and I felt it needed a lot of improvement. So, when a couple of my other novels had moderate success on Kindle, I took the rights back from DiskUs and went to work updating and fixing the novel.”
McFadden said he added more character development, updated the military technology discussed in the book since the China’s military has expanded and modernized so much in the last decade. “When I was done with the new revisions, there had been so many changes, I decided to rename the novel. In retrospect, calling it Dragon Storm may have been a mistake, as there are several titles on Kindle with that name already, mostly heroic fantasy novels. But writing, for me, is still a learning process.”
How will the book be received in America? McFadden said he hopes the recent good review in an expat newspaper in Taipei will boost his profile as a novelist. “The Taiwanese independence movement is, I believe, poorly understood here in America,” McFadden said. “As to whether Taiwan should be independent or should eventually reunify if China actually becomes a democratic state with human rights, free speech and an elected government, I believe that is for the people of Taiwan to decide. I am completely against forcing the free people of Taiwan to submit to the corrupt dictatorship of communist China under any circumstance.”
When asked about the promotions and publicity he has done for the novel, McFadden said with limited resources, most of his PR has been through social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo groups. “I’ve also posted a link to the title of the novel in the comments section of a number of YouTube videos dealing with Taiwan and China,” he said.
Feedback is something he counts on, he said. “As a writer, I am constantly seeking informed feedback on my novels, both to improve my writing and for the ego boost,” he said. “Like any writer, I love hearing that people have read and enjoyed my novels and very much like to hear what parts or characters in the novel touched them personally.”
When asked when the story in Dragon Storm takes place, in the near or distant future, McFadden said: ”Some time in the next ten years. With the kind of aggressiveness China has been showing recently, some kind of conflict seems more likely every day. I continue to hope that cooler heads will prevail but with the Beijing leadership on their present course, yielding to their demands only incites more demands. I hope that Taiwan stays strong and unified in the defense of its freedom and democracy,”
Is there a translation in the works perhaps for readers in Taiwan or China?
“I would love to get the book translated into any form of Chinese, for both sides of the players on opposite sides of the Taiwan Straits,” he said. “But at present, I can’t afford a translator and I don’t speak Chinese.”
The Ohioan said that whole he has never been to Taiwan, he would love to visit someday. Maybe China, too.
”All my information on Taiwan is from research from a variety of sources: The internet, books, and a couple of friends who have lived in China and Taiwan,” he added. “As I said in the foreword to the book, any insights into Chinese and Taiwanese culture are mostly because of their patient advice. All the mistakes are entirely my own.”