SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 grandchildren, and a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). He has served in the Army National Guard since October 2004, and holds the rank of staff sergeant. He is a published photographer and photojournalist, an aspiring painter, and is studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in underwater archaeology. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories, and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, Ruthie’s Club, Lucrezia Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. As of December 2011, he became the latest homeless
war veteran in . Las Vegas, Nevada
A word about the photograph. This was taken in June 2007 at the Great Ziggurat of Ur, Sumeria (Tallil AFB, Iraq). We were about 30 days away from coming home, and my initial enlistment in the Guard would be up in a few months. I wanted a little more time to decide whether to stay in the Guard or not. So, what better place for a writer to do a 1-year extension than Sumeria, where writing was invented?
Here's the blurb for Stan's latest release:
'Bettter than a Rabbit's Foot.'
Before treating us to an excerpt, Stan Reveals:
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your books?
I hope that the readers will think that their time was well spent, that my writing was worth their time. If that’s the case, then I’ve done my job properly.
What do you think are the main ingredients for a successful book?
I’d say the quality of writing, the believability of the world and characters, whether today’s mundane middle class setting or a fantastic setting on another world or in a different time, and believability of the plot. Without these ingredients, you can have the best ideas and best stories in the world, but the reader won’t buy into your writing. And, writing aside, follow a good public relations plan to ensure your name and writings spread before an ever-increasing audience.
What do you like best and least about writing?
Most of all I like creating a world or setting for my characters, in which the story takes place. Sometimes the research to “get it right” can take awhile, and will consist of a lot of “sifting” to get everything just right—which I enjoy. When it works, the resulting story is wonderful. What I like least is the editing involved; I view it as a necessary evil, but the time taken—with the help of a great editor—can result in a great story, rather than a mediocre story.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What would be your tips to overcome it?
Hell yes! I suffered from writer’s block this past year, beginning in June, and it continued up until December. I’m not sure why, unless it was simply the stress of life finally catching up with me. The only suggestion I can offer is to nurture a stubborn determination to write even if it’s only 100-500 words per day. That may not be much, but if you’re not writing at all, it’s better than nothing. Unfortunately, I didn’t. When I finally started writing again in December I rediscovered a growing excitement as my story unfolded before me and came to life. So, even when you don’t feel like it, write—write something every day!
Anything special you require to keep the creative juices flowing?
A stress-free life would be helpful. Until then, while developing ideas, conducting research, and writing, plenty of cigarettes, coffee with French Vanilla creamer, and listening to music or having a DVD playing for “background noise.” And, an occasional lunch or dinner with friends—and beer to go with the meal.
As long as the writer’s block doesn’t return, I’ll be dabbling with haunted tanks, zombies, and even a vampire in the old American West. Plus, writing a few Thanksgiving and Christmas oriented stories. I realized this summer that I’ve written very few such holiday themed stories. Appearing on a blog around such holidays, and then “pitching” stories that involve death and destruction (military themed writing), or ghosts and demons, seemed a little “out of kilter.”
What are you currently reading?
“Afrika Korps” by Major K.J. Macksey, M.C. (Ballantine); “Tiger I Heavy Tank 1942-1945” by Tom Jentz and Hilary Doyle (Osprey); “The Forgotten Soldier” by Guy Sajer (Brassey’s); and “Everyday Life in Byzantium” by Tamara Talbot Rice (Dorset). These are all for research for current and future writings. In spite of the number of books above, I only read a few pages each day. And, I actually read very little in the way of fiction writing because I believe I have very little time between my own writing, college, and the necessities (stress) of life. Sometimes I wish for a return to a simpler life when I spent all day reading books by Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Frederick Forsyth, among others.
Any exciting plans for the near future?
For the most part, continue fiction writing, and even try writing a movie screenplay. Due to my college studies I am looking forward to making the leap back into photojournalism and photography. I am also trying to wrap up my Anthropology degree through conducting research into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among World War II and Global War On Terrorism Native American and non-Native American veterans. This involves a trip toNow A Taste of 'Better than a Rabbit's Foot'
where there are several reservations, therefore the need for raising funds. The
resulting research paper is the end of my Capstone Project—a couple of more
classes after that, and I’ll have my Anthropology degree. South Dakota
“People like a happy ending.”
Sergeant Jerry Stanton, an M4 Carbine slung across his chest, glanced at the dark form that trudged alongside him in the hot, early morning darkness. It was all the darker for the dust storm howling across the small camp, a dusty and sandy convoy support center, CSC, a mile south of the Iraqi border. He placed his hand over the tall styrofoam coffee cup from the messhall that was open at all hours to serve those about to head out on a mission. He felt the itchy dust filtering down his back, along his arms, and coating his fingers.
In spite of his short time deployed to
he had learned that dust storms were worse than sand storms; they were hot and
itchy while the sand storms stung exposed skin and chilled the air. Breakfast
was good but tasted flat, more due to the question of whether their mission
would be a go or no-go because of the storm that roared out of the midnight
darkness hours before. Kuwait
“People like a happy ending,” the soldier repeated. He was a gunner from another gun truck as the squat, venerable M1114 HMMWVs, which were never meant to be combat vehicles, were called. He held up a rabbit foot that spun frantically in the wind and added, “I like a happy ending. Especially now.” They rounded the corner of a small building, actually a renovated mobile home trailer with a covered wooden porch lit by a bare electric bulb. The gunner pointed to a small black flag, suspended from a log overhang, flapping furiously in the wind.
“Oh shit.” Jerry sighed as a cold chill raced through him.
“It’s been there for an hour or so,” the soldier said as he enclosed the rabbit’s foot within both hands and brought it up to his lips as if to kiss it. He glanced at Jerry. “I’m not superstitious, but still, I mean, there’s nothing wrong with having a lucky charm. You know?”
“Yeah.” Jerry nodded as he watched the twisting flag. “I know.”
The soldier looked once more at the black flag and then walked toward the shower and restroom trailers beyond which were the air-conditioned sleeping tents they called home…
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Great pleasure to meet you, Stan!