AUTHOR: SS Hampton, Sr.
BOOK TITLE: AN INCIDENT ON MSR TAMPA
PUBLISHER: Musa Publishing
Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I am a part-time writer, and a full-time college student studying for an Associates in photography. My real interest, however, is archaeology. If all goes well, I will graduate in the spring of 2014. Unfortunately, I do not organize my writing time. I write when the mood strikes me—usually in the evening and I will write until midnight, or if it is on the weekend, I will write until much later.
What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
Go to college, study, watch DVD movies, and listen to music. Because I live in Las Vegas, sometimes I will go to a casino and gamble a few dollars and have a couple of beers. I never gamble more than $5.00 because I dislike losing money, and Vegas was built on the money of losers. I also have dinner with a couple of friends or join a couple of friends for a couple of drinks.
Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
I had writer’s block once. That was in the summer of 2012 and it lasted for six months. It was not so much getting through it as writing numerous guest blog posts and updating my FaceBook page. One day I finally started writing a few words; then the next day a few more words. I knew that what I wrote was not being creative so much as simply writing to get the feel of writing going again. After a week or so the desire, even the need, to write, was back. Then I returned to what I forced myself to write and really edited so that the writing would resemble something like creative writing.
Any advice for a new writer just starting out?
Yes. When a new writer is serious about writing, draft a marketing plan first. Plan on writing guest blog posts and blog interviews. Once the manuscript has been accepted, create a 250-300 word excerpt from the Work In Progress (WIP) so that word gets out early. Establish a FaceBook author page; create author pages on Amazon.com US, UK, and Canada. Look at sites like GoodReads where you can establish a presence. Many publishers (or at least the three publishers I publish through) have author loops—join the loops and learn from the other authors, both new and experienced. But no matter what, do not forget to write every day. And remember, social media, though useful, can eat up a lot of your writing time too.
What are your current projects?
I am currently editing a short story about World War II German soldiers on the Russian Front, with a healthy dose of the supernatural/unknown included. To me, war and the supernatural go hand in hand. Then, I will be writing a fantasy that takes place in ancient Sumeria. After that, I will return to editing a novella of World War II German soldiers in North Africa with—you guessed it—a healthy dose of the supernatural/unknown included. Like I stated, war and the supernatural/unknown go hand in hand.
What is your experience working or being around the paranormal?
I have only had one experience that literally made the hair on my head and the back of my neck rise. I was working late one night in a photo lab here in Vegas. Because color printing paper is so sensitive, there is one stretch of a hallway leading to the print processing room—with numerous side rooms—that is totally dark. I was going down the hallway with an exposed print and just as I passed a particular room I felt a sudden chill in my back and the hair on my head and the back of my neck stood straight up. I put the paper in the machine, went into the well-lit area of the lab, and once the print came out, I returned to the darkened hallway, turned the lights on, and then went to the room at the end of the hallway and shut all of the equipment down. Though the job was due first thing the next morning, I went home. The next morning I told my boss why the job was not done; he looked at me, called the customer, and said it would be late. No one laughed at my experience, because everyone else in the photo lab always believed there was something ghostly in that particular hallway. Mostly anything they saw, when the lights were on, was from the corners of their eyes—a fleeting shadow, because when they looked, they saw nothing. They just felt that sometimes they were not alone in that hallway.
What gave you the idea for this particular book?
Technology is advancing at such a rapid pace, especially military technology, that what we cannot see with our eyes is being revealed through computer software and scientific hardware. So what if a certain item of military technology, opened, a doorway to something we normally could not see? Plus, I heard Soldiers talking once—my battalion had a SECFOR mission, escorting logistics convoys into and throughout Iraq—about a stretch of the Supply Route and surrounding terrain that had a haunted look to it. They said that area would fit right into a horror movie.
Is this a work of fiction or non-fiction? Why did you choose to write it this way?
Fiction, of course. I do not know of any real incidents of the type I describe.
Is this story written for adults or children? Why did you target this audience?
This story is written for adults, especially as I do not know how to write for children. I know that adults will understand this story far better than a child could.
Do you believe in ghosts? Why or why not?
I cannot say “yes” or “no.” Other than the experience in the photo lab, I have never encountered anything unusual. I do believe that we do not know everything about this universe, this world, therefore anything is possible. I would like to believe in ghosts because that would truly indicate there is something—perhaps another reality—beyond death.
Have you ever encountered a ghost or paranormal event? Please describe it.
No. If I ever encountered or experienced such an identifiable event, my first reaction—after total surprise—would be to try and rationalize, or explain it.
What kind of research did you do for this type of book?
The general military aspect I was familiar with due to my service in the military and my deployment to Iraq (northern Kuwait) in 2006-2007. The rest was a lot of time spent reading about certain military technologies, computer software, astronomy, electromagnetic wavelengths, etc. It was all very interesting, but then became fun once I figured out how to tie it all together into a believable story—I hope.
What is your favorite:
Winter! After living in southern Nevada since 2001, including mobilization and serving in southern California, and Iraq, I’ve had enough of hot weather. In Vegas there’s only two seasons—summer and a sometimes cold winter. Anything in between only lasts a few days. I want to feel winter again, see snow, sleet and ice, and light a warm fire in a fireplace. Someday I’ll make it back to the Rocky Mountains.
Christmas! Christmas morning, watching the faces of the kids/grandkids and listening them to laugh and talk as they unwrap their presents—when there’s money to buy presents (some of us still haven’t recovered from the recession, you know).
And, thank you for having me here today.
“An Incident on MSR Tampa.” MUSA Publishing, March 2012.
BLURB: Halloween Night, 2006 – a resupply convoy commanded by the Air Force and escorted by Army gun trucks, is leaving Kuwait for Baghdad. The lonely desert highway north is MSR Tampa, a bloody highway along which for years the convoys suffered insurgent attacks. And on MSR Tampa there is a particular wooded bend that no one speak of, though many know of its haunted reputation, a reputation given new life by a gun truck crew testing a new generation of enhanced night vision goggles…
EXCERPT: …It wasn’t long after the safety briefing that the crews mounted their gun trucks. Purple Dog led the way out of the CMC, past the camp, past a small civilian parking lot and a mosque with a tall graceful minaret, and across the highway. They paused at the border control point while Cordova presented all of the required customs documentation for the convoy. Border control was manned by Iraqi Police that no one trusted.
A hot night wind moaned across the desert. They sat behind closed ballistic windows, shrouded within engine heat, and the claustrophobic grip of the hot IBA.
Harland stared out the narrow, dusty window at the large closed gates in front of him. The gates were made of heavy wood beams with diagonal cross-beams overlaid with layers of darkly gleaming razor wire. Strangely, the razor wire was all on the inside of the gate, facing the moonlit desert ahead of them. A shudder went through him as he realized each gate was decorated by the large bleached skull of a ram. The empty eye sockets above the pointed, splintered snouts stared at him; large ridged horns curled backward from the skull before flaring outward in another curl into deadly tips. Like a mythical doorway that was built to keep people out, or keep something in, the gates spanned the dusty, rutted road that led to the dimly lit village of Safwan up ahead.
“Damn, Sarge,” Bonner said over the intercom. “I love these Cyclops. The night almost looks like day. And…more.”
“More?” Harland answered and looked up through the opening in the roof of the gun truck. Bonner, with the ENG/NVG lowered to his face, looked like an alien with a deadly snout. Where his flesh was visible, it looked ghostly white. Every time he moved there seemed to be a faint, colored ripple in the air.
“Yeah,” he chuckled and looked down at Harland. The eyepiece in the center of the ENG/NVGs glinted. “I don’t know. It’s hard to describe. It’s like you’re so damned white, your face, and I see colored ripples all around you like, like, when you throw a rock in a pond.”
Harland grunted. He remembered the faint ripples when he had tried Cyclops back in Boston. Matherson had said there were minor software problems with Cassandra that would soon be fixed.
Puffs of sparkling windblown dust tumbled toward them through the thin desert brush.
“Hell of a time to go out on a mission,” Bonner said. “It’s Halloween night.”
“No shit,” Stewart replied.
“Feels damned spooky,” Bonner said. “Feels like the headless horseman is gonna come riding out of the night any second now. These Cyclops don’t help any, either.”
“Hey, Sarge, you believe in ghosts?” Stewart asked.
Moonlit dust washed over them, and the sand scratched against the ballistic window and the metal skin of the gun truck like skeletal claws on a blackboard.
Harland grunted. “Anything’s possible. I think.”
“People say there’s ghosts where people die violent deaths,” Bonner said. “A lot of battlefields are supposed to be haunted. People see things there.”
Harland watched the swirling dust blowing across the desert and thought of the many bright, smoky explosions of IEDs, burning trucks, and shattered bodies, along MSR Tampa. He thought of the violent IED that had clawed at his own gun truck as if hungrily seeking him out.
He shuddered as he stared at the silent, sightless horned skulls that trembled in the desert wind. He had a sudden deep and primeval feeling that the gates were built to keep something in…
SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, a published photographer and photojournalist, and a member of the Military Writers Society of America. He retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). 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, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. Second-career goals include becoming a painter and studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology. After 12 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters. As of December 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Hampton officially became a homeless Iraq War veteran.
Amazon.com Author Page
Amazon.com. UK Author Page
Goodreads Author Page