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****Sabine Chennault’s The Corpsman’s Wife is #66 in the never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific excerpt from a fiction genre and how that fiction writer wrote that specific excerpt. All INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION links are at the end of this piece.
*****All images are given copyright permission by Sabine Chennault for this specific CRC Blog Post only unless otherwise noted.
What is the date you began writing this piece of fiction and the date when you completely finished the piece of fiction? I started The Corpsman's Wife four years ago. The characters are fictional but all the historical events are fact. I interviewed around 80 combat corpsmen and spouses for this novel. I spend a year on interviews, a year on research, and then started writing. Reading through all those combat stories was not easy and therefore the writing has been slow going.
Where did you do most of your writing for this fiction work? And please describe in detail. And can you please include a photo? I work either at home or at Starbucks here in Silverdale, WA.
What is the summary of this specific fiction work? Lance and Susi meet at his graduation from Navy Boot camp. They have an instant connection. Lance is at Great Lakes and Susi returns to Arizona where she works and lives. Two months after their meeting and spending the night together she finds herself pregnant. Not something she wants to tell him during their weekly phone calls. Two months before the baby is due they get married. Lance is an FMF Corpsman, in December 1990 he is deployed for the first time to Desert Storm. He spends three deployments during that conflict and Susi begins to notice changes in him. The book follows the couple over 20 years of Navy service, a plane crash, two wars, alcoholism, PTSD, attempted suicide and retirement. The main point is the perceptions of the wife and how she handles the changes in her husband and what she does to help him.
Can you give the reader just enough information for them to understand what is going on in the excerpt? Susi and Tracy are headed to San Diego to see Lance and Tony, Tracy's brother. She has complications and they have to return to Mesa. This is 1990, there are no cell-phones yet so communication is still a little more difficult. She missed her flight to Great Lakes at the end of December for his graduation from A-school, due to an accident on the freeway and now she is not going to make it again. She is afraid that she might lose him and still has not told him about the baby. Something she'd hoped to do in person.
Please include just one excerpt and include page numbers as reference. This one excerpt can be as short or as long as you prefer. It seemed like hours before Doctor Miles popped back in. When he pushed the curtain aside they could both tell from the expression on his face he was coming with bad news.
“I’m really sorry Susi but we are going to have to keep you here for a few days.” Tracy could see how much he hated telling her this news. “Is everything ok with the baby?” She wanted to know.
“Yes, the baby is fine but for some reason, Susi’s blood pressure is really high causing the baby a lack of oxygen. We need to get this under control to make sure your little one continues being fine.” He saw the tears welling up in her eyes. “Susi one thing I need you to do is stay as calm as you can, any spike in your blood pressure can cause more problems.” He squeezed her hand, “I know this is not what you wanted to hear but I know that your main concern right now needs to be your health and that of your child.” She nodded. “I will have a nurse come in to get you admitted and take you upstairs. I will check on you in the morning. We will give you a mild sedative tonight and see how things are tomorrow.” He added.
Susi couldn’t speak. Doctor Miles gestured Tracy to follow him out so he could speak to her without Susi.
“I’ll be right back sweetie ok?” Tracy hugged her friend and then followed the Doctor. Several steps away from Susi’s room Doctor miles turned to face Tracy.
“This is not an uncommon condition, but we need to get it under control. If the placenta is deprived of oxygen for too long, it will create big problems for the baby and could result in a miscarriage.”
Tracy looked shocked and held her hand in front of her face. “This is an actual condition, not just a fluke thing?”
“Yes,” Doctor Miles nodded, “It is known as preeclampsia. We can control this with medication and most of all avoid all forms of stress and travel. She only has three months to go, the baby is showing no signs of distress, so everything should be fine”
“Oh great,” Tracy rolled her eyes, “It’ll be fun explaining that to her.”
“I am counting on you!” He squeezed Tracy’s shoulder and walked away. Tracy stood in the hall staring at the curtain that hid her friend. She’d dealt with enough guys in her life to know that no one would believe a mishap twice. Once maybe but twice? No way. She had no idea how she was going to pull this off. As she made her way back to Susi’s bed her feet seemed to feel like they got heavier with each step. She pulled the curtain aside and smiled.
“You suck a faking it you know, that right?” Susi asked as she smiled back. “It’s bad isn’t it?” She didn’t wait for Tracy to answer the first question.
“You’re not going to be able to travel,” Tracy played with the edge of the blanket and avoided Susi’s eyes. “He says you cannot travel until you have the Baby and you must, and I mean YOU MUST avoid stress.”
“Lance is not going to believe that I am standing him up again,” the tears were welling up in Susi’s eyes. “Maybe we aren’t meant to be together. Maybe I’m just meant to be a single mom.” The tears silently rolled down her cheeks and she looked so sad that it made Tracy cry as well.
She moved to her friend’s side and hugged her.
“Do you want me to call him?” Tracy whispered.
“And tell him what? Susi’s in the hospital and oh by the way she’s six months pregnant?” Susi mocked, “I’m sure he’ll hop in his car and come right our here.”
Tracy backed away a step “At least let me try. Neither of us really knows what he’ll do.”
“All right,” Susi wiped her sleeve across the bottom of her nose. “His number is my purse.”
Tracy grabbed the purse as the nurse came in to move Susi to an upstairs room.
“Why don’t I go home while they get you moved”, Tracy smiled, “I can make that call and grab some things you’ll need.”
“Well there’s not much choice is there?” Susi looked as hopeless as she could. Tracy hugged her and gave her a kiss on top of her head, “I love you, little Mommy.”
She walked out and headed down the hall to the door, made her way to the car and sat in the seat for several minutes before turning over the key, she knew one thing she could not do was tell him about the baby. - I don't have page numbers for reference since this is out of the manuscript.
We had not been intimate for nearly a year and I had just found out about his most recent affair. Tracy invited me to Great Lakes and I went. I met Lance the way Susi and Lance in the book met and ended up pregnant. Since I missed my flight at the end of December due to an accident I was going to tell him on the phone. We both had something important to share and I told him to go first. He told me he was getting married, I did not tell him that I was pregnant. We continued talking on a regular basis when he wasn't deployed or on a ship. Helped each other through failed marriages and grew closer and closer as time went by. In 2009 he retired from the Navy and more less disappeared. (Left: Lance and Sabine)
We met for coffee the next day but it still took me a while to confess that my youngest daughter was his. We did a DNA test to put both of their minds at ease. Lance figure it out about a year or so before we told Sam. She was beyond thrilled when she got the result and went to court the next day to change her last name. We celebrated our 6th anniversary this past April and have been best friends for 29 years.
Other works you have published? A Leap of Faith in 2007; Sam and the Pixie - Finding Faith in 2009
Anything you would like to add? . It is my hope that The Corpsman's Wife brings an understanding to people in general about the consequences on the psyche of a combat survivor. Especially to new military wives or those hoping to become a military wife. Being a wife and mother is already a hard, full-time job. Being a military wife means you take on a much higher responsibility. You can be faced with being a mom and dad at the same time for months on end. You have to understand that just because your spouse might not have physical wounds after being deployed to a war zone, it is highly likely that they will have mental damage. When you marry someone in the military you have to be aware of the commitment and understand that running when things don't go your way is not, and should not be an option unless your spouse is violent and will not get help. You have to understand that your spouse belongs to the military, they tell him what to do and when and no argument in the world will change that.
I came to America from Germany in 1981 when I was 20 with my then husband and daughter Jenny. In 1983 my son Jesse was born. I worked for an Optometrist for 16 years and then went to culinary school. In 1990 my baby Samantha was born. In 1995 I divorced my first husband. His drug use and drinking had killed everything I had felt for him and some point and my heart belonged to someone else. Sadly he'd gotten married not knowing that Samantha was his. After culinary school, I worked as an executive pastry chef for several years and spend a little time at Starbucks and Borders before marrying the love of my life and moving to Washington State. I went back to school and got my BA in American literature and am currently working on my MA in marriage and family counseling.
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THE CORPSMAN’S WIFE