About James Sanderson:
I was an Army Reservist for 10 years. Loved the work, loved the people, and loved the experience. For my sins, I was selected to be a part of an Artillery Battery unit in Sydney. Over the ten year span I was involved in a whole range of duties. From firing the 105mm Howitzer, to being a Radio Operator in the Battery’s Command Post and finally, to being someone who could observe targets in the far distance and be the one to authorize Artillery fire onto them. It’s an experience one can never forget. A few years after enlisting I began to get cold feet. I wanted a different kind of adventure, and one that was built on two simple principles. Firstly, I wanted to go overseas – anywhere! It didn’t matter. Secondly, and most importantly, I didn’t want to pay a cent for it!
That opportunity came to me in the spring of 2007. I was fortunate enough to be selected for an overseas posting to the Solomon Islands as a radio operator for six months.
The best part of it was, as an Australian soldier, I was attached to the Papua New Guinea Army. Now…. Being immersed in a culture that ‘do things’ very differently was both a shock and a rewarding time. I would teach them how to use a computer, GPS and use basic radio systems. In return they would teach me all kinds of bush tricks. Everything from creating fire from rubbing sticks, weaving baskets using thick grass and simply how to survive in the jungle. I kept a daily diary of my experiences as a momento kind of thing.
But after I came back to Australia, I starting thinking….. Maybe I could write a book about it? My grammar was (still is) terrible but over a 7 year period I slowly began to transform my experience onto paper. I would dabble here and there, scribble people’s names on the photos I kept. It took a long time of cutting and editing, but I finally managed to scrounge up a story to share.
Looking back, the Army Reserves really helped mold my attitude and full-time career. Firstly, for me, I found that I had greater favor with employers when they noted my reserve experience on the Resumes. It was simply a case of ‘We want people who aren’t afraid to get out of the office and get their hands dirty’. In fact, my current employer was once a reservist himself! The 45 minute interview instantly became an exchange of ‘Weekend Warrior’ stories and laughs.
Secondly, the Army Reserve wasn’t just a Part-Time job to me. It was also a family. We were brothers. If someone needed a pat on the back, we were there. If someone needed a few bob to get themselves out of a pickle, no one needed to ask. It’s simply a great community to be involved with.
Finally, if you are the fortunate soul to pick this book up. I encourage you to flip through the pages and see if this lifestyle is for you. I hope that these stories will encourage more people to consider the possibility of enlisting. I feel that a lot of people still think that you have to be a fitness freak with a cold attitude to even be considered, and yet, as you will no doubt be able to tell from reading my stories, I am a little eccentric who panics too quickly. Despite this, there was still a job for me. A job that took me all over the east coast of Australia and overseas. Not to mention there are a few shiny medals in my display cabinet that I like to look at now and then.
Also for those who were former members of the Reserves or CMF, if any of you have a story to share, I am very keen to hear it. The concept behind this book was for others to come forward with their own records and put them on paper. Ideally, I want to have a series similar to Footrot Flats, with a few added illustrations for a bit of hearty entertainment.
What inspires you to write?
Well for me back home in Australia, I noticed a decline in the number of recruits into the Army Reserve. There is so much excitement to be found in a Reserve unit that civilians may be totally unaware of. So as a reservist who kept a diary of activities that I went on (including an overseas deployment to the Solomon Islands), I thought I would write about my experiences in the hope that other people would come join.
The first book was a great success back in my home unit that I was quickly summoned to do a SEQUEL! Only this time it would encompass stories and experiences from fellow members – and include a little bit of history of where our home unit came from.
Tell us about your writing process.
I do use a lot of Cartoons/Sketches and photos throughout both my books. I targeted my books to be read by 15 year olds and up. So in order to engage in such a wide audience I thought it would be best if I wrote in a style that would appeal to the younger generation….AND….. throw a few illustrations in that would appeal to everyone. I also find that the older generations like a bit of WW2 history so I made sure I incorporated that as well (our unit was raised in 1940 and went to PNG and North Africa to take on the Axis powers)
What advice would you give other writers?
For people wanting to write self biographies, I would recommend keeping a regular diary. There are incidents that come and go throughout your life and if you don’t have it written down soon afterwards, you may miss certain details from it…or worse….you could have a terrible memory like me and forget about certain episodes altogether.
Finally, to be an aspiring writer, you have to be creative. With so many books out there available….why should someone choose yours? When I say creative, that doesn’t mean you need to be a
‘pottery maker’ or an experienced photographer who knows how to use photoshop, but you do need to find some sort of creative flair….or at least surround yourself with people who can give that to you. For me, I’m terrible at spelling and grammar, so with these two books I requested the assistance of professional editors to help structure the sentences better.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I had my first script finished on my desktop computer and it just sat there for a year with me wondering ‘How on earth do I get this out in the world?’
I searched a few websites that said ‘We can get your book done and on the web for a few thousand dollars!’. What? You serious? Thanks champ – but with a wife and bub on my arm…. I think the money would be better in my account then yours.
Then someone introduced me to createspace.com – An Amazon initative for indy writers to publish their books! For FREE!
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Well, call me old fashioned, but I still like the concept of paper books. There’s just something about the way the pages turn and the paper runs through my fingers.
Unfortunately, with the way technology is flying – and kids at primary school are using tablets to write instead of the pencil (Like their SUPPOSED TO!) , I dare say the paperback books will be a thing of the past by 2030 and we can all say bye bye to those hard working librarians.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?: Humor, Non Fiction, military
What formats are your books in?: eBook, Print, Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.