To all of the blokes whoâve posted reviews about Squaddie I just want to say a big thank you for taking the time and for your kind and supportive comments; as a first time writer I canât begin to tell you how much your praise means to me. I place particular emphasis and attach great importance to the views of the military community, because in my heart you represent my core constituency, and I hope that the words I have written will resonate and chime with your own experiences of being in uniform. For me, writing Squaddie was all about chronicling the lifestyle and adventures of a typical âInfantry bodâ, albeit from a decidedly untypical background. I wanted to portray a side of military life that had never really been touched on before (or so it seemed to me), and in a level of forensic detail that was new and unfamiliar to the general reader. So I focussed the core of the narrative on the journey through basic training and the CIC, the everyday experiences of the Private soldier in his peacetime UK battalion, and then the emotional rollercoaster and personal introspections that weâve all faced on operational tours; those times when we at first face that fear and begin to wonder âWhat if itâs me that doesnât come back and why am I really hereâ¦â Basically, I wrote the book that Iâd like to have read before I became a soldier, so that Iâd have known EXACTLY what those first few years wouldâve been like, for better or worse. I was also trying to construct a text that anybody outside of the military, with only the faintest interest in our world, could pick up and say âNow I know exactly what itâs like for those guys, at home and abroad. I understand how and why they live the lives that they do.â My greatest wish is that a parent or serving soldier will one day pick it up and pass it to their loved ones, simply saying âThis is what I do and this is who I amâ. Anyway, whether I succeeded or not only time will tell. Allâs I can say is I did my very best to accurately portray my life as a squaddie and I tried to be as objective as I could - although as an individual writing an autobiography itâs damn hard not to be subjective at times! Indeed, how can one not be? Iâm often asked for tips and advice from soldiersâ whoâre interested in writing their own stories but are a little unsure of where or how to begin, so hereâs my answer: begin at the beginning, because all stories, however great or small, have to start from the same point. There are no magical remedies or shortcuts, and in any case who the heck would want them anyway, because youâd be depriving yourself of the magic and joy of putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and seeing YOUR story drink in new life. It took me four years of blood, sweat and tears to write Squaddie and it devoured every second of spare time that I had, but the rewards are worth it and I canât recommend the experience highly enough to you. So if any of you are thinking about writing then for Godâs sake stop thinking and start doing! If you can spend a solitary hour at your PC for five days a week, writing perhaps 500 words a session (just a couple of sheets of A4 or a long arrse post!), then youâll be producing 2500 words a week on average. Do that for a year and youâll have the first 100,000 word rough draft of a book. But that first draft represents only the rough beginnings and you go back over it line-by-line several times, adding, subtracting and editing as you go along in order to sharpen, correct and hone the text. Have gallons of hot coffee on standby and be prepared to burn the midnight oil until your eyes stream and your fingers ache and youâll get there in the end. Anyway, I think you get the picture so I hope the aboveâs been useful. A final word regarding Squaddie: itâs not War and Peace and Iâm no Tolstoy (oh if only!), nor am I a former member of âthe regimentâ whoâs been schooled in diving through windows over a twenty-plus year career. But what it is, is quite simply the best of me and what I could produce by my own efforts â both in literary terms and military service. So thanks again gentlemen for posting such thoughtful remarks which have brightened my day â and thanks for taking the time to read my story when there are far better writers and soldiers than me in this world. It means a lot to me.