Second-class petty officers Dalton Taylor and Chris Ingram have been best friends since coxswain’s school. Now they’re stationed together in the Harbor Patrol Unit of NAS Adams. They’re content as friends, but secretly, they both ache for more. Neither makes a move, though; while Dalton is out and proud, Chris is closeted—even from his best friend.
Then another coxswain’s negligence nearly drowns Dalton. After a taste of how easily they could lose each other, neither man can keep his feelings hidden anymore, and it turns out love and sex come easy when you’re falling for your best friend.
Things aren’t just heating up between the friends-turned-lovers, though. The Navy is investigating the accident, and the Harbor Patrol chief isn’t going to let his star coxswain go down for dereliction of duty, even if saving him means throwing Dalton under the bus.
As the threats and gaslighting pile up, Chris and Dalton need each other more than ever—as shipmates, friends, and lovers. But if their chief prevails, the only way they can save their careers is to let each other go.
Fact, Fiction, & Creative License – Military Characters
One thing I’m asked about a lot is how much of my characters—particularly military characters—are based on reality, and how much I’ve made up.
The short answer is—a lot of both.
I grew up around the military, and I’ve been a Navy spouse for the last 15 years. As a result, I’m around a lot of service members and their families. Particularly when we’re stationed overseas (we’ve spent 7 of the last 10 years overseas), the majority of my face-to-face interaction comes from other people living on base.
So, when it comes to creating my military characters… they’re pretty much people I’ve encountered in real life. Obviously not exact clones, but very much inspired by reality. Whether it’s someone’s speech pattern (especially their cursing), the challenges they’ve faced in their careers, their pre-military background, the after effects of being in combat—chances are, it’s something I picked up from real life. I don’t really have to make up a lot of it.
The self-medicating deeply-traumatized drone pilot who can’t talk about what happened and no one will take him seriously? Real person.
The ex-Marine who drank himself stupid at the expense of his jobs and relationships because he couldn’t cope with his trauma? Know him.
The Sailor who put her life on the line to save a shipmate, only to find herself under the command’s microscope instead of getting an award, and pretty much overnight deciding she’s done with the Navy? At least three people.
The gay man who married a lesbian so they could safely stay in the closet during DADT? Officers and senior enlisted with deep regrets over using women as beards, only to wind up having their wives hate them later? Higher-ranking older service members who feel compelled to come out to set an example for their younger subordinates—both to let the queer people know they’re not alone, and to let the homophobes know they won’t be tolerated? You guessed it.
A lot of other things come from real life, either from general observations of military life or from specific experiences/anecdotes/etc. For example, when people read Conduct Unbecoming, the single most frequent question I get is if I made up the following:
“Oh, look, a cheater’s house.” He gestured out the window.
I pulled up to a stop sign, then looked at the house he’d indicated. “What? How can you tell?”
He shot me an incredulous look. “You don’t know this shit?”
“Well, on my last base, the my-husband-isn’t-home signal was a mop next to the front door.” I craned my neck but didn’t see the incriminating mop propped up next to the door.
“Not here. All the husbands found out about that one. Here, it’s a detergent box in the dining room window.”
I glanced up just before I pulled through the intersection, and sure enough, peeking down from the window of one unit’s dining room, was a box of Tide.
I shook my head. “Every fucking base.”
“Yeah, get used to it,” he said. “It’s way worse out here than it is in the States.”
The answer? No, I did not make it up. The Tide box was a thing when I was on Okinawa, and it’s one I personally witnessed. The “signal” varies, and it changes constantly—the mop against the door, a towel in a mailbox, even a red light in the kitchen window, which I thought was a little on the nose. Things like this aren’t as common anymore now that Tinder is a thing, but it is absolutely real, and that’s why it wound up in a book.
I try to work in a lot of those real details from life on a military base, whether it’s things from base housing or the rank dynamics on the job. As I said, I don’t really have to make it up—real life offers plenty of material!
Going Overboard gets into a lot of the, shall we say, unsavory aspects of being in the military. When Chris and Dalton find themselves butting heads with a chief, and they’re afraid to go to another chief or a senior chief for help because “chiefs protect chiefs”? That’s absolutely a thing. When their chief gaslights and threatens them? When one of the heroic Sailors is threatened with an investigation and chastised for losing a weapon while saving her shipmate’s life? Seen it happen.
Without getting into spoilers, there are a number of moments in Going Overboard where my editors said—and my readers will likely say—“Can he really do that?”
And the answer is “On paper, no. In practice, yes. Because it definitely happens.”
So yes, when I write military stories and military characters, I do sometimes take some creative license, but more often than not? I don’t have to. Because in this odd little world, fact really is stranger than fiction.
Nestled on the northern coast of Oregon, this small town is home to Naval Air Station Adams. On base, you’ll find freshly minted Sailors who’ve just graduated boot camp, salty officers counting down till retirement, grounded pilots who’ve landed behind desks, and everyone in between—and they’re all looking for love. Well, not all of them, but that won’t stop love from finding them.
So pull up a barstool, grab a beer, and get ready for some sea stories as these men in uniform—or not—navigate the waters of love and life in the military.
Anchor Point stories can be enjoyed in any order. Hop in wherever you’d like!
L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut…L.A.’s backlist is available on her website, and updates (as well as random thoughts and the odd snarky comment) can be found on her blog or on Twitter (@GallagherWitt).
To celebrate the release of Going Overboard, one lucky winner will receive their choice of two eBooks off L. A. Witt’s backlist (excluding Going Overboard) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 10, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!