My Careers (2)

Continuing the story of my multiple careers: When my army enlistment came to an end, because of my facility with languages and my knowledge of French, Vietnamese, and Chinese—the three languages of Vietnam—NSA hired me at five steps above the normal starting grade for a new employee and immediately sent me to Vietnam for the first time in 1962. For the next thirteen years, until the fall of Saigon in 1975, I spent more time in Vietnam than I did in the U.S. My career as a spy was launched.

After the fall of Saigon, I went on doing the same kind of work in other places, but what I did and where I did it are still classified, so I can’t talk about them.

Meanwhile, when I could, I wrote. Because I had so little time to myself and because I was always working on more than one book at a time, it took me an average of fourteen years to write each book. Most of my writing, all fiction except for some magazine articles, was based on my experience in Vietnam—everything after that was still classified. But all my fiction was rooted in fact. That led reviewers to describe my writing as fiction in name only. They were right, although sometimes I described incidents after 1975 as if they had happened in Vietnam.

For twenty-plus years after the end of the Vietnam war in 1975, Americans condemned the war there. It was also the first war we Americans had ever lost. As a result, for years I was unable to get my fiction published—Americans just didn’t want to hear about Vietnam.

That all started to change around 2015. A new generation of Americans had come along and wanted to know why the Vietnam war was never talked about. They were curious about what happened and why. Publishers began to accept my books and short stories. I now have six books and seventeen short stories in print with more to come. So my career as a writer has finally arrived.

That’s how my careers went, from being a musician to being a linguist and then a spy (which paid very well) until I could retire with a handsome stipend and write full time—that is, fulfill my vocation to write and take on my true career.

More books coming. Be patient.

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