Posted by Literary Titan
Proud American is a biography about your journey through life in South Texas; from migrant worker to US solider and then US Border Patrol agent. What was the inspiration behind creating such a thoughtful memoir of your life?
My mother passed away in the summer of 2015. After her passing, I fell into a depression because I felt truly alone in the world. Being the only child of a single parent can do that to a person. I had my wife and kids with me but I still felt utterly alone, and I couldn’t shake it off.
My wife kept pushing me to discuss my thoughts and feelings, but I could not muster up the strength. I didn’t know how to discuss what I was experiencing. My wife suggested that I write my feelings down. For years, my wife has been telling me that she believes I’m a good writer. For years, I’ve been ignoring her compliments.
One night after dinner, she brought a letter to me. She handed me a piece of paper and asked me to open it. When I did, I saw that it was a letter I had written to her eight years ago. Eight years ago was when my wife and I first started dating, and one night she asked me over the phone, why I had joined the Army. I wrote her a letter and poured everything out on paper. It opened up the floodgates for me. That letter is now the first chapter of my book.
Do you remember what your idea of ‘America’ was as a child?
Because I began working at the age of seven, my idea of ‘America’ was that of tough living. It is hard for one to realize so young that his or her childhood is nothing like that of other kids. We were dirt poor and I had the full workload of an adult at the age of ten.
In time though, everything around me was a constant reminder of what else was possible in ‘America’. I knew there were better ways to make a living. At such a young age, I wanted to learn how to pursue my thoughts or dreams of a better life. I didn’t have time to dream of the next best toy or fun activity. I spent all my childhood dreaming and thinking of how to break my family cycle of picking crops for a living.
How did your outlook of ‘America’ change after your time in the US Army?
I must say that in many ways, the Army actually spoiled me. Although it increased my awareness of the harshness of life and the many challenges that it can impose on a person, it also continued to show me all the many possibilities available should one choose to work hard to achieve a desired goal. This only enhanced what I already believed as a kid. More so, I also learned of all the harsh realities of life and how people in other countries are in a far worse state than most of us here can ever possibly imagine or understand. I knew, after my military service, that we lived in the greatest country in the world. Even with all our faults and deficiencies, there is no comparison.
Being the son of a Mexican immigrant, was it hard for you to decide to become an agent in the US Border Patrol?
My decision to join the US Border Patrol was actually a fairly easy one. I was looking for something that would allow me to continue my government service. It’s important to note that my grandfather had never talked to us about his encounters with the US Border Patrol and thus played no role in my decision.
It wasn’t until after I had become an agent that I realized how my decision had impacted the entire family. It was a strange feeling and continues to be a delicate subject since I still have family that lives in Mexico and have not been able to visit them because of the dangers a visit from me would pose on them and even on me. With the violent cartel threat just across the border, it will be years before I can see my family again.
What is one stereotype that you think many Americans have of Mexican immigrants?
At this point in time, immigration has become a great issue for our country. With that said, the moment one begins to speak about immigration it is quickly considered to be a topic of Mexican immigrants and the ‘negative’ impact they have on our society.
I am an American Citizen by birth, but I do come from a Mexican Immigrant family and am now a Border Patrol Agent. I have to deal with criminals from every background one can possibly think of. As a federal agent, I don’t merely deal with immigration issues. I also deal with the issue of human trafficking and narcotics trafficking. In essence, I’m caught in the middle of the transaction.
I say this because in any transaction, there is a person providing a product and a person purchasing or demanding that product. I have to process undocumented individuals for deportation while at the same time prosecute the US Citizens that are committing the trafficking.
What role do you feel Mexican-Americans play in bridging the gap between these two countries?
I think we must all play the role of actual educators by way of providing facts and not opinions or emotional outbursts. I wrote a story in the book of an incident that happened to me while on the job as a Border Patrol Agent. The gentleman I encountered truly believed that he was above me simply because of my appearance and name tag. I chose to educate him and not escalate the situation with an emotional outburst. After that interaction, I earned the gentleman’s respect and he earned mine by showing me that he had learned the error in his thinking.
I’m a combat veteran who now has to deport people of my own Mexican Nationality because I have chosen to continue serving my country, the United States of America. And yet, I still have to educate people every single day of my patriotism and the struggles I’ve had to overcome in order to achieve the stability I now have.
Education is key.
“Being the only child of a single mother, Sergio was raised by his maternal grandparents in a South Texas region better known as the Rio Grande Valley. This memoir details the upbringing of a poor Migrant worker of Mexican descent having to pick crops for a living since the age of seven. As a way to break from the family cycle of picking crops and depending on government welfare programs, he joined the United States Army and served ten years active duty. He deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina shortly after the Bosnian War only to find and deal with the aftermath of the genocide that took place there and be caught in the middle of several attacks. His experiences in Bosnia ultimately led to experiencing signs and symptoms related to PTSD. After completing ten years of military service, Sergio joined the U.S. Border Patrol. Being of Mexican descent, having family in south Texas, and in Mexico gave way to new issues of having to counter threats against his family and ill-willed opinions of him for arresting and deporting “his own kind.””
Posted in Interviews
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Posted by Literary Titan
Thicker Than Blood is a fast paced action story about a battle hardened veteran desperately trying to keep his daughter safe. What was your inspiration for Hayes’s character and the relationship he has with his daughter Charity?
This story went through many evolutions before it became what it is today, but regardless of his back story, Lynn Hayes remained the same at his core. He was born with a talent for leadership, unflinching courage, and an irrepressible will. He inspires others by actions, not just words. He believes in duty and honor, and that is evident in all aspects of his life, including his role as a father. I drew upon my own experience as a father of two daughters when describing the interactions between Lynn and Charity. The main inspiration for Lynn Hayes was my own father and his father. My training as a United States Marine and a US Army Soldier, and all of the heroes I served with had no small part as well.
There is a mercenary in the story that is after Hayes and Charity that doesn’t seem to stay dead. What was your process in creating that character and developing the characters motivations?
I started with his appearance and imagined what a person might fear about him. I designed Death to be heartless and cruel, then crafted a relationship between his moral decline and a life changing interaction with the main character. Death is the antithesis of Lynn in every way. I wanted him to be someone the reader could hate. His physical characteristics resemble his flawed personality. He’s gaunt and pale to the point of being skeletal. He towers over people and intimidates, hungers for power and is driven by revenge. Death craves blood, revels in savagery and abuse. Death also introduces the reader to blood magic, the source of his regenerative power. Throughout the story, Death’s blood lust grows in direct relationship to his indulgence in blood magic. My goal was to create something that oozed evil, and enabled supernatural changes in Death and others affected by blood magic.
What was the idea, or spark, that first set off the need to write Thicker Than Blood?
I began writing about Charity and her father, Lynn Hayes, as a bedtime story for my daughters. Believe me, the story I started back then didn’t look anything like it does now! When I made the decision to write for a more mature audience, I revised the story to meet my own preferences and satisfy my guiltiest pleasures. I love a violent and gritty story with larger than life characters, and an underdog who faces insurmountable odds.
I find a problem in well written stories, in that I always want there to be another book to keep the story going. Is there a second book planed for Hayes?
Book two is in the works! In the second book, a new hero joins Lynn and the others to fight against Duke Dennison and the Rebels, and a new threat from over the mountains. Foss Bird is the biggest bastard anyone has ever seen. In his first battle, he wields his axe with such brute force that it breaks against a stone, leaving him with a blunt hammer. Foss towers over the battlefield, and sweeps aside the enemy ranks. Unafraid of the revenant soldiers, he strides forward, breaking bones and crushing skulls. Singing as he smashes all those in his path, Foss earns the moniker “Hammer.” Thus the Hammer Battalion is born.
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Lynn Hayes will do anything to keep his daughter safe. He is a battle hardened veteran who doesn’t flinch, he swings…hard. When a mercenary named Death picks up their trail, Lynn cuts him down, but the evil bastard won’t stay dead. Allied with a smart aleck Lieutenant, and a luckless cripple, Lynn knows that fighting dirty is the only way to win. The bloody and vicious fight that follows revives an old legend and inspires hope in a people who desperately need it. They need it more than anyone knows, because Death is not just a mercenary, he is a harbinger of darkness yet t come.
Posted in Interviews
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