American River: Currents continues the intriguing intertwined stories of three families. Did you want this book to be an extension of book one in the series, or did you want to explore new ideas in this book?
While Currents is a continuation of the story of three California families, I did want to explore some new directions in the book. First, I wanted to let Marian’s story expand, and to have her mature and grow as she faces the problems of trying to break into the New York art scene. So, the early days of the feminist movement emerge in this book. Also, the book spans the time period from 1963 to 1970, a period of enormous change and tumult that included the escalation of the Vietnam War, campus riots, political volatility and the rest of “the sixties” events from the growth of the civil rights movement to the murders of Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy and the Kent State massacre. There was a lot to explore in that period.
I enjoyed the deeply emotional relationships the characters had. Is there anything from your own life that you put into your story?
In many ways, the entire trilogy is shaped by my experiences during that time period. I was in graduate school during 1965-69 and getting involved in the women’s liberation movement and joining the Women’s Caucus for Art and writing about women’s art and why it was so important. I also wanted to write about Mexico where I had spent time and came to love and appreciate very much. So, I took Nick and Marian to Valle de Bravo so I could write about the adventures I had there. I also wanted to write about Stefan Molnar whose character was based on a friend of mine and to explore Kate’s problems of trying to find a balance between a romantic and a platonic relationship. And, I was also interested in exploring California politics and the problems between the land owners and the (usually) Mexican workers on whom they relied yet didn’t want to fully recognize.
You continue to impress me with the exceptional depth of your characters. Who was your favorite character to write for?
I have to confess that I love all of my characters. They’re like my children in that I created them, and I want to care for them and help them grow and flourish, but I can’t always save them from either the obstacles that they face or from themselves. I love Carl even though he can be a real jerk, but he was a fascinating character to write and I enjoyed doing the research into his musical training ad his career. I took classes in conducting and music theory. I interviewed orchestra conductors and tried to understand both Carl’s ambitions and his insecurities. I also had a wonderful time exploring Tommy’s attempt to understand his Japanese heritage by immersing himself in Japanese culture and marrying a Japanese woman. Even though this ultimately led to tragedy, it was an extremely fulfilling experience. I also loved to write about Alex and her profoundly narcissistic view of the world. And Owen’s growth from old style conservative to a more enlightened view was fun to explore.
Where will book three in the American River trilogy take readers and when will it be available?
Book three allows all of the characters to finally come to grips with who they are and what’s most important to them. They all have to grow up and face the consequences of the decisions they’ve made and the relationships they’ve forged. I hope that my readers will themselves learn something about how we can be blinded by our own world view and how we have to take off our blinders and try to learn from our mistakes and seek a wider understanding of ourselves and what we truly can accomplish.
Book three, American River: Confluence, is available on Amazon, from Archway Publishing, on Mallory’s website: mallorymoconnor.com. and in some regional bookstores.
In the second book of the American River trilogy, a cavalcade of disastersboth personal and publicthreatens to overwhelm the scattered members of the McPhalan, Ashida, and Morales clans during the tumultuous 1960s.
Katestill mourning the death of her brother, Julianfinds herself torn between her love for Carl, now a celebrated conductor who is looking for career opportunities on the East Coast, and her devotion to the West and especially the family ranch at Mockingbird. Also, while attending a music festival in Venice, Italy, she meets Stefan Molnar, a renowned concert pianist, who has become her sister Alexs mentor (and lover). As Kate and Stefans unintentional relationship grows, complications multiply.
Meanwhile, Tommy Ashida, now studying in Japan, falls in love with Emiko Namura, the beautiful, sheltered daughter of a Tokyo businessman. He hopes she holds the key to understanding his Japanese heritage, but will that knowledge lead to happiness or something darker?
Determined to make her mark in the male-dominated art world, Kates mother, Marian, decides to move to New York while Kates father, Owen, becomes involved in local politics. When he is elected to the California Assembly, he finds himself in direct opposition to Jorge Morales, Carls father.
Alliances fray, relationships dissolve, divisive secrets are revealed, and promises are broken as the members of three California families struggle to salvage their shattered dreams.
Set against the natural beauty of Northern California, OConnor weaves a complex tapestry of interrelationships and betrayals that captures the mood and resonance of a decade that began in innocence and ended in despair.
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What happened in Vietnam … didn’t stay in Vietnam.
It came home with us!
As one reviewer described the book, “Patrick Hogan pulls off what most cannot – invoke emotion using non-fiction. Fair warning, his description of the Vietnam War will make you angry, depressed, sad, and happy all at the same time.”
This edition of Silent Spring – Deadly Autumn of the Vietnam War, is an account of war – a tale of anger and determination – a chronicle written in sorrow and hope. It’s the story of countless veterans who served in Vietnam and many of their children.
The book is both a memoir and an investigational voyage into all the issues the U.S. government doesn’t want you to know about the Vietnam War.
It’s not just another paperback about Vietnam or Agent Orange. Rather it’s a “silver bullet” which cuts through to the heart of the circumstances and chemical used during that war—toxic enduring herbicides and insecticides—which in some cases are still being used to this very day all over the globe, even right here in America.
So, forget everything you’ve heard from the government and what you think you know about the Vietnam War because you will be absolutely stunned by what the US government had willingly dumped on Vietnam and its own troops.
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Silent Spring – Deadly Autumn of the Vietnam War uses your personal account of the Vietnam War to shed light on the dangerous conditions US servicemen served in. Why was this an important book for you to write?
In the beginning, writing a book was the further thing from my mind. However, shortly after I had returned home from Vietnam for the last time, my father urged me to file a disability claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) for medical problems I had experienced during my service. I began the process without much enthusiasm and quickly got sidelined by my new civilian life. Little did I realize that I wouldn’t re-visit my disability claims again until almost forty years later when I watched President Barack Obama give a speech on the horrors of the Vietnam War. I’m still not quite sure what happened that day, but after listening to the president, I felt an urgency to commit myself to investigate the causal link between my exposures to Agent Orange and the myriad health problems plaguing not only my life but the lives of many other Vietnam veterans.
When I started my investigative journey into Agent Orange, I never suspected what I would discover. But, I quickly learned we were exposed too much more than just the one infamous pesticide. The deeper my exploration went and the more I thought about all the lives which had been taken and damaged by the rampant use of pesticides during the war; the more determined I became to try to set the record right. So, starting with the death of my friend Larry White the book was born.
It’s a disgrace that so many lives have been lost over the last half-century, and no one knows the truth or exactly how many veterans died because of the chemicals they were exposed to in Vietnam. Likewise, our government can’t even tell us how many of the three million “in-Country” Vietnam Veterans are still alive today. One of my biggest regrets is it took me so long to wake up.
This book discusses many of the toxic pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides used in the war. What do you find is a common misconception people have about their use in Vietnam?
The most common misconception is most people believe Agent Orange was the only pesticide we were exposed too. The truth is the Vietnam War is a disinformation campaign by the government to downplay or outright ignore all the other chemicals we were exposed to in Vietnam. Had the government been forthcoming with the same information in my book there would have been no misconceptions. Then again, no one has ever put together an investigation or book on all the complex issues and chemical of the Vietnam War before either.
You often use your personal account of your time in Vietnam, but did you also conduct any research for this book?
I conducted over three years of research for this book. I have quite literally reviewed thousands of studies, medical opinions, and documents. I’ve talked to doctors and other medical professionals, the vast majority of which came to the same inescapable conclusions as I eventually did at the end of my research. Low-level exposures to just the various known chemicals discussed in my book will attack living organisms on an undetected hormonal, genetic, and cellular/molecular level, producing covert systemic damage and alterations to immune, cardiovascular, endocrine, respiratory, and neurological systems of any human unlucky enough to be put in their path. Exactly how that damage and those alterations manifest depends on the several exposure factors which I discuss in the book.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
As I was putting the finishing touches on Silent Spring – Deadly Autumn of the Vietnam War and reading through all the data and information again, it started me concentrating on what our government and the military-industrial chemical corporations were capable of creating in South Vietnam during the war. I began to spectacle, on just how the United States got away with unleashing so many harmful pesticides during the war. Awkwardly, for me at least, even though I was there, the whole concept of what occurred in Vietnam is still quite perplexing and hard for me to fathom.
Still, based on my years of research, it appears that pesticide companies, our government, lumber companies, and large commercial agricultural groups, as well as many of our state and federal agencies, consider pesticides—both herbicides and insecticides—essential for use in today’s modern, industrialized world. Consequently, what occurred in Vietnam hasn’t stayed in Vietnam. It has, over the intervening half century, continued to be ever so skillfully reproduced in today’s world. Like Vietnam, our government and chemical companies are primarily still using the same classic trickery of smoke and mirrors for the specific protection of harmful pesticides and their manufacturers.
So, my next book will be titled, Betrayal of America by the Political and Industrial Complex. In this exploration, there will be a stunning investigation into the depth of corporate and political treachery and greed. Any American angry with the present corporate and political system after reading this shocking investigative account will turn their anger into sheer outrage when they learn what is being allowed to be used in our environment.
As for when it will be finished, God only knows.
Silent Spring – Deadly Autumn of the Vietnam War is not just another book about the Vietnam War or Agent Orange. Instead, it is a “silver bullet” which cuts through the heart of the circumstances and pesticides used during that war—highly toxic herbicides and insecticides which in some cases are still being used all over the world.
The book is much more than a memoir of one Vietnam veteran’s struggles over the decades after the war. It is a full-length analysis of the various conditions in Vietnam and the chemicals that were unleashed on not only the enemy but also on US service personnel.
Pat Hogan, the author and the main subject in the biography portion of the book, chronicles his early life and enlistment into the war in the mid-’60s. He starts with the life story of a friend and fellow vet, Larry White, who died decades later from numerous complications of the pesticides he was exposed to while stationed in Vietnam.
Hogan returned from Vietnam in ’69 and started having minor health difficulties himself. He became a police officer and then a police academy instructor. It is this occupational skill set—his investigative and analytical ability—that truly brings a high impact to the rest of the book. As you read through the volumes of information, you will be absolutely stunned at what the US government had willingly dumped on Vietnam and its own troops. In fact, in the book’s postscript, the author even makes a case for some of those same chemicals still being used today on you and your children, not just in the U.S. but all over the globe.
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