Claudia Pemberton resides in West Virginia and works for the Cabell County Public School System. Unable to bid farewell to Mikayla and Jesse, she is working on a sequel to Love Leaves No One Behind, her first novel.
Claudia is also a book reviewer for the Military Writers Society of America,
and a letter writer for the Soldiers'
To My Readers:
As far as I’m concerned, one of the greatest rewards in getting my book published is that it affords me the opportunity to publicly express my sincerest appreciation to my very own personal heroes: U.S. Army Rangers First Sergeant John P. Tompkins (ret.), Ranger Perry (ret.), Staff Sergeant Justin Gingrich (ret.), and Sergeant Major Brendan Durkan.
I would like to thank each of you for your invaluable contributions to the fulfillment of my dream and for your kind encouragement and inspiration.. But most of all, thank you for breathing life into the character of Jesse, endowing him with the heart of a soldier and the soul of a gentleman. For that gift, I will be eternally grateful. Thank you so much for sharing your insight and expertise.
I feel the need to say a special thanks to you, John and Perry, for answering my initial call for help and for faithfully sticking with me from the very beginning. Thank you both for tirelessly and patiently answering all of the incessant technical questions that I fired at you for months and months on end. But most of all, thank you for never once entertaining the notion of leaving me behind.
The story I set out to tell in my first novel was a simple love story, although it ultimately refused to be written as one. For the leading man in my story, I wanted to create a larger-than-life character, a man of honor and integrity, one who would be trustworthy and true. Ultimately, I came to the obvious conclusion, for me anyway, that he should be a soldier. For several reasons, I decided that my character would be a U.S. Army Ranger. The single most deciding factor in my decision came when, while researching my character, I happened across a copy of the Army Ranger Creed. One of the belief statements in that creed declares that a Ranger will never leave behind a fallen comrade. That one supremely selfless ideal personified the type of character I was trying to create.
When it comes to writing, I’ve always heard that one should write about what you know. But since I’ve always done things the hard way, I thought to myself, why change now? Although the story I was telling was a work of fiction, it was my fervent desire to make the history of the events and the main character’s training and career as true to life as possible. Since I knew very little about the military or the lifestyle of a soldier, specifically an Army Ranger, I set about doing some extensive research on my leading character. This personal search for information ultimately led me to John, Perry, Justin, and Brendan. I soon discovered that these men epitomized all of the characteristics that I expected a Ranger to have. Under their expert tutelage, I quickly learned one thing: I had certainly chosen the correct career for my larger-than-life character. The real versions—the real U.S. Army Rangers and all other soldiers in all other branches of the U.S. military—are already larger than life. There was no need to embellish my character’s personal attributes or tendency for heroics in the least.
I have come away from this endeavor with a greater understanding of the fortitude and dedication that an American soldier exemplifies. I cannot pretend to comprehend the bravery and honor that they carry in their hearts every day. I do know, however, that I do not have it—but I couldn’t be prouder of those that do! To me, soldiers are a breed above and apart from the rest of us. It is my belief that God has truly blessed this nation of ours. And I believe that He has entrusted its guardianship and protection to a special group of brave souls who will always be standing firm—ready, willing, and able to unselfishly defend her to the death. I can’t imagine a more noble calling.
To that end, I would like to extend to each and every soldier who has ever served this great nation of ours—past, present, and future—my personal and deeply sincerest “Thank You.” I am profoundly appreciative and humbled by your courage, dedication, and most importantly the personal sacrifices you make in service to our country. I thank you from the bottom of my proud and grateful American heart!
And guys—John, Perry, Justin, and Brendan—just in case I haven’t told you before… thank you for being my buddies! I couldn’t ask for better.