Night Whisperers! (Author Interview)

‘Night Whisperers!’ is the third book in the Rick O’Neil and Ted Troutman series.  Can you tell us a little about the title and what night whisperers are?  

“Night Whisperers!” was the hardest and most personal book I’ve written. “Night Whisperers!” deals with two main themes. The first theme is PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I believe that every veteran that has experience combat, has PTSD. Some handle it well and live normal lives, while other veterans are paralyzed by PTSD, and require medication, therapy, and even electrical shock therapy. Sadly, after Vietnam the Veterans Administration was ill-prepared to help these veterans.

The second theme is how returning Vietnam Veterans were treated upon returning home. Thanks to the media and Hollywood portraying us as drug-addicted baby killers we were spat upon, physically attacked and treated with hostility. There is an incident in “Night Whisperers!” where Rick is denied free tuition. This incident actually happened to me and we did march on the college registrar’s office.

The way we were treated, is a national disgrace and has scarred many Vietnam Veterans. It took nearly fifty years before the government and the public began showing some respect and now everyone is tripping over themselves trying to make up for treating us badly so many years ago. For many veterans, it is too little and too late.

How comparable is Rick’s adjustment to civilian life to your own experiences?

Fortunately, I wasn’t subject to some of the abuse that many veterans were. As I did mention in the first question, I was part of a group of veterans that stormed the registrar’s office demanded free tuition and we almost threw the registrar out of a window, fortunately, he was saved by the Dean of Students. After that incident, we formed our own veterans fraternity. The word got around not to mess with us and we were left alone. There were still hostile stares and cold shoulders, but mainly I think the students were afraid of us.

There was another time when I was told by a World War II Veteran, “You guys didn’t fight in a real war.” The VFW didn’t accept us into their ranks, because we fought in an undeclared war. Because of this. I like other Vietnam Vets kept a low profile. So, it wasn’t just the college students who saw us as outcasts. We didn’t wear our uniform or talk about our involvement in the war, except with other ‘Nam’ Vets. One of the promises that a lot of my fellow Vietnam Veterans have made is that never again will our nation treat returning veterans the way we were treated.

How does the 3rd book differ from the other two?

As I mentioned this book is much more personal and harder to write. Each of my books in the Rick O’Neil - Ted Troutman Series has some real-life experiences from my past. However, “Night Whisperers!” really did open up old wounds.

The reason I wrote the book is that a number of my readers wanted to know about Rick and Ted’s experiences when they returned from Vietnam. I hadn’t planned on writing about it, but upon reflection thought it would help fill in some gaps in their history, fill out Rick and Ted’s character profile and explain why they are the way they are.

Although difficult to write, I am glad I did write it. It served as a sort of therapy for me and from the responses, I have so far, both non-veteran readers and veterans, readers enjoy it.

There is a Klu Klux Klan scene in the book, can you tell us a little about racial tensions after the war?

As an old history teacher, I believe that the late 1960s and early 1970s were some of the most traumatic times in our country’s history. Cities and college campuses were in flames. Martin Luther King & Bobbie Kennedy were assassinated. This and the Vietnam War protests combined to make this period one of our nation’s worst.

Racial tensions were very high in the Sixties. Despite the progress that was being made with the Civil Rights Act, segregation was still common in many Southern & Northern Cities. The assassination of Martin Luther King in March 1968 was the spark that enflamed Blacks. There were violent protests in nearly all the major cities. National Guard troops were sent to restore peace.

The Klu Klux Klan openly held rallies. I grew up in the North and remembered having Black children in our schools and on our sports teams. We really didn’t think much of it and just accepted them as part of our community/school. I, of course, knew about the problems in the South, but even in the service, I did not see the kind of hatred and discrimination that was common in Southern States.

When I moved to Maryland in the mid-1980s my wife, two children and I were out for a drive and as we drove through a small rural town and stopped at a light, we were approached by two men wearing white sheets. They tried to hand me a flyer about the KKK and a rally that would be held in some farmer’s field. My wife and children were wide-eyed as I told the men they were cowards and they could stuff their pamphlets. I remember them shouting that we’ll be sorry.
Now, this was in the mid-’80s in a liberal heavily democratic state! I can only imagine what it was like in the Sixties. Really,the only thing positive about the Sixties was the music.

What are some of the demons Rick needs to deal with from his past?

The demons or night whisperers are caused by Rick’s feeling of guilt for what happened in Vietnam. (You will have to read “Da Nang Damned!” to get the whole story.) Rick is also suffering from PTSD.
These demons plague Rick though most of the book. These demons cost Rick his marriage and almost cost him his friendship with Ted. Rick decides to go on a journey or odyssey to find the answers on the road. It isn’t until he meets “The Gunny” that Rick begins to work through his problems.

More of a statement than a question, but on behalf of myself and our readers I would like to thank you for your service.

Thank you and thank you for your support.

Where can readers find out more about your work?

They can go to my Author’s page @
Or visit my Facebook Page @ Peter A. Turner - Author
I am also available for speaking engagements and speak throughout the Maryland area. Check for updates on my Facebook Page.