Today brings another interview, this time with writer and retired soldier Philip Sharp, who chats about his writing and his book, a non-fiction account of his tour of duty in Iraq.
Interview with Philip Sharp
Why don’t you begin by telling my readers a bit about yourself?
I was born in Elkins, WV and moved around quite a bit between there and Florida while growing up. I graduated from Apopka High School in 1990 and immediately left for the Army. In the Army I served as an Infantry soldier for 20 years where I graduated from Ranger School, completed 22 parachute jumps, and served as a Drill Sergeant. I have been to a variety of locations to include South Korea and Panama and deployed to Iraq on three separate occasions. Recently, I retired in July of this year from active duty service. Currently I am creating an all-natural farm and serving in church ministries.
Your book, Not in the Wind, Earthquake, or Fire, is historical non-fiction, an account of your second tour in Iraq from 2006 to 2007. Can you tell us how you came to write it?
Most of it was written while I was there and did not realize it at the time. I kept a journal while I was deployed throughout most of it. About a year after I returned I began to write a book to give an account from a combat soldier’s view, one that seemed to be missing at the time. At first I wrote from memory and by talking with others, but always went back to the journal to guide me. I then decided to put the journal in the book and write around it.
You served for 20 years in the US Army Infantry. Other than providing the subject matter for your book, how do you think those experiences influenced you as a writer and in the creation of your book?
Good question. I wanted this book to be from the view of an Infantry soldier. Experiencing these events as one, I believe, gives a far different outlook than you would otherwise see. The influence of my service certainly affected what and how I wrote.
What would you like people to experience from reading your book?
I would like for readers to feel, not just see, a glimpse of what combat soldiers endured in their daily lives in Iraq. It provides the experience from the best source, a first-hand account from someone on the ground. Readers will see triumphs and victories, sorrows and defeats, and an in-depth look at holding on to hope when none is easily given. Readers will get an honest and non-glossed version of the war, a recounting of its costs, and an appeal to see God in our circumstances.
In the process of writing your book, were there any surprises, revelations or things you didn’t expect?
Oh yes! First off, it took longer than I expected. It was half written in the first place, because of the journal. It took three long years though. As I would read through my journal again it was like reliving the deployment all over again. At times I had to force my way through it. Also getting the book published was an education in itself. I paid my fair share of the fool’s tax in the process.
You’ve also published articles and war game simulations for Strategy & Tactics magazine as well as written a column for Modern War magazine. Did you find the change from writing short articles to a book length manuscript difficult?
Writing a lengthy book is certainly more of a challenge. It is even more challenging when you are emotionally attached to the subject matter. There is certainly more editing involved and constant revisions. Formatting issues, in itself, are enough to dishearten the faint of heart.
Now that you have written a book of non-fiction, would you ever consider writing a novel? Possibly a military thriller?
It is a possibility indeed. I have no inspirations as of yet, but could certainly use my experiences to come up with a tangible and realistic type thriller in the future.
What are some of the things you like to do when not writing?
I love tending to my plants, animals, and doing work around my place.
What are your future writing plans? Will there be more books from you?
Presently, I still write for Modern War magazine. There will probably be more books in the future, though they all may not be military in nature. I would like to write one on the basics of managing a small farm based on more natural principles. There is also desire in me to write on tactics and the training of Infantry soldiers in hopes that others will learn from our experiences, both positive and negative, and ensure our soldiers and leaders are prepared for future conflicts.
About the Author:
Philip Sharp has served for 20 years in the US Army Infantry during which he graduated from Ranger School, completed 22 parachute jumps, and served as a Drill Sergeant. He has worked in a variety of locations to include South Korea and the jungles of Panama. He deployed to Iraq three separate times from 2003 until 2010. He has published articles and war game simulations in Strategy & Tactics magazine and currently is a contributing columnist for Modern War magazine. Philip is retired from active duty service and now lives in West Virginia with his wife Heather and four children were they are creating an all-natural farm and serving in church ministries.
You can find out more about Philip and his book here: