Wednesday, January 6, 2010

In HOMEFRONT Novelist Kristen Tsetsi Writes About When the Person You Love Most Deploys

Kristen Tsetsi ( is an award-winning fiction writer and a former reporter. Her novel "Homefront" - available for Kindle and in paperback - was inspired by her husband's 2003 deployment to Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division.

When my husband left for Iraq in 2003, it was my first experience with a deployment, and it was not a good one. I imagined him being shot down. I imagined his funeral. Looking at his pictures could, on a bad day, send me into a gasping, sobbing fit because it was too easy to imagine never seeing his face again.

When he left at the start of the war in Iraq, embedded reporters were bringing immediate updates 24 hours a day. Unless I had to, I didn’t leave the TV, and I rarely watched anything but the news. When I slept, it was with the TV on. I would wake up – without trying – every hour, look at the screen and the ticker-tape to check for his name or his division, and then go back to sleep when it appeared all was well.

One night, after waking up to check the news, I wondered how hard it could be, really, to pack my things and catch a commercial flight to Kuwait, and then (somehow) find someone to take me to him, wherever he was. What if he died in the next month and I hadn’t done everything in my power to see him just one more time? Shouldn’t we take control of our own destinies?

Needless to say, I didn’t fly to Kuwait. I didn’t even pack my bags. The anxiety settled and I watched the news until I fell asleep.

None of the above touches the surface of what it’s like to worry every day that the person you love most will never come home, to fear the last time you saw the person – days, weeks, months ago – will have been just that: the last time.

It doesn’t communicate the powerful and complex mingling of every possible emotion in any number of ways, all of it sitting on top of a constant feeling of anxious dread. The anxiety never leaves; rather, it drags along, affecting every thought, every smile, every attempt to make everyday conversation with people whose last cry was prompted by a television show about home d├ęcor.

It was because the experience is so complex, and so grossly under-explored, that I wrote "Homefront." What I saw missing from the books about war was a true-to life, honest, and intimate account of the horrifying experience of waiting. It’s a very big part of any war, but one we don’t hear much about.

"Homefront" is not, however, a nonfiction account of my personal experience. Rather, it is semi-autobiographical fiction, or “true fiction,” and is told from the unsentimental and no-holds-barred point of view of a young woman whose boyfriend deploys to Iraq.

Because it is fiction, readers will enjoy the characters and their individual conflicts while, at the same time, vicariously experiencing a deployment through the eyes of the protagonist.

As Vietnam veteran Tim O’Brien writes in his war novel "The Things They Carried": "Story-truth is sometimes truer than happening-truth." It is about the accuracy and truth of the emotional experience more than it is who said what on a certain day.

And "Homefront" forces readers to feel, to live, that truth.

Visit the novel's page on Amazon to read reviews of the book.
(This is an affiliate link.)

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and the co-author of the Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION. Her newest project is

Phyllis' company does power marketing that combines traditional marketing principles and Internet marketing strategies to put power in your hands.

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