Today we welcome Stan Hampton to My Secret Romance Book Reviews. In the literary world, however, he is better known as SS Hampton, Sr.
Hi Stan, thank you for taking the time to stop by. Not only are you an author, but also a war veteran, a published photographer, and photojournalist. Wow! That’s an impressive list. Thank you first of all for your service. Can you please give us three “Good to Know” facts about you?
Let’s see. First, I’m a Native American, a Choctaw from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Second, I’m a divorced grandfather to 13 grandchildren. Third, my favorite meal is steak, French fries, creamed corn, and beer. Or, biscuits and gravy with steak, and coffee with French Vanilla creamer, or Irish Creamer.
Did your time in the Service have any significance on your writing?
Definitely. I served in the active Army from 1974-1985, and in the Army Reserve from 1985-1995. But, it is my current service in the Army National Guard, particularly my deployment to northern Kuwait in 2006-2007, that has impacted my writing the most. I enjoy the military life, though it sometimes drives me up the wall. I’m doing something, especially at my age, that the vast majority of the country’s population has no direct experience with. And that is a world I keep returning to in my writing.
What was your life like before becoming an author?
For the many years that I attempted to be published, somewhat frustrating. I worked, built up a retirement with the Federal government, was a husband and father, but there was always the desire to be published. In many ways, I felt like that part of my life, remaining unpublished, was stuck. That feeling was alleviated somewhat through my photography, including putting together two solo photographic exhibits, and writing articles for military newspapers. But it wasn’t the same as being a published fiction author.
Where do you get the inspiration for your writing? Is anything in your books based on real life experience or purely all imagination?
The inspiration for my writing comes from newspaper articles, a sudden idea, something someone says, or even my dreams. Usually the ideas aren’t fully developed, but those are the sources. My historical military writing, of course, is pure research. The background of my current military stories is based very much on real life experiences, with the rest of the story consisting of research. For example, though I spent a year in northern Kuwait and went north into Iraq on convoy security escort missions, I only went north three times on short, 1-day missions. I never “heard a shot fired in anger.” Other non-military story backgrounds may reflect some of my college studies, such as archaeology or even anthropology.
While you do have some romance titles under your belt, you don’t strictly write romance. What other genres do you write in and how did you get to them?
Yes, as you say, I’ve written a few stories that could be called romance, but most are not. My other interests include horror, science fiction, erotica, fantasy, and contemporary fiction. How I got to these other genres is because I have an interest, and it’s fun. There is very little that makes me jump (the movie “The Descent” had me on the edge of my seat, as did “The Grudge”). I like the challenge of writing something that will have people clenching their jaws and maybe even looking over their shoulders once in awhile. And then there’s science fiction, and fantasy, other worlds, other times, other possibilities. Erotica, well, ‘nuff said! J When I write, especially the few contemporary fiction stories I write, sometimes there’s something I want to say, and I say it through being cloaked in fiction.
What do you currently have in the works? Can you give us a sneak peek?
There’s several stories in the works, and I really should start writing again – I tend to write when the mood strikes me, and that’s usually not a good process. Well, let’s see – a sneak peek, not really, because editing will most likely change what I’ve written. But, well, there is one almost completed that has to do with a haunted German Tiger tank in North Africa. Aaaand, I do like the Cthulhu Mythos…aaand, zombies!
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
To my loyal reader and fan—hopefully there’s more than one—thank you for your interest. I am flattered that I may have written something that you thought was worth your time reading, and I hope that you enjoyed the story.
What is something you hope your readers take away from your books?
That for a little while the characters I created, their lives, and the worlds they inhabit, felt real, as if I really were a wonderful storyteller.
Thank you so much, Stan, for being here today.
Sometimes even a servant of the gods may become curious and intrigued by other possibilities beyond their assigned role, which threatens to upset everything. Charon the Ferryman witnessed an act of love when a little girl offered him a song bird to pay for her grandfather’s shade to be ferried across the Styx. And the shade of a barbarian woman taught him that there was more than the underworld…
Strong sunlight faded to a pale shadow of itself as if drained of life to create deep shadows along the sloping floor and the uneven walls of the long cavern entrance. Long, narrow stalactites hung from the cavern roof and stalagmites of various heights and thicknesses angled upward from the floor, resembling the scattered, uneven teeth of a monstrous dragon’s mouth. Flowstone along the widening cavern walls had once oozed onto the cavern floor to form rolling stone waves that became a wide, sandy beach to disappear into the shadows.
The cavern roof arched upward, lost to sight save for the pale tips of hanging stalactites. The scattered stalagmites marched into the rippling surface of dark waters. A thick gray mist coated the water that splashed onto the beach. The mist swirled into strange formations caused by a moaning, chilly wind that swept out of the darkness and up the long tunnel.
From deep within the darkness of the gigantic cavern came the ghostly notes of pipes and the echoing steady rhythmic beat of a drum. Torches along the beach burst into flickering life as their flames danced to the ghostly rhythm of the pipes.
The torchlight revealed pale shades, the spirits, of weeping men, women, and children, who shuffled through the sand along the edge of the waters of the River Styx. The river was one of the dark rivers of Hades, the underworld of the dead. The sunlight filtering into the cavern rippled with the shadows of weeping shades descending the length of the cavern entrance. A gilded figure with torch held high lit the way before them.
The music grew louder. A dark shape, lighter than the darkness, appeared in the distance. The gathering shades milled at the water’s edge and waited as the bow of a boat fitted with a bronze beak sliced through the misty waters. A large red eye rimmed in black decorated each side of the polished wood bow. On both sides of the bow square wooden boxes dangled bronze anchors. Behind that lay a narrow platform from a tall, narrow, wooden walkway rose into the chill air. An angled black bow sail and a large black square sail behind it strained with the moaning wind…