How is my Writing Different in my Genre

How is my writing different in my genre

When my latest novel, Silent Heroes – When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for was released, it became a #1 New Release in Amazon US in History of Afghanistan for kindle category for a couple of months, a #2 Best Sellers in Arms Control as well as #4 Best Seller in Middle Eastern Literature – out of thousands of books. As an avid reader and writer, I asked myself, how is my writing different in my genre?

My interest in the War in Afghanistan was stirred by understanding what a major influence the use of military dogs has on the lives of civilians. Most books written on this subject are from a military or political perspective. A retelling of true facts. I wanted to create a work of fiction that will appeal as well as stir emotions, something plausible, yet appealing to a wider category of readers.

Silent Heroes in History in Afghanistan

Silent Heroes #1 New Release History in Afghanistan - how is my writing different in my genre

As I browse History in Afghanistan Amazon category today I see books on true accounts of war, some containing in-depth interviews with prominent political figures, some analyze government accounts and provide new answers, some focusing on the past Afghan history. Most of them are written by war heroes, reporters, historians or veteran journalists.

How is my writing different in my genre

We tend to read a book from the perspective of our own experiences. Some books, after reading them, manage to change the way we see our own life – and this is what I tried to achieve with Silent Heroes.

Having lived through a Revolution and the fall of the Eastern Bloc, I believe that the power of historical knowledge is often overlooked. From my point of view, the situation in Afghanistan is still of global interest as the revealing of the Afghan Papers proved. There are other historical hot-spots throughout the world and as I write this blog post the Iran crisis and the threat of WWIII clouds the news headlines.

As a woman writer, I am aware of my communication style being different and unique, reflecting my own mindset. My writing reflects the smooth running of my thoughts, like a deep and quiet river.

The thing that Patricia does remarkably well is taking you on a journey and heightening your senses to make you feel you are in the territory of Afghanistan frightened for your life and surviving the Taliban. The description that Patricia uses to set the scenes are absolutely beautiful and you can really visualise being there.” (Tom, Book reviewer)

A well-researched, thought-provoking and ultimately insightful consideration of life in the military. I loved how the author captured a war-torn Afghanistan, how the fragility of human life was portrayed but especially how visual the book felt throughout.” (Amazon Review)

Powerful, poetic language ensured I visualised each scene, heard ‘the sounds of war’… The minutiae of the episodes had me on the edge of my seat and the book possessed vivid filmic quality… This novel is an intense, evocative and heart-wrenching narrative of destruction and hope. There is a philosophical exploration of the fragility of human life and the consequences of power struggles.” (Lady Bracknell, Amazon Review)

Silent Heroes in Arms Control

Silent Heroes #2 in Arms Control - how is my writing different in my genre

Books in Amazon’s Arms Control category are often looking at global issues involving armament, or are thrillers.

How is my writing different in my genre

Including Silent Heroes in the Arms Control Amazon category was due to the nature of the story. Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs, are the Taliban’s weapon of choice and still the most lethal explosive weapons in use today. IEDs are artisanal bombs, constructed and deployed in ways other than in conventional military action. IEDs killed more soldiers and are responsible for two-thirds of all the coalition deaths. Yet IEDs are proved to produce brain damage too, through repetitive brain trauma.

Enter Military Working Dogs, MWDs, some of my Silent Heroes, with their powerful sense of scent and IEDs are suddenly less of a threat.

Extensive research went into accurately incorporating the use of weapons in my book, be it Taliban-used Kalashnikovs, the AK-47, or a Beretta M9A1, to the feel and the effects of an IED explosion, the use of thermal imaging or the describing of an attack.

What I do differently in my book is taking the human factor into account. This is how my writing is different in my genre.

“Cell Bravo had found the door leading to the first underground tunnel, Kent feeling thankful for their night vision goggles. Weapons at the ready they approached the first flight of stairs. Kent knew that on rounding a corner of a hallway inches meant the difference between life and death. He tried the old mirror trick to check if the stairs were clear of Talibans but the tunnel was as dark as death, the mirror trick useless and he had to look for himself using his NVGs. Kent signalled Seb to cover him as he inched forward towards the gap opening onto the flight of stairs.

‘Clear,’ his hand waved as he headed down along the narrow staircase, weapon pointing forward, finger on the trigger, Seb right behind him, the remainder of Cell Bravo Marines following. They knew the corridor opening at their feet will lead both ways, double the danger. (…)

No further than six feet across and on their level stood a Taliban machine gunner. His eyes were two fire ambers on a chalked appearance, his impassive face framed by the familiar bushy beard. The muzzle of his machine gun stared at the two soldiers like a menacing third eye.

Luck is partially determined by your reaction in a specific situation.

The Marines reacted first. Sure, later they will carry on an entire controversial dialog as to which one was the first to have pressed his trigger. They both did, churning the Taliban, his machine gun flinching upwards by the force of its bullets. They tore a tunnel through the man’s body, showering stones and splinters all around. Their ears rang from the continuous blasting that had echoed back and forth in the tunnel.

What kind of thoughts race through a man’s mind when he shoots another human being at such close range?

Tweedledee later remembered thinking he was sure he will be dead before his magazine will be empty. Tweedledum thought of his parents and how he didn’t want them to lose their youngest son after their eldest died the year before, killed by an IED planted at the edge of a paved road in Afghanistan. He also thought how stupid he’d been to not pack enough dental floss.

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg

Have you ever read a fiction novel but felt as if you were reading a true account of events instead? This was my experience while reading Patricia Furstenberg’s Silent Heroes… her storytelling is exquisite and engaging, but also it is quite obvious that an enormous amount of research went into this novel. Although it is fiction, Patricia Furstenberg has created a book that is frighteningly accurate as far as life in Afghanistan, war, and all of those it affects… Regardless of your usual preferred genre, this is an excellent read that is realistic, full of well-developed characters, and will stay in your heart and mind long after finishing.” (Jennifer, Book Reviewer)

The tension Furstenberg creates is torture as you are on edge at every page turn never knowing if the path ahead is clear or deadly… Furstenberg’s writing is brutal and honest. There are some pretty grim scenes as you would imagine in a war story but Furstenberg has a way that catches the grittiness and unpleasantness of it all that makes you realise that we shouldn’t look away, this has to been seen and needs to be stopped.” (Emma, Book Reviewer)

a very well researched book written in a page-turning, sentimental style.” (Sara, Amazon Review)

Silent Heroes in Middle Eastern Literature

Silent Heroes #4 in Middle  Eastern Literature - how is my writing different in my genre

Is Afghanistan included in the Middle East? Afghanistan is part of the Greater Middle East, or the Middle East and North Africa. But, besides Amazon having only one category here, there is another reason why I included my book in it:

“‘Commander,’ said al Vizer and Marcos did not try to correct him, ‘have you ever wondered why this land here, that history labelled as the Middle East and Afghanistan is greatly affected by, is the only area in this big world of ours that always seems to need America’s help to achieve freedom and democracy? Have you ever wondered why the people of the Middle East and Central Asia are the only societies that every Western country on the face of the earth wants to help keep safe from imprisonment and torture? Why does the West think we need to be saved? Why are we any different from you?

‘God, whichever way you want to call Him, made us all the same. The only difference I see between me and you is my place of birth. And that, Commander, is not such a big difference.’”

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg

How is my writing different in my genre?

I give a voice to all those involved in the war, soldiers and civilians. Men and women. Elderly and children. And I am impartial.

The beauty of language is expertly navigated by Furstenberg. She weaves together the words in an almost poetic way despite the prose nature of the novel… She does this at multiple points and there were definitely passages I reread just for the pure beauty of the words… I would also like to talk about Furstenberg’s portrayal of the people of Afghanistan. It is so nice to see this exploration of a diverse culture that isn’t stereotypical and full of extreme inaccuracies and prejudices.” (Book Review by Jen, licensed in World History with an emphasis on the Modern Middle East)

It is clear that the author did an amazing amount of research for this book. Over the last few years I have read many, many book written by our soldiers. All of these books were based on each soldier’s experiences. The author of “Silent Heroes” has captured the experiences of our military men and women.” (Strength, Amazon Review)

I don’t know if the author served in the Middle East, but if she didn’t, her research is phenomenal. She provides vivid details about daily life during a deployment, as well as the complexities of carrying out a mission, dealing with the constant threat of IEDs (bombs), and working with the local population. Small details made the story come to life.” (D.W.Peach, Amazon Review)

The author does a very good job in engaging us with the cast of this tragedy that has been playing out for hundreds of years.” (Sally Cronin, Author and Blogger)

Silent Heroes as a War & Military Action Fiction and Action Thriller Fiction

Reading at over 350 pages, people started Silent Heroes were soon completely sucked in. Written in an accessible and satisfying way, and based on scrupulous research, Silent Heroes offers a broad perspective on war.

The story is fast-paced, following three different threads: a group of Marines with their military working dogs, MWDs, an Afghan boy and a group of Taliban fighters. The action becomes a race against time, taking place over only a few days, and in fascinating locations.

As many of you know I’m not one to get emotionally attached to books but this one definitely had my emotions all over the place. It didn’t quite have me in tears but was very close. Any book that can do that is worth a bonus heart in my rating.” (Mani, Book Reviewer)

She (the author) has a great way of capturing their personalities and characteristics that engages the reader no matter what their age. Silent Heroes is another one of those books.” (Mandie Griffiths)

I’m still emotional after reading Silent Heroes. Patricia Furstenberg’s writing is concise and beautiful… Patricia Furstenberg’s research is tight and it makes this read all the more special… a heartfelt novel.” (Jesica Belmont)

A book about the dangers of doing the right thing, friendship in the most unexpected places, loyalty and betrayal, family, devotion, trauma. It speaks to the readers on so many levels, but the emotional response is the most overwhelming.” (Book Review by Crissu)

Not sure if Silent Heroes is the book for you?

This is my first ever military, Taliban, Marines novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This book is well researched, well written and very easy to follow. This is the first book I have read by this author, Pat has a wonderful style of storytelling, her passion for the subject shines through in her writing.” (Sheila, Amazon Review)

A well-researched and detailed novel that evokes so many emotions.” (Patricia Bunting, Amazon Review)

I’ve read a few war stories over the course of this year but none of them have been as insightful as this one. Patricia Furstenberg is a truly masterful writer who knows exactly how far to go to keep her readers glued to the pages.” (Amazon Review)

Silent Heroes

You can BUY Silent Heroes from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

Read about:
5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. Women’s Rights under Taliban
5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. Taliban’s Secret Lair
5 Remarkable Places You Will Want to Visit After Reading Silent Heroes

5 Remarkable Places You Will Want to Visit After Reading Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for via @PatFurstenberg #travel #castle #monument #history #culture

5 Remarkable Places You Will Want to Visit After Reading Silent Heroes

Whenever I read a book depicting real locations, actual places I can find on a map, a novel in which genuine artwork is described, and tangible, concrete buildings I know I can also visit are part of its setting, I tend to be more immersed in its story-line. The storytelling becomes more credible and, if by chance or choice, I visit those place I find myself immersed in that particular book again and, often, I pick it up and read it again.

On researching location for my latest novel, “Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for” I discovered a few sensational places; some new to me, secrets buried by history and war, others I have heard of but had not known how inspirational and amazing they were. I know, now, that I’d like to visit them all, one day when traveling to Afghanistan for tourism will be a safe endeavor once again.

1. Buddhas of Bamyan

The two Buddhas of Bamyan - the taller and the smaller one, as they once stood since their construction around 500AD and before the Taliban attack in March 2001
The two Buddhas of Bamyan – the taller and the smaller one, as they once stood since their construction around 500AD and before the Taliban attack in March 2001 – Source Wikipedia

“The Taliban did not succeed in wiping out the two Buddhas, but they became unrecognizable as the figures they once were. A cultural, religious, historical and entomological symbol and landmark.
It was a bleak day in human history when something that watched over the valley for 1 500 years was destroyed in a matter of weeks.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

The Buddhan of Bamyan were two colossal statues carved during the 6th century into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley, once along the Silk Road, in the central highlands of Afghanistan, 230 km NW of Kabul, its capital city.

The bodies of the Buddhas were carved in the mountain cliff, while delicate details have been modeled out of mud and straw and coated with stucco for resistance. The faces, hands, and folds of the Buddhas’ robes were painted for an enhanced effect. The big Buddha, 53 m tall, was painted carmine red while the smaller Buddha, 35 m tall, was painted in multiple colors. They represented the Buddhas Vairocana and Sakyamuni.

“Taliban forces operating in Afghanistan had destroyed these colossal statues in March 2001. They started by damaging the Buddha with anti-aircraft firearms and cannons. Yet the damage inflicted was not enough for the Taliban. They returned with anti-tank mines that they placed at the statues bases. When sections of rock broke off, the statues suffered further damage.

And still, they did not stop here.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
Destruction of Buddhas March 21 2001. Source Wikipedia
Destruction of Buddhas March 21 2001. Source Wikipedia

“The Taliban dropped men down the face of the cliff. They had placed explosives into the various grooves found in the Buddhas. The plan was clear, to completely destroy the facial features of the two statues. Maybe a bad understanding of the Quran: Islam condemns idolatry. When one of the blasts could not destroy the facial features of one statue, a rocket was used in its place. It left a hideous gap in whatever was left of the Buddha’s head.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
Taller Buddha of Bamiyan before and after destruction. Source, Wikipedia
Taller Buddha of Bamiyan before and after destruction. Source, Wikipedia

But there is hope.

7 June 2015: Xinyu Zhang and Hong Liang , a Chinese adventurist couple, created a 3D image of the Buddhas and donated projector used for the installation, worth at $120 000. The 3D projection was able to fill once more the void cavities where the two majestic Buddhas once stood.

2. Qala-e Bost Fortress

“Qala-e-Boost or Bost Fort is the remnant of Alexander the Great’s Fortress in Afghanistan. What still stands today from this millennial old fortress is an impressive ruin. Helmand’s crown jewel is located on the east bank of the Helmand River, near Lashkar Gah, a city in southwestern Afghanistan and the capital of Helmand Province.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

Lashkargah, or Lashkar Gah, means “army barracks” in Persian language.

Qala-e-Bost, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Source Wikipedia
Qala-e-Bost, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Source Wikipedia

“The stones of Qala-e-Boost have seen wars as well as the joys of celebrations. They have known wealth and ruin. Early hymns of the Zoroastrian religion, one of the oldest religions in the world, were once performed here. One of them was the Nowruz, the famous ceremony dedicated to the Sun and marking the Iranian New Year and the Spring Equinox. Along the years Bost fortress has been used as a guard post for the traditional caravan trade from Iran to India. The Mongols, then the Persians have been here too, then the Arabs, even the Russians. Leaders and warriors came here as attested by the terracotta figurines, the inscribed seals, and the many coins discovered here, and then they left. Still, Bost remained.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
The famous arch at Qala-i-Bust or Bost, in Helmand. Source Wikipedia
The famous arch at Qala-i-Bust or Bost, in Helmand. Source Wikipedia

” At noontime, the sun spat yellow venom over the desert surrounding the ruins of the Qala-e-Bost fortress, over this war-cursed land where a misconceived culture and an overpowering international necessity to meddle fatalistically merged, long-stalling the Afghan peace process.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

What is amazing about Qala-e-Bost Fortress is not what is visible above the ground, but what is hidden underneath, the entire Bost castle, 5 levels, being in the shape of a well hidden underground.

Qala-e-Bost Fortress as seen in“Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for"
Qala-e-Bost Fortress as seen in“Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for”

“As an eerie glow spread over the flat expanse of sand, from his high point Marcos caught a glimpse of what Qala-e-Bost’s crumbling walls would have been in its time of glory. No longer a ghostly silhouette, a mere reminder of an existence long forgotten, but a castle again.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

I researched so much about this underground castle that stood the test of time. It would be incredible to walk its corridors, to see the light bouncing from the walls of its shaft, to hear the echoes of history as it was buried in its secret rooms.

3. An Afghan garden

Gardening says a lot about the nurturing abilities of a person. When an entire population has a gift for gardening it means that they have peace in their hearts and know the value of life.

An Afghan garden
An Afghan garden

I was amazed to discover how much gardening means to the Afghan people and how connected they are to their roots, to the soil of Afghanistan, nurturing or arid. How inventive the Afghans proved to be, making the best out of each situation, when it comes to gardens.

I tried to depict their nurturing nature in the pages of “Silent Heroes“.

“Afghans are gardeners at heart, did you know? Before they are mujahideen or insurgents or Taliban-bloody-criminals, they love to garden.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

4. A Military Base in Afghanistan

Military camp at Bagram, Afghanistan. Source Wikipedia
Military camp at Bagram, Afghanistan. Source Wikipedia

During the two years plus it took me to research and write “Silent Heroes” I researched in depth the living conditions of the US Marines deployed in Afghanistan and of all the military fighting there.

2012 army photo competition.Amateur Portrait category runner-up Cpl Dawson and his dog Lightning rest up in TCP West.Picture Captain Richard Willing MoD Crown Copyright via Getty Images
Army Photographic Competition 2012. In this handout image supplied by the Ministry of Defence Crown Copyright, photo entitled ‘LIGHTNING AND HIS HANDLER’, depicting Cpl Dawson and his dog Lightning rest up in TCP West. (Army Amateur Portrait category runner up; Photo by Captain Richard Willing/MoD/Mandatory Credit Crown Copyright via Getty Images)

What is outstanding is the level of organization and, at the same time, the little comfort these amazing soldiers put up with every day in order to do their duty towards their own countries and to keep peace for us all.

And anything reminding them of home is treasured. Like the small American flag in the image below.

A U.S. Marine looks out from his post in September at Bost airfield in Helmand province. Andrew Renneisen-Getty Images
A U.S. Marine looks out from his post in September at Bost airfield in Helmand province. Andrew Renneisen-Getty Images

“Between the building and the sheet of the tent was a corridor-wide enough for a human to pass through, two would have to negotiate. From a drain pipe facing the main door hung a small size American flag, the one civilians wave on the 4th of July, its sole purpose of connecting them with home.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

5. A field of poppies

In Afghanistan, poppies – opium poppies – mean death and poverty. I, “Silent Heroes” I tried to explain the vicious cycle that poppy cultivation in Afghanistan means. It was fascinating to learn how it started, why, and what its consequences meant for the Afghan population as well as internationally.

A soldier walking past a poppy field in Afghanistan
A soldier walking past a poppy field in Afghanistan

“The hamlet’s reputation of frightfulness came from the complete lack of vegetation. As if the poppy field that once flourished nearby sucked away any drop of water that might have concentrated in the adjacent earth, like some type of incongruous alien.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

International affairs and their local implications are never as simple as they appear at the beginning.

“So ‘The Golden Triangle’ (Burma, Thailand, Laos) was soon replaced by ‘The Golden Crescent’ (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran).”

Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
World Map Opium Heroin. Golden Triangle. Golden Crescent. Source Wikipedia
World Map Opium Heroin. Golden Triangle. Golden Crescent. Source Wikipedia

Still, there is something magical about a field of poppies. I think that poppies seeds, with their ability to remain dormant throughout the years, are a fantastic representation of what hope and resilience is all about. Never give up.

Maybe because poppy has a long association with Remembrance Day. Why? Scarlet poppies (popaver rhoeas) grow naturally in conditions of disturbed, arid earth throughout the world. Poppies grew naturally after the Napoleonic wars of the 19th Century and again on battlefields of WW1.

An old, happy short-haired pointer dog in a poppy field at sunset
An old, happy short-haired pointer dog in a poppy field at sunset

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, “In Flanders Fields”

I hope you enjoyed reading about the five locations that inspired and amazed me while writing “Silent Heroes“.

Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for
Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for – New Contemporary Fiction by Patricia Furstenberg

Do you have a favorite place you read about in a book?