Matt Tillet, an F-8 Crusader pilot, is shot down over North Vietnam in 1966, just one week before his ship would be heading home after his second back-to-back six-month tour. Escaping from his spiraling out-of-control jet with only seconds to spare, and evading for all of three minutes, he becomes a Prisoner of War. Surviving torture, months of solitary confinement and the infamous Hanoi March, the dream of returning home to his wife and two children keeps him going. Repatriated in 1973, he returns to find his dream shattered.
Code of Conduct takes place in the middle of a war; however, it is not so much a blood and guts war novel as it is the emotional tale of a family torn apart by war, more than seven years of separation, and the long journey to reconstruct their lives.
While many POWs came home to broken marriages, the personal relationship portion of my book is purely fictional. On the other hand, the prison scenes are based on actual events that happened to the POWs in Vietnam. The story was inspired by years of listening to the recollections of my husband and several of his Vietnam ex-POW buddies. Time does not seem to have faded their memories of what they went through (although they can now joke about it) and each reunion or get together provided a new tidbit.
My goal is to present an accurate depiction of the horrendous prisoner-of-war experience and the resulting shattered personal lives in the format of a novel to attract a group of readers who might have overlooked some of the non-fiction books that have been written by several of the returning POWs.
To my husband, Cole Black, and his Vietnam ex-POW buddies, whose combined experiences provided the inspiration for the prison episodes.
I also want to thank several friends whose support and prodding kept me going forward: Terry Badger, a retired Navy pilot and friend; all the members of the Scribblers writing group, who critiqued and encouraged; Sofia Shafquat, who edited and challenged me to do better; and to all those literary agents and publishers who turned down the earlier versions, forcing me to rewrite and rewrite—and then rewrite…