Home > NewsRelease > Exploring the Emotional Landscape of War: A Deeper Look at 'The Troubled Ground
Exploring the Emotional Landscape of War: A Deeper Look at 'The Troubled Ground
Norm Goldman --  BookPleasures.com Norm Goldman -- BookPleasures.com
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Montreal, Quebec
Tuesday, September 19, 2023


Welcome to BookPleasures.com,where we're excited to introduce an author whose life experienceshave uniquely shaped his literary creations. 

LesCarroll, a captivating storyteller, has recently released his latestbook titled The Troubled Ground. 

Thispoignant work reflects his remarkable journey through life, coloredby his upbringing in South Carolina and a distinguished militarycareer.

Hailingfrom the heart of South Carolina, Les's  roots have had aprofound influence on his writing. 

Hisformative years were spent in a state known for its rich history andcomplex social dynamics, elements that undoubtedly contribute to thedepth of his storytelling. 

However,it was his extensive service in the Air Force and Air National Guardthat truly forged the foundation for The Troubled Ground.

Withan impressive twenty-eight years of military service, Les's dedication to duty took him on two tours in Afghanistan and a pivotalassignment at the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center atDover Air Force Base. 

It'sfrom these experiences that The Troubled Ground draws its essence.Through his writing, Les explores the profound impact of war,service, and the human condition, providing readers with a rareinsight into the struggles and triumphs faced on the path tounderstanding.

Beyondhis written words, Les  is a multi-faceted artist, renownedfor his work as both a military and civilian journalist. 

Hisexpertise as an award-winning journalist and acclaimed documentaryfilmmaker is evident in his storytelling prowess, which captures theraw emotions of the human experience. 

Notably,his documentary Bringing the Fallen Home, which aired nationally in2014, exemplifies his ability to touch hearts and minds throughvisual storytelling.

Les's  literary journey extends beyond The Troubled Ground. Havingwritten and published three books in the mid-1990s, his dedication tohis craft has been a lifelong endeavor. 

Thedepth of his experiences, from military service to journalism andfilmmaking, infuses each page of his works with authenticity and aprofound sense of purpose.

Norm:Good day Les and thanks for taking part in our interview.

InThis Troubled Ground, you draw from your own experiences inthe Air Force and your tours in Afghanistan. How did theseexperiences shape your perspective on the war and influence thecreation of this novel?

Les:On my first Afghanistan deployment, I kept a detailed personaljournal because I wanted to find the words to describe my experiencefor my family. 

I just couldn’t believe some places and events Iended up in.

Ofcourse, I did not know then that I would next take the Doverassignment and then go to Afghanistan a second time. I was never onan active battlefield, but I saw a lot of war from many differentperspectives.

Norm:The novel highlights the emotional toll of war on both servicemembers and their families.

Couldyou share your thoughts on how you approached capturing the complexemotions and struggles of those directly affected by the conflict?

Les:Six months after I came home from my first Afghanistan, I volunteeredfor the assignment to the Air Force Mortuary at Dover Air Force Base.

Iwas familiar with that mission, but again, I had no way ofanticipating what that experience would be like. I stood twenty feetaway from family members for a hundred dignified transfers.

Iknew I would never understand the devastating experience they weregoing through, but I knew what it was like to be right beside themand lead a team whose only purpose was to honor the fallen andsupport their families.

Abouthalfway through the Dover assignment, I called up my film producerfriend Cliff Springs and told them I had a great documentary idea forus.

Norm:The Dover Air Force Base ceremonies play a significant role in thebook. Could you discuss conveying the solemnity and heartbreak ofthese ceremonies through your writing?

Les:The dignified transfer is returning the remains of fallen USService members to American soil. It’s one of the most solemnresponsibilities I ever had in my Air Force career.

Iwrote about those experiences in memoir style too, but severalspecific events also led me to some interesting fictional story ideastoo.

WhenI went to Afghanistan the second time, I realized I was in the uniqueposition to bridge the experiences at Dover with the experiences inAfghanistan.

Norm:The book follows an Air Force officer and a mother coping with theloss of her son in Afghanistan. How did you balance the dualperspectives of these characters, and what challenges did you face inintertwining their stories?

Les:I had one interaction with a mother on the Dover ramp I remember mostvividly. There were no words spoken. She just looked at me and Isensed she was just asking me what her son had died for?

Iknew that if she could, that mother would travel to Afghanistan andfind those answers for herself. So, I created a fictional story thattook her there. That’s how the mom’s and the main character’slives cross paths again.

Thebook is part memoir and part fictional story, and the most difficultchallenge of making that work. 

Norm:The novel has been endorsed by individuals who have personalconnections to the military and the Afghanistan War. How do you feelabout the response from those who have experienced these eventsfirsthand?

Les:Yeah, the endorsements were really meaningful to me. I respect thosepeople tremendously. One endorser was a Gold Star mother who told meher biggest fear was that her son’s service and sacrifice wouldeventually be forgotten.

Ipromised her that would not happen, and I would do everything I couldto make sure that didn’t happen.

Wegave her the opportunity to honor her son in our documentary filmBringing the Fallen Home. And she’s one of several people who makeup the composite character Laura Paige Hatfield.

Norm:Throughout the book, you explore the impact of war on individuals'search for meaning. Could you elaborate on how your characters'journeys mirror the broader societal quest to find purpose amidconflict?

Les:I’ve interviewed dozens of Gold Star families. They just want toknow that their loved one died for something. 

It’s harder for themto have that hope after the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan, butthey still cling to that hope that the world is just a little betterbecause of their loved one’s service.

Norm:As a military journalist and filmmaker, you've documented theexperiences of service members and their families. How did yourbackground in these fields contribute to your ability to tell such anauthentic and compelling narrative in the novel?

Les:In my military career, I was almost always in a support role. I’mokay with that. I worked for some excellent commanders and leaders,and I hope they that my support helped them more successful.

Iproduced a great documentary on the history of the South Carolina AirNational Guard that captured the storied history of our unit.

Maybethat was one of my most enduring contributions. I knew early in mycareer that I would not be a fighter pilot or a high-level commander.

But,I found myself in some high-level support roles and that brought theexperiences that helped me write this novel. 

Norm:The novel balances moments of tragedy with occasional upliftment. Howdid you approach maintaining this balance and providing a nuancedperspective on the realities of war?

Les:It’s a heartbreaking story. But, I hope people who read the storyfind the same hope that the characters in the book are desperatelyseeking. War affects many people, but those people still represent atiny percentage of the American population.

Ithink I just wanted to show how this relatively small group of peoplecan do much for so many.

Norm:The novel portrays the Afghanistan War uniquely, offering readers anintimate glimpse into the lives of those involved. 

Whatchallenges did you face in bringing these stories to light, and whatdo you hope readers will gain from engaging with this narrative? 

Les:Afghanistan will be a part of me forever. I spent one year of my lifethere. There were and are so many more aspects of the war thanenemies fighting on the battlefield.

Ireally got a good look at many of those aspects. Ultimately, I wantpeople to know the enormous cost of war, in blood and treasure, touse a common cliché.  

Norm:Where can our readers find out more about you and This TroubledGround?

Les: MY WEBSITE provides an excellent overview of the bookand my career. Bringing the Fallen Home is the most intimate anddetailed portrayal of how this country serves and supports America’sfallen and their families. 

Norm:As we wrap up this interview,  the novel delves into whether thewar in Afghanistan was worth the cost.

Whatmessage or insight do you hope readers will take away from the bookregarding this complex and debated issue?

Les:There’s no simple answer to the question. Was it worth it? Ifthere’s no hope that Afghanistan was “worth it,” then familieswho lost loved ones there have no hope.

Ihave to believe that someday Afghanistan will be a more stablecountry, and that young Afghans–especially girls and women –willbe happy, whatever that means to them.

Norm:Thanks once again and good luck with all of your endeavors

 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

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Name: Norm Goldman
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Dateline: Montreal, QC Canada
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