Call us crazy, but sometimes it the friendships that really make a romance novel for us, not just the love story and that HEA. So when we heard about Sgt. Adam Fenner and Lance Taubold's unique friendship, we were intrigued. Lance, a gay former Vegas performer, met Adam, a straight National Guard soldier, nearly a decade ago — and the close bond they developed was something neither expected. In their book On Two Fronts, both men recount how their friendship helped Adam get through several deployments. Today we hear from both authors about their bond — and their book.
Can you tell us a little bit about your friendship? How did you meet and become close?
Lance: Adam and I met eight years ago when I was performing at the Paris Hotel in my show and Adam was working security for it. He had just gotten back from Iraq, serving with the Marine Corps. We would talk after my show and then we started having lunch together between shows and hanging out backstage. The more time we spent together, the more he opened up to me. I learned about many interests we had in common: reading, English, history, Dungeons and Dragons (we even formed a group for a couple of years and played once a week). He was taking classes at a college here in Las Vegas, including English, and he was writing papers for his classes. I would read his work and edit and critique. I thought he was very good and had definite potential. He was young and a little socially awkward, not helped by spending the past couple of years in war-torn Iraq with only soldiers as companions. I introduced him to all of my friends and he quickly became well-known and liked. It was an instant bond and we were together all the time, even outside of work, and became best friends quickly.
Adam: We met while I was a Security Officer at the Paris Casino in Las Vegas. Lance tells the story very differently than me, but he was a performer there. He would perform on the casino floor and I would watch because he was surrounded by dancing girls. I would talk to him, as well as the girls. Lance and I just never stopped talking and hanging out. We got along because we shared common interests: good drinks, good books, etc.
Because Lance is gay and Adam is straight, has your friendship ever been misunderstood?
Lance: Our relationship, of course, has been misunderstood. It has never bothered either one of us, we don't think about it. We will even joke about it. On meeting us together, most people see the strong connection between us and just accept our friendship. Adam was asked one time by a relative of his, who had never met me, about why we were friends, and he told them, "It works for us," which sums it all up.
Adam: It is a bit strange, I can't deny that. And I've had to explain it quite often. I don't do it much anymore, maybe it is maturity or that I'm just tired of the way people can be so close-minded and judgmental, but I don't feel the need to justify any of my relationships anymore.
Adam, we know Lance was an integral part of your support system when you were deployed. Was there a specific moment where his support helped you the most?
Adam: What Lance did that was invaluable for me: he grounded me on Earth and ensured I didn't get mentally lost in the war. Through writing the book with him, I remained tethered to the world and the reality waiting for me back home. It kept me focused on the mission and reminded me that there was still a world going on outside of the war we were fighting in Afghanistan.
Lance, what did you learn during Adam's deployments and what, overall, have you learned from your friendship?
Lance: I learned so much about the military and myself during Adam's deployment. I had never known anyone close to me to who had gone off to war — let alone my best friend. I ran the gamut of emotions and overreactions. He tried to calm me and assure me everything would be all right. He had gone off before. I chose to see the reality that it was war and that there were no guarantees, in spite of my Pollyanna outlook on life. My idea for writing the book came out of a desperation to keep in contact with him. I told him, "It was better to know than not to know," which sometimes during the year of writing the book came back to bite me in the ass. I also learned more about Afghanistan and the military and than I ever imagined. I learned about the day-to-day life of a soldier — good and bad. It made me look at the military as not a group, but as individual soldiers. I realized that I was a part of all the loved ones who were left behind, while their soldier was deployed. Every one of them had an "Adam."
What do you hope people gain from reading On Two Fronts?
Lance: I hope that we can offer people true insight to military life and how a soldier being deployed can affect those loved ones left at home. Adam's point of view helps the soldier relate to him and his experiences during war time. My point of view relates and empathizes with those who have ever known anyone who has gone off to war, and hopefully gives some comfort to them, knowing that they are not alone in their feelings and concerns.
Adam: I hope that when someone is finished reading our story they have a deeper understanding of what each service member and those who care about them experience when they deploy. We worked very hard to keep things in human terms and to portray things in a way that is identifiable for anyone. We wanted to ensure that our readers understood better just what the average person experiences in preparation for, during and when they come home from a deployment. It is all about reminding readers that those are people over there fighting these wars, and there are people waiting for them back home.
You can pick up a copy of On Two Fronts, available now. For more book news and views visit the RT Daily Blog.