Ronie Kendig, author of the new inspirational novel Nightshade, shares how her hero Max was inspired by the members of the U.S. Armed Forces and the challenges that are still ahead of these real-life heroes when they return from the front lines of battle. And don't miss the excerpt of Nightshade after the blog post.
“This is who I am, Sydney. You didn’t have a problem with me when we got married.” — Nightshade, pg. 73
That line is Max Jacobs’s best defense. And it’s a lie. But Max will do anything to avoid the truth, to ignore the cage of demons locked in his mind. To acknowledge the truth, he must face what left him haunted—and that’s a mission this former Navy SEAL won’t accept.
After several tours of duty, Max has seen and done things that no one was meant to experience. With combat-hardened pride, Max battles PTSD, a disorder that will affect between 12-25% of U.S. troops returning from combat. It’s ruining his life.
In Nightshade, Max buries his pain, and in doing so, he alienates himself from those he loves—especially his wife. Yet, he’s afforded an opportunity to exert his warrior heart and joins a black ops unit. Through this team of six men called Nightshade, Max finds friendship and support among those shared similar experiences, those who understand what it’s like to be haunted and irrevocably changed—and yet, still are the same men willing to lay down everything for others.
By burying his pain, Max cranks up the heat on the cauldron of his anger, boiling into an uncontainable fury that fractures his marriage. Yet, the one thing Max aches and yearns for with every breath is to be “normal” again, to have his life back—to have the woman he loves in his arms.
Like heroes in the real world, Max wants to protect his wife, Sydney, from things he can’t explain, experiences he’d rather not relive, knowing she couldn’t possibly understand. And sadly, nobody who hasn’t “been there, done that” can understand what these heroes go through. Even though I write about this disorder, I will never fully understand either.
Heroes like this are irresistible because I believe deep down all of us would like to know we’re worth fighting for, that even though we’ve made mistakes, even though we’re not perfect, someone’s willing to step between us and danger. That’s what Sydney wants so desperately—to see her husband fight for their marriage they way he fought as a SEAL. Unable to comprehend the changes she sees in him, she feels powerless as the distance widens in their marriage.
Though readers love heroic men, they want to know they’re human too. Being able to identify with a hero who has similar fears yet overcomes them gives us hope, and possibly courage, that maybe we can face and defeat what’s plaguing our lives.
Over the next few years our men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces and its allies will return home, changed, traumatized. . .and forgotten. Rather than condemnation or alienation, heroes like Max need a listening ear, acceptance, and encouragement to share their experiences without condemnation.
Nightshade has one mission—to open dialogue, to open a segue for those who are hurting to find hope. Will you be that help for a hurting heart?
- Ronie Kendig