My Heroes Wear Kevlar

Ronie Kendig grew up an Army brat, married a veteran, and they now have four children, a Golden Retriever, and a Maltese Menace. She has a BS in Psychology, speaks to various groups, volunteers with the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and mentors new writers. Her novels include Dead Reckoning, a spy thriller, and Nightshade, Discarded Heroes Book#1–a 2010 Inspy Award Finalist!

Ronie can be found at or
or on Twitter (roniekendig).

My heroes wear Kevlar.

When Bob Hamer wrote that in an email to me, I had to laugh. It was such a classic statement, and so indicative of what he writes. You see, Bob is a former Marine and a former undercover FBI agent who has been there, done that. In his book, Enemies Among Us, he brings a level of expertise and authenticity to the story that evokes believability, encouraging the reader to trust the author. This authenticity inspires and draws a certain caliber of reader who would not otherwise pick up a novel.

In writing my Discarded Heroes series, I worked very hard and did a tremendous amount of research to make sure the details were as accurate as possible. I had the great benefit of having author/editor Chuck Holton (a former Ranger and editor for several Oliver North books) read Nightshade, and he gave me advice and feedback. To say Chuck was hard on me is putting it mildly. Despite several hundred miles separating us, I could feel his hot breath skating down my neck to “get it right” so the story would pass muster with military folk (BTW: Any mistakes in Nightshade are purely mine).

So, perhaps my audience is not the same audience Bob Hamer, Chuck Holton, or Oliver North can reach. Yet, their books might have the same audience that mine will. Have any of us done something wrong because it’s meeting one audience and not another? Definitely not.

This got me thinking about discussions I’ve seen hop-scotching around the internet about rules, about on author who writes this way, or a publisher who requires X of every story. . .and I was a bit surprised at the scathing remarks launched between authors, or I should say against each other.

As a result, I contacted some authors and asked them about their audiences. Thriller writer Robert Liparulo had this to say about his audience:

Readers who like action, adventure, gunplay, espionage, intrigue. . .I first thought of my novels as “guy stories,” because I liked them and liked reading books similar to them. But I learned fast that women love this stuff too. It helps that I have strong female characters–and of course hunky guys.

Right he is! Women (me included!) love that stuff.

So his answer, complete with the promise of hunky guys, begs the question: who wouldn’t like a Liparulo book?
His reply:

People who stay off of roller coasters and prefer cozy romances. I don’t pull any punches: kids get kidnapped, people die, evil gets dragged kicking and screaming into the light. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate subtlety, but when you join me on an adventure, there’s no closing your eyes.

Whew. I think my palms are clammy.

Even among military suspense novels, a vast diversity exists, from wonderful category romance like Cheryl Wyatt’s Wings of Refuge Series (Steeple Hill Love Inspired), to my suspense/thriller series The Discarded Heroes, to the work of experienced, combat-hardened veterans like Oliver North and Captain Jeff Struecker. All with unique audiences, all with fabulous stories.

The point? Such beautiful diversity! Without it, we would be a bland, boring industry. The worst result is that only one type of reader would be served. Because as surely as there are different types of people, it’s inherent that there are different types of readers. To serve the various needs of the readers, we have many publishers, many genres and many subgenres.

You see. . .there’s so many branches and sub-branches of fiction, each designed to meet the interest and desire of a variety of readers. So, talk back—what do you like? What’s your brand of fiction that you like to read/write?