Jack McPherson never intended to write a book, it just sort of happened.
The longtime Coupeville resident recently self-published “One More Sunrise,” the story of two young military men with nothing in common but the bond they developed as prisoners of war in Vietnam.
The book is fiction, although McPherson did draw on his experiences in Vietnam during his time in the Navy.
“It’s not autobiographical. I wasn’t trying to get anything out,” he said, noting this book is a project that took him 40 years to complete.
“I just started writing, and every once in awhile I’d drag it out and work on it,” he said. “I spent a lot of time thinking about it.”
The story has two main characters, Navy Lt. Jack Walker and former high school football star-turned Marine, Jeff Dunlay. The two may have never crossed paths if it hadn’t been for the Vietnam War.
They were captured and ended up POWs at the same camp, McPherson said. But that is really just the beginning of the story.
“It’s really the story of the people we meet along the way,” McPherson said. “Sometimes we meet people and they help us, sometimes we meet people and they hurt us.”
“People come and go,” he said. “That especially happens in the military. You run into people, you work with them for a while and then you never see them again. That’s what I was trying to convey.”
McPherson said the hardest part of writing the book was trying to get it right and finding a suitable ending. He said he probably re-wrote the opening paragraph 100 times.
He also said it was tough writing about the area of Vietnam in which the book was set, because it was unfamiliar to him. But the best part about writing the book, he said, was creating the characters.
“That was the most fun of all,” McPherson said. “In my mind, the characters are very real to me. The things they did and said, I suppose that’s me in a way. But creating the characters was easy. That’s the fun of it.”
Although he claims he is not a natural storyteller, he also claims that sometimes the words just flow.
“Some people have a natural flair for writing but for me, it’s a hard fight,” he said. “But sometimes it just comes spontaneously, it just pours out.”
Reaction to his publication has been positive overall, McPherson said.
“I’ve had a couple of friends who read it and liked it,” he said. “And a couple of people who told me they didn’t think it was a good book but it would be a great movie.”
For the most part, McPherson said he doesn’t put much stock in what the critics say about his book.
“I don’t have any expectations, so I’m not disappointed if they don’t like it. On the other hand, if they like it, it’s very elating,” he said. “But, in the end, it’s my book, I wrote it, it’s done.”
“If they like it, fine. If they don’t, I don’t care.”
The book is available for purchase at Wind and Tide Bookshop in Oak Harbor and also online at Amazon.com.
However, McPherson cautions there are other books of the same title about the Vietnam war, so those ordering online must be sure to specify the author they want.
Look for the book under the author name D.J. McPherson – Jack’s first name is Donald.
He said he wasn’t about to change the title to make it easier.
“I chose that name in 1967. That’s my title,” he said with a grin. “The other guys are just interlopers.”
McPherson, who has now been retired longer than he was in the Navy, claims he’ll never write another book.
Writing, he said, is really something he does just for himself. He said he’s satisfied because he met his goal, even though it only took him 40 years.
For those who have read his book and are hinting at a sequel…
“I’ve got this idea,” McPherson said thoughtfully as he rubbed his beard. “But I don’t have another 40 years.”