Author R. Grey Hoover re-released his book Kicker, and being such a fan I hunted him down for an interview. I could kick myself, because I was anything but the professional I tried to be!
KICKER (The Forgotten Front}: A World War 2 thriller based on actual experiences and official military aviation history in the China, Burma and India theater
Based on actual experiences and official records from World War II, Kicker is a thrilling war novel of a man’s journey into hell. From the pleasant hills of Pennsylvania to the torrid jungles of Burma, Sam endures relentless enemy attacks against his unarmed aircraft while his family struggles with shortages and rationing at home. This is the tale of "the forgotten front", the bloody, grueling campaign to push the Japanese out of Burma.
Although Kicker is an epic work of historical fiction, this World War 2 thriller is based on official military aviation history records and the real experiences of United States veterans who fought in the China-Burma-India Theater (CBI) "the forgotten front". Through unforgettable scenes in Burmese skies filled with monsoon storms and enemy fighter planes, Kicker tells the story of the brave Army Air Corps soldiers who risked their lives in unarmed aircraft to drop supplies to Merrill's Marauders and over 750,000 allied soldiers fighting in the perilous jungles of Burma.
In effort to keep Japanese forces occupied in China, the Allies flew unarmed supply missions over the treacherous Himalayan Mountains between India and China. Their route, known as The Hump, saw the loss of over 1500 airmen and 2000 planes due to endless attacks by Japanese Zeros and some of the world's worst flying conditions. The Hump became known as "the skyway to hell" and "the aluminum trail" from the large amount of aircraft wreckage strewn across the Himalayan slopes.
Allied soldiers in the jungles of Burma fought everyday just to survive. They faced elite, fearless Japanese soldiers and man-eating beasts. The Allies were surrounded by poisonous snakes, insects, and plants. These brave men suffered through monsoon seasons, so wet and humid, their uniforms rotted off their bodies as they fought fanatical Kamikaze armies through jungle and swamplands.
From the Forgotten Front to the Homefront, Kicker brings you the story of America's Greatest Generation through the eyes of the men and women who would be forever haunted by their experiences.
How can you not love a book like this? There are so many books and movies about WWII, but hardly any like this. This is a refreshing take on the war from the perspective of those who dropped supplies down to the forces, and those on the ground who needed it most.
I'm such a huge fan of the Author now that I've read this book. You can feel every emotion and hardship the characters endured. It is clear that the Author drew great knowledge from his extensive research, from not only his own father but other veterans too. Even though the book is set in a time and place not many of us are familiar with, everyone can relate to the fundamental basics of love, loss, fear and joy that this story evokes. This is more than historical fact/ fiction. There is action, comedy, drama, suspense and some heartfelt moments that will bring tears to your eyes. I would give this book more stars if I could, but alas, the limit is 5.
WHAT KICKER FANS HAD TO SAY:
Elray -"I could not put this book down, as the story of Sam, the young volunteer and aspiring pilot, unfolds. The author delivers his story telling with a rich back drop of historical details reflecting a thoroughly researched knowledge of the subject matter."
W.M. Driscoll-"Would recommend this not only to history buffs and WWII aficionados (like myself) but to any reader interested in being transported to another time and place, one that shaped all of our lives and fortunes today, worldwide."
Jacquie Rhoades- "What an interesting story! I learned so much about heroes not mentioned in history books."
Linda S. Browning-"History made real through the telling of one soldier's story. This book made me miss my father and all of the stories he never told me."
Candi Silk- "Hoover leaves nothing out. He shows the sacrifices made on the battle front, as well as sacrifices made on the home front."
Kathleen Rowland- "Author R. Grey Hoover’s authentic story centers on a kicker. During WW II the CBI Theater was a huge expanse of land from Manchuria to India with extreme weather conditions. This nickname was given to aircrew members who literally laid on their backs and kicked supplies off an aircraft carrier to soldiers on front lines. Kickers also picked up supplies. As the hero lets the reader in on the dangerous experience, we learn and gain appreciation."
B.R. Snow- "R. Grey Hoover's, Kicker, is a terrific read and testament to the efforts of members of the Greatest Generation during WW II. Kicker, a term used to describe aircraft members who literally would lie on their backs and kick supplies to soldiers on front lines is a strong work of historical fiction. It’s authentic and paints a great picture of what life was like during those difficult years."
Frank Kusy- "I came to this book was some expectation - my own Polish father served with the British army in Burma though I never knew where because he died young and told my mother virtually nothing - and was not disappointed. This is the gritty, sometimes harrowing, story of Sam Huber, based in no small part on the author's father, who joins the army at a young age and soon finds himself in the dangerous but critical position of flying in supplies to some of the 700,000 Allied troops fighting the Japanese."
Rebecca- "I love this type of read! Great author and great person."
Christoph Fischer- "Kicker" by R. Grey Hoover is an extraordinary read about air force life in Burma during WWII. It focuses on Sam Huber (and his wife Eleanor home in Pennsylvania) from his first days of training through his various stops on the way to armed conflict in Burma. Sam and his friends illustrate the regular soldier's life, not just the super heroes as featured in Hollywood films about the time. They have embarrassing moments during the physical exams, they run out of petrol and have a huge variety of close calls and successes, too. It made them much more realistic and likeable. The story is not just limited to Burma; Sam stops in Africa and India on the way and with him we also get to know a lot about the situation for soldiers in these areas. With much research and an amazing amount of factual knowledge about flying, aircraft technology and weather conditions as perceived by air force personnel this book is packed with amazing information and moving insight and worth reading for many reasons."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
R. Grey Hoover is an Air Force veteran who was born and raised in the wooded hills of Pennsylvania where this historical novel begins and ends. The novel is based on the actual experiences of his father and other veterans in the CBI theater of World War II.
Follow the Author:
INTERVIEWR Grey Hoover is the founder of ASMSG, a support group for authors, which I belong to. I have learned that he is a commercial fixed and rotary wing pilot, and at one time, was a flight instructor helping ROTC cadets launch careers in aviation. Grey’s love of flying and his father’s distinguished service in the Army Air Corps during World War II led him into the field of writing. Since retiring Grey has become an successful wood carver and world traveler. And that's how I ended up bumping into him. Not because of the wood carving, but the travelling. Picture this...
I'm standing outside the Independence Hall in Pennsylvania. The tour group I'm in is quite large, but I see a familiar face. After squeezing past numerous fellow tourists, I inched my way just close enough. YEP! It's the one and only Mr. R. Grey Hoover! I'm about two rows from him, when the tour guide arrives. Lengthy speech...blah, blah, blah. I snake my way past one more row of tourists. Finally seeing my gap I step right behind Grey, only to have the tour group push me right into him, as the tour guide starts the tour, and they blindly follow.
He stops. He glares. Like the intimidated buffoon I am, I struggle to find words.
"Sorry!" I squeak weakly.
"You look familiar, do I know you?" He inquired politely.
My heart is in my throat. I'm not a stalker...I remind myself.
"I belong to your Author Association." This is a fact, however my voice sounded almost uncertain. "Natasha?"
"We'd better move along or we'll miss the tour." He spoke wisely.
We walk for a few minutes listening to the tour guide blabber on, while I absentmindedly look around inside the historic building. Yeah! Yeah! All very impressive, but not as impressive as my target... I mean... fellow tourist. The tour guide shuts up long enough for me to ask a quick question.
"What inspired you to write this book?"
I want to say "Aw! That's so amazing" but the tour guide keeps flapping his lips and making sounds come out. It seems like he is imparting great wisdom from the approving nods I see around me. I get another gap.
"What do you love about writing in general?"
"The challenge of putting the experiences of others into a story that others will hopefully enjoy reading."
I snigger at the thought in my head...Well! I enjoyed your challenge Mr. R. Grey Hoover. Great book!
The damn tour guide likes the sound of his own voice again. This is going to take a while. I can tell.
Once again, we follow him through some doors. I take my chances...
"What advice can you give aspiring Authors in your genre?"
The tour guide talks, we move, the tour guide stops talking. I was about to ask a very important question, when he had the nerve to interrupt me. I wait for the tour guide. No please! do carry one. I'm riveted! We get to walk in silence again. I dare ask...
"What’s your favorite part of being an author?"
Grey waits for the tour guide to stop talking after we have stopped for like the millionth time to gawk at something or the other.
"Seeing the completed product and getting reviews that indicate the reader has enjoyed my book and learned from it."
"What is the worst part about being an author?"
Mr. Tourguide has now gathered us into a big room. Oh no! He is babbling again. I wait, rather impatiently I might add, until Grey can respond.
"The hours of research and finding the time to write."
Oh and we're off again. Walking, walking, walking, Why is the tour guide still talking! When I finally get my gap, the excitement is too much.
"How do you find time to write?" I say very loudly.
From within the disapproving glares from other tourists it sounded like almost everyone in the building turning around and said in unison; "Shhhhhh!"
Mr. Tourguide decides to play hero; "Miss, I'll have to ask you to leave if you can't be quiet."
"FINE! I'll be quiet!" I sneer at him. Before we follow the rest of the tour group to the next, what I assume is another historical marvel, Grey grabs my arm and silently whispers...