1969 Martin Carter’s plan is to survive his tour in Vietnam and return to his wife and newborn daughter. He refused his commission to keep from lying to his men but ultimately becomes a leader to his team and to a small group of Vietnamese villagers. He must find whoever is running drugs through the camp before he can safely get home.
2019 Robin Carter’s plan is to care for her grandmother and restart her career after a disastrous divorce. Martin’s footlocker is unexpectedly delivered to their home—he’s been missing in action since1969. His journals record his harrowing sixteen months in Vietnam. Robin is determined to find the grandfather she never knew before her grandmother’s memories fade.
The Broken Hallelujah is a heart-wrenching tale of family, the lasting impact of lies, and the human consequences of truth.
Tell us something about where you live:
I live in Houston, Texas, in the Heights neighborhood, one of the oldest in Houston. I grew up here and recently moved back, to help my grandmother. Our home is a 100-year-old bungalow. I am renovating the garage and garage apartment to build my office and living space. I believe eventually this space could house live-in nursing help if my grandmother’s early Alzheimer’s diagnosis requires it in the future.
Is there anything special about your name? Why do you think you were given that name?
I understand that my author, Wendy Adair, named me for her older sister, who died when she was 19. It was a way to honor and remember her. I think my mother, Adriana, liked the idea of naming me Robin after a favorite bird. Gram says I was born with a head full or red hair, and the connection to a Robin Red Breast was made.
Do you have an occupation? What do you like or dislike about your work?
I just gave up my job as head of PR at University of Texas/Dallas, following a painful divorce from my philandering professor husband. I am in Houston to develop a PR/Marketing consultant business. I already have two accounts, including my previous university. I enjoy working with faculty as well as others, translating what they do in a way that others can understand and appreciate it. And when it results in a donation to support the program, it is particularly gratifying. I am currently working with the music program at UT Dallas to develop a giving program to raise $10 million to help build a new concert hall.
Who are the special people in your life?
My grandmother, Susanna, raised me after my mother left when I was four. She died a year later from an overdose, and I grew up in this same bungalow. Maryam Davila, who I call MC, has been my best friend since grade school. We weren’t as close after I married Greg Henderson and moved to Dallas. Greg liked to focus on his friends and people who could help in his tenure search. But coming home to Houston reconnected us like we’d never been apart. MC was the one who tagged Greg as “He Who Must Not Be Named” and was the first to warn me he was in Houston for the summer to teach at Rice University. In the course of my quest to find my MIA grandfather, I began to consider him a friend—the kind of man I’d always dreamed I’d meet.
I met a number of people who helped in the search, including a group of 70-year-old Vets and musicians, who are all now close friends. My serendipitous meeting with Brian Outland on my 30 th birthday was invaluable in our quest and may grow into something wonderful in the future.
Why did you undertake this daunting quest to find your grandfather missing in a warzone for 50 years?
My grandmother’s health and memories are fading. She only had Martin in her life for a few years before he enlisted and never came home. He never met his daughter, my mother. When the government dropped his army footlocker on our front porch, it opened a world of information about someone who should have been in my life and my grandmother’s life. Reading his journals and examining the contents of the teak box gave me a look into his harrowing
experiences in Vietnam. They also showed me his humanity in working with the Vietnamese villagers. The underlying mystery of drug running and his disappearance intrigued me and pushed me to find answers.
What are you most afraid of?
Not completing my journey to find Martin. Watching my grandmother deteriorate without answers. And not trusting anyone enough to get close after my experiences with my ex-husband.
What do you expect the future will hold for you?
Now that we’ve found some answers and completed our quest, my hope is that the experimental trial drugs that Gram is now taking will slow the progression of her disease. I can now focus on expanding my growing consulting business. I think I’ll work with Brian, the investigative photojournalist who helped with our search, on a book about our adventure.
What have you learned about yourself in the course of your story?
My grandfather was a great man, but he had a rigid view—good vs. evil; right vs. wrong. Without ever knowing him, I had many of those same characteristics. I learned through this process that some things are not an either/or proposition. People can be both good and bad. Situations can be neither all right nor all wrong. My grandfather may never have seen the nuances in the world, but my search for him and the overwhelming support I got from old and new friends, taught me that allowing for some flexibility on that spectrum is where truth most often lies. I think I am now ready to connect with people. Maybe my new friendship with Brian will grow into something more.
I began a lifelong love of reading before kindergarten. My earliest memories include going to the library or bookmobile and bringing home a box of books…every week. I was raised on Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Wizard of Oz, Black Beauty, and other works of mystery and wonder. Not surprising I would work to solve mysteries and answer questions in my own writing.
My connection to words led to a career in public relations and marketing. Armed with degrees in communication, business and library science, I held senior management positions in higher education, winning numerous local, regional and national marketing awards while working at both the University of Houston and Texas Southern University.
After forty years writing non-fiction, including a 175-page history of the University of Houston, I retired and finally turned to creating fictional worlds. With the help of a Writer’s League of Texas five-day retreat and the eighteen-month long Online Certificate in Novel Writing program at Stanford University, I embraced both retirement and novel writing. The result of which is The Broken Hallelujah.
When I’m not slaving over my computer, I spend time in my backyard garden and with my crazy fur babies, Jade, my yappy but huggable white schnauzer, and her best friend, Yara, a gorgeous and unflappable Russian blue feline.
Currently, I’m working on a couple of mysteries. One is set at a university…involving three generations of strong women determined to clear a friend of a murder/suicide charge. I’m have a great time sending up some favorite academic places and people in my fictitious university. My forty years in academe opened many doors, introduced me to an amazing variety of characters, took me around the world from Houston to Alaska and Nigeria to Beijing, and offered many an outrageous tale to provide a plethora of plots. The second is story of a foundling who is searching for her past. She works at a tabloid newspaper searching out Elvis sightings,
I’d love to let you know when they ready to release. Include your email in the feedback section if you are interested in hearing news about this and future books. Until then, I wish you good times and good reading.
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