Interview with David Holdridge
David Holdridge served in the Vietnam War in 1969 as an infantry platoon leader outside of Chu Lai.
He was wounded and spent eighteen months getting repaired at various hospitals in the United States, culminating with operations at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut where neurosurgeon, Dr. Benjamin Whitcomb managed to free him from his trauma.
What got you into writing, and what do you enjoy most about it?
At an early age, my mother sat by my bed at night and read the accounts of the Greek -Persian wars. Subsequently, she moved on to Ivanhoe by Walter Scott. This was before TV was to enter our home and was a wonderful inspiration for a child’s imagination.
Further and more recently…it is tactile. Fondling the book in a bookstore.
“I still loved the furrow of the ballpoint on the soft bond, the indigo on the cream. Running my forefinger down the length of the spine on a hard cover…the tactile pleasures for applied thought…on a page or bound.”
[From: A Rude Awakening]
Which writer influenced you the most?
Thomas Wolfe—1900—1938. Thomas Clayton Wolfe, (born Oct. 3, 1900, Asheville, N.C., U.S.—died Sept. 15, 1938, Baltimore, Md.), American writer is best known for his first book, Look Homeward, Angel (1929), and his other autobiographical novels.
What turns a good story into a great one?
Hard to say…since ‘great’ is a personal decision. I would say a book is great when it both makes the heart pound …and stays in your mind forever.
How do you balance your schedules and artistic goals with everyday life?
Manual labor is the best surcease from digging into the mind. I write in the early morning until the well is dry (epuise) and then work my ’wood-lots’ in rural Vermont.
What do you aim to evoke in the readers of your books?
Please tell us about your latest work, what inspired you to write it, and the research involved.
I was in Iraq for seven years—outside any perimeter, in a village—from 2003-2010. I wrote nights for pleasure and then packaged the memoir upon my return to the USA.
Can you give us a story outline of your book?
After being hauled out of a Vietnamese rice paddy in 1969 and then spending months in various neuropsychiatric wards in the United States, David Holdridge evolved to become a stalwart in the promotion of the American narrative overseas.
As such, the author witnessed that “businesses” grow from a rather lonely pursuit to the global industry it is today – most commonly known in the West as “Overseas Relief and Development.” THE AVANT GARDE OF WESTERN CIV is the story of one “foot soldier” and his family as they sought to provide salve and transformation within the aftermath of the Iraq invasion in 2003. This memoir explores how challenging and often complicit “giving” can be.
What was the most difficult part of writing this particular book?
Getting accepted as a debutante writer—by a good publisher. Yes…I had plenty of rejections.
BtW….my first chapter ( Avant Garde of Western Civ—Preface) was sent to Angie in 11/15 and quickly got over a thousand views—that encouraged me.