Veteran and author finds unexpected inspiration in Afghanistan - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather

Veteran and author finds unexpected inspiration in Afghanistan

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Trent Reedy has written five war novels right here in Spokane. Trent Reedy has written five war novels right here in Spokane.
SPOKANE, Wash. -

The Inland Northwest is home to amazing artists, musicians, and writers. Award-winning novelist Trent Reedy lives in Spokane, and says he writes his books at local coffee shops and book stores.

"This book is dedicated to the memory and honor of Sergeant Seth Garceau (1982 - 2005) of Alpha Company, 224th Engineer Battalion, in Davenport, Iowa…to all those who never made it home …and to all the children everywhere who have suffered because of our long wars.May all of you always be remembered. May all of us find our way toward peace."

Trent Reedy didn't just write those words. He lived them. "It was an honor serving with him," he said. "He always ahd a smile, and he died 10 years ago from an improvised explosive devise. There are a lot of stories like that."

A lot of stories that Trent turns into novels, right here in Spokane. An Army Engineer in the National Guard, Reedy was deployed to Afghanistan a few years after 9/11 on a "Mission to Provide Reconstruction."

"On September 11th, I remembered that I was a soldier, and that we were at war," Reedy recalled. "I went to Afghanistan, and I had never left the country. I had never even left America."

Reedy knew that he wanted to be a writer his whole life, but he's not sure if he would have turned that dream into a reality if it wasn't for meeting an unexpected inspiration; an Afghan girl who suffered from birth from a cleft palate. He and his fellow soldiers saved up enough money to get her to an army doctor, who was able to operate on her.

"The last time I saw this girl, I promised to tell her story, and it is unlikely that a guy like me would write a book about an Afghan girl, but in the military we keep promises. We have to."

And he did. Her story became the basis for his first novel, Words in the Dust. But she did more than just motivate his writing. That was a turning point for how Reedy saw his mission in Afghanistan. "You see these little kids, and you can't keep your anger up. She's not the enemy. She's more of a victim of the Taliban than I will ever be."

Now, with five books under belt, all related to his service, he says part of the reason he writes is for his fellow veterans. He also feels a sense of duty to write honestly about war, since he knows young people are reading his books. That's why he doesn't cut back on blood, and he won't portray war as a fun adventure. 

"Some of the characters in If You're Reading This talk about how different Call of Duty and other video are from real war," Reedy explained. "In a real war zone, bodies don't disappear. You don't get to shut it off. You remember things that you see, things that you can't possibly forget, for the rest of your life. I feel like I have a responsibility not to glamorize war. I work very hard on that."