The Creator of Matt Rommel Discusses His Work, Veterans, and Writing the Story Within You
F.M. Kahren is the author of “Brand Loyalty“, his debut novel and Matt Rommel’s first adventure as well as the follow-up, “Beyond the Law.” A graduate of UC Berkeley with a degree in English, Dr. Kahren also has a masters and doctorate in business administration from the University of North Dakota and Golden Gate University respectively. He has published a number of technical articles for industry journals and is the author of Strategic Planning: The Practices of PCS Companies and the Academic Literature. In addition to serving as a Minuteman missile crew commander and missile operations staff officer, Dr. Kahren has worked extensively in the telecommunications and rail transportation industries. The latter experience allowed him to perform a number of studies in Latin America regarding privatized rail concessions for prospective concessionaires. On the lighter side, he was awarded a “Dishonorable Mention” for Vile Puns in the 2007 Bulwer-Lytton contest, a venue in which the purple prose is deliberate. He lives with his family in Northern California.
What process do you follow when you write?
I have a day job, so I write when I can. I start with a concept or an argument and I build that into a story.
With my first novel, Brand Loyalty, the concept was how single mothers struggle in regular life and what-if, on top of that, someone was trying to kill her. With my second novel, Beyond the Law, the concept was American mercenary groups plying their trade against the American people in an American city, just like they did in Iraq and Afghanistan. What happens when such a group comes up against a couple of retired American military veterans? I do an overall outline. I do my research. I outline each chapter. After all that, when I write, it still runs wild. Then I rewrite and edit and edit.
Is there a writer you’re most influenced by and why?
John D. MacDonald and his Travis McGee series. Mac Donald knew how to tell a story and create characters I wanted to follow in their adventures.
What famous work by another author do you wish you’d written?
I can’t answer that. First, because envy doesn’t work for me. Other people’s stuff is other people’s stuff. Second, unless you are an assiduous hack, every work comes out differently. If I were to write a tale of a boy wizard, it would still be much different than Harry Potter. In the same way, no one can copy my work without coming up with something different. Obviously, this excludes plagiarism.
What is one thing that aspiring writers should know but probably don’t?
This is your greatest and most important question. I have given this some thought and here is my well -considered advice:
WRITE THE STORY THAT IS WITHIN YOU. Even if it’s about teenage vampires and werewolves and undecided virgins, if that speaks to you, if you feel it, WRITE IT. You may touch a million kindred souls, but you can’t do that if you will not be true to yourself. As to the mechanics of the craft or the industry, read Stephen King’s “On Writing”. His insights will serve you better than I could.
Who is Matt Rommel?
Matt Rommel is a military veteran, a retiree shaped by his values and his experience who wants a little peace in his life. Going back to World War I, both sides of my family have served. When I was a child, everyone had a relative who had served. Because of this, the military and the government was forced to pay attention to the welfare of its service members. Because of this, veterans were not regarded with fear or uncertainty when they returned to civilian life. They were family. They were just like us.
Today, many people do not understand veterans. Some people may even fear them. Our military springs from our society. If we do not continue to claim our military brothers and sisters as our own, the day may come when they might be used against us.
All that being said, I have to mention that Matt Rommel is a highly capable and potentially dangerous person.