Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?
John J. Kelley
A moment nearly thirty years ago led me on the journey to write The Fallen Snow. I was eighteen years old, a freshman cadet at Virginia Tech. It was late winter, and I'd been tapped to join a military society. At the risk of revealing secret rituals, one task of my pledge class involved a run up a mountain in the dead of night, lugging a backpack of bricks and an old infantry rifle. The evening of our run was frigid, with the temperature hovering just above freezing ... and it was pouring rain.
Forecasts in the preceding days had indicated the rain would turn to snow, but it never did. And though we had at first braved the elements together, my pledge buds and I soon began to drift. A couple of faster men pulled ahead, while I settled into a rhythm somewhere near the front of the pack. After a time I found myself alone on the mountain. I was drenched, chilled to the bone and aching. Yet I found the adventure intoxicating, even mystical. At that age when everything seems possible, with extra energy available on demand, I reveled in the sensations of a wet winter's eve. Following in the footsteps of cadets who'd faced the mountain over the years, I felt a connection. I contemplated what it would have been like for them, their experiences and lives. It was a matter I weighed often in those days, as the new cadet training was in large part about instilling the values and wisdom of prior generations, those who'd sacrificed so much.
Over the years the seeds planted that night remained - a flawed family, their son traumatized by a brutal war, and the haunting Virginia mountain that loomed over them. At times the contours grew dim, but the images never left me. Still, it was only after I began writing seriously that they finally coalesced into this, my debut novel.