IndieView with Steven Burgauer, author of The Road to War


Mr. Frodsham’s diary was (mostly) written in a conversational style, which made a pure joy of bringing it alive.

Steven Burgauer – 12 December 2016

The Back Flap

The Road to War: Duty & Drill, Courage and Capture is a riveting first-person account of a brave young man caught up in a cataclysmic World War. This is the true story of Captain William C. Frodsham, Jr., who — shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor — enlisted in the U.S. Army Infantry, where he excelled in basic training, became a junior officer, and eventually led a combat boat team ashore on OMAHA BEACH.

Six days later, in French hedgerow country and under withering German fire, Frodsham was wounded and taken prisoner. He spent the next year as a German POW, where he suffered great deprivation before finally being liberated by advancing Russian forces.

The story explores his training, his courage, and his capture. The reader is taken for a first-person tour of the times at home and then tunneled into a vastly different world on the battlefield and in a German prisoner-of-war camp. A truly remarkable story.

About the book


When did you start writing the book?

I began writing this book nearly ten years ago, after Mr. Frodsham died.

How long did it take you to write it?

Nearly two years.

Where did you get the idea from?

The idea was brought to me. Mr. Frodsham was my neighbor, when I was a boy. After he passed away, his family brought me his diary describing the war years and commissioned me to write it into a book. They paid the costs of publication.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

Yes, with the details of weaponry and platoon-level battlefield strategy and tactics. I have no formal military training. I turned to experts in the field, associates who were infantryman or marines. My son was a captain in the United States Air Force.

What came easily?

Mr. Frodsham’s diary was (mostly) written in a conversational style, which made a pure joy of bringing it alive.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

The story is true, although some characters are amalgams to prevent it from sounding like a Russian novel.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

I feasted on people like Alistair MacLean, Ice Station Zebra, The Guns of Navarone, that sort of thing. I loved Isaac Asimov’s detective series with robots, The Robots of Dawn. I adored Robert Heinlein and Robert Ludlum.

Do you have a target reader?

Adults that enjoy history and enjoy tinkering with things, learning how a gun is cleaned, for example, or how a laser works.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I write every single day. I draw inspiration from the ordinary people I meet every day on the street who are heroes in their daily life: The women who make good mothers, great wives, and pursue successful careers. The men who give their all to be good fathers, great husbands, and excel at their chosen trade, whatever it may be. The sons and daughters who make the most of their God-given talents and take the calculated risks in life to make their parents proud and to become contributing members of society.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

No, I do not outline. I just start writing and see where it takes me. I begin the story with a nugget of an idea, a character in mind and a setting. Then I see what happens.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

Oh, both absolutely. I try to polish one good page per day. But usually, when I go back and read the first draft, it is complete trash. So I print the darn thing out and place it in my lap while I watch TV at night and scribble hundreds, if not thousands of notes in the margin, and then I begin to type again. The second draft is more readable. I hand it to willing readers to mark it up as they see fit, with questions, complaints, comments. Then I begin again.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

I work in total silence. But … when I am not working … I listen to rock — Elton John, ABBA, Simon & Garfunkle, to name a few.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

I submitted my early SF work to agents without success. Their approach just made me angry and impatient. Now, as I am older, I have again sought out agents for my historical fiction, but still with lots of good words of support, but no representation. To blend into your next question, that is why I have gone down the Indie route. I feel more satisfaction and quicker satisfaction in getting a book to market. I like being able to control the content and the cover and the marketing.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

Please see previous answer.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

Actually, I have done both. With certain self-publishing houses, they have in-house staff who work from a catalogue of images but who also work from images I have submitted myself, sometimes photographs, sometimes graphic artists I have hired. The cover of The Road to War was done by a graphic artist based on Mr. Frodsham’s hand-drawn map of the hedgerow country where he was shot and captured by the Nazis.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

My budget is limited but I do have a plan. Reviews from top houses like “Publishers Daily Reviews” certainly help. They wrote of this book — Five-plus unequivocal stars to The Road to War. It’s an extraordinary read that everyone should enjoy. Positive reviews like that go a long way to selling the book. In fact, I think the entire review is posted to your website under that heading.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Be prepared for rejection. Work hard. Don’t give up.

About You

Where did you grow up?

Among the cornfields of central Illinois.

Where do you live now?

Among the orange groves of central Florida. Illinois winters (and high income taxes) drove me south.

What would you like readers to know about you?

If I had a chance to be reborn, I would return as an anthropologist rather than again become the investment broker that I was.

What are you working on now?

Ah, the most interesting question of all! Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou. This book should be out before the end of the year. Here’s a teaser — A dead German in a whorehouse bed. A pair of bloated corpses floating in a Mississippi bayou. A mysterious notebook filled with unknown codes and hand drawn maps. Brave young Marines and Navajo code talkers landing in the Pacific. A Mafia Don helping the Allies seek revenge on the Fascists. A secret meeting of U.S. marshals with a New Orleans crime boss. A series of anagrams challenging the code-breaking talents of the brilliant minds at Bletchley Park. A gathering of international intelligence officers onboard a ship in the western Mediterranean. A Nazi plot to sabotage the production of Higgins landing craft without which Americans would never be able to land safely on a foreign beach.

End of Interview:

For more visit Steven’s website or like his Facebook page.

Get your copy of The Road to War at Amazon US or Amazon UK.

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