Junior Inquisitor

Junior Inquisitor

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Michael Durkota's Once in a Blue Year

As I'm busy working my fingers to the bone, getting The Witch's Lair (Inquisitor Series #3) ready, another Indie Author has offered to help me out with this week's post. Also, as promised, there are a few lines from The Witch's Lair at the bottom of the post, if you want a teaser of what will happen next to Brother Sebastian.

In the mean time, sit back and learn about being a Submariner, and what happens when you train and train for an event and then can't go.
Meet Michael Durkota

He's written a book called Once in a Blue Year


Set during the Gulf War, this engrossing dramatic narrative follows two barracks roommates who remain onshore when their submarine is deployed— leaving each to resolve his own inner conflicts.

Yep he knows a bit about the Navy


Once in a Blue Year begins during the first days of the Gulf War, with two navy barracks roommates remaining onshore as their submarine leaves without them. Unraveling through different points of view in both present action and flashbacks, the story follows Dan, who is conflicted about receiving a medical discharge, and Trevor, who is seething with anger over the incident that forced him to miss his deployment.

With nowhere else to go, Dan moves into the home of his friends Nathan and Heather and their young son, James. Meanwhile, Trevor is furious with Nathan, who has managed to volunteer to go to battle in Trevor’s place. But Trevor’s hotheaded temperament has finally caught up to him, and regardless of his skill as a true naval warrior, he’s suddenly been ordered to “stay in.”

In Nathan’s absence, Dan is charged with looking after Heather and James as he rebuilds his life, while Trevor struggles with his anger and intimacy issues in his relationship with girlfriend Tara. But before they can move forward, they must both come to terms with the fateful event at sea that changed their lives forever.


About the Author

Michael D. Durkota, a former submariner in the US Navy, holds a master of fine arts degree in fiction from the University of Pittsburgh. His debut novel, Once in a Blue Year, follows two friends during the Gulf War as they struggle with their navy service, adulthood, and relationships. Durkota lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with his wife. He is currently working on his second novel and an odd collection of stories.

Excerpt (from the prologue)

She will reach for her glass of wine, and, as she takes a sip, she will catch a reflection of him, of them, in the glass. The boy and the man. One, then the other, depending on how she tilts the glass and catches the light. She will alternate between the two. The tiny pink representations of them. The boy now peacefully asleep. His chest rising and falling like waves. The man, near sleep himself. His head tilted back. His fingers combing through her hair.

The boy. The man. She will feel content with her head on his lap. The boy. She will feel content with him by her side. The man. She will wonder what he is thinking. Then she will ask in a whisper.

But before he answers, someone will pull into the driveway. Headlights will flash off the mirror, the clock. And for a moment the room will light up. Shadows will transform. She will see the wax on the table. She will see the toys scattered on the floor, like casualties of war. She will feel his leg flex beneath her. The man. She will hear him stir. The boy.

Then the car lights will go out. And, if not for the footsteps, all would be as it was just a moment before. She will wish she could hold on to that moment just a little longer. The man and the boy. But the footsteps will grow louder as they approach the door. And chaos will enter the room.
When did you start to write this one and why?
I wrote a story called “Submergence” about 15 years ago. The original story was a mostly true telling of my experiences on submarines. In writing it, I realized I had a lot of demons that were in need of exorcism. I also realized that I was facing an opportunity to achieve my life-long goal of writing a novel. Fictionalizing those memories was a perfect therapy.
Main Character's motivations
Dan is largely unmotivated. Having just been discharged from the Navy, he finds himself at a loss for what to do next. His indecisiveness get him into trouble pretty quickly. Trevor is motivated to a fault; his sole purpose in life is to serve the Navy. When that is taken away he is rudderless (nautical pun intended).
What is their secret strengths/ weaknesses
Dan’s secret weakness: Although he qualified for submarine duty, he is terribly claustrophobic. Trevor’s secret strength: He is covertly training to become a Junior Inquisitor. (Good Choice!)
Any philosophical issues in this story? If so how do you address them, how does MC live and over come them?
There are several, mostly moral dilemmas from differing perspectives. Fitting to their motivations, Trevor overthinks them and Dan tries to ignore them. I’ve always thought the two created their own balance. The story also plays around with irony and coincidence. Oh, and there is a mention of Plato; does that count?
Any offbeat obscure or 80s references?
The story takes place in the early 90’s, so there are a few. I did a have a solid reference to the Beastie Boys, but I was strongly encouraged to remove it in order to avoid litigation. I have to admit it would have crushed me to be sued by my high school idols.

What's next in this series or in your next book?
Once in a Blue Year is a standalone novel. That said, one character was only in the present of the story for a few pages; Nathan existed mostly in flashbacks. He was an enigma, and that was all he was ever meant to be. However, I did enough exploration of his character to realize that he had an entirely different story to tell. The next book is a subtle prequel based on his early teen years. I have always been a fan of Michael Ondaatje, and I loved that Hanna from “The English Patient” was actually introduced as a young girl in “In the Skin of a Lion.” My second novel will be a feigned attempt to emulate the master, albeit in reverse.
Preview of your next book?
The story focuses on a teenaged boy living in a small rural town and how he and his friends perceive the early 80’s economic (steel industry collapsing) and political (Iranian hostage from US embassy) crises.
When will it be available?
Soon, I hope. If I keep to my current schedule, I should have a draft out for edit by early spring. Optimistically, I am hoping for a summer 2016 release.


Edits for The Witch's Lair, Inquisitor Series #3, are progressing, and should be ready for the next review soon.
Beta readers get ready.
                                    Junior Inquisitor
             Still just $2.99

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                                        Soulless Monk
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Excerpt from The Witch's Lair, Book Three of the Inquisitor Series - The Hammer’s Chapel was too small to fit all of the caskets properly. Simple boxes, still smelling of freshly cut pine were stacked so they could all fit. The smell of flowers lingered faintly in the air.


Lexa Cain said...

The book sounds complex and emotional - and very intriguing, since Michael knows so much about submarines and the navy. Wishing him much success!
~ LX Cain

Farish's Freehold said...

The best stories are the simple, yet complex ones which we live everyday. Michael has captured this truth in his novel. Well worth the read.