Darren Gilbert was born in Ilion, a village in the Mohawk Valley region of upstate New York. His family soon moved, and he up in North Adams, Massachusetts, a small town nestled in the heart of the Berkshire Mountains. An avid reader, he particularly enjoys military history, epic sagas, spy novels, and historical fiction.In addition to serving in the U.S. Army from 1979 to 1983, Darren has over 35 years of martial arts training, including managing his martial arts school for 12 years. He has earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Tennessee and Western Governors University. Darren is also a graduate of Executive Security International's Executive Protection Program and is a Certified Protection Specialist.Darren is a member of the Military Writers Society of American and the Knoxville Writers Guild. In his spare time, he enjoys martial arts, ballroom dancing, hiking, reading, and playing catch with his German Shepherd, Sophie.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your hobbies and interests.
Well, let's see. I was born in Ilion, a small town in upstate New York's Mohawk Valley. My family soon moved to Massachusetts, where I grew up in North Adams, another small town nestled in the heart of the Berkshire Mountains. I am an avid reader, particularly enjoying military history, epic sagas, spy novels, and historical fiction. I am a member of the Military Writers Society of American and the Knoxville Writers Guild.
In addition to serving in the U.S. Army from 1979 to 1983, I have over 35 years of martial arts training, including managing my own martial arts school for 12 years. I earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Tennessee and Western Governors University, respectively. Later, I attended and graduated from Executive Security International's Executive Protection Program and am a Certified Protection Specialist.
My two novels, Serpents Underfoot and Montagnard, received great reviews from Kirkus Reviews, and they both received Literary Titan's Gold Book Awards. Along with a collection of short stories, Adirondack Bear Tales, my books continue to receive great reviews from a growing list of readers.
When and why did you start writing books?
I started Serpents Underfoot in 2012 and then shelved it. I think there are always, at least initially, those feelings of "who in the world would want to read this?" Then a friend asked me if she could read it, and I let her. She told me that it was terrific and that I needed to finish it. So, I did; and finally published the book in September of 2017.
What made you decide to tackle writing as a career?
I would have to say it was the reaction of several readers to Serpents Underfoot. It began to get some excellent reviews from readers, and of course, a few bad ones. However, I was shocked at the number of five-star reviews. Then one reader, actually another author, commented on some of the bad reviews, saying how easy it was to sit back and bash a new author's first book. Then he went on to say that my first novel, while it certainly had its flaws, had a great story, was well-paced with fantastic characters, and had a dog he loved. He ended by saying that he looked forward to reading more of my work and seeing how I improved over time as an author. I guess I just decided, maybe I can do this and started on book two.
Which one of your books or characters is your favourite?
The obvious choice would be JD Cordell, my main character. However, I actually love all my characters. The heroic K9, Ajax, is one of my favorites and is loved by many of my readers. I also have to admit that Hana, introduced in the second book, Montagnard, is another real favorite. She is a young businesswoman surviving and thriving in a dark world dominated by dangerous men. I love how her character evolves through the story. She will play a big part in book three and may even be worthy of her own novel in the future.
Which one of your books was the hardest to write and stretched you the most as a writer?
That would be Montagnard, and simply because of the initial success of Serpents Underfoot. I mean, now I have to improve my skills as a writer in the second book, right? According to some of my readers, I succeeded in doing that. However, now book three is in the works. So, that means I need to improve just a little more. I certainly think I can. I do listen to feedback from my readers. But, as they say, time will tell.
Who is your favourite author and book?
I have lots of favorite authors, including Bernard Cornwell, Tom Clancy, Ian Fleming, Robert Ludlum, WEB Griffin, Greg Isles, Vince Flynn, and John Grisham. But I think if I had to nail one down, it would be Louis L'Amour. I loved his westerns and actually bought all of them twice. Once as a high school student and the second time while stationed in Germany. I like stories where, despite terrible odds, the good guys win. Louis L’Amour had a great quote I’ve always loved and remembered, “There’s no stopping a man who knows he’s in the right and keeps a-coming.” I think my main character, JD Cordell, personifies that quote.
What book are you reading right now?
I have always loved reading military history. Currently, I am actually re-reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer. I think it is probably the best history of World War II ever written. The author served as a news correspondent stationed in Germany during Hitler's rise to power and the resulting war. He attended the rallies and sat in meetings with Nazi elites like Goering, Himmler, and Goebbels, who we can only read about. He kept copies of memos and orders signed by Adolf Hitler himself, which are included in the book. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is a detailed and frightening look into what happens when evil and absolute power runs completely amuck.
Where do you get your inspiration for your books?
I draw on my own life experiences, including my time in the U.S. Army, serving with several infantry units in German, South Korea, and deploying to Panama with the 101st Air Assault Division. I also draw on a lifetime of martial arts training. And while I was too young to serve during the war in Vietnam, I am old enough to have several friends who did. One excellent friend served as a Special Forces medic on patrols into the tri-border region of Vietnam, which plays such a big role in Serpents Underfoot and Montagnard. he died of cancer a few years ago. I've also had a couple of friends; one recently passed away, who were Navy SEALs. I met most of these guys through martial arts. I never had much interest in the sports side of martial arts and always gravitated toward a more "personal combat" approach to training and the people involved with that type of training.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
In my spare time, I enjoy martial arts, ballroom dancing, reading, hiking, watching movies, and spending time with my German Shepherd, Sophie.
Do you have any new books in the works?
I am currently working on book three in the JD Cordell saga. It is titled Reciprocity. This tale picks up where Montagnard leaves off. In this story, JD finds himself drawn into a deadly conflict with a Filipino mafia gang trafficking in young women. The women are tricked into taking "jobs" abroad and then are forced into lives of prostitution. In this story, readers met the two young women kidnapped in the novel Montagnard, and JD has a vested interest in their safety. While human trafficking is certainly a dark topic, sadly, it is all too relevant in today’s world. I hope this novel, while fiction, will help bring this horrific criminal enterprise to more people’s attention.
Books by Darren Gilbert
Adirondack Bear Ta...
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