Each week, we celebrate one of our successful self-publishing authors in the Outskirts Press Self-Publishing Author Spotlight.
This week Outskirts Press proudly features Kirk Stapp, author of three works of fiction published through Outskirts Press. Stapp, a retired American lit and political science teacher, puts his professional expertise together with his personal experiences in the Vietnam war.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kirk Stapp dropped out of junior college with failing grades, unsure what he wanted to do with his life. Knowing he would be drafted, he enlisted as a paratrooper – jumping out of perfectly good airplanes. Stapp served in Vietnam, and was awarded a Bronze Star with a “V” (for valor) and a Purple Heart. After Vietnam, he returned to school under the G.I. Bill, graduated Cum Laude and became a high school teacher. During the last 15 years of his teaching career, he taught American literature and political science. Stapp retired in 2008 to become a struggling writer.
Jason Cord, a haunted Vietnam veteran who won a Silver Star, Bronze Star with a “V” for valor and two Purple Hearts, teaches Political Science and American Lit to senior and junior high school students. When Jason recently asked Matt, a former student who just returned from Iraq, “How was it?” Matt simply answered, “God has forsaken Iraq.”
Teaching Iraq is history and fiction. It weaves together the existential moments that shaped Jason Cord in Vietnam with his passion for teaching, his unwavering regard for his students, and his struggle to teach the truth.
Iraq: The tides of an Iraqi night ebb and flow. Beneath Matt’s Humvee the day’ s heat radiated from the desert sands; above him frigid air spilled from the icy oceans that drift between the stars and moon.
The IED went off under the engine of the first gunship. The blast came up through the floor taking Ramirez’ legs off at the knees.
A moment later, Matt held the stump of Ramirez’ right leg. He glanced into Ramirez’ face; it was peppered with shrapnel. His front teeth were broken off and jutted from his lower lip. His glazed eyes stared into the shattered windshield. Ramirez whispered over and over, “Forgive us our trespasses.” The heavy thick odor of blood, urine and sour sweat assailed Matt’s senses. Someone kept yelling, “Stay strong Ramirez, stay strong.” Matt closed his eyes to pray, but the words turned hollow in his throat.
Iraq’s rising moon stretched shadows across the sand; indifferent to the warm blood coagulating between Matt’s sticky fingers.
Lake Mary High School: “Good morning class. Yesterday we had civil liberties, today we have an imperial president: say goodbye to habeas corpus, privacy, due process, and a fair trial; say hello to torture, rendition, illegal wiretaps, and Big Brother.”
Format: 6.14 x 9.21 paperback, 419 pages
Publisher: Outskirts Press (Apr 21, 2009)
Genre: FICTION / General
Jason Cord is wounded while serving in Vietnam. He reaches out to God and experiences nothing. After his military service, he marries Jeanie, and life is good until she suffers a major stroke, leading to her untimely death. Jason’s loss turns to anger. He puts God on trial and finds God guilty of indifference to human suffering. He sends rants heavenward. God ignores him.
Captain Matt Parris returns from Iraq, his faith clouded in regrets and guilt. He is dying from cancers that decimate his body, but not his soul. He seeks to find a rock on which to anchor his drifting faith and the courage to confront his doubts. Matt’s former high school teacher, Jason Cord, agrees to become the executor of Matt’s will and his caregiver. They share their thoughts and reservations about God and faith, which become the basis of an unlikely friendship.
Jason’s teaching career is coming to a close. He resists the smothering edicts in No Child Left Behind, high-stakes bubble tests replacing critical thinking. He invites Matt to speak to his American Government class. Matt puts together a handout describing Dominion Theology. After Matt’s presentation, Jason is suspended from teaching for insubordination, violating the First Amendment Establishment Clause and lacking pedagogical judgment. He requests a public hearing before a hostile school board. The suspension/termination hearing brings into focus Jason’s frustration with a public education system promoting rote learning in students and teacher obedience. Matt confronts his father’s extreme Dominion beliefs and the gap that has grown between them. It is Jason and Matt’s honest struggles to understand mystery that fuses together their friendship and reveals who they are and their hopeful uncertainties.
Format: 6 x 9 paperback cream, 331 pages
Publisher: Outskirts Press (Sep 24, 2012)
Genre: FICTION / Action & Adventure
Jungle of Lies
Jungle of Lies chronicles nineteen-year-old Jason Cord’s loss of humanity, and perhaps his soul. He arrives in Vietnam with pictures of his ex-girlfriend Kim stuffed in the bottom of his duffle bag. He sees himself as a Hemingway hero: courageous, confident and introspective. Secure in his belief he’ll come home the hero, he fantasizes reuniting with Kim and their being together forever. War is a force unto itself. It drives events to its own conclusions far removed from Jason’s dreams and ambitions. Jason witnesses and performs acts that sear his soul and jade his humanity. “Are we supposed to shoot gooks in the back?” He wills himself into a cold angry indifference, eviscerating parts of who he is. “Die you gook bastards.” War inevitably puts down markers that have to be paid and some of those payments take a lifetime.
Format: 6 x 9 paperback cream, 432 pages
Publisher: Outskirts Press (Feb 11, 2014)
Genre: FICTION / War & Military
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