About the book

My Novel-Work-in-Progress, The Dead Lion, published in serial form.

Steven Lee Gilbert

A grief-stricken war hero grappling with anger and isolation six months after the death of his unborn child and pregnant wife, returns home seeking solace, at his sister’s bequest, to the North Carolina mountains and his estranged father’s apple orchard, a place he once despised.

Certainly, of all the grim journeys a soldier may face, none may be more daunting and unpredictable than returning home from war. If accompanied by great personal loss, the tension, anxiety and uncertainty of survival never give completely away to normalcy. Anger, alienation, and feelings of helplessness remain. This is the emotional terrain of THE DEAD LION, which begins six months after his loss with Staff Sergeant John David Durant glumly awaiting the results of a request for hardship.

When the Army denies his application, he falls further into despair until eventually his sister, Edith, intercedes and returns him home to the mountains of North Carolina and the family apple orchard, a place he once despised. There, older-yet-still wounds re-open until a misunderstanding spills over into mayhem and they each come to learn the full impact of the futility and moral complexity of what happens when the enemy we face is inside us.

Alongside the novel I've added candid, documentary-styled, interviews of people close to John David, and seek to evoke emotion through vivid details, accurate description and the economy, cadence and precision of language. Having come myself from a military background, where the way people speak is a practiced art form, I've also paid particular attention to the way dialogue shapes, adds to and exacerbates any crisis.

An early excerpt of this novel earned a Durham (NC) Arts Council Emerging Artist Grant for Literature.


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