THE SECRET EYE: An Interview with Brad Hanson

Brad Hanson
Brad Hanson

We are always excited to encounter a new author, particularly one that is getting as many rave reviews as today’s guest. His debut novel, The Secret Eye, has been called a “fast-paced, action filled story,” which is just the kind of book we know you love reading. We hope you enjoy this exclusive interview with the author. —J&H

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J&H: Brad Hanson, welcome!

BH: Thank you Jathan and Heather for having me!

J&H: To begin with, congratulations on the success of the book! I’m sure hearing it described as “thrilling… engrossing…  and compulsively readable” is music to a first-time novelist’s ears. How long have you been writing?

BH: The Secret Eye is my first book, and I spent the better part of three years writing it.  I work in the high-tech field, and I do a lot of writing as part of my job so that prepared me to try my hand at historical fiction.

J&H: Countless authors have tackled writing about World War II. And yet, as many novels as we’ve read about this point in history, your story is the first one we’ve encountered with this topic. Please tell our readers about the premise of The Secret Eye.

BH: The Secret Eye follows the development of Radar and a technological gift from Great Britain that gave America a military advantage over Japan.  Two men enter World War II following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, one from America and one from Japan.  The story follows the two men as they weave their way through history to meet in November 1944 where the Japanese Kamikaze pilot attacks the USS Lexington, protected by our American Radar operator.

J&H: You dedicate the book in part to your stepfather, Charlie Stainer. How did his stories inspire you to write about this chapter of the war?

BH: After the loss of Charlie in 2013 at the age of 88, I wanted to do something that would honor his memory.  The stories he told of his time on the USS Lexington and his humorous antics growing up in Little Rock provided the backdrop for the story.  In November of 1944, Charlie was within feet from where the Kamikaze hit the USS Lexington and he recounted his memory on a nationally broadcast World War II documentary.  The juxtaposition of following a Japanese and an American soldier through the war helps the reader see the war from both perspectives.

J&H: One of the themes that resonates throughout this book is that “freedom is not free.” Why was this topic an important one for you to address?

BH: Our greatest generation—the 18- to 20-year-old boys who left everything they knew to fight for a country that had given them everything—fought for an ideal, an intangible aspect of American life where anyone can be anything they can dream. They have the freedom to strive for their dreams even if they are unrealized. This freedom we enjoy is not free, sometimes it costs the precious lives of our young men and women. Other times it may cost the people of America through forced rationing of material to support the war effort. Every man, woman, and child felt the cost of the United States entering World War II, some giving the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms at home. Even today, freedom is absolutely not free!

J&H: Because Charlie told you stories from an American’s perspective, was it challenging to write about your Japanese character, Hadaki Yamatsumi? And what went into researching and writing the story from that vantage point?

BH: Yes, it was challenging but also very rewarding!  As I love history, diving into another culture was a complete joy.  The first decision was where to set the life of Hadaki.  As Mount Fuji has such spiritual significance to the Japanese people, it made sense to choose this location to place the family of Hadaki.

The proximity to Mount Fuji also led to other important points in the plot where we look at the story of a bamboo cutter from Japanese folklore and Hadaki’s ascent of Mount Fuji to better understand the will of his ancestors for his life as he decides if he will enlist in the Army.  Finally, the mythology of the Kamikaze was important to explore as many Americans still have trouble wrapping their heads around a man choosing to fly his plane into a ship, giving up everything when continuing with the war was futile.

J&H: Speaking of research, were you able to meet or talk to many of the men and women who lived through the war? Did any of their stories surprise you?

BH:  I was able to speak to family members who lived through the war years to get a sense of what America was like in the 1940s and how the home front played such a vital role in America’s success.  I also researched on sites like Fold3, an Ancestory.com site, and read countless articles from and about many of the figures found in The Secret Eye.  Living in Texas, I visited the National Museum of the Pacific many times giving me a great pallete to draw from as I wrote about the war.  I also found many de-classified documents about the battles, men, and ships involved during the Pacific theater operations.  Fortunately, YouTube provided even more stories of men who served as Radarmen on the various Pacific theater ships.  Charlie and his best friend Edward Brand also told many stories about the war that I used to provide context for the reader.

My time on the USS Lexington Museum was invaluable to learning more about the men who served on the carrier and their leaders.  The story about Captain Stump is taken from an exhibit on the Lex.  I quoted his words to his men following the nighttime attack that brought them back to port for repairs.

What surprised me most about the men as they told their stories was how humble these men were.  Many of them recounted stories of absolute heroism but this may have been the first time their loved ones or close friends knew anything about their life during the war.  Also, the amount of boredom on a ship followed by hours of absolute terror.  How these men survived to come back to us is amazing to me.

J&H: Naval ships fascinate us. Having lived in New England, we were able to visit the USS Constitution in Boston, which was interesting and helped bring history to life for both of us. Since you live in Texas, were you able to visit the USS Lexington in Corpus Christi? How did that affect your story?  

BH: Yes!  My son is now 27 years old and as an 8-year-old, we spent a night of the Lex as part of the stay aboard program.  It was my first time on the ship, and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the massive carrier.  I was even given a chance to go to places that were not open to public, so I knew what it was like to live on the ship, even for a night.  When we arrived on ship, I made sure to tell the staff that Charlie was a veteran of the Lex and soon he was giving tours to complete strangers.  This showed me how special his service was to the men and women staying aboard that night.  The staff even presented Charlie with the American flag during the day’s closing ceremony.  While researching for my book, I made a trip back to the Lex after 19 years to refresh my memories and talk to whoever would visit with me.  After I published last September, I went to the Lexington for my book signing where I met the staff who keeps that great museum working.  I will be back at the end of this month for another book signing and cannot wait.

J&H: When people finish reading The Secret Eye, what do you hope they take away from it?

BH: I hope that people will see how special that generation of men was to the soul of America.  Young men, barely able to vote, leaving everything they knew to fight somewhere they never heard of should impress everyone.  The influence of Radar in the outcome of the war has not been well documented in other books and movies about World War II.  When the war began, we would be lucky if we could see five to 10 miles away from a ship, leaving our forces completely vulnerable.  As the tide of the war turned for America, we could see almost 100 miles (over the horizon), farther than any ship in the Japanese navy.  All thanks to our best ally, Great Britain.  Because of our technological innovations and our industrial might, we were able to defeat a formidable enemy.  Through the innovations of Radar, every person in the United States enjoys a better life.  Your microwave popcorn, the medical radiology scans, and of course our ability to track and forecast weather are all because of a gift from Great Britain.

J&H: What is next for you? Are you already working on your next book?

BH:  Charlie Brand is now married but he may be called back to serve his country again as tensions begin to build with Russia in the late 1950’s into the early 60’s.  He has children and you may see their call to duty in upcoming books.

J&H: Brad, thank you so much for visiting with us today. Please stop by again during your next book tour!

BH: It was my pleasure to visit with you.  I look forward to our next conversation!

J&H: The book is The Secret Eye, and you can order it now from Jathan & Heather Books and everywhere else fine books are sold.

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Synopsis banner
Brad Hanson's THE SECRET EYE
BookBaby

Charlie Brand joined the Navy to avenge Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and he has the best eyes and ears in the fleet. In Japan, Hadaki Yamatsumi journeys to determine his ancestor’s will for his life. The two men are thrust on a collision course with history where only one man will survive.

In Great Britain, a gift to the United States will change the direction of the war and alter the life of Charlie Brand forever. While Charlie struggles through loss, a chance meeting on a train propels him to a new life he never dreamed he could have.

As America prepares her response to the attack on Pearl Harbor, a new secret technology, Radar, will begin to turn the tide of the war. America’s Secret Eye peers over the horizon so Naval Commanders can detect the enemy and direct attacks before anyone knows they are there.

However, a new Japanese weapon, the Kamikaze, will threaten American’s technological advantage. Does Charlie have the skill to detect these attacks before they can destroy the USS Lexington? Can America find a way to defeat this new threat? Will the Secret Eye save American lives and finally win the war?

Praise banner

“Gripping and compelling… A compulsively readable book. Hanson is an author to watch!”

—The Prairies Book Review

“Thrilling, engrossing work of complex intrigue and crisp characterization.”

—Book View Review

“The Secret Eye is an enthralling historical fiction novel that ushers the reader to a new era of warfare… Brad Hanson, did not fall short of my expectations.”

—Online Book Club

“Fast-paced, action-filled story that is recommended to those who enjoy learning mixed with entertainment.”

—Tom Gauthier, Readers’ Favorite Awards
About the Author banner

Brad Hanson loves military history which prompted his desire to write this story. Inspired by experiences shared by a family member and those of our Greatest Generation, Brad is proud to bring this story to readers everywhere.

When not working on writing projects, he works for a Fortune 100 company as an operational leader of technology programs.

He is an avid woodworker and golfer and has two grown children. He and his wife share their Texas home with their British Shorthair cats.

For more information, visit BradHanson.net. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

THE SECRET EYE
By Brad Hanson
296 pp. BookBaby. $17.99

Brad Hanson
Brad Hanson
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Purchase The Secret Eye direct from Jathan & Heather Books or from one of these other fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Half Price Books, Hudson Booksellers, IndieBound, Powell’s, Target, or Walmart.

The Secret Eye is brought to you in association with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

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Enter to win a copy of The Secret Eye from Brad Hanson. Giveaway is open to the US only and ends March 4th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Please note: Giveaway is not presented by Jathan & Heather, Jathan & Heather Books, Jadeworks Entertainment, or any of its subsidiaries.

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About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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