September 23, 2020

The Price of Valor

Susan May Warren

What would you do for your country? Or for an ideal that you believe in? Five years ago, when my son came to me and said, “I’d like to join the Navy,” I had to take a hard look at what I believed in. Yes, it was his decision, but I wondered if I loved my country enough to willingly give my son to it.


Yes. Yes, I do. And I say that after living overseas for ten years, seeing how other countries live and knowing our ideals of freedom of thought, speech and the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness have come at a great cost, both past and current.

The Price of Valor, which is written about a former Navy SEALs choice and his cost to defend his nation, has been sitting in my brain since that pivotal moment when I went to the Great Lakes Naval base and saw my son graduate from basic training. Although its evolved to be more than just former SEAL Hamilton Jones’ story, the question asks—what is the price of valor, and is it worth it?


The story is simple, really.  Former SEAL Ham Jones discovers that someone he thought was dead is still alive. And in trouble. So, of course, he sets out to find and save her. And discovers a terrible betrayal.


His search also cracks open an international threat and ties together a storyline that has woven through the three books in this series, and the five books in a previous series. So, not quite so easy after all, but the question of the book remains simple: What if someone did something terrible in order to defend their country? Could you forgive them?


When I envisioned a Global Search and Rescue series, I wanted to set it in exotic places around the world. One of those places had to be Sicily, Italy, where my son, a corpsman, is now stationed. He sent me weekly pictures of Mt. Etna when it erupted a few years ago and having visited Italy I could easily describe the world Ham visits on his quest to find this lost loved one. But when I did my research on volcanos, I discovered they can cause a chain reaction of disasters—from earthquakes to tsunamis as well as the outpouring of hot lava.


This is not unlike how betrayal feels. It’s overwhelming, destructive and can set fire to a relationship, rending it scorched earth. How do people come back from a relationship that has been incinerated by betrayal?


I don’t write perfect characters. They have issues, flaws, fears and lies that feel real to them. Ham isn’t a saint—yes, he’s a Christian, but he struggles with forgiveness just like everybody else, and when he’s faced with choosing forgiveness, it also costs him.


See, real forgiveness also takes valor. It takes courage to love again, courage to put yourself in a place of vulnerability. Valor is great courage in the face of danger, and loving someone who has betrayed, who has lied, manipulated and stolen from you just might be one of the highest forms of courage.


Brokenness and loss are often the price of valor.


But, true valor can also produce restoration, a new beginning and joy.


In many ways, my search and rescue stories aren’t just about finding the lost, physically, but going deep into a character and finding the parts of him that are lost. Like hope. Like joy. Like love.


And then, I bring them home.


I hope you’ll go on the journey with Ham to discover the price and hope of Valor!


Susie May