Private First Class, First Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Colonel
These are the ranks of the wives' husbands, in order from lowest to highest. I picked Sarah's brain quite thoroughly on a lot of this. (She's one of the five wives the book is dedicated to.) I had to figure out what their ranks would realistically be based on their ages, educational backgrounds, and much more. (I had no idea going in that education played such a big role in rank. Yes, I was that ignorant.)
I think the one element of the book that's probably least realistic is that this is Colonel Lambert's third deployment. If real life, he'd probably have been deployed a more than that, especially since 9/11. Otherwise, I think (hope!) I got most things right.
I purposely didn't name a place in Afghanistan where the men were stationed, and I wanted to avoid specific fighting missions because of the logistics, but I did want them to be in dangerous, stressful situations.
Sarah helped me decide that having the men protect convoys of supplies would be a good job. As convoys bring food and other necessities to the fighting soldiers, the men would be in serious peril, especially the closer to the front lines they got. It would also give the wives a false sense of security at first, because their men aren't technically fighting and therefore are "safer."
But convoys do get close to the front lines and so of course they're dangerous. Plus, they're targeted for obvious reasons (take out the supplies, and you've just crippled the enemy).
So that's what these husbands are doing. With one exception, we never see any of the husbands in the book, but we do hear from them in the form of instant messages and e-mails a few times.
I knew what this was, but I didn't know a lot of details about it. I had to consult Dr. Google as well as friends who'd been through it to get some details straight.
Morphine and Hospice
Again, two terms I knew in theory. Two issues in the plot that required research. I focused particularly on reading firsthand accounts from people who'd dealt with both.
Anxiety and Depression
Two common responses to deployment, particularly for wives whose husbands are in dangerous places, dodging bullets and literally in the middle of war. Wives wake up hoping their husbands are safe and go to bed praying that they won't wake up with bad news. And that's assuming the stress doesn't keep them up all night . . . again.
As one wife I interviewed said, people need to recognize that soldiers aren't just away; they're in harm's way. And that's where the stress, anxiety and depression come in.
Sarah coped by reminding herself that she was reacting normally to a very abnormal situation.
A miserable experience for military wives. This is when all communication lines are shut down, both to and from the military. No one can send so much as an e-mail. A blackout means a soldier has been killed, and lines won't open again until the next of kin have been notified.
When a blackout happens, your heart drops, because you know someone just lost a father, brother, husband, son.
And you pray it wasn't yours.