The Warrior

The Characters of Steel Fear, Part 2

John David Mann


Part 1 of this seven-part series on the characters of the military thriller Steel Fear introduced you to the story’s antihero, Chief Finn, No Last Name. Now we meet Finn’s unlikely partner.

In most stories, the hero shows up right at the start, if not on page 1, then soon after. In Steel Fear, my co-author Brandon Webb and I violated that rule and opened instead with Monica Halsey, the Knighthawk pilot, alone in her stateroom, staring into a mirror. It takes a full three chapters before you finally meet Finn, the story’s main character. Which throws things a little off-kilter—and that’s good. We wanted everything about Finn to upset the reader’s expectations. To go against type. 

But there’s another reason we broke the hero-first rule. We wanted you to spend those first few chapters in Monica’s shoes, looking through Monica’s eyes and learning all about her past, career path, and ambitions. Finn may be the story’s hero in the classic sense—but Monica is just as central to the story. Finn makes it intriguing.

Monica makes it personal.

“Never Back Down”

The event that sparked the idea for Steel Fear happened in 1995 when Brandon was on the USS Abraham Lincoln for a six-month WestPac as a helicopter sonar operator and rescue swimmer. There was a sexual predator on board. The guy would sneak into the women’s showers, flip off the lights, molest someone, and run. They never caught him. It cast a pall over the whole ship.