The Heroes Behind the Page

The Characters of Steel Fear, Part 7

John David Mann


This seven-part series takes a behind-the-scenes look at the cast of characters in the military thriller Steel Fear, co-authored by John David Mann and SOFREP founder Brandon Webb, and explores the process of conceiving them and bringing them to life on the page. You can find the first part of this series here.

Steel Fear is a novel, which means, strictly speaking, it’s all made up. Fiction. Never happened. Except … strictly speaking, that’s not entirely true. The only reason novels work, the only reason stories work, is that they are so solidly rooted in the reality of our experience. Yes, the specifics of the story may be invented by the teller, but if they ring true, if the story works, it’s because they are true. True in a deeper sense than the specifics of who, when, and where. 

But let’s take that one step further. The sneaky fact is, most pieces of fiction are inspired, in whole or in part, by actual events. Inevitably, bits and pieces of real-life will be woven into the fabric, bringing their own threads of real-life texture and meaning with them — just like the articles of clothing sewn into Monica’s best friend Kristine’s quilted blanket in chapter 41:

“Kris had brought her own blanket on deployment, a quilt she’d patched together from remnants of outfits from her teen years. High school skirts, biker jackets, Goth pullovers, the sweater she’d worn (briefly) the night she lost her virginity … how the four of them had howled with laughter together the night Kris gave them the tour! Monica ran her hand over the variegated cloth. Chapters of a life…”-Steel Fear

Every story is a quilt of variegated cloth, and Steel Fear is no exception. In no particular order, here are some of the real people that we stitched into the cloth of Finn’s story.