Thursday, September 20, 2012

Aloha to Mike J. Krentz and RIVEN DAWN: A Flagship Novel

On this day in 1519, Ferdinand Magellan sailed with 270 men to circumnavigate the globe.  The US Navy continues his legacy to promote regional security and support humanitarian missions.  Today's guest, retired Navy doctor Mike J. Krentz, knows something about circumnavigating the globe:

Mike J. Krentz writes short stories and novels about the lives of military men and women, especially their relationships and families. He draws on twenty years Navy experience that included assignments to ships, air wings, and fleets that deployed to the Mediterranean Sea, Persian Gulf, and Western Pacific. From personal immersion with courageous yet sometimes flawed warriors, he portrays the human dramas that challenge military men and women -- conflicts often more provocative than combat action.

Following a successful civilian career as an emergency physician, Dr. Krentz rededicated his professional life to serve America's heroes and their families, and to honor the sacrifices they make in defending our freedom and way of life. His last assignment was as 7th Fleet Surgeon on board the flagship, USS BLUE RIDGE -- the inspiration for the FLAGSHIP! series.

File:USS Blue Ridge Mount Fuji.jpg
USS Blue Ridge from Wikipedia
U.S. Navy photo by Heidi McCormick

Kim:  Thank you for your military service! What was your favorite port of call?

Mike:  It’s been the highest honor of my life to serve our American heroes in the Navy and Marine Corps. I will always look back on my service with pride and thanksgiving.

My family and I loved Japan so much that we begged for a second tour, and we got to live there five out of the last six years. We especially appreciated the Japanese people, all so very friendly, polite, and honest.

For port visits, I enjoyed Hong Kong the most, a vibrant cosmopolitan city with something for everyone. I’m a bit of a foodie, and I enjoyed some wonderful meals there, ranging from hole-in-the wall cafes to a five-star hotel restaurant. The city offers engaging sight-seeing and great shopping, including a tailor where the fitting and buying experience was fun in itself.

The most moving port of call for me, however, was Da Nang, Vietnam. A group of us brought our bicycles on the ship, and we would get out and ride in most of the ports we visited. We rode every day in Da Nang. Imagine the thrill for someone of my generation to ride a bike in the open in Vietnam. I once thought the only way I would ever go there would be with a rifle on my shoulder. The people were so friendly that we asked a couple of them why they seemed to like Americans. Had we not been at war with them? The reply, “Vietnam has always been at war. Only the Americans treated us with dignity.”

File:Marble Mountain Gate, Da Nang.jpg
Marble Mountain Gate near Da Nang from Wikipedia

Kim: Tell us about your Flagship series and how your time on board the USS Blue Ridge inspired it.

Mike:  I spent three years with the 7th Fleet staff, the only afloat fleet staff in the Navy, on the flagship, USS BLUE RIDGE – literally a floating office complex, and we went wherever she did. I worked for three commanders, two chiefs of staff, and several hundred staff officers – each with a different personality and leadership style. (Both chiefs of staff were great human beings, not at all like the nefarious Leo LeBlanc in RIVEN DAWN.) One of the commanders put it about right when he said, “Staff work sucks.” Those men and women, officers and enlisted sailors alike, worked as hard as I’ve seen anyone work in the Navy. They put in long, thankless hours -- no matter if the ship was in homeport or underway, in calm seas or rough -- answering near-constant demands from higher headquarters, or responding to an endless succession of real or potential crises in an area of the world defined by national leadership as critical to U.S. interests.

Those with families moved them to Japan, then left them on their own for extended periods of time. We were away from home 190 to 200 days per year, or more. These men and women are consummate professionals, dedicated warriors, and some of the keenest intellects I’ve known in or out of the Navy. And each one had his or her own personal stories, issues, and challenges – quite apart from defusing the next international crisis or rushing humanitarian assistance to the last natural disaster. As the fleet doc, I got to know many of them on a level other than their warrior personae. As Americans, they faced the same personal and family challenges as any other human being, but they did so within this milieu on the flagship that often redefines reality down to the confined spaces within the ship. One can easily lose a grip on what’s really important in life if you’re working long hours, and also living and eating, inside a floating steel office complex, twenty-four hours a day for weeks at a time.

When I started writing the first novel, I thought my focus would be on the military scenarios, which are compelling enough in that part of the world. Then I realized that the real stories, the true grit and emotion, are in the men and women themselves, and how they manage the various compartments of their lives – with diverse motivations and varying success. The challenge facing Kate Mahoney, the lead character in RIVEN DAWN, is similar to that staring down warriors around the world, fictional or real: The security of the region and my country depends on me executing my mission, even as my personal life crashes down around me and the demons of my past rise up to haunt me. Talk about high stakes conflict. Therein you find the true heroes.

USS Nimitz salutes the USS Arizona Memorial

Kim:  What's next for Mike Krentz?

Mike:  I’m working on the second book in the FLAGSHIP! Series, and I’m already thinking about the sequel, and the one after that. There are many stories yet to be told. Also, I’m developing an idea for a fantasy piece that has nothing to do with the military.

And, having just retired from the Navy, there’s that whole transition thing, and fixing up our house in Norfolk, which is almost a hundred years old. No dull moments ahead, but no underway time either. That’s a blessing, and a curse.

Mahalo, Mike, for joining us today!  I posted my review of RIVEN DAWN:  A FLAGSHIP NOVEL on Amazon at this link and Goodreads at this link.  I am giving away an Kindle copy of RIVEN DAWN:  A FLAGSHIP NOVEL to one randomly selected commenter:

A senior naval aviator/single mother at the pinnacle of her career deploys in a Navy flagship as director of operations for the U.S. 7th Fleet, where she confronts a cross-fire of military and personal challenges. A conniving superior seeks to discredit her, while an enigmatic yet alluring colleague cycles between nemesis and confidante.

As she struggles to defuse escalating military tension in the western Pacific, her rebellious teenage son -- beguiled by a mysterious Internet predator -- acts out and forces her to re-evaluate life choices and to face down personal demons from her past. As her self-assurance crumbles, she confronts and overcomes her own history of an abusive childhood and toxic marriage. When the unexpected specter of her destroyed marriage threatens to take her son, she brings to bear her aviator instincts and combat-honed courage in a desperate battle far more dangerous than a shooting war. 

To enter the giveaway, 

1.  Leave a comment about a port you would like to visit.  Would you bring your bike?  Ride a local bus?  Catch a cab?  Or enjoy the view from your stateroom balcony?

The Pride of America offers a seven day cruise around the Hawaiian Islands.  I've heard it is particularly breathtaking to sail by the Na Pali Coast of Kauai.  So I would enjoy the view from my stateroom balcony.

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, September 22, 10 pm in Hawaii.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, September 23.


Kim in Hawaii

Pride of America


  1. I would love to dock at any port in Italy. I would sit on the balcony of my state room and drink wine and enjoy the view.

  2. Wow Kim, cruising around the Hawaiian Islands sounds beautiful.
    I'd love to see the Almalfi Coast from my balcony. That or Scotland.
    I'd like to say Thank you to Mike for his service and his giving back. Don't enter me as I can't read e-books.
    Carol L

  3. Kim, aloha and mahalo from Seattle! Great interview with Mike J. Krentz and great review. Personally, I loved RIVEN DAWN for the very reasons you listed. It's a real "behind-the-scenes" and "rest-of-the-story" tale as well as a terrific military thriller. And, yes, the Krentz name is no coincidence. Mike is a cousin on my husband's side, I'm proud to say.

    And on another note, thanks for all the wonderful work you do.

  4. I'd love to visit any port a cruise ship will take me too....especially tropical ports.

  5. Kim, you find the most interesting people! I offer my thanks, too, to Mike for his military service! No doubt it offers a wealth of research to write a book! I've heard Hong Kong is a great place to visit so I'll hop off the cruise ship there to walk around the shopping areas!


  6. Oh, I would just love to take another cruise. It's been over 30 years and I always said it was my favorite vacation. So I would be thrilled to visit any port on a cruise ship but I would like to take an excursion and walk around. We were able to do that in Haiti and Port au Prince and San Juan to name a few.

  7. I would love to take a cruise to Hawaii and Italy! I would want to get off and visit and see the sites.

  8. Congrats to Mike on his book! I had a friend who took a "Tiger Cruise" when his son's aircraft carrier came home from Hawaii to San Diego. Wouldn't that be cool for week to be in the Navy!


  9. I would like to visit a port on a small Greek Island.

  10. I would love to take a Mediterranean cruise, and then get off at each port. I would wander around and look at all the local shops and sights of interest.

  11. Ferdinand Magellan died in one of our island. Actually, our city got it's name from the one who killed him. Anyway, I'm a bike girl, so I'd like to ride a bike and I have no port in particular, just want a simple and quiet one.