TROY — When Robert Brundrett sat down to write his first, full-length novel, he wanted to make sure he was telling a good story.
“The main thing about a book is the story. If you have a good story, then you have a good book. I like to read good stories — stories that are interesting, and a little bit complex, and a really good story, I think, is what I look for in a book, and I think this has a good story,” Brundrett said. “I didn’t want to write a novel unless I had a really good story.”
“Girl from the Racetrack” is Brundrett’s second book to be published and his first full-length novel, and it is about a Vietnamese girl who works as a racehorse jockey and meets an American serviceman during the Vietnam War. The story, though set around horse racing, the story is primarily focused on the relationship of two people and how their love flourishes despite the impediments of war. Brundrett said that he wanted to write a story about Vietnam during that time that wasn’t solely focused on the war, especially because he felt that much of media related to Vietnam only told one side of the story.
“There are too many things about Vietnam that are just about the war, and I wanted to write a story that wasn’t about the war, per se. I thought that having something about the racehorses and races during the war would make a good background for a story,” Brundrett said. “You don’t have to know much, or anything, about Vietnam. This could apply to anybody — it’s really about two people, and the relationship between them.”
While “Girl from the Racetrack” is a historical fiction novel, much of the inspiration for the story came from Brundrett’s own experiences in South Vietnam during the Vietnam war. He served as a civil engineer in the U.S. Navy and was sent to South Vietnam to work directly with the Vietnamese people. He traveled throughout the country, and many of the places in his book are places he has seen and experienced first-hand. His affinity for horses — something he’s had since growing up on a dairy farm in Tipp City — along with the French Colonial government having brought horse racing to Vietnam in the 1930s, is where the horse racing elements came into the story.
“They say you should write about something you know, and I know quite a bit about Vietnam,” Brundrett said.
Brundrett’s first book, “Vietnam On My Mind”, is a collection of short stories centered on Brundrett’s time in Vietnam and things he experienced firsthand or observed. When writing “Girl from the Racetrack”, he said that he found he had trouble with character dialogue and learning that he could add in information and detail with dialogue, and that he also ran into a problem where he created too many characters, some of which were cut from the final draft.
“I redid, and redid, and redid, and I had people read what I wrote and give me pointers — mainly my wife,” Brundrett said.
With the book finished and published, Brundrett is preparing for a book signing that will be held on Saturday, Oct. 23 beginning at 1 p.m. at Jay and Mary’s Book Center.
“It’s exhilirating — it just feels great. I love to do book signings; it’s so nice to connect with people at these bookstores and especially to get feedback,” Brundrett said. “The main thing, is just the very fun and enjoyment of making a connection with somebody, face-to-face.”
“Girl from the Racetrack” is currently available at Jay and Mary’s Book Center in Troy and at Browse Awhile Books in Tipp City, and will soon to be available online at Amazon and www.orangefrazer.com.