Woman Veteran Author Book Corner Highlight - January 2021
Read the blog about Julia Maki Pyrah, Navy Veteran, Air National Guardsman and her book My Mom Hunts Submarines on VAntage Point!
This month’s author is Navy Veteran, Air National Guardsman Julia Maki Pyrah. Julia served in the Navy as a combat aircrewman aboard P-3C Orions as an Aviation Systems Warfare Operator from the years 1997-2002. After her tour, she left the service to work as a civilian contractor for the Department of the Navy while she and her husband raised their three children. During that period, she wrote four children’s books for military children. Four years ago, she completed her memoir of her time in the Navy called, What They Don’t Teach You in Deer River. Feeling like her service was not yet done, she joined the Air National Guard after a 15-year break in service. This past November her second non-fiction story, Guardians, was released that told the stories of what happened during the DC Riots in June 2020 from a National Guardsman’s perspective.
“When we arrive at my school, Mom kisses me good-bye as she drops me off. I go into my school, and she goes to work on a Navy base. When she gets there, she will fly in a huge, gray airplane called a P-3C Orion. They are as big as a dinosaur!”
This is a story written for young children about a young girl who has a mother in the military. Everything about their day is normal — except when the mother goes off to work, she will fly in planes and hunt for submarines. Sometimes she has to travel and is away for a while, but she will always come home.
Throughout the entire book, the resounding theme is, “If my mom can fly in planes and hunt submarines, there isn’t anything I cannot do!” This is an important message that every child needs to hear.
Julia A. Maki Pyrah grew up in Deer River, MN and enlisted in the Navy as an Aviation Warfare Systems Operator aboard P-3Cs. After the Navy, Julia settled in Maryland with her husband where they both ended up working for the Department of Defense as civilians. They have three children together, which initially inspired her to write children’s books about the military.
Julia now works in Airfield Management in the DC Air National Guard. When she is not writing, raising a family, or working, she finds her passion in volunteering for organizations supporting Veterans. Her published books are: Guardians: Stories of 2020 Civil Unrest in Washington DC, My Mom Hunts Submarines, All Hands on Deck! Dad’s Coming Home, Still My Dad, From the Sky and What They Don’t Teach You in Deer River. You can find more information on Julia at www.juliamaki.com.
What is your full name? Julia Maki Pyrah
What city and state do you reside in? Lusby, MD
What are you doing now, significant moment(s) during your service and other unique information? When I’m not working in the Guard, my current ‘day job’ is engineering support for Foreign Military Sales of the P-8A Poseidon (the successor to the aircraft I used to fly in the Navy)
What was your Military branch, career field, and years of service? Navy 5 years, Aviation Warfare Systems Operator/Air National Guard (current) Airfield Management
What were your tours, deployments, and campaigns (OIF, OEF, Vietnam, Gulf War, etc.)? Bosnia/Kosovo Campaign, Operation Enduring Freedom
What notable commendations did you receive (Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Achieve Medal, Combat Action Achievement, etc.)? Air Medal, Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal
What was your fondest or proudest memory during your military service? The day my dad pinned my Aircrew Wings on me.
What was your inspiration for becoming an author, or writing this book (for instance, a childhood dream, a significant life experience, a person)? I’ve always loved to write stories, since I was a child. When I had my own children, I began telling them stories and finally just put the words to paper.
How has your military experience shaped your creativity or how you express yourself? The military has been the inspiration for my books, as it is such an exceptional lifestyle and career. They things we do and see in the military are things most people would never understand — often this is because of the uniqueness or the even the absurdity of the situations we are placed in. I enjoy bringing that perspective to the rest of the world, and of course adding my touch of awkwardness and humor to these bizarre situations.
What advice would you give other women Veterans who may be considering becoming an author? The sky is the limit and becoming an author is very achievable. The most important thing is to be true to yourself when writing. Find your own writing style and write what you enjoy writing about — otherwise it will not be authentic, and it will not work.
How do you believe that women Veteran authors can be instrumental in shaping society’s understanding of women Veterans’ military experience and their contributions? I believe women Veteran authors can bring an entirely different perspective to the public audience. Women who have served in the military know how to face challenges and overcome adversity. They are forced to grow up very quickly in the military and are often put in situations that intentionally push them to their limits. Many women Veterans have also traveled to different parts of the world and can offer extraordinary insight from an entirely new viewpoint.
What were some of your obstacles and challenges in writing this book? Finding the time to write is often a challenge with a full-time job, kids, husband, and house to take care of. It was necessary to dedicate specific time each day (even if it was just an hour) to write. By doing this, it becomes habit and part of a routine.
What are your recommendations for illustrating, book cover selection, and the publishing process? It is essential to find the proper publisher and process for your book. We are fortunate to live in a time where there are so many options out there right now from traditional, self-publishing, and hybrid versions. All have different pros and cons, so it really comes down to what works best for you and your book.
What is one significant thing we should know about you? I will never say no to an adventure.
How has writing this book helped you? My books have opened many doors and connections with other Veterans that have led to some amazing opportunities such as fundraisers for Veteran supporting organizations.
What is your favorite quote? “What would you do if you knew you would fail? Why aren’t you doing it?” ~unknown
If you could choose one woman from any point in time to share a meal, who would she be? Marina Raskova, the Russian female pilot who formed the 588th Night Bomber Regiment known as the Night Witches. She was a fearless leader that was so ahead of her time. I have to imagine she would have the most amazing stories and inspiring advice.