Two weeks ago, I posted this picture on my Facebook page. (You can thank me again later, dearest reader Karen)
The wounded warrior in the picture is Brian Taylor “BT” Urruela, taken by photographer Michael Stokes, and he serves as visual inspiration for the character of Joe Birnam in AWAKENING MACBETH, my romantic thriller with a paranormal twist.
Related: Read Chapter 1 of AWAKENING MACBETH
Like Joe Birnam in AWAKENING MACBETH, BT Urruela was a sergeant in Iraq when his armored vehicle was hit with an IED, resulting in the loss of a leg below the knee. Urruela’s commander was killed and members of his team lost limbs as well. Suffering from PTSD and depression, Urruela turned to his love of sports–notably baseball–to recover. Fictional warrior Joe Birnam used swimming and water polo to do the same.
Urruela started VETSports, a non-profit organization that provides physical, emotional and psychological rehabilitation through adaptive sports as well as helping wounded and combat vets reintegrate into civilian roles. PEOPLE magzine readers in 2016 voted him one of 30 everyday heroes recognized by Major League Baseball s Tribute for Heroes and Urruela was also recognized with Rare Media’s Under 40 award. Beyond his sports rehabilitation organization, today Urruela is a model, student, fitness trainer, and budding fiction author. The video clip below is from a 2014 PBS special about him.
AWAKENING MACBETH was written, and the character of Joe Birnam created, before I ever saw the provocative yet powerful picture of Urruela. Both the real and the fictional wounded warrior have stories that capture the imagination and the heart.
When Brodie discovers the shocking supernatural cause of her nightmares, it imperils not only her relationship with Joe, but both their lives. The author expertly interweaves historical facts, drawn from the books Brodie is reading, into the character’s bad dreams.
Both Brodie and Joe are relatable characters; indeed, he’s so perfectly flawed that many readers will fall in love with him, too.
A suspenseful, page-turning paranormal romance — KIRKUS REVIEWS
While I hope readers enjoy AWAKENING MACBETH and its story of love versus evil, my greater hope is that we all support our wounded warriors and salute their sacrifice and service.