On the eve of Left Behind being released, I wanted to take a moment and talk about Mike.
I think Mike is one of my most favorite characters to write. Of all the characters, he is perhaps the most mysterious to me. I am still learning things about him and as I explore more of what makes him tick, I’m rediscovering why I adore him.
Which makes Left Behind particularly difficult.
Mike is a Soldier, but he is also a father and husband. His commitment to his family isn’t something he would ever willingly leave behind, but in life, things don’t always work out as you hoped.
Realistically, Mike wouldn’t have been deployed with a wife that was so sick. He also would never have been made to serve under someone who had tormented him like Nick had.
But, this is fiction, and I had to send Mike away. I didn’t know what the outcome would be, as it began as a move to push Bill into some harsh realizations about his own life. Not being able to serve overseas with Mike destroyed something in Bill. Not because he wanted to leave his family, but because Mike was his brother and they had never served without each other.
It also reeked of something nefarious and Bill hated that. He couldn’t lose Mike.
None of them could.
For Jade, being a single mother to twins was never in the picture. She wanted Mike to be by her side through it all. She loved him and he loved her. They had worked so hard to get to this point in their lives and now it was blow apart.
I decided to prepare for the release of book 19 by sitting down one on one with Mike. He deserved some time. He deserves so much more. I can’t wait to share Left Behind with all of you.
Interviewer: What made you join the Army?
My dad and my grandpa were in the Army. My dad was killed during the first gulf war in 1991, when I was 11. After September 11 happened, I knew I wanted to join up. My mom was really supportive, but I knew how scared she was. It had been just her and I for a long time and I worried about her a lot.
Interviewer: Who inspires you? Who do you aspire to be like?
The Sergeant, or Bill, inspires me. I always wanted to be able to balance being a soldier and being a husband and father like he does. My wife also inspires me. She has taken on a lot simply by loving me and I hope she knows how important she is to me.
Interviewer: What was the last book you read without skipping through anything?
I love to read. I think it was Stephen King’s memoir. I also love reading what my kids are reading, although Eden has some strange tastes. Sara is more my reading style. (he laughs).
Interviewer: If you could trade lives with one person for an entire day who would it be and why?
Jack. I wonder what it would be like to be able to have my hands in someone’s chest and fix hearts. It must be quite amazing.
Interviewer: Nothing about his looks? (Smiles)
Well I thought I was pretty okay, but now I feel self conscious. (laughing)
Interviewer: Shark diving, bungee jumping, or sky diving?
Well I’ve been sky diving, sort of, when I had to propel out of a helicopter, so maybe none of those? I think maybe I’ll stay on the ground this time.
Interviewer: Do you have a sweet tooth or a savory tooth?
Savory, definitely. I love a good steak and potatoes.
Interviewer: What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Eden and Sara and Jimmy. I can’t really claim Jimmy, but I will always think of him as a part of me.
Interviewer: Where is your favorite place to go on a weekday afternoon when you have no plans or obligations?
Home and spend time with my girls. I never had that before. I don’t need to go anywhere to find comfort. I just want to be home with my family.
Interviewer: What drives you to do what you do? What motivates you?
Safety. Duty. Country. Being where I have and seeing the ways other people live has made me very appreciative of the freedoms I fight for. I think everyone should have the ability to live the life they want, regardless of where they are born.
Interviewer: Who was someone you really looked up to when you were little — someone you considered to be a mentor?
My mom. She raised me while my dad was overseas and she held down a full time job and never missed anything I did. She was my best friend and always made sure the presence of my dad was all around us.
Interviewer: Can we bring your wife in for a bit?
Of course! She’s much better to talk to, anyway.
(Jade comes in and sits next to him)
Interviewer: What qualities does your mate possess that are important to you? why?
Mike: She is honest and caring and beautiful both inside and out. She is simply the best person I know.
Jade: He loves me unconditionally. I can’t explain what that means to me.
Interviewer: Has religion played a role in your marriage and raising your children?
Jade: It has. Mike has allowed me to create traditions I never had growing up and being able to give those traditions to our daughters is so important.
Mike smiling: Allowed?
Jade: You know what I mean. We have made traditions together and I adore them. I want our girls to know their faith and when they are 13, I can’t wait for them to become Bat Mitzvahs.
Interviewer: How do you deal with conflict in your marriage?
Mike: She is always right.
Jade: He’s correct.
Interviewer: How do you keep your romance alive?
Jade: He is always romancing me. He tells me how much he loves me and he brings me gifts all the time.
Mike: She stays with me. That’s pretty romantic.
Jade rolls her eyes.
Interviewer: Your daughters are here now, too. Can we talk with them?
Mike and Jade: Sure
(The girls come in and sit between their parents)
Interviewer: At what age is a person an adult? Why do you think so?
Eden: 25 because that’s a quarter way to 100.
Sara: 21 because then they can buy alcohol.
Mike looks at his daughter.
Mike: Sara, who told you that?
Jade smiled and patted Mike’s leg.
Interviewer: What is something that makes your family special?
Sara: We’re twins, so that’s special.
Eden: We have a brother who isn’t our brother. That’s cool, too.
Interviewer: Of all the things you are learning, what do you think will be the most useful when you are an adult?
Sara: How to cook. I need to be able to feed myself when I live alone.
Eden: You won’t live alone. We’ll always live together.
Interviewer: If you could give one gift to every single child in the world, what gift would you give?
Sara: To have a mommy and daddy who loves them like we have.
Eden: To have a pet. It’s important.
Thanks girls. I’d like to talk to your parent’s alone again for a few minutes.
The twins left and Mike and Jade smiled.
Interviewer: They are remarkable girls. You must be really proud.
Mike: More than I can ever say.
Jade smiled, wiping her tears.
Mike: You okay?
She took his hand and nodded.
Interviewer: As you get ready to leave for your deployment, what do you want your wife to know?
Mike: That I will do everything in my power to come home to you. This life and this home we’ve built over the years is everything to me. I simply adore you.
Jade: You are my everything. We will be waiting for you, always.