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Dead Six
While deployed to Afghanistan in December 2011, Staff Sgt. Mike Kupari, 419th Explosive Ordnance Disposal, poses with a copy of the book he cowrote with best-selling author Larry Correia. (Courtesy photo)
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Reservist, best-selling author team up for action-thriller

Posted 3/12/2012   Updated 3/12/2012 Email story   Print story

    


by Bryan Magaña
419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


3/12/2012 - HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- During his six-month deployment to Afghanistan last year, Staff Sgt. Mike Kupari, 419th Explosive Ordnance Disposal, was waiting for a package. Not a care package from family or friends, or the explosive kind EOD experts are trained to detonate, but one from coauthor Larry Correia that contained Dead Six, an action-thriller novel with Kupari's name on the cover.

The paperback marked the end of a three-year process that began when Correia, now a New York Times best-selling author, read some freelance fiction Kupari had posted online. He asked the reservist if they could team up to bring new dimensions to the story's characters. The joint effort became a hit with readers and Correia pushed Kupari to publish.

"At first, I was writing for fun," Kupari said. "I had no intention of trying to get it published, but it just took off. Three years later, here I am."

The story is set in Southwest Asia where Kupari's character, Valentine, a veteran and former member of an elite private military company, crosses paths with nemesis Lorenzo, whose scenes were written by Correia.

"It's the story of a man who's pushed to the brink, trying to survive when the odds are stacked against him," Kupari said. "It's very much a story of redemption for both characters."

After a year of writing, Kupari finished his part of the novel while attending EOD school. Between classes and corresponding with Correia via phone and email, Kupari pounded out prose every spare moment he had. Upon returning to Hill AFB and while serving on seasoning training for a year, the Airmen polished the product with editing, rewriting and lots of research.

As a former combat engineer with Michigan's Army National Guard, Kupari had plenty of military experience to pull from. While the Guard gave him a basic knowledge of tactics and weapons, he said joining and deploying with the Air Force Reserve added a new level of real-world experience to his writing.

"My deployment drove home some of the character development I was trying to wrap my brain around," he said. "It's important when you're writing about war to experience it first-hand."

Correia said Kupari's expertise lent credibility to the story.

"Mike's military experience was invaluable," Correia said. "An author who hasn't served is going to have a much more difficult time sounding authentic, especially to military readers."

Some of Kupari's deployed counterparts might even show up in his writing, which he said reflects aspects of real life. Although Valentine is based mostly on veterans Kupari met while working overseas, he sees a little bit of himself in the protagonist.

"We're both Air Force, both left-handed, both shoot .44 Magnum revolvers."

Kupari's deployment and military experience also gave him plenty of ammunition for his next two novels. The coauthors have a contract with Baen Books to complete the Dead Six series, he said.

"I never thought I'd be published, but the book is in print and people are actually buying it," Kupari said. "There are a lot of people who never quite make it, people who have good ideas but don't believe they're good enough, and I overcame all of that."

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tabComments
3/22/2012 7:07:31 AM ET
Fantastic book I read it last year in about 2 days.
Motor-T, Camp Eggers Afghanistan
 
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