Meet Brock Deskins
B rock Deskins is a story of Americana. A small-town America boy, who worked on farms, learned hard work and joined the US Army. A tank driver, dental assistant and computer analyst. When you combine these experiences, you get a destructive, analytical, medically skilled dreamer who loves horror, fiction and fantasy.
A Stephen King and John Saul disciple since high school, when hormones and puberty can cause permanent changes to one’s mind, combined with 15 years of military experience and the result is The Sorcerer’s Path series, which made Brock Deskins a top 50 fantasy author on Amazon.
From this very successful, 8-part series, came the Brooklyn Shadows series, the Transcended Chronicles series, The Portal and his current book, Highlords of Phaer: Empire of Masks – Book 1, a new series in the works.
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I was in a small town in Oregon and lived in rural communities all of my life. When I was young, my father got hurt on the job and crawled into a whiskey bottle from which he never emerged. I nearly lost my mother to cancer, a disease that would in a few years take my paternal grandmother as well as my sister thirty-five years later. My parents divorced shortly after the death of my grandmother and I chose to live with my father, despite his alcoholism and violent disposition, until he died when I was 15.
Starting my 8th grade summer, I worked on farms. My first summer job was bucking hay, then moving irrigation pipe, bagging grass seed, driving seed truck, windrowers and combines. After high school, I moved in with a girlfriend near Portland, Oregon and worked as a stocker in a grocery store and later Target. At age 19, I decided that minimum wage work wasn’t for me and entered the delayed entry program. I also, stupidly, married my girlfriend because that’s what I thought normal people did, and since I didn’t consider myself a normal person I tried to fake it. That lasted until I went off to basic training a few months later at age 20.
I enlisted as a M1A1 tank crewman because, as I told the recruiter, I wanted to be kind of hooah, but I disliked the idea of slogging through mud with a ruck on my back. After basic, I shipped off to Wildflecken, Germany, (yes, it is as remote as it sounds) and never saw or spoke to the “wife” again. My first trip to the desert was a short stint in Kuwait shortly after the Gulf War. I went with a unit out of Baumholder, Germany to try to teach Kuwaitis how to drive the tanks we just sold them. When I returned, my enlistment was nearly up. I had my fun, but I was done with armor. Given that I had not really learned a lot of valuable skills as a tank driver, I mentioned my uncertainty about my pending ETS to my section sergeant, who said I should think about reclassing. The thought hadn’t occurred to me.
I needed to learn a skill I could use on the outside. Medical was a good option as people were always getting sick. Nurse was out because I was not keen on changing bed pans. Medic was just infantry with a med bag. For whatever reason, I chose dental specialist. While I had no love for working chairside, I did like the idea of having the option of working in a lab making dentures and crowns. I have always liked working with my hands and creating things. My father once bought me what was called a 160 in 1 kit. It was a circuit board mounted in a wooden box where you could attach wires to complete 160 different circuits that allowed you turn it into various electronic pieces of equipment like a metal detector, radio, and sound amplifier. It was one of those gifts that left a permanent impression on a young mind.
So I am 23 going on 24 now, and I meet an attractive woman just a couple of months before I am to leave Germany. We tried to stay in touch after I left but it did not work. She had seen her share of soldiers leave with no real intention of coming back or even staying in touch and assumed I was just another one. After dental assistant training, I went to Ft. Irwin, Ca, coincidentally, the new home of my very first unit, 2/11 ACR.
I had been there perhaps a year when I get a phone call from Germany. The young woman I left behind had decided to reconnect. I visited her the following Christmas and left quite the gift. I month or two after I returned to Ft. Irwin, she called to let me know shew was pregnant. Being a man of honor and little brain, we were married a month before my son was born.
My next duty took us back to Germany where I worked oral surgery at US army hospital in Wurzburg. During the Kosovo campaign, I deployed for five months to provide dental treatment for soldiers, contractors, foreign military, and local civilians. Despite my high cut-off score, I managed to make sergeant.
Once again deciding that I was in the wrong career, I found myself looking for a change. Computers were becoming ubiquitous in the army, and I have always loved computers. My first computer was a Commodore 64, which I spent an enormous amount of time on as a teen. I was never the shoot em up or jumping puzzle gamer. I preferred RPG’s where I could build a pitiful group of warriors, wizards, and thieves into a near god-like, evil-crushing band of heroes. This only fueled my creative side until it was almost all-consuming. It would also create a separation between me and society, especially my wife and children.
I began reading horror in high school. It started with the Stephen King short stories found in Skeleton Crew, Night shift, and Nightmares and Dreamscapes. That evolved into full-length novels by John Saul and others. The first fantasy book I read was Stephen King’s Eye of the Dragon. That book so captivated me that I became a voracious reader of fantasy. I cannot saw for certain how many Dragon Lance, Forgotten Realms, and other fantasy books I’ve read over the years, but it is in the hundreds. If I wasn’t working or playing a computer game, I was reading.
In 2000, I went back to school and became a computer analyst. I had finally found my calling. I got to spend all day tinkering with computers and returning them to life after they died and I was damned good at it. I was promoted to Staff Sergeant almost immediately. While I was an excellent automations specialist, my introverted personality held me back from being an equally exceptional leader. I was adequate, better than some I’d known, but adequate was not something I or some of my superiors found acceptable. I had my critics, and it created some contention in my life.
While attending BNCOC (Basic Non-Commissioned Officer’s Academy), two major life events occurred. My daughter was born, and some terrorists flew airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I sat in the day room with my classmates, stone-faced while others wept. I immediately that we were at war. I was going to war.
My turn to see combat came January, 2004. I was supposed to be in Germany assigned to an aviation unit, but our rotation put a stop to my relocation. My wife was furious. If I was going to be gone for an entire year, she wanted to be with her family in Germany. It was not going to happen, and her unhappiness was of course my unhappiness. But I am nothing if not stoic. One of my greatest skills is ignoring any challenge life throws at me, often by losing myself in my work or hobbies. Off to Iraq I went.
The first few months were arduous. Eighteen hours a day, seven days a week trying to get computers, servers, network encryption set up for thousands of users. As we got the network established, life became routine. People whined about slow internet and Iraqis played an unending game of ‘Whack a’ Mole” with us using rockets and mortars instead of a mallet. The incoming bombardments were predictable and became part of the background noise with the exception of one horrific night when the enemy got lucky and some people close to me had their luck run out.
I returned to Ft. Hood, Texas January, 2005 and rejoined my family…as much as my social dysfunction allowed me to. I don’t know if my emotional distancing grew worse during my deployment, but it certainly did not improve. We finally got back to Germany, what my wife wanted, only I hadn’t understood the real reason for her desire to return at the time.
We tried to repair the cracks in our marriage, or at least she did. By the time I understood how damaged that foundation was, all the repairs I tried to make had come too late. She was in a place where she felt safe, but I was anything but. A lifetime of ignored wounds opened up. In one fell swoop, I lost my family, my career, and whatever self-respect I had. I prayed for death, and when my prayers went unanswered, I took matters into my own hands. Like my marriage and career, I failed in that as well.
The army sent me back to the states, dropped me off at the curb, and said “good luck.” After more than 15 years of service and ten years of marriage, I had nothing. Nothing but my imagination and a penchant for putting things together. As I stood and looked at the rubble that had become of my life I realized I had two choices: sit and wallow in my own misery or pick up the pieces of my shattered life and put it back together again. Like that old 160 in 1 kit, I grabbed at my loose and frayed wires, and began plugging them in to see what I could make.
I sat at my computer and started typing out a story, determined to do something with my time other than pissing it away. In one year I wrote the first four books of my Sorcerer’s Path series and The Portal. With no internet and just a high school-level grasp of English and grammar, I read books I liked and used the library’s encyclopedias and resources to make my “books” look as much as the works of those authors whom I idolized. I dusted off my GI Bill and put it to work, going to school to get a degree in Network administration.
I sent of a few query letters to publishers and agents, but was rejected. This was 2010, and Amazon was just opening up a new way for writers to get published. I read and reread my books while I continued working on the sequels. I uploaded my first four books and, surprisingly, they took off despite my obvious lack of experience, horrible book covers, and inadequate editing. I earned my degree, but my books sales showed that I might not need it. My sales were enough to generate a livable income. I even managed to buy a cheap home in a small town nestled in the mountains of western Oregon.
I hired a cover artist to make me all new covers and my sales improved even more. A short time later, I employed an editor, at great expense, to go through my entire library and fix what I could not. It took almost three years, but she did it. Now that the freshness of self-publishing has worn off and the pond has become over-flowing with aspiring writers, I once again am forced to adapt and invest in myself. If I am not willing to invest in myself, why should my readers? I have hired a webpage designer and marketer to help guide me to the highest level of my craft.
My life and my work has been a journey, and I invite you to come along for the ride.