Life on Base: Quantico Cave
by Tom & Nancy Wise
: Koehler Books
Publication Date: December 23rd 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult


For Stephen, his life on base is much the same as most other children’s. The difference is in the details. Look both ways before crossing a tank path and be sure to check if the spent bullet casings you find in the long-abandoned trenches are actually empty. Sports stop at the sound of the evening trumpet call as he and his friends stand at attention while the flag is retired. Quantico Cave is a story of friendship and competition, and when Stephen meets up with a friend he once knew at a previous home station, the contest hits a whole new level that places everyone at risk.

Q&A with the Author

  • Can you tell us a bit about your background?

We were both raised by veterans. However, Tom grew up living on military bases. Nancy’s father was in the Army and fought in the islands during WWII while Tom’s was in the Marine Corp and fought in Vietnam.


  • Where and when did your writing journey begin?

When our children were young one of the activities, we enjoyed the most was telling stories around a campfire. We would all take turns telling stories in the dark and trying to scare each other, but with a whimsical, humorous twist that in the end would reveal the wasn’t scary at all. The kids always encouraged us to write the stories down, and so one day we decided to begin writing books.


  • Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing?

Tom always enjoyed historical fiction, which is probably why our stories are rooted in reality. Nancy, on the other hand, liked Anne McCaffrey, which gives the story that fantasy feel.


  • What does a typical day in your life look like? And how does your writing routine fit into your day?

The day job always gets in the way, so the writing time comes early, around five in the morning. Our collaboration time is generally on the weekends when we can hide away for a couple of hours to go over the stories and make adjustments.


  • How did you come up with the idea for your novel?

Life On Base: Quantico Cave relies on the experiences of growing up in a military on the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia. The entire story is rooted in real events, but of course mixed with a good bit of fictional liberty.


  • What do you think sets your novel apart from others current on the shelves?

Most stories of military families tend to focus on the challenges of separation and are mostly biographical. We wanted a story that tells of their lives on base without focusing so much on the obvious problems of deployment. Life On Base is about their daily life.

Millions of children have the experience of living in families with at least one family member serving in the armed forces. We wanted to tell their story in a way that everyone can relate. While the details of life as a Military BRAT differ from the rest of the world, their challenges are much the same.


  • Which character in your book is your favorite and how much of yourself is reflected in that character?

Tom’s favorite character is probably Jimmy, Stephen’s best friend. Despite the pain of Jimmy’s early life, he is so upbeat and enthusiastic in every activity. The characters pull together the elements of different personalities, so no one person is exactly like the characters. But if we had to choose, Tom is most like Stephen, very steady.



  • Which scenes in your book did you have the most fun writing?

I think the scene that was most fun to write was the King of the Hill battle over the dirt mound at the home construction site. Probably because kids love dirt and in that scene, a lot of dirt was flying. It also provided an opportunity to tell a lot more about Jay, giving her a chance to shine.


  • What do you hope for your readers to take away after reading your book?

We wanted to show what life on base is like for children and families that will never have the opportunity to see the daily living of a military family. Spouses and children of service members seem to get lost in the conversation, but they too serve with dedication and honor. The story also addresses many of the challenges all children face. Life On Base deals with problems such as bullying and competition in a constructive and hopeful way.


  • What are your hopes for this novel?

We hope that everyone will take a few hours to read Life On Base and come to know the families of those that serve in the armed forces. Traditionally and with love, the children and spouse of military members are called by the name BRAT. BRAT’s are now called America’s Third Culture. We want the culture to become known and understood to the rest of us.



  • What do you have in store next for your readers?

We are currently in the middle of a Life On Base book two. This story is focused more on Stephen’s sister Lori and brings in many of the animals that also serve in the military.






About the Author

Tom and Nancy Wise are award-winning authors. Their first novel, The Borealis Genome, is the grand- prize winner of the Chanticleer Book Reviews Dante Rossetti 2013 Award for YA Novels and 2014 Cygnus Award Lab Lit Category. Thomas grew up in a military family moving from base to base as the child of a Marine, living the life of an officer’s brat in times of war while Nancy was raised the youngest child of a WWII veteran. When not working together on their novels, Tom teaches at University and authors articles on project management topics and nonfiction books published by Gower Publishing in the UK.


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