Photo by Jean Pieri
In stores November 26
E-book available early December
Chuck Logan was a war baby, born in Chicago a week after the Battle of Midway in June 1942. He knows little about his father. His parents split up when he was an infant. He knows his father’s real name was Utecht, that he was a professional boxer, trainer and promoter in Chicago and that he took Logan as a ring name. According to the family story, his mom was not real comfortable with her husband's drinking and his involvement with “colorful” elements around the fight game.
Chuck’s mom encouraged him to read and draw and hoped he'd become an artist. In 1950-51 she enrolled him as a 3rd grade cadet at Georgia Military Academy in College Park, Georgia. Memories from GMA include one 8-year-old classmate crying himself to sleep when his dad was killed in Korea. He also recalls teaching himself to draw copying Joe and Willie out of Bill Mauldin's classic book of WW II cartoons, Up Front.
Chuck’s mother decided to move from Michigan to Arizona in July 1953. Driving during a rainstorm near Marion, Kentucky, the car swerved on slick pavement, went off the road and hit a guardrail next to a swamp. The backseat was stacked with heavy boxes of Encyclopaedias and Logan's Junior Classics. The books drove the seats forward. Logan's mom hit the steering column with great force and was killed. He was catapulted through the windshield into the muddy water where he fortunately landed on his back. Battered from the impact, choking on his blood and unable to move, he survived by regulating his breathing to remain afloat until help arrived. Logan carries the crude tattoo — 777 — on his left forearm as a reminder of that night; July 7th, 7:00 pm.
Chuck spent 3 years living with an aunt and uncle in Inspiration, Bowie and Superior, Arizona. Then he was shifted to another aunt for high school in Warren, Michigan, a blue-collar suburb of Detroit. It was the first time he’d ever spent more than one year in the same school. He was not allowed to play sports because athletic ability had been his dad's downfall. Obedient to his guardian's wishes, he attended her non- denominational, fundamentalist church four times a week for four years. The night he turned 18, he walked.
Chuck attended Monteith College, part of Wayne State University in Detroit. Monteith offered an experimental curriculum funded by the Ford Foundation whose mission was to expose a random sample of Michigan students to a highly accelerated liberal arts program. Wayne State had a nationally ranked debate squad and fencing team. Logan was kicked off both of them for drinking.
He then self-matriculated into Detroit's auto factories, police rosters and bars until he volunteered for the draft in 1967. (Ethical dilemma: against the war, didn't want someone else going in his place.)
In 1968, he volunteered for the paratroops, a sure ticket to Vietnam, and served 13 months carrying the radio for several small advisory teams, mainly in Dong Ha District in northern Quang Tri Province. He came home with a Combat Infantry Badge and a Bronze Star with V device.
PFC Chuck Logan, an RTO, on operations
in northern Quang Tri Province, 1968
In 1969, Chuck migrated to Minnesota where he drew cartoons in the antiwar vets movement and finally sobered up. In 1975 he was hired as a staff artist at the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In 1985 he started writing under the mentorship of Executive Editor Deborah Howell. His Detroit novel and his Vietnam novel didn't sell. His hunting buddy John Camp (Sandford), a reporter in the St. Paul newsroom whose crime novels (written under the name John Sandford) were taking up permanent residence on the best seller list, suggested that Logan back off the ponderous literary stuff and write a thriller.
Logan published his first book, Hunter's Moon in 1996. He hasn't had a drink in 37 years, is married (for the third time; he has a son in Michigan from a previous marriage) and lives with his wife and daughter in Stillwater, Minnesota. His first four novels received consecutive starred reviews in Publisher's Weekly, which also called his novel, After the Rain -- the fifth featuring protagonist Phil Broker — "An unbeatable combination: a smart, well-honed plot, fascinating characters and a writer with an original voice and the prose skills to tie it all together."
His last book, the stand-alone South of Shiloh, received a starred review in Library Journal, which called the novel "a tightly woven, low-key thriller that is fascinating for its historical theme, attention to detail, and analysis of the opposing psyches of North and South. An intensely gripping story of greed, manipulation, family dysfunction and murder; highly recommended."
Chuck Logan and John Sandford, Boundary Waters, 1999
Logan's new stand-alone book, Fallen Angel, involves a female army helicopter pilot, wounded in Iraq, who is dealing with issues from Traumatic Brain Injury. In the midst of her physical and psychological trauma highly placed people are out to get her because of something she witnessed when she was wounded. The problem is she can't remember what she saw. The book did not find a home in traditional publishing and Logan was advised to set it aside and move on. Then Sylvester Stallone and Millennium Pictures re-optioned Logan's Homefront and green-lighted a feature film. (See Movie Talk.) Now Fallen Angel will be published in eBook format to coincide with the movie release this year on November 27.
Chuck, age 8, Georgia Military Academy,
College Park, GA, 1950