David L. Haase is a former journalist who got his start as a free-lancer covering the war in Viet-Nam. He helped produce the Watergate hearings on public TV; won awards for uncovering corruption in state prisons and for documenting the failure of a public education system; traveled the campaign trail with presidential candidates and spoke about freedom of the press in Eastern European countries as communism fell. In the mid-1990s, he wrote a pioneering column about the new Internet technology before blogs were ever created.
Newly retired, he’s turned his reporter’s eye to fiction, scifi and supernatural adventure stories. But first, he had to write his story, of growing up in a combat zone.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I had the rare experience of being a draft-age American male in Viet Nam during the war ... and I got kicked out of the country. That was probably every draftee's wildest dream.
I really wanted to be there, however. I had made arrangements to study at the Buddhist University in Saigon, and when I got booted out, all my plans -- and a ton of work by a lot of people -- just trickled down the drain.
HOTEL CONSTELLATION: Notes from America's Secret War in Laos is the story of the next two years of my life as I stumbled on the secret war between the U.S. was waging in Laos, right next door to Viet Nam.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
A. Oh, I farmed it out to a bunch of agents, including one who had expressed an interest in it at a pitchfest I attended. No one “believed” in it enough to take it on. This was all before Ken Burns’ Viet Nam documentary came out. Then I thought, What the hell. Maybe you’ll sell a few copies beyond the family and friends and recoup the cost. If it does, it does; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It’s not that big an investment of cash.
It’s a good story, and one that Ken Burns didn’t touch one, this secret war in Laos and the U.S. government’s efforts to keep it secret.
Expelled from Viet Nam in 1970, college student David L. Haase stumbles upon the CIA’s secret war next door in Laos. For two years, he witnesses the unraveling tragedy, takes notes and does his best to grow up.