MEDIA KITS: adding Q&A supplements by Rick Pyves

A media kit is a useful promotional tool that adds more impact to any promotions you use. Create a media kit including important information such as:

  • A short description about your book
  • Details about its availability: where, when available, cost, etc.
  • A Q&A section will enhance your promotional message

Rick Pyves, Canadian author of numerous acclaimed publications, suggests that the addition of a Q&A section to your media kit can be an opportunity for you to focus your book promotion. It also is a practical and convenient way to explain your book and convey your personal message about it.

Below are two shortened examples Rick Pyves has made available in regard to Q&A supplements to help you develop one for your book media kit.

 

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Courage, Sacrifice and Betrayal: The Story of the Victoria Rifles of Canada – 60th Battalion in the First World War

 

Courage, Sacrifice and Betrayal Questions & Answers

  1. Where did the idea for Courage, Sacrifice and Betrayal come from?

Fifty years ago my grandfather Edward Lewis Pyves (Military Medal) who had served with the 60th Battalion in WWI gave me his copy of the “Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War” by Colonel G.W.L. Nicholson. This book stimulated my interest to learn more about the role that my grandfather had played in this world conflict and ultimately to write the history of his battalion.

Initially my intention was to only write about the exploits of my grandfather and his brother Stanley but I soon discovered that no official history of the 60th Battalion had been written at the time so I decided to take a step backwards and write the story of the 60th Battalion including researching all of the 2,776 soldiers who had served in France and Belgium.

  1. What is Courage, Sacrifice and Betrayal about?

The book is a microcosm of the countless sad, heroic, and everyday experiences of Canadian front line battalions that fought in WWI. It provides a detailed account of the day-to-day operations of the 60th Battalion and the lives of its many soldiers including the Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick Arthur de Long Gascoigne and my grandfather Sergeant Edward Pyves as well as A.Y. Jackson future Group of Seven Artist.

  1. Where did the 60th Battalion serve in WWI?

The battalion served in Belgium and France with engagements in the Ypres Salient at Sanctuary Wood and Hill 60 and in the Somme at Zollern Graben and Regina Trenches as well as at Thelus and La Chaudiere and at Vimy Ridge.

The 60th Battalion actually captured the villages of Vimy and Petit Vimy on day two of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

  1. How is Courage, Sacrifice and Betrayal different from other published battalion histories?

The key differentiator from other battalion histories is the extensive use of the 60th Battalion soldier’s personal recollections and letters to allow the reader to experience the war through the eyes and words of the soldiers themselves.

In contacting some 2,500 living relatives of the soldiers through Ancestry, I was able to uncover some 86 personal recollections and letters as well as over 200 photos of individual soldiers taken over 100 years ago

Personal recollections included the Battle of Vimy Ridge, the battalion’s first appearance in the front lines in the Ypres Salient, a personal recollection of the Battle of Sanctuary Wood by A.Y. Jackson when the battalion suffered 300 casualties and a personal recollection of a mortar officer caught in the German attack on Hill 60 to mention a few.

  1. What is the significance of the book title Courage, Sacrifice and Betrayal?

Courage: Twenty-six of the 60th Battalion soldiers were decorated for bravery in the field including my grandfather Sergeant Edward Pyves (Military Medal) with an additional 31 former 60th Battalion soldiers decorated after the battalion’s breakup in April 1917.

Sacrifice: 328 soldiers from the 60th Battalion made the supreme sacrifice with an additional 271 killed in action after April 1917.

Betrayal: The 60th Battalion was only one of four front line battalions that were broken up after the Battle of Vimy Ridge due to politics and regional rivalries amongst the various Canadian provinces. It was a betrayal to the men of the 60th Battalion who had made the supreme sacrifice and to the hundreds of wounded men who had fought so gallantly in the field in 1916 and 1917.

  1. What did you hope to accomplish in writing Courage, Sacrifice and Betrayal?

First of all I wanted to provide recognition to all of the individuals who had served so courageously in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in WWI and to the men of the 6oth Battalion.

Secondly I wanted to document the history of the Victoria Rifles of Canada – 60th Battalion in WWI while it was still possible to reach out to living relatives of the soldiers to obtain the soldier’s stories and personal recollections while it was still possible to do so.

  1. What were the Canadian Expeditionary Force’s losses in WWI?

Approximately 615,000 soldiers served with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces during WWI with 172,000 (28%) wounded or gassed with an additional 56,638 (9.2%) killed in action. By comparison of the 2,776 men who had served with the 60th Battalion, by the end of the war 1,434 (51.7%) were wounded or gassed with an additional 599 (21.6%) soldiers killed in action.

  1. What was the structure of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) in WWI?

The CEF was comprised of 4 front line Infantry Divisions in addition to Artillery, Cavalry, Engineers, a Machine Gun Corps, a Medical Corp, an Army Service Corps, Railway Troops, and Labour, Forestry and Signal Companies.

 

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Questions & Answers Re “Night Madness”

Q1. What is Night Madness about?

A1.  Night Madness is really three stories woven together.

        The first story is about a long-distance love affair captured in daily correspondence between two teenagers, Kay Eason (18 years old) and Ron Pyves (19 years old) set against the backdrop of World War II – they met only weeks before Ron went overseas.

        The second story chronicles the incredible story of Ron Pyves, a teenager who fought as a tail-gunner over the war torn skies of Europe during the last deadly months of the bomber campaign to defeat Hitler. Beating all odds, Ron survives 35 combat missions physically intact, only to face a new battle with Post Traumatic Stress disorder brought on by his wartime experiences including his participation in the bombing of Dresden.

        The third story is about the impact of war on the youth who served overseas including the difficulties for combat personnel suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to obtain timely financial and medical assistance to help them recover.

 

Q2.  Why did you write Night Madness?

A2.  The idea for Night Madness came about when just after the death of my mother in December 2007, I discovered, 230 letters between Ron and Kay as well as letters from Ron to his parents, which provided a new eye-witness account to the air war in Europe and the home front in Montreal. In total there were over 650 pages of correspondence spanning 1944-1945 with only one page missing.

         I was also very frustrated by my father’s early demise at age 62 and wanted to better understand why it had happened and how could it have been prevented if we had all been better informed about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

 

Q3. What roles to you think the letters played in helping your father to survive his tour of duty?

A3.  Although Ron had fallen in love with a woman he had only dated three times before going overseas, it was Kay’s letters that provided his anchor of sanity in a world gone mad and his true love. Without that relationship, I’m not sure that he would have made it safely through his tour of duty.

 

Q4.  Why did you call your book Night Madness?

A4.  The majority of my father’s combat missions were conducted in the nighttime when the bomber war over the target with flashes from flak, the brilliant light from probing searchlights, multi-coloured target indicators and bomb explosions created a chaotic, nightmarish environment for the bomber crews as well as those on the ground.

         In addition, after the war, my father suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is a mental illness that was not well understood at the time – so I thought Night Madness reflected the confluence of these factors.

 

Q5.    What do you want to achieve with Night Madness?

A5.     Having lived with an individual who has experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I hope that my father’s story in Night Madness will help other individuals who may be in a similar situation to recognize the symptoms of PTSD and ask for help.

            I also hope that Night Madness may influence the government to be more diligent about the services and financial support that we provide to our first responders be they policeman, firemen, paramedics or military personnel who suffer operational stress injuries such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well as help for their families. It shouldn’t take years for an individual’s claims for assistance or disability pension requests to be heard and resolved in a fair and respectful manner.       

           Finally I wanted to provide recognition for all of the individuals who served so courageously in Bomber Command both on the ground and in the air during World War II by including in Night Madness, the missions that the RCAF flew on in the last seven months of the air war over Europe.

 

Q6.  What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and what are the key symptoms of this disorder?

A6.  First I must qualify that I am not a medical practitioner so my response is based on research, which I did in writing Night Madness.

        When individuals either experience or witness an actual or potential life-threatening event, they have built-in defense mechanisms which help them to cope when the experience is too difficult to be processed either emotionally or cognitively.

        The individual may unconsciously repress the memories of the dramatic event as well as try to avoid situations or stimuli which would lead to re-experiencing the original trauma. The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms may appear shortly after the incident or in the case of some war veterans it may take decades before they become acute.

         Some individuals become depressed and like my father’s experiences in Night Madness, may try to commit suicide or take drugs such as alcohol to self-medicate away their anxiety and depression.

        It is important to understand that PTSD does not discriminate based on race, religion, sex or rank (Romeo Dallaire) and that the most important thing that an individual can do is to recognize that they have a problem and seek help.

 

Q7.   Is there a cure for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

A7.   First I must qualify that I am not a qualified medical practitioner so my response is based on what I discovered in doing research for Night Madness. The first thing I would say is seek professional medical help. The symptoms of PTSD can be treated successfully.

  • The sooner that PTSD can be diagnosed the better chance of treating the patient.
  • For active military personnel one of the most important factors for recovery is the amount of positive support that the individual receives from his peers and unit.
  • Treatments for PTSD include the use of support groups, medications and Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, which may include helping the patient re-live parts of their traumatic experience in a supervised environment.

 

Q8.  What is the incidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Canadian Forces?

A8.  The first quantitative study was commissioned by the Canadian Forces in 2002. The study known as, The Canadian Forces 2002 Canadian Community Heath Survey Supplement was conducted amongst both Regular and Reserve Forces who were still serving. Key findings included:

  • The lifetime incidence level of PTSD amongst Regular Forces who had

            been deployed three or more times was 10.3% or roughly 35% higher

            than the general civilian population.

  • Lifetime PTSD (7.2%) was the fourth most prevalent mental illness behind depression (16.2%), social phobia (8.7%).and alcohol dependence (8.5%).

 

  • Less than 25% of Regular Forces personnel suffering from one or more

            mental illnesses felt that their needs had been met with respect to mental

            health services.

More recent data would suggest that between 15 to 20 percent of Canadian Forces Members deployed return suffering from PTSD. Source: Canadian Military Ombudsman.

 

         My father was particularly impacted by his bombing mission to Dresden described in Night Madness when a rare fire storm resulted in the death of 25,000 individuals in one 24 hour period (February 13-14, 1945).

 

Q9. Where was Bomber Command located?

A9. Headquarters for Bomber Command commanded by Sir Arthur (Bomber) Harris was located five miles from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, which was about 29 miles northwest of Charring Cross, London.

Headquarters for Bomber Group 6 commanded by Air Vice Marshall C.M. (Black) McEwen was located at Allerton Park Castle in North Yorkshire about 14 miles west of York. Bomber Group 6 reported to High Wycombe.

 

Q10.  Was the bombing of Dresden necessary?

A10.  Although Dresden, the seventh largest city in Germany was a city of beauty and culture with many historic buildings and structures, the reality was that it was also a key war manufacturing centre with over 110 factories employing at least 50,000 individuals in various war industries including:

  • Aircraft components factories
  • Poison gas factory (Chemische Fabrik Goye)
  • Munitions
  • Antiaircraft Guns (Lehman)
  • Field Guns (Lehman)
  • Precision optical goods (Zeiss Ikon)

Dresden was also a key communications and transportation centre on the eastern front. Dozens of German Divisions were scheduled to pass through the city on their way to the eastern front to answer the Russian threat of invasion.

I personally believe that Dresden given its importance to the German war effort was a legitimate target. Tragically the creation of the firestorm and the lack of public shelters combined to take an unusual death toll on the inhabitants of Dresden with 25,000 killed and 78,000 dwellings completely destroyed.

Q11. What is your opinion of Bomber Harris?

A11. It is important to understand that the British Policy to adapt strategic area bombing of German industrial areas rather than against specific factories was proposed by Air Chief Marshall, Charles Portal. Due to the inefficiency of daylight bombing he also recommended area bombing by night and appointed Bomber Harris to command Bomber Command to implement his policies.

Bomber Harris (Sir Arthur Harris) very effectively carried out the area bombing mandate and despite horrendous losses was highly respected by the aircrew that had to carry out the nightly death defying missions.

I believe that Bomber Harris was very focused on the destruction of major German industrial cities and in key transportation centers and oil production facilities and that he did his job well.

 It is unfortunate that several proponents of area bombing, including Winston Churchill, tried to distance themselves from the Bomber Command accomplishments in the late stages of the bombing campaign and that Bomber Harris was not recognized for his accomplishments after the war as was the case for the commanders of the other services. It wasn’t until 37 years after war end that a statue honouring Sir Arthur “Bomber Harris” was finally unveiled in London.

 

Q12.  What were the RCAF Bomber Command losses in World War II?

A12.  Over 1.1 million Canadians served in WWII with just over 46,000 making the ultimate sacrifice and another 53,000 being wounded.

         250,000 Canadians served in the Canadian Air Force and 17,000 were lost including 3,000 in training.

       . Amongst active aircrews which numbered 125,000 who served in Bomber Command from England and many other Commonwealth countries there were approximately 55,000 deaths – a 44% loss rate –  which marked this “all volunteer service” as having the  highest Allied loss rate in the war.

         In the earlier stages of the Bomber Command air campaign in 1942 and 1943 the probability of surviving a tour of 30 operations was less than 20%. In the latter stages of the war when my father flew on his missions, it was still a very risky business and based on the actual losses which occurred during my father’s combat missions, the odds of surviving his missions was still only 48%.

 

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