Steven Alexander isn’t your typical Army brass: He enjoys hosting costume parties, creating board games and moonlighting as a DJ.
So it makes sense that he spent his spare time during a recent deployment doing something unusual — writing a Civil War-inspired novella featuring time travel and paranormal activity.
“I’m not one of those guys you can put in molds, who sits at attention when he eats,” said Alexander, whose first published book, “Ghost Calvary,” was released by PublishAmerica this spring.
“In Kuwait I was able to work my 12, 14, 15 hours and go back to my room, where there was nothing else to do. I said, ‘I’m going to get serious about this writing thing and see if I have any of what it takes to be successful.’”
Set in the 1970s, “Ghost Calvary” tells the story of Billy Jordache, a Shiloh National Military Park ranger whose son is transported to the Civil War days after robbers cause a time warp by disturbing a mass Rebel gravesite.
Alexander describes the 128-page book as part ghost story and part action-adventure, a tale that combines his longtime passion for the Civil War with his memories from a yearlong deployment to Iraq as part of a coalition training team.
“Some parts of ‘Ghost Calvary’ are pretty gory and grim,” he said, particularly referencing scenes featuring disturbed gravesites.
Those scenes reflect the violence he witnessed during a 2004 insurgent attack on the base Iraq where he was stationed that left many Iraqis dead and earned Alexander a Purple Heart.
The 57-year-old Guard and Reserve veteran has managed to sell about 30 copies of the book so far. He’s not sure how many copies have sold online and doesn’t much care.
“It doesn’t matter whether I sell a million books or 10 if somebody likes what they read and is entertained,” said Alexander, who considers writing good therapy.
Alexander, of Colorado Springs, recently retired from the military and hopes to fill his days with writing. He has several other works in progress — everything from children’s books to thrillers and military romances.
“I’m stubborn enough to try to bludgeon my way into the writing business,” he said. “I’m not Tom Clancy, and I’m not Stephen King. I think I might be somewhere near a PG-13 R.L. Stine. I’m starting to narrow my focus.”
Alexander has finished a sequel to “Ghost Calvary” that will be released later this summer and is working on a third book in the series.
After its release, he might take a break — at least for awhile — from writing about the war that has captivated him since childhood.
“I was probably 6 years old, and my dad brought me a bag of Rebel toy soldiers and a bag of Yankee toy soldiers,” he said. “Since then, everything has been blue and gray.
“I don’t know that I believe in past lives and all that. All I know is that the Civil War has always had a grip on me.”