The long road home

TV series adaptation based off war veteran’s novel


submitted photo

Story by Victoria Van, entertainment editor

Area veteran and author Matt Fisk created the novel, “Black Knights, Dark Days.” His novel is being used as the baseline for a new TV series, “The Long Road Home.” His experience in war combat translates into a masterful piece of literature, giving the reader an inside look of a soldier’s sacrifice in battle.

On April 4, 2004, an ambush in Sadr City, Baghdad occured where eight American soldiers were killed and over 60 were wounded. The fateful day happened on Palm Sunday now known as, “Black Sunday.”

His beginnings in the army stemmed from enlisting in the service in 1997 and seeing his first combat in 2004. His initial reaction to the publicity of the war concern report led him to begin writing the draft of his novel.

“Very shortly after our first combat experience, I noticed that reporters were showing up and it occurred to me that someone was going to write about it,” Fisk said. “Within a few months, I began to do interviews from guys in my platoon.”

The adaptation of Fisk’s novel is mainly based on NBC reporter Martha Raddatz’s famous novel, “The Long Road Home.”

“The book came out in 2006 and it was good. Yet, [Raddatz] wasn’t there to experience it and her book is more of a bird’s eye view of the event whereas mine is behind the scope of a rifle seeing what’s happening,” Fisk said. “It’s more experiential and it’s more of a narrow perspective on the event.”

Before the draft of Fusk’s novel was finalized, the works of the TV show arose. Fisk’s help from one of the producers led his book ot be implemented in the series.

Fisk’s experiences with hiding his emotions and nightmares in the dark taught him the rationale to bring soldier’s hardships into the light, and face the inevitable.”

— Van

“I contacted the guy that’s producing the show because a friend of mine recommended that I should get with him,” Fisk said. “Before that, he didn’t have the details he was looking for, so I was able to fill out the missing bits. He gave me a fantastic suggestion and a publisher immediately picked it.”

Filming of the TV series took place at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, where the 1st cavalry Division was originally from. Fisk had the opportunity to meet the cast and was known as the “Godfather” of the series. Fisk was invited to the set of the show to witness the filming.

“I had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for a long time, 10 years. A year and a half ago, I was able to be healed from it,” Fisk said. “Two of my buddies had a nervous breakdown, so the crew was worried about how I’d react. When I got there, they were filming the scene about my buddy Eddie dying. I can say for certain now that I’m better with dealing with those situations because I felt an appropriate amount of emotion.”

Fisk’s experiences with hiding his emotions and nightmares in the dark taught him the rationale to bring soldier’s hardships into the light, and face the inevitable.

“You’ll start to have nightmares, be irritable, paranoid and maybe battle with different addictions to try to keep the voices quiet, but the only way to truly be whole is to deal with it,” Fisk said. “I was very open about the complexity of combat. I spared nothing when I wrote the book so everyone can understand what combat was like. I wanted them to understand what sacrifices were made on the field of battle and how soldiers deal with it down the road.”

The TV series will focus on how the military families feel, in contrast to many shows where the shift in focus is mainly to the veterans. Fisk believes that the embodiment of his time in war will be displayed.

“The reason why I like the series is because not only does it talk about what the soldiers do, but it focuses also on what the families do,” Fisk said. “They have to deal with their significant other’s PTSD. No one really focuses on it, but the series will. I suppose the big takeaway is it’s not about the politics, war or what happens at the higher levels of strategy; it’s about what you do for your brothers to survive and how that forges a bond that lasts.”