About The Word Hunter

Mississippi Author and Writer Rick DeStefanis writes below about the motivation behind his award-winning Vietnam War Series.

Rick DeStefanis, The Word Hunter
The Word Hunter, Rick DeStefanis

A military veteran and former paratrooper who served with the 82nd Airborne Division from 1970 to 1972, Rick brings a wide variety of life experiences to his writing. While his Southern Fiction, such as his novel Tallahatchie, is qualified by a lifelong residence in the South, it is his military training and expertise that inform his Vietnam War Series. These novels include The Gomorrah Principle, winner of the 2015 Readers Favorite Award, Valley of the Purple Hearts—awarded the 2018 Best Indie Book Award for Literary/Mainstream Fiction, and The Birdhouse Man, winner of the 2022 Kindle Award for Literary Fiction as well as the Military Writers Society of America Gold Medal Award. DeStefanis also has to his credit four novels in his western historical fiction series, The Rawlins Saga. An avid outdoorsman, Rick lives in rural Mississippi with his wife Janet, two cats and three dogs. And when he’s not photographing wildlife, he writes. Learn more at his Amazon Author Page.

Rick DeStefanis Writes About his Southern Novel, Tallahatchie, and his Vietnam War Series

I grew up in the South, and though I write fiction, my stories are reflections of my true experiences and those of people I have known. Writing Southern fiction without denying the truth requires care because it can easily offend neighbors and friends. Southern writers seldom cross that line with cheap exhibitionism, while mimics from other parts of the country do so with cliché-filled creations that come off much like a Hollywood actor imitating a Southern accent. When I laugh and cry, it is not at or about my fellow southerners, but with them. We are a proud people, and because we speak slowly and appreciate a less chaotic lifestyle, it does not mean we are not intelligent or self-driven.

Paratroop Drop 82nd Airborne scan0014

I served as a paratrooper in the military, and although I am not a combat veteran, I know the Vietnam era and have many personal friends who served in that war. After jump school at Fort Benning, I was separated from most of my classmates and friends who went either to the 173rd Airborne or the 101st Airborne in the Republic of Vietnam while I was ordered to the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg.

Upon their return, several of my buddies rejoined me at Fort Bragg where I had gone through extensive and continuous training while they had stared the beast in the eye for a year. Most of them would talk about their experiences only after a few glasses of bourbon, but none would speak of them to anyone outside the military. And when I offered to write their stories as nonfiction accounts, each one to a man refused. They did not want to relive those horrific experiences, and they were humble heroes who left behind buddies in those mountainous jungles. The “fiction” I write is closely based on the stories these men shared with me in bars around Fayetteville, North Carolina, beachside campfires, and during reunions years afterward.

With these men in mind, as well as all the veterans who gave of themselves for their country, I attempt to produce the best Vietnam War Stories possible. And as with my Southern fiction, when I write Vietnam War fiction, it is with the knowledge that I am telling the stories of these men with an unvarnished truth that reflects their experiences. These combat veterans have earned that along with my unfailing respect.

Rick DeStefanis books can be purchased at Amazon.com or ordered through a bookstore near you.

Recent Posts

A Matter of Perspective

I’m beginning to understand why they call them “love apples,” but I’ll stick with tomato for now. This year the garden has produced some interesting ones. For example, there’s this magical specimen. The way I see it, there’s a lesson to be learned here. I’m not sure what exactly it is–perhaps something to do with first impressions. Or maybe it’s a matter of perspective…or maybe, it’s both. Anyway…

A good-hearted tomato.

Many folks will immediately see a a big heart. That’s what my wife saw. Made me think of something romantic, like a good-hearted woman, so I decided I’d take a photo of it. But as I focused my camera on it, I began to see it differently…the warped male side of me was emerging. Sure enough, it was much more than a heart.


It shapeshifted on me. Like one of those Native American spirit animals…or in this case, vegetables, it had become something more. Not only did she have a good heart, but she had a pretty butt, too. Don’t you just love the way mother nature expressess herself? ….Or maybe it’s just the hormonely intoxicated work of the male mind. 

Another Perspective.

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