Inside the Book:
Title: The Junior Officer Bunkroom
Author: J.J. Zerr
The Junior Officer Bunkroom is available for order at
The Interview:Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
It is 1970. US Navy lieutenants Jon Zachery and Amos Kane are anxious to complete fighter jet training. Their careers diverge drastically. Amos loses his wings and becomes a “pounder,” a ground pounder, a maintenance officer relegated to life on earth. Zachery suffers through tribulations of his own, but both lieutenants wind up living in The Junior Officer Bunkroom aboard USS Solomons, an aircraft carrier in the Tonkin Gulf. Amos is bitter and disillusioned with the navy and with “the establishment.” He finds kinship with a group of anti-war oriented naval officers, and sets out to wage his own war against the navy, it’s immoral war in Vietnam, and against the Yankee Air Pirate pilots he rooms with. Jon finds his own disillusionment with the war he fought so hard to get to. The nation doesn’t seem interested in winning the war, only in trying to figure out how to get out of it, and unable to do that either. The missions Zachery and his squadron-mates fly are boring and seemingly accomplish no worthwhile purpose. Zachery is reminded of the saying: Flying is hours and hours of boredom punctuated by moments of stark terror. After months of boredom, the final mission of the deployment is punctuated by a number of stark terror exclamation points, including some apparently caused by sabotage to the airplanes. In the same way it could be said the real Vietnam war was fought in the US, for some of the pilots aboard Solomons, the real war for them was fought not in the skies over Vietnam but within the walls—bulkheads the US Navy calls them—of The Junior Officer Bunkroom. I wrote the story because Vietnam was a traumatic time for the nation. It, in my opinion, had a lot to do with shaping the politics of today.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?
One of the biggest was reading books and articles written by staunch proponents of the anti-war movement. I wanted to try to understand both sides of the issue. I found it difficult to read some of the material, but I persevered and I think achieved my objective. Improving my understanding of the movement.
Do you plan other books?
The Junior Officer Bunkroom was my fifth book and third in series of Vietnam era stories. There will be two more in the series. Plus I am currently working on two other stand alone books.
When and why did you begin writing?
I wanted to be a writer since 1967. Then I got busy with things, the US Navy and a job in aerospace. I retired from the aerospace industry in 2007, and in January the following year, I started work on my first book, The Ensign Locker.
What is your greatest strength as an author?
I work hard to learn the craft. No matter how long I work at it, there will still be things to learn.
Did writing this book teach you anything?
I learned the importance of writing something every day. For me, if I keep at it on a daily basis, the writing not only gets me through a project in a timely manner, but the writing is better. And the value you get from an editor correlates directly to the quality of the work you give them to review.