Howdy! It's no secret—I'm Pat O'Dell, and I write fiction under the pen name Austin Chambers. Currently I stick with disaster and war-themed post-apocalyptic tales. I will write mystery-thrillers some year soon, and those will most likely be in my real name. I also dabble in preparedness. Some background about my past will make it clear why I take it seriously.
I joined the U.S. Navy in the late 1988, deploying on USS Truxtun (CGN-35) on two major deployments to the Persian Gulf, with one two-month secret op in between. Sixteen months out of forty-eight spent at sea was enough. "Heavy sweatter" is not descriptive enough of how hot I run. As in not actually running. Just standing still. So I opted to stay in the milder climate of the Silverdale, Washington area. I went from Gunner's Mate to job hopping and settled-in for the long haul as a father, husband and career government civilian.
I felt service to my community calling once more. I started volunteering as a firefighter and EMT. I landed a coveted role doing that at the nearby submarine base in 1996... and got laid off with nine others 16-months later. But God was watching out for me (despite myself.) I was slowly developing adult onset asthma. The wisdom of years behind me has forced me to acknowledge that trying to do that job with asthma may've very well killed me and endangered other firefighters. In 1999, I was fortunate enough to land my old shipyard job again.
Despite having gone to college for a Fire Command and Administration degree, I still did not take preparedness seriously. In 2001, I rode a very wobbly scaffold in a dry-dock in a 6.8 earthquake. That was the day a seed for writing Cascadia Fallen had been planted; and why one of the sub-plots involves a Navy shipyard. I worked my way up from shipwright to general foreman. I left once more in 2021, burnt out on management... not possessing any passion for the remaining five years needed to reach minimum retirement age. So once again—I quit.
I was inspired by a few events in my life. I'd already published the Cascadia Fallen trilogy. I'd (accidentally) started a preparedness YouTube channel. In short, I'd found other things I'd rather do with my remaining time. You see, in 2004, my oldest brother, my mom, and my dad all died, at different times, from smoking related diseases. And the only sister I would've ever had drowned the year before I was born. And I've worked in a nursing home, as a home health caregiver, and was a FF/EMT. Death is assured, and it is unannounced—this I know. Nobody lays on their deathbed wishing they'd worked more overtime.
It hasn't always been smooth sailing. I'll say it is one-third unexpected complexity to building a brand and working online; and two-thirds my own discipline issues. I've spent the better part of 2022 addressing that, as I have been using a program called 75 Hard/Live Hard to change my life. Injuries to my already horrible knees and back have stalled me. But the things I've been learning about taking control of my life are finally leading me down the path to take my author, blogging, and video content career seriously.
You may've noticed a link on this site to Loose Cannons podcast. That is a pet project, and it may not entirely fit "my brand" and my target audience. And that's okay! In 2020, I finally started getting professional help for lifelong feelings of worthlessness and suicidal thoughts. I've started that podcast, but I've had to learn that it is secondary to getting my books written—my true calling. But I am committed to putting out the occasional episode, as it's purpose is one this world desperately needs. Its focus is entrepreneurship, chasing your dreams, health, family... in short, anything positive and inspiring.
If you've read this far, thank you! I still live in Washington State, as my wife is her father's caregiver. One day, Lord willing, we'll be able to move somewhere drier. I am stinking tired of the gray and wet. Remember, Our Duty is to Be Ready...