COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Lt. Col. Jeffrey Hogan never thought of himself as an author.
The Distributed Mission Operations Center for Space exercise director is an engineer by trade, but several years ago, he tooled around with an idea that eventually turned into a novel.
For most of the past two decades, he's worked as an Air Force officer, government contractor and reservist. Meanwhile, he completed both a master's and a doctorate degree, all while changing duty stations between Florida, California and Colorado.
"I'm an engineer," he said. "I guess that's the way I look at the world. And, that's the way I approached the writing of this book."
Like many authors, Hogan became interested in a topic and searched for books that might satisfy his hunger for more knowledge.
"I was living in Florida when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast," he said. "Then I started to think about what might happen if the destruction and chaos that followed in New Orleans grew to a massive scale."
He researched and studied past civilizations and democracies, trying to learn why and how they eventually collapsed. That research ultimately became the basis for the first three chapters of "Galt's Valley," the book he completed late last year.
While the book is a work of fiction, Hogan said he resisted the temptation to write it in a popular thriller style.
"There are a lot of books out there where the author takes the reader to a post-apocalyptic time or place, but doesn't cover the process of how and why the apocalypse happened," he said. "So I endeavored to present the entire story."
Inspired by the works of Ayn Rand, Alexis de Tocqueville, Edward Gibbon and other researchers of history, Hogan premised the book on the idea of self-reliance during an ongoing economic crises.
While he was writing, the idea of publishing the book turned into a real possibility, but when he began researching that idea he quickly realized how expensive and time consuming the process could be.
"The great thing about today's publishing environment, as I found out, is you can really publish yourself," he said. "Unlike yesteryear, you don't need to endure the proposal and selling process that's connected to the mass publishing houses, instead you can find an online publisher who can print as few or as many books as you want."
As for the writing, he admits that became arduous at points, with all of the writing, thinking, rewriting, editing and proofreading.
"I wrote entire characters that I ended up cutting later," he said. "And, when you cut a character, you have to move forward in the story and cut sections where that character interacts with others. Then you need to rewrite those sections as well."
Once he decided to publish, he quickly realized he needed someone to edit the book, a process that created challenges as well.
"Once I put the request out there, I received a lot of responses, but most editors were out of my price range," he said. "Eventually, I found an editor, Christina Borden, and the help she provided has been immeasurable."
The book went on sale at online booksellers in January and he says reviews have been mostly positive.
"It's a great feeling to have a reader come back to me and ask to buy two or three more copies for their family members," he said. "Promoting the book is up to me. I plan to take it to a few places where people congregate, like gun shows, to see what comes out of them."
For now, he doesn't have a follow up in the works, but his family is grateful for the break in his schedule.
"Jeff spent a great deal of time and effort on this book and we as a family bound our efforts together to give him the time he needed to do this," said his wife, Molly Hogan. "He put his heart and mind into the pages and has already been rewarded with the responses of everyone who has read it. I was always amazed during the process at what devotion a creation like this really takes."
"Galt's Valley" is available at online booksellers.