It was at a New Year’s Eve party on Dec. 31, 1999, that the father of Half Moon Bay resident Ken Pottie told his son a story from when he was serving in the Army at 16 and was caught behind enemy lines.
With “tears in his eyes,” Pottie said, his father recounted how a 10-year-old girl died in his arms that day.
His father didn’t speak about the incident for a long time, said Pottie. Instead, he told his son, “If I’m still alive, the bad guys are still alive, and I wouldn’t want to put my family in danger.”
Both of those incidents — the father’s frightening concerns and the little girl’s death — found their way into “Code Name Sonny,” Pottie’s debut novel. It is self-published with Infinity Publishing, available at $19.95 hardbound and $13.95 paperback at Bay Book Company and Ink Spell Books.
The book, an engrossing spy thriller, masterfully interweaves past and present with the story of “Sonny” (based on Pottie’s father) who idealistically joins up in 1944, the experiences he encounters and the fictional story of Sonny’s son Jack (based on Pottie) who discovers surprises and pursuers from his father’s past almost too late to save himself and his family.
The book, Pottie said, “is in honor of my father — 100 percent,” and will be spotlighted in book signings at the Lake Shore Beauty Salon in Daly City on March 17 and at Ink Spell Books on March 31, both from noon to 5 p.m.
Pottie emotionally pays homage to his father who in real life joined up to fight in World War II as a teenager and went on to become a Boy Scout leader for 50 years and a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus.
Pottie himself started a local video production company, “13th Cohort Productions,” in August. The title comes from terminology from his MBA program through the University of New Haven. (He got his degree in 2010 after earning a bachelor’s degree in history and government from Norwich University of Vermont.) He also served in the Army for 12 years in aviation, and was a company commander in Iraq during Desert Storm in 1991.
He had wanted to write the book for years but only got as far as four chapters. Then, in 2010, he met the wife of folk troubadour Kevin Danzig. A former editor, she urged him to finish his book — and he did, in October 2010, after four months of writing.
He plans to follow the book with two more — “Mountains of Fire,” due for release this fall, and “Moodus,” due for release in summer 2013. Both will continue the story with the characters in “Code Name Sonny,” Pottie said.