The human mind can have an amazing way to cope when one is surrounded by war and tragedy. Such is the case for Stephanie Nelson, author of ‘The Commission.’

‘The Commission’ is the first installment of the Qi Saga trilogy by Nelson. Here’s a brief description from Amazon:

“There is no pain in zero.

Billions of years in the future, huge quantum leaps in science, a universal government, and still we have problems. War and poverty continue. Dark energy is rising, tearing the universe apart. An ancient set of equations predicts the final dimension of existence. The Commission seeks to destroy the dimensions, the Brotherhood fights to protect them, and the crew of Pandora just hopes to turn a profit. Caught in the middle is a young dark mason who may decide the fate of All. The prophecy is uncertain, the universe is falling apart, and the fate of existence rests on a single question….Is life worth saving?”

Stephanie Nelson (photo courtesy of Loudoun Times)

Published this year, ‘The Commission’ is gaining notice not  only because of its content but because of the author behind it. You see, Nelson  is not only just a writer. She is also a social worker and therapist who currently  serves in the US Army helping soldiers deal with the effect of trauma due to  their deployment in Iraq. What makes her story even more incredible is that she wrote this novel while serving alongside them.

In an interview with Loudoun Times, Nelson relays how the  novel came about while serving her time in Iraq. Nelson was deployed in February as part of unit that was responsible for closing and transferring bases. While there, she treated many soldiers who were dealing with the consequences of war. “In Iraq, I learned that I had really underestimated the effect of trauma. A lot of soldiers struggle with what they had to do in times of war.”

Nelson, herself, had to find her own coping mechanism to deal with the stress and anxiety that came with serving in a combat zone. While writing about the soldiers’ dilemmas, the idea of ‘The Commission’ began to formulate in her mind:

“All I was writing about was trauma (and) that started formulating in my mind and became more detailed over time… The story was with me on missions out to a remote base, up in the sky in Black Hawks, in the middle of dust storms, on notepads during meetings, through sleepless desert nights and scrunched inside bunkers. My ammo magazine became a makeshift table and my cargo pockets stayed stuffed with paper… It was a way of keeping sanity… In the bunker during incoming when it would get hot and miserable, I’d go into my own little world… It is this story that helped me survive my commission, because the more trauma, struggle and depravity of humanity I experienced, the more I wrote.”

A lot of Nelson’s beliefs about the complexities of good vs. evil are expressed in her novel. To her, it’s not black and white. Her experiences in Iraq have shown her that it’s not that simple. “Even people who do really awful things, in their own mind they may think it’s the right thing to do,” she explains.

After serving 9 months in Iraq, Nelson is back in Texas and continues working in helping returning soldiers deal with the trauma they experienced while serving there. She’s also started writing the second novel in her Qi Saga series called ‘The Holy Order’ which is scheduled to be published next year.

If the concept of the books interest you and you’d like to read more, you can visit the Qi Saga website for more information and read Stephanie’s blog. Below is a promotional trailer for ‘The Commitment.’