By Joe Tash
David Reid stopped at a bookstore inside San Francisco International Airport on his way to catch a flight to San Diego last week, and there it was — his newly published book stood on display at the front of the store.
“It doesn’t always feel real. It’s what I dreamed about for a decade,” said Reid, 34, author of “Suffer in Silence,” a novel about a group of sailors undergoing Navy SEAL (Sea, Air and Land Teams) training.
The book was published Aug. 16 by St. Martin’s Press, and is available at bookstores such as Barnes and Nobel, as well as online at Amazon.com.
Reid, who grew up in Solana Beach and graduated from Torrey Pines High School, wrote the book primarily to chronicle the true experience of SEAL training. The plot is about a conflict between a trainer and trainee, and swirls with intrigue around an investigation into an arms smuggling ring. But Reid considers the plot almost secondary to the realistic portrayal of SEAL training.
“People buy it just because they want to know what the training is like,” Reid said. “It’s non-fiction in disguise.”
Reid majored in history at Stanford University after graduating from high school, and immediately went into the Navy after receiving his college degree. He soon began SEAL training in Coronado.
While competition was tough to land an officer’s spot in the SEAL program, the training was even more intense, said Reid.
“They basically torture the hell out of you to see who’s going to quit,” he said.
SEAL training includes running, swimming and diving under the worst possible conditions, while carrying heavy loads and going without sleep, he said.
“It’s such a wonderful and truly bizarre experience; you’re living a nightmare and a dream simultaneously,” Reid said.
The rigorous training is intended to prepare the all-male SEAL teams for dangerous assignments ranging from underwater demolition to being dropped behind enemy lines.
“They go in, do some shooting, get the job done, and then they get out,” Reid said.
Reid finished four months of training before suffering a ruptured lung in a diving accident, which forced him out of the SEAL program. At the time of his accident, he said, the initial class of 120 recruits had dwindled to less than 30.
Many of the trainees dropped out during “hell week,” which took place in the fifth week of the program, Reid said. Hell week consisted of a grueling, 120-hour stretch during which trainees were lucky to sleep for two or three hours total, all the while being pushed to their physical limits through constant exertion and bone-chilling cold.
Reid wrote the book shortly after leaving the SEAL program, but was unsuccessful in finding a publisher. After shelving the project for several years, he self-published the book, which did well on Amazon.com. A book editor came across the book and offered to re-publish it under the St. Martin’s imprint.
Reid left the Navy in 2005 after working in Washington D.C. and graduating from law school. He now lives in La Honda, in the San Francisco Bay Area, and runs his own legal mediation practice.
“Now I’m actually a peace-maker. I try to help people resolve their disputes out of court,” he said.
While he has always wanted to be a writer and has written several unpublished books — including one about being a beach lifeguard in Del Mar — he has no immediate plans to give up his law practice to write full-time.
“I don’t want to depend on novels for cash. It’s a tough business,” he said. “There’s always got to be something else to pay the bills.”
Reid is the father of two small children, and he tries to make it to San Diego as often as he can to visit his mother, who still lives in the family home in Solana Beach.
Although he’s no longer in the Navy or a member of the SEAL program, Reid followed with interest the saga of the SEAL team that killed Osama Bin Laden earlier this year.
“The fact that it was SEAL Team Six brought a smile to my face,” he said.