Del Mar author publishes Vietnam-era historical fiction

Author Scott Tinley

After writing a number of books about endurance sports over the years, Del Mar resident Scott Tinley delved into a different genre for his latest work.

Tinley’s “In the Wake of our Past,” a work of historical fiction about the Vietnam War published by Montezuma Press, was released last month.

The story’s main character, Phin Davis, returns from the Vietnam War struggling to cope with the death and destruction he witnessed. It takes place in the American South between 1950 and 1973. Tinley said he wanted to address the struggles of coping with post-traumatic stress that many soldiers face after they returned home.

“America still seems to have the scars of that war in a lot of ways,” said Tinley, who never served in the military, but has plenty of memories from coming of age during that era. “You could also argue we still hold a certain amount of guilt for what we did.”

He said America has learned from Vietnam in terms of how to address and destigmatize the needs of veterans, many of whom struggle with mental health issues and other conditions stemming from their time on the battlefield. Even as more resources are allocated, issues such as veteran suicides are still prevalent among those coming home from the Middle East.

“As we support our veterans now, there’s a level of guilt that permeates older individuals who remember how poorly we treated our soldiers in that war,” Tinley said.

"In the Wake of our Past"

As he wrote the book, Tinley received feedback from some friends who have served in the military. He also remembered the stories of some of the people he knew who served in Vietnam, and recalled how everyone seemed to only catch a glimpse of the destruction and devastation they witnessed.

“Nobody could truly describe it, even if you were there,” he said. “Talking about the Vietnam War in a literary sense gives the author a certain amount of poetic license, as long as you don’t exaggerate.”

Tinley worked on the manuscript on and off for nearly two decades, writing and editing as he also worked toward multiple post-graduate degrees at San Diego State, including fiction writing, and then a Ph.D. in cultural studies from Claremont Graduate University.

“For most writers it’s the cliched novel under the bed,” he said.

The completed work is more than 600 pages long. In the month since its release, he said he’s aware of two people who have read it all the way through, and awaits more feedback. He added that it takes a certain level of investment to get through a book that long , but books like that become “a kind of friend”

“I wouldn’t call it a light read,” Tinley said.

In addition to being a longtime Del Mar resident and accomplished endurance athlete, Tinley is a lecturer at San Diego State University, where he has taught courses including Sport in Society, Sport Philosophy and Ethics, and History and Philosophy of Physical Education and Sport.

“In the Wake of Our Past” is available online and in select local independent bookstores. For more information about Tinley’s other works, visit