GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Amber Sander's book "Scarlet Dawn" isn't for the faint of heart. It's a gritty thriller peppered with macabre scenes of revenge in gruesome, and often bloody, detail.

The fact that Sander calls it a "realistic fiction" brings to light an apparent social dilemma the author has faced.

"I've always been the underdog," said the 28-year-old novelist. "In everyday life I see not only myself but my friends and family dealing with the issues I write about."

The book follows Scarlet, an 18-year-old girl whose world is turned upside-down by a string of misfortunes. As Scarlet gives in to the vicious rage that grows inside, she seeks revenge for her personal hardships by targeting those deemed the most beautiful girls in the room. Scarlet begins to take away the physical beauty of her victims to seemingly level the playing field.

Albeit morbid, Sander believes that many will be able to relate to her protagonist.

"I've felt that way and I know a lot of other people have, too," said Sander. "I wasn't popular. I've lost opportunities because of how I look. I don't fit the standard of beauty."

Scarlet is often a mirror-image of the author, and whether or not this novel falls into the reader's choice of genre, the talent of the Grafenwoehr community is inspiring on its own.
During the year it took Sander to pen her first novel, she was busy each day behind the counter of the Grafenwoehr Commissary, preparing sandwiches during the lunch rush.

When her shift ended, she would return home and write the story that had been brewing in her head for years.

Likewise, Sgt. Jacob R. Hammes, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, penned a novel in the concrete confines of the Army barracks while working in Korea last year.

His novel, titled "The Jewel of Babylon (A File From the Unusual Operations Division)," follows a Special Forces agent working for the U.S. government who goes on a killing spree.

The fast-paced thriller takes readers through Afghanistan, China and the U.S. in a race to stop a powerful killer. Despite his hectic routine of juggling Army duties, fatherhood and home life, he is currently working on a sequel.

Both novels can be found on with direct links in the sidebar above.

While Hammes' Army career has heavily influenced his writing, Sander nods at another author for her inspiration.

"When I was 11 years old my dad gave me my first Steven King novel," she said. "Ever since then I wanted to be a writer."

Sander will hold a book signing for "Scarlet Dawn" at the Grafenwoehr Commissary June 28, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4 p.m.-6 p.m.; and June 29 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.