Then, there are those who want to know what it might be like to, well, “be” with one.
The serious-minded can sift through countless articles and hours of documentaries. The more prurient can mine an entire universe of Navy SEAL romance novels. There’s the “Tall, Dark and Dangerous” series by Suzanne Brockmann or the “Tempting Seals” books by Lora Leigh.
The appeal of a clean-cut Navy SEAL in the land of “lace-wristed dukes” and longhaired Fabios is simple.
“For readers, Navy SEALs are superheroes without the spandex,” said Pamela White, a journalist and romance novelist whose pen name is Pamela Clare.
Publishers are already bracing for a flurry of Navy SEAL-themed pitches and manuscripts in the coming weeks.
“When something like this happens, it is going to be huge,” said Gail Chasan, senior editor at Harlequin Enterprises Special Edition, the Ontario-based publisher synonymous with the romance genre.
Chasan need only look at the nonfiction-
bestseller-list world to know. “SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper,” which has not even been released, is already No. 5 on Amazon’s bestseller list.
Beyond publishing, the interest in all things SEAL is just as rabid. Sales of merchandise at the Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla., are up 200 percent, said spokesman Rolf Snyder. In Chesapeake, Va., ex-SEAL Don Shipley has been flooded with calls and e-mails seeking information about his Extreme SEAL Experience camp. There are SEAL movies in the works, including one by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow. And Discovery Channel plans to air an “insta-mentary” called “Killing bin Laden” on Sunday.
White lucked out. The release of her Navy SEAL romance novel “Breaking Point” happened to be scheduled a few days after bin Laden was killed.
Usually it takes as long as 18 months for a book to go from manuscript to store shelves. E-books can take a few months. So publishers are cautious about placing bets based on short bursts of interest in a particular subject.
“When ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ came out, we had a discussion about, ‘Do we think pirates as heroes will come back?’ But it never caught on,” said May Chen, a top editor for Avon Romance, part of HarperCollins Publishers.
Since Navy SEAL romance novels first appeared in the mid-1990s, they have gone in and out of fashion. In 2009, Marliss Melton, who has written a successful series of Navy SEAL romance books, was dropped by her publisher, Grand Central Publishing, because it wanted her to write about the theme du jour: vampires. She is self-publishing her next SEAL effort, “The Protector.”
On balance, though, Navy SEAL romance novels have proven to be reliable sellers in the romance suspense category, and several have made the New York Times bestseller list, including “Dark Viking” by Sandra Hill, which features a SEAL who travels in time to the land of the vikings, one of seven viking Navy SEAL books she’s written.