Q&A With Marcus Brotherton
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Q&A With Marcus Brotherton
Last night New York Times Bestselling author Marcus Brotherton was kind enough to respond to me in messenger agreeing to do this Q&A with me. Marcus has written and co-written many books including: Blaze of Light, Grateful American (with Gary Sinise), Shifty’s War, A Bright And Blinding Sun, and his recent novel with Tosca Lee, The Long March Home, coming out on May 2, 2023.
Q: When did you realize that writing was what you were called to do in life?
A: When I was 14 or 15, I used to write short stories for fun. These weren’t assigned by any teacher. It was just me in my room in the evenings, scribbling down stuff for nobody to read except me.
In my neighborhood lived a girl my age named Marnie, and one day I showed her a short story I’d written. It was Catcher-In-the-Rye styled, about a high school kid struggling to grow up and be real.
We were riding home on the school bus together, and Marnie laughed in all the right places as she read it. Then—much to my surprise—when she finished the last page and handed it back to me, a tear rolled down her cheek.
“That really touched me,” she said. “What you wrote about is just like what I’m going through right now. I can relate.”
Her words stuck hard with me. It was the first time I realized you could move somebody through writing. You could connect with people through the shared humanity of a story.
Q: Was there any particular book or books that you enjoyed writing more than others?
A: I enjoy them all. A few years back I wrote “Blaze of Light,” the biography of Medal of Honor recipient Gary Beikirch. It was an incredible experience.
Gary was an elite Green Beret Army medic during the ruthless siege of Dak Seang, April 1, 1970. He was shot three times in the stomach and back, and temporarily paralyzed from the waist down.
Yet even though he was in such rough shape, Gary knew he still had a job to do. There were innocent women and children in this village—and they were getting wounded by the enemy too. Not to mention his friends and fellow soldiers.
Gary refused medical treatment for himself. Instead, he called over two helpers and uttered two words that need to ring forever.
You can picture it. Here’s this medic, unable to walk, bleeding heavily, still under fire, being dragged around the battlefield from wounded person to wounded person, administering aide.
That’s how Gary continued to do his job for the people in his care, until he finally collapsed from blood loss and was evacuated to safety by helicopter during a terrifying firefight.
For his valor and selflessness during the ruthless siege, Gary would be awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest and most-prestigious military decoration.
Working with Gary was absolutely amazing. He and I became good friends in the process of writing his book. Sadly, just after the book was released, he passed away of pancreatic cancer in December 2021 at age 74, much too young.
I miss him greatly.
Q: On your Amazon page it says you are an author and co-author dedicated to writing books that inspire heroics, promote empathy, and encourage noble living. From the list of books you’ve written that I’ve seen on Amazon, it shows. What would be your advice to anyone wanting to write books that inspire doing the right thing, promoting empathy and encourage noble living like you do?
A: We have to see the world through other people’s eyes. It all starts there. We can either write junk that tears people apart, or we can use our talents to bring people together and create a better world.
Q: You have co-written books with other people as well as writing by yourself. I did email a Q&A to Tosca Lee who you recently wrote The Long March Home, with. What is it like writing a book with someone else? What is your advice to anyone wanting to have a friend or family member co-write a novel with them?
A: Tosca Lee was terrific to work with, and a lot of good can come from collaborations. We’re often more powerful when we work together with another strong mind.
Personally, I’m more of a nonfiction writer. “The Long March Home” is a work of fiction, but it’s based on true stories. It was a backburner passion project that I began 12 years ago and chipped away at. Tosca became involved about 5 years ago as coauthor. She began working on it little by little, but she was in a multi-book contract and needed to finish two other novels first.
Tosca writes mostly historical fiction. Even so, “The Long March Home” was a different kind of book for her. Before this, she’d written a 2019 pandemic duology, of all things. And her historical novels tend to take place thousands of years ago. But she told me that the main thing that makes our book stand out is the fact that, not only is it inspired by true stories, the stories are such amazing testaments to the resilience and tenacity of the human spirit.
The more that she researched the Bataan Death March with me—the entire defense of Bataan, and those “Battling Bastards of Bataan” who defended it—the more she thought to herself, “How in the world could anyone survive this?” But many did. And many heroes gave their lives.
This is not a chapter of WWII history that everyone knows about—in fact, Tosca didn’t know about it until I approached her about collaborating. In the end, she was honored to share this story of the Pacific theater with others who, like her, may never have heard of Bataan or its heroes.
Q: If you’re writing anything now, is it a solo project, or with a co-writer or both?
A: I’m working on a biography of an actor at the moment. I can’t name this person yet due to the contract we have. But he’s extremely inspiring and does a lot of good in the world. Stay tuned.
Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to any of your books?
A: Yes, several. Most recently, the Korean War-era movie “Devotion” starring Glen Powell and Jonathan Majors was based on the book by the same name by historian Adam Makos. I was Adam’s writing partner for that book, and I recommend reading the book before seeing the movie. You’ll enjoy it. It’s a thinking man’s “Top Gun.”