Sunday, July 2, 2017

Michael P. Spradlin

Michael P. Spradlin is the New York Times bestselling author of the Youngest Templar trilogy, the Wrangler Award Winner Off Like the Wind! The First Ride of the Pony Express, and several other novels and picture books.

Spradlin's new novel is Prisoner of War.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
Writing historical fiction, much of my reading is for research. Which is okay because occasionally you find books that are tremendous and wouldn’t have read otherwise. Yet, even with deadlines approaching, I make time to read authors and books that speak to me. I do make it a practice not to read non-fiction (except research) when I’m writing non-fiction and I usually don’t read fiction when I’m working on a novel.

I’m currently reading Crazy Blood by T. Jefferson Parker. I’ve loved Parker’s work since I first read Laguna Heat almost thirty years ago. Like most of Parker’s incredible novels, Crazy Blood opens with a murder. In this case, two half-brothers, Sky Carson and Wylie Welborn, are inexorably scarred by the murder of their father by Sky’s mother. Wylie is the illegitimate heir to the Carson family ski resort empire in the Mammoth Mountains of the Sierra Nevada’s. Parker is a master at creating deeply flawed, three dimensional characters, struggling to escape the one thing we never seem to leave behind us: the past. I’m savoring this book and treating myself to a chapter a day.

Hillbilly Elegy was a book I couldn’t resist picking up. My family roots are in Eastern Kentucky, just like author J.D. Vance. While my life was not nearly as tumultuous as his, I could identify with it on many levels. His exploration of the double whammy of those that left Appalachia for a better life in the Rust Belt only to lose again when the manufacturing base of the Midwest disappeared was gut-wrenchingly poignant. There were some hard and unvarnished truths in this book. Yet there was also a remarkable sense of resilience and hope.

Researching my next series for young readers led me to reading The Chosen Few: A Company of Paratroopers and Its Heroic Struggle to Survive in the Mountains of Afghanistan by Gregg Zoroya. This book follows troops from the 173rd Airborne division on a 2008 deployment to Afghanistan. It gives you an in depth look at the Afghanistan war and is a fascinating look at the bonds built between fighting men. I was taken by the devotion soldiers feel for one another. Their willingness to trust each other is absolute. It also left me thinking of Alexander the Great’s admonition that “Afghanistan is easy to march into and hard to march out of.” What do we do there? What are the answers? Funnily enough many of our men and women serving there have those same thoughts. Yet they put them aside and do their duty. An amazing account.

Research for an upcoming book also led me to Flint Whitlock’s The Rock of Anzio: From Sicily to Dachau, A History of the U.S 45th Infantry Division. The 45th Infantry division is the famed Thunderbird Division from World War II made up almost entirely of Native American soldiers from more than fifty nations. Before the war, they were an Oklahoma National Guard Unit, one of the first to be federalized after Pearl Harbor. They led the invasion at Sicily and Anzio and from the spring of 1943 spent nearly a full year in combat. The division was awarded nine Medals of Honor. It’s the perfect kind of narrative history that reads like a novel.
Visit Michael P. Spradlin's website.

My Book, The Movie: Prisoner of War.

--Marshal Zeringue