Saturday, July 1, 2017

0 Michael P. Spradlin, author of PRISONER OF WAR, on finding an amazing story while researching

We're thrilled to have Michael P. Spradlin join us to share more about his latest novel, PRISONER OF WAR.

Michael, what was your inspiration for writing PRISONER OF WAR?

I’ve written two previous novels with a World War II setting, Into the Killing Seas and The Enemy Above. I came across the story of America’s youngest POW during research for those books. The story was amazing. This young man snuck into the service at age 15 and was stationed in the Philippines. His true age was uncovered and he was set to be sent home the day the Japanese Imperial forces invaded the islands. He spent his teenage years enduring some of the most unimaginable horrors you can imagine. It’s remarkable to me how any of these men could endure and survive the torture they experienced. And to do it at an age when most of us would be freshmen in High School? It’s a real testament to the human spirit and amidst all of this many of them still found ways to form ‘family’ units. To help and support each other. It proves that adage that many times, war will show the best and the worst of us.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

The book is the story of men trying to survive life as captives of the Empire of Japan in World War II. Japanese POW camps had mortality rates of more than 50% in some cases. They did not believe a surrendered enemy was owed anything. In the book Henry, the protagonist must survive the Bataan death march, interment in a camp and then forced labor on the Japanese mainland. All of those scenes were difficult to write. There were many times when I walked away from a writing session feeling angry, depressed and horrified at the ways human beings can facilitate cruelty. Yet there is a spirit of solidarity and strength in these men that shines through in their accounts of what happened to them. They were simply stronger than their enemy. And that, in the end made me feel extremely grateful and proud.

What do you hope readers will take away from PRISONER OF WAR?

One is that we owe a great debt to the Greatest Generation. We should remember that for the most part these were kids. 17-19 years old. Just out of high school, off the farm, or from working at the corner gas station. They weren’t professional soldiers, yet they went to the farthest reaches of the globe to confront some of the best trained, battle hardened and well-equipped armies in the world. And they prevailed. They defeated tyranny and our world today is very much shaped by what they did 75 years ago.

The other thing is to look at war in general and realize how easy it is for Nationalism to take root. For one nation to believe it is superior to all others. 1930s Germany and Japan are still cautionary tales for today. Mark Twain said that ‘history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.’ We need to be vigilant to prevent something similar from happening now.

What are you working on now?

My next project is non-fiction. It’s a series on Medal of Honor winners. Each book profiles a Medal winner and gives some context to the events surrounding their ‘Medal Moment’. It is being published by Roaring Brook/Macmillan and the first two books will be out in spring ’18.


Prisoner of War
by Michael P. Spradlin
Scholastic Press
Released 6/27/2017

Survive the war. Outlast the enemy. Stay alive.

That's what Henry Forrest has to do. When he lies about his age to join the Marines, Henry never imagines he'll face anything worse than his own father's cruelty. But his unit is shipped off to the Philippines, where the heat is unbearable, the conditions are brutal, and Henry's dreams of careless adventuring are completely dashed.

Then the Japanese invade the islands, and US forces there surrender. As a prisoner of war, Henry faces one horror after another. Yet among his fellow captives, he finds kindness, respect, even brotherhood. A glimmer of light in the darkness. And he'll need to hold tight to the hope they offer if he wants to win the fight for his country, his freedom . . . and his life.

Michael P. Spradlin's latest novel tenderly explores the harsh realities of the Bataan Death March and captivity on the Pacific front during World War II.

Purchase Prisoner of War at Amazon
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Michael P. Spradlin is the author of more than a dozen books for children, some of which have actually been published. He grew up in a small town in Michigan not far from the Indiana border, which may explain his irrational fear of Hoosiers. (Both the inhabitants of the state of Indiana and the movie starring Gene Hackman).

When not writing, he enjoys reading, traveling, spending time with his family and worrying over the fact that he really should be writing instead of doing other stuff. He lives in Michigan with his wife Kelly, and two dogs Willow and Apollo.


Have you had a chance to read PRISONER OF WAR yet? Have you discovered the idea for a new book while researching another? Do you walk away from writing sessions feeling the emotions of what you're writing about? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Anisaa, Sam, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

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