Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Guest Author: Mark W Sasse

A love story – 50 years apart.

In the summer of 1945, a small team of American OSS officers parachuted into French Indochina to help the Viet Minh resistance fighters in their struggle with the Japanese. Ironically, these same resistance fighters eventually earned their freedom from their French colonialists, setting themselves up for another struggle with the same people that trained them. Yes, I’m referring to the Vietnam War.

I have always been fascinated by the strange ending to WWII in Indochina which led to so many unforeseen circumstances. When I read the stories about the Americans who came to train the Vietnamese and who build such a camaraderie with the Ho Chi Minh led forces, I thought it would be an interesting starting point for a story.

Well, I tried and failed miserably to write this story in 2001. My writing wasn’t yet ready and my mind couldn’t persevere until the summer of 2013 when I tried to tackle the subject matter again.

This led to the birth of my newly released, third novel – The Reach of the Banyan Tree.

Even though part of the novel is set against the backdrop of WWII, this is not a war novel. Far from it. I wanted to explore a complex love story through the lens of Vietnamese culture and family. And so I did the math and figured out what it would have looked like for three generations of one American family to have been impacted by Vietnam in three completely different ways. 

What I came up with was the following:

Charles Regal Carson – OSS officer who helped train the Vietnamese in 1945.

Charles Regal Carson II – US soldier in Vietnam during the 1960s.

Charles Regal Carson III – American humanitarian aid worker in Vietnam in the year 2000.

These three men, and their strained relationships create the backbone of a story which stretches from 1945 to the present. It explores love, family ties, culture, war, and the struggle to do the right thing. 

But if it isn’t yet clear, at the very basic level, The Reach of the Banyan Tree is a love story. Reviewer Stellaluna called it “an epic, historical fiction love story.” I guess I’m comfortable with that description. I had a lot of fun putting it together. I hope you’ll give it a try.

The Reach of the Banyan Tree
by Mark W Sasse

About the book:

Chip Carson intended to marry a young Vietnamese woman until a tragic accident lands him in prison, forever altering the outlook of their relationship. As he struggles to cope with his strained love, a mysterious stranger appears bearing a journal about Chip’s grandfather who parachuted into French Indochina at the end of World War II. As the words in the journal reveal a life that Chip never knew, he begins to understand the depth of love and sacrifice needed in order to have a second chance at love. 

Part historical fiction, part contemporary love story, The Reach of the Banyan Tree is an adventure spanning two eras. It explores the effects of war, love, culture, and family obligation in twentieth century Vietnam through the eyes of three generations of American men, who each lost their soul in the tangled reaches of the banyan tree. 


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