The Korean POW Experience

John N Powers
John N Powers Author Interview

Finnegan Found is a fictional account of the true horrors of Chinese POW camps from the Korean War. Why was this an important book for you to write?

When I met and became friends with the men called the North China Marines, men who were captured in China on 7 Dec 1941, I found something very unsettling to me. Their wives and children knew very little about their time as POWs. I came along at a time when they were finally willing to talk to someone willing to listen. My background as a Vietnam veteran and a history teacher, with at least a beginner’s knowledge of the POW experience, meant those men were willing to give me the details. I found it unacceptable so little was known to the public about their experiences. As a result, I created northchinamarines.com for family members to discover details they had missed. I then did some writing for the American EX-POW organization and found the same set of circumstances existed for families of our POWs from Korea and Vietnam. Those details went into the creation of the book, more a document than book, Bean Camp to Briar Patch-Life in the POW Camps of Korea and Vietnam. It is the only single source of information on all the major camps in both of those wars. The Korean POW experience especially bothered me. They came home to find themselves blamed for their own captivity. The media made them out to be weak, not the caliber of our veterans from other wars. When Bean Camp to Briar Patch was ignored, I decided to turn to fiction as a means of getting the Korean War POW story in front of the public. I believe the novel accurately presents the story. Now my job is to get that story recognized. Those men have gone long enough without the recognition they deserve.

I appreciated the candid and accurate nature with which you relayed POW experiences. What were some aspects you felt needed to be accurate and what did you take liberties with?

It was important to me to be highly accurate throughout the story. As a history teacher, the historical part of the novel is the story. The only liberties I took were in some of the actions of Swede. The sinking of the B-29, the burning of the records, the taking of the photographs of radar equipment, and his rescue of Mike Randall were completely fictional. As I explain in an addendum, details throughout the story are based on facts. Some characters in the story were real people, utilized to tell the facts of their story. To be honest, I glossed over some aspects of the treatment the men received. I have found some people will not believe what is sometimes required to survive horrific circumstances. Or they will be so upset by the facts they will put the book down and never pick it up again. So at times I just hinted at what took place.

What were some themes you wanted to focus on in this book?

Most important to me was historical truth, even if that meant portraying an individual or group in a negative light. I have never written a novel before. I really did not sit down and decide on specific themes I thought might give the story more appeal. I simply wanted to tell what I feel is an important story. I also wanted to correct a wrong inflicted on those men by a military and government that did not want to face their own shortcomings.

Paul Larson is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some ideas that guided his character development?

I needed a character I could like to help tell this story, a character with a built in strength to carry him through. A character who had been raised by strong characters. “They” say you should write what you know. I know mid-West farm culture. I knew the details of the story from my research on my first book. I needed characters that I “knew” to help in telling the story. Many of the main characters have a combination of traits of people I served with during my time in the military, again both the good and the bad.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

A story untold. Left in the dark. For seventy years. This novel tells that story, shines a light on that darkness.
They were beaten, starved, and kept in cages with little medical care. The Chinese POW camps of the Korean War brought out the best, and the worst, in men. Young Swede fights for himself and his fellow captives, determined to survive with his pride and honor intact.
First, he has to survive the deathly cold of the first winter, when half the prisoners die. Once he is allowed to join the other prisoners, he teaches them to resist, becoming one of the worst of the men the Chinese fear – the Reactionaries.
Described by readers as “hard to put down,” and “riveting.” “I thought Finnegan Found was a towering novel” that “takes its place alongside the great war novels such as All Quiet on the Western Front.”
Forgotten for seventy years. Now is their time to be remembered.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on January 16, 2021, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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