Samuel Marquis Interview Image

#Interview with @SamMarquisBooks of Bodyguard of Deception.

I recently had the pleasure of connecting with a great writer named Samuel Marquis, a #1 Bestselling Denver Post author, multi-award Samuel Marquis photowinning author, and hydrogeologist. Yes, you read that last one correctly. I think the strength of detail that last one brings to Sam’s personality is what makes his Historical Fiction so great to read. Okay, it’s ONE of the reasons. The other part is the fact he is just that good a writer. Ask James Patterson if you don’t want to believe me. Yes, THAT James Patterson.Bodyguard of Deception by Samuel Marquis image

After reading and reviewing his book Bodyguard of Deception, I just had to ask some questions. I restrained my total historian geek self and didn’t send a book of probing his way. The following are what made it through and back.

One of the things I always find interesting is where the inspiration for a book comes from. What sparked Bodyguard of Deception?

As a history aficionado who has always loved stories of the American West and World War Two, I have long wanted to write a novel that incorporated both of my research passions. That became possible when, several years ago, I read Ben Mcintyre’s Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies (2012) and Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal (2007) along with Arnold Krammer’s eye-opening Nazi Prisoners of War in America (1996). Between these three well-crafted books, I learned about Double Cross and its cast of memorable British-controlled spies, while simultaneously discovering that, between 1943 and 1945, nearly a half million German prisoners were held in 511 POW camps across the United States, many of them in the American West.

Bodyguard of Deception grabbed my attention right from the beginning and never let go. The character development is excellent. Samuel Marquis has a knack for using historic details and events to create captivating and fun to read tales.”
—Roy R. Romer, 39th Governor of Colorado

It wasn’t long after digesting these three great historical reads that I envisioned a WWII spy novel that would be uniquely set in both the European theatre and my home state of Colorado. What came to me in my overactive filmographer’s head was a kind of Das Boot (The Boat) meets Eye of the Needle meets The Great Escape with a hint of Arthur Penn’s classic The Chase as well as The Fugitive thrown in for good measure. But I wanted another important twist that deviated from most WWII books and movies: I wanted my lead German to be a sympathetic character even though he was fighting for Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

I love to research. The amount of research you had to do for this book is staggering. You had to read at least 20x the amount of information just to write the least important real life character. I know you have a very intensive degree, one not related to World History at all, so what you’ve done amazes me, a historian. Do you have an affinity for research, and why history?

I’ve always loved history, especially the underdogs and iconoclasts of American history, and I voraciously read books about military history and intelligence, specifically related to the Golden Age of Piracy, Plains Indian Wars, World War II, espionage, and the War on Terror WWII. But what started it all is I grew up watching classic World War Two movies and Westerns with my dad like The Great Escape, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, The Dirty Dozen, The Wild Bunch, Where Eagles Dare, and Patton. These movies had a profound impact on me and the stories I have come to tell. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that my books have been compared to The Great Escape, Public Enemies, The Day of the Jackal, and old-time Westerns. One reviewer said of my WWII thriller, Bodyguard of Deception: “Marquis throws in everything but the kitchen sink.” I consider that not a criticism, but a badge of honor and tribute to me and my late father and the movies we watched together growing up. Bodyguard of Deception is currently a Top 10 Best World War II Spy Book and Top 10 Fiction Book Set During WWII on Goodreads along with such WWII thrillers as Follett’s Eye of the Needle and The Key to Rebecca, Daniel Silva’s The Unlikely Spy, and Ben Mcintyre’s Agent Zigzag and Double Cross.

“A promising thriller writer with a fine hero, great research, and a high level of authenticity.”
—Donald Maass, Author of Writing 21st Century Fiction

You’ve delved into an area of WWII history many Americans don’t even know existed. Some know about the Japanese-American internment camps, but some have no idea the US had German POWs here. Where did you get your research for that?

I read Arnold Krammer’s eye-opening Nazi Prisoners of War in America (1996), and from there, I read around thirty books and articles dealing with German POWS in America.  As stated in my response to Question #1 above, it is interesting that, between 1943 and 1945, nearly a half million German prisoners were held in 511 POW camps across the United States, many of them in the American West. POW internment camps like Camp Trinidad in Southern Colorado and Camp Papago Park in Phoenix, Arizona, were the scenes of exciting mass German escapes and FBI manhunts, forced POW labor to alleviate the drain of able-bodied workers fighting overseas, and internal battles and political murders between Nazi and anti-Nazi German prisoners.

Which character are you most like or identify the most with in Bodyguard of Deception?

Believe it or not, I like Katherine Templeton (the Countess von Walburg) the best. I like strong female characters. But because I am male, I am most like her son Erik, the German spy and escaped POW, and Colonel Morrison, the commandant of the fictional Camp Pershing. In my books, I make sure to care about, and even love, all of my characters, even the villains. You have to love your villains and show their good side, to make your readers uncomfortable and create dramatic tension.

You do a great job with descriptive writing. I can feel the cold of the nights and the heat of the days, as well as see the fanatical moments of some of the characters. I can see the craziness in the eyes of one certain character toward the end. What type of background do you have in writing? What kind of training to give you that touch?

I have written extensively since I was in high school, took several English classes in college at Denison University, and published over twenty articles on oil exploration, hydrogeology, and environmental contamination (I have an M.S. in geology) before I wrote my first novel. But it took me several years and three novels before I could pen professional-caliber thrillers. I have been at this for a few years and have had two New York literary agents. Now my first two thrillers, The Slush Pile Brigade and Blind Thrust, were #1 Denver Post bestsellers, and my first three books received multiple national book awards (USA Best Book Awards, Beverly Hills Book Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and Foreword Reviews’ Book of the Year).  In addition, my first four books garnered positive reviews from #1 bestseller James Patterson, Kirkus Reviews, and Foreword Reviews (5 Stars). But it took a hell of a lot of hard work and persistence to become a “bestselling, award-winning author.”

A woman plays a big part in the book. Sometimes we men don’t pull off writing women well. We forget to put in the nuances that make her a woman and not just a female name attached to our male dialogue and narrative. Did you take a lot of care to get that just right? Did you have help with beta-readers, editors, or anyone to tell you that you nailed it?

My wife is a professional book editor, and she is hard on me and makes sure I get my female characters right. The key is to have empathy for your characters and to constantly put yourself in their shoes. If you do that, I think the dialogue and character relationships will come out all right.

What is your novel writing process? By this, I mean from idea to book shelf, do you research, write, put it away, then rinse and repeat. Every author has a different way.

You just described it very well. My problem is that I have too many, not too few, book ideas and not enough time to turn them all into novels.

I love the book cover for Bodyguard of Deception. It is not overdone but gets everything needed across. Once into the story you get the meaning of it even more. How involved were you in its design? Who came up with it? Who did it?

My book cover designer is award-winning book designer George Foster (www.fostercovers.com), and I love what he does for my covers. He is a true professional and one of the best in the business. I give him a book synopsis, we talk about ideas for a half hour, and then I turn him loose and he does the rest.

With your job by day, writing by night, what hobbies does such a busy man indulge in? What shows do you binge watch? What’s the last good book you read?

I am an avid lacrosse player, downhill skier, and movie watcher. I played in the 2014 Lacrosse World Games and play lacrosse every weekend with most of the players half my age. I have a gift for “finishing”, which is another way of saying I can put the ball in the net. So I am a 54-year-old “Laxbro.”

Who would you like to see play your main characters in a movie or even a TV series?

Erik von Walburg – German Spy and Escaped German POW: Armie Hammer

Katherine von Walburg – German-born American ranch owner and owner of Broadmoor Hotel, mother of Erik: Cate Blanchett or Kristin Scott Thomas

Colonel Jack Morrison – American Colonel, Commandant of Camp Pershing: Jeff Bridges

Tam MacGregor – Scottish Colonel, Chief of the B1A counterintelligence section of British Military Intelligence Section 5 (MI5): Michael Fassbender

What was it like writing Hoover, considering all of the history we know about him?

During the war, Hoover actually played a large role in hunting down German spies and POWs. As director of the FBI and as a human being, Hoover was absolutely over-the-top, so I had to write him like that. At his heart, he was an overzealous law-and-order type guy, glory-seeker, and turf-protector, who was driven by an almost religious-like fervor to promote the FBI in any way possible, at the expense of other law enforcement agencies. But he was also crucial to the modernization and technical optimization of law enforcement that we see today on all the CSI shows.

Have you had any feedback from people that experienced the POWs in America?

Yes, Roy Romer, the former Governor of Colorado and DNC Co-Chairman, remembered the old German POWS in eastern Colorado from when he was a boy and said he enjoyed that aspect of the book. He was nice enough to give me the review for my front cover, too. It reads:

Bodyguard of Deception grabbed my attention right from the beginning and never let go. The character development is excellent. Samuel Marquis has a knack for using historic details and events to create captivating and fun to read tales.”

—Roy R. Romer, 39th Governor of Colorado

What is the project you are working on now?

I am beginning to do my final month-long edits on the second book in my Joe Higheagle Environmental Sleuth Series, The Cluster, a childhood cancer cluster mystery set in Colorado. The novel is based on my hydrogeological experience with the Rosamond cancer cluster in California. Think Erin Brokovich, Michael Clayton, and A Civil Action. In other words, my day job as an expert witness in groundwater cases, but with more diabolically-clever corporate bad guys and dangerous gunplay.

What inspires you to write?

I’ve always wanted to write and simply have to do it. I like to create memorable characters and tell wildly implausible stories that actually seem quite real.

 “The Coalition has a lot of good action and suspense, an unusual female assassin, and the potential to be another The Day After Tomorrow [the runaway best-seller by Allan Folsom].”
—James Patterson, #1 New York Times Best-Selling Author

You are on a deserted island and you can take only one book to read, what book would that be and why?

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. Because it’s my favorite book of all time, the best story ever told about the American West, and it’s nice and long.


Now you know a little more about Samuel Marquis. Go get his books. Now. Seriously. I can’t wait for Roman Moon, the next installment of the WWII Trilogy, to come out in January 2017.-Ronovan Hester, Interviewer

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7 thoughts on “#Interview with @SamMarquisBooks of Bodyguard of Deception.”

  1. I wonder if he found the Kirkus review worth his time and money? I toyed with the idea, but then others were talking about how they once had influence that had waned.
    fiddledeedeebooks.wordpress.com

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