Marian Small was born in Cleveland, Ohio; she has been writing for most of her life. She began her 25 year business career as a secretary, a cashier and manager of a Detroit mortgage company, and as an Operations Manager of a Florida stock-brokerage firm. She moved to Beverly Hills, Calif. with her the 10-year-old son from her first marriage and became the Administrative Assistant to a Vice-President of the Regional Office of the same brokerage firm, which entailed frequent stints within the Wall Street office. She married again in 1973, at age 46. She and her husband shared a 34-year long marriage before they divorced. After surviving breast cancer and minor strokes, Marian resumed writing at age 86 and has been writing ever since.
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First-time author Marian Small’s WHEN JOHNNY DOESN’T COME MARCHING HOME does for World War I what Tom Brokaw’s THE GREATEST GENERATION did for World War II.
Written as a memoir of her father, WHEN JOHNNY DOESN’T COME MARCHING HOME expands to pay tribute to the generation that fought in the trenches and on the battlefields of what has been
called the “forgotten war.”
called the “forgotten war.”
Employing an inherited cache of her father’s letters home, his diary of the war, and voluminous family and historic photographs, Small, at age 89, has scrupulously created a narrative rich in vivid, sometimes heartbreaking detail of First Sgt. John Small’s experiences on the front lines and as a returning wounded veteran.
As a young man touched with the “spirit of adventure,” John R. Small enlisted in the Ohio National Guard in 1916, when he was 20 years old. He was first sent to Gen. John J. Pershing’s command on the Texas/Mexican border in pursuit of the legendary revolutionary and bandit Pancho Villa. When America entered World War I, in 1917, Small was mustered into the Army and promoted to sergeant. His unit was sent to France in 1918. Among his personal possessions was a diary given to him by his wife, Mary. He made almost daily entries during his time witnessing and enduring the horrors of the war.
John Small was severely wounded by a high explosive during the Meuse-Argonne campaign. His legs were badly mangled. After six months in hospitals in France, he was sent home. “At the tender age of 23 years, Johnny didn’t come marching home,” says Marian Small.
Although John Small’s incredible story took place nearly 100 years ago, it is still relevant today as American troops continue to be deployed around the world in harm’s way. WHEN JOHNNY DOESNT COME MARCHING HOME is certain to appeal to military history buffs, veterans, their families and friends, and readers who enjoy a compelling tale.
Marian Small believes that her book is unique “in that every word is true as told by Johnny in his diary or in his letters as narrated by me. I do not believe it can be compared to any other World War I war story that I have read or that has been written.”
Readers are sure to agree with her.
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Thank you for this interview! I’d like to know more about you as a person first. What do you do when you’re not writing?
I am an early riser, - by 5:30 every morning. After breakfast and the reading of 3 printed newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, I access my computer e-mails, respond when necessary, and then spend the rest of the day working on the PR for my published book and also on the completion of my 7 volumes of THE FOUNDERS OF OUR NATION. Writing and reading occupy most of my day. I rarely leave my apartment.
When did you start writing?
I began at the early age of 7 when I wrote a 'rhymed' poem to my Mother and Father at Easter-time. At 14, I wrote Patriotic poems (WWII) and became Editor of my school paper. I wanted to be a journalist, but was unable to attend college to achieve my goal.
I bought a 2nd-hand manual typewriter and taught myself to type. I wrote short stories, editorials, essays, songs and more poetry.
As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?
The most pivotal point of my writing career was finally achieving what I had wanted all my life, - to be published and become an Author.
If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?
I would not want to be anywhere but here in America. At age 89. and if time and health would allow, as a 12th-generation American, I would like to live in Massachusetts and do more extensive research on my ancestors who were the first founders and proprietors of the many early colonies there, - as far back as 1620.
If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?
I would continue to write and research my ancestry. In my lifetime, I have travelled most of the world. I have lived a full life and have wonderful memories. Age and the disabilities that come with it decide for you what you can do with the rest of your life and, as long as my mind is clear, I chose to spend it writing.
Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?
My first story with the revision of The Founders of America would be about Susanna, my 8th Great-Grandmother, who came to Plymouth Colony on the Mayflower while pregnant. She was the Mother of the first child born in Cape Cod on the Mayflower.
She as also the first English bride in Plymouth Colony when she married her second husband after her first husband died in the cold winter. She lived to be 90 years old, outliving both her husbands by many years.
Back to your present book, WHEN JOHNNY DOESN'T COME MARCHING HOME, how did you publish it?
The Publishing part took a long time to achieve. I first went with a personal Editor who spent several months with me in editing the book. However, when she considered it completed, I did not, and wanted more changes to perfect it, which she would not do. So I started all over again with Friesen Press, going thru the editing stage again, a new cover, and many changes that I wanted until I felt the book was ready for publication. This whole process took almost a year before the book was released.
In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?
No. My father actually did all the research in his letters and diary. He practically wrote the book. I only perfected it.
Why was writing WHEN JOHNNY DOESN'T COME MARCHING HOME so important to you?
I felt it was an important part in the telling of the history of World War I. It has been a 'forgotten' war and needs more recognition considering the many young American men who died or were wounded in it while defending our country. It also helped me to understand my father, - to learn about his boyhood, his 'spirit of adventure', his bravery, his love for my mother and for America and what he endured with the wounds he suffered from. His memorabilia inspired me with the patriotism he had felt for our country, even though he gave up so much of his personal self for it.
Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?
I probably get my best ideas while lying in bed. When this occurs, I immediately write the thought down and follow thru with it in the morning. Once I am at my computer, the words just seem to flow.
Any final words?
Yes. This book is an achievement of a lifetime dream to become an author. It took a long time to get there, but finally, at age 89, I can finally say that I am an AUTHOR.