Author Interview Mark James Miller / The White Cockade



JMR-Welcome to the Books Delight, Mark. Tell our readers where you live, what you do for fun and what does the perfect day look like?

MJM-I live on California’s Central Coast, in a small town called Arroyo Grande, about 70 miles north of Santa Barbara.  It is a beautiful place to live!  For fun I enjoy reading, playing chess on the computer, and bicycling.  A perfect day for me consists of writing for 3 hours after I wake up, followed by a bicycle ride of 30—45 minutes, then teaching one of my classes at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, and feeling as if I have made a positive difference, no matter how small, in someone’s life.

JMR-What’s your favorite historical time period? Why?

MJM-There are many, but the period from the end of World War I to the start of World War II would be the one I would choose.  I realize that for many people these were some very tough times, but it was also a time of great and long lasting changes, great literature and art was produced, important ideas put forth.  Hemingway, Steinbeck, Faulkner did some of their best work during this time.  Picasso painted Guernica.  Woody Guthrie wrote songs we still sing today.        

JMR-Who is your favorite historical figure? Why? If you could ask them one question, what would it be?

MJM-Franklin Delano Roosevelt would be my favorite.  I admire him because when he was stricken with polio at 39, he could have just retired from life.  Instead he chose to make his life mean something.  He brought us through the Depression and then World War II, gave the country hope when it most needed it.  If I could ask him one question it would be, “What inspired you to keep going in spite of the obstacles you faced?” 

JMR- How did you come to be a writer of historical fiction?

MJM-I’ve always loved history.  My undergraduate degree is in history.  And I’ve always loved historical novels like War and Peace by Tolstoy, Dr. Zhivago by Pasternak, Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk, and August 1914 by Solzhenitsyn.  So after my first novel, Red Tide, was published, I considered several projects before deciding to write about the American Revolution.     

JMR- A lot of Americans think they have a pretty good understanding of the American Revolution. What do you think is the biggest misconception?

MJM-What most people don’t know about the American Revolution is how divided the country was.  For every two “Patriots” who wanted independence there was at least one “Loyalist” who was opposed.  Even before the first shots were fired there were street battles between the Patriots and the Loyalists in Boston and New York.  Also, so many Loyalists volunteered to fight on the British side to the point where some people call the Revolution our first Civil War.

JMR- What did you find in your research that surprised you the most?

MJM-That the revolution almost ended in its second year, 1776.  After the colonists gave the British a couple of bloody noses at Concord and Bunker Hill in 1775, then drove them out of Boston in early 1776, it looked like victory was in sight. But in the late summer and autumn of 1776, when the British brought their full strength against them, they were beaten in battle after battle and forced to retreat all the way to Pennsylvania.  Morale hit rock bottom, the army was disintegrating, and Washington even said in a letter to his brother: “I am worried to death.  The game is pretty near up.”  Washington saved the day by his surprise attack on the Hessians in Trenton on Dec. 26 and  then defeating the British a week later at Princeton.  If not for those two victories, the revolution might have collapsed. 

JMR- Mark, tell us about your new book, The White Cockade.

MJM-The White Cockade was a cloth flower worn in Europe as a sign of being a rebel.  It was also the title of a popular song in the 18th Century.  The story itself is about a young, wealthy Bostonian, Josiah Hartford, who comes home after graduating from Harvard early in 1775 and is determined not to get involved in the growing conflict between the rebel Patriots and the British.  But as he sees more and more of how the British soldiers mistreat American civilians, and is even forced to intervene once when he sees a British soldier attacking an American woman, he finds that the conflict is catching up with him, like it or not, and when some British soldiers kill his younger brother, he no longer has any choice.  We see the first shots at Lexington and Concord, the Battle of Bunker Hill, and Washington taking command of the Continental Army,  among other historical events.

JMR-What projects do you have in the pipeline?

MJM-I began working on The White Cockade in 2016, after my first novel Red Tide was published.  I sketched it out start to finish, then began working on it and doing the research.  By the time I finished in 2019, I realized I had two novels here.   So I cut it in half and sent it to Black Rose Writing as The White Cockade, and when that was okayed for publication I began working on the sequel, much of which was already written, and it is going to be called The Winter Soldiers.

Once that is completed, I intend to start work on something I have wanted to do for many years, and that is write a fictional biography of Reinhard Heydrich, aka The Evil Young God of Death.  He was the architect of the Nazi Holocaust, a special interest of mine, and his story, and the stories connected with him, are utterly mind-boggling.

JMR- Tell our readers how to find you on social media and the web.

MJM-my website, which badly needs some attention, is 


Facebook: (5) Mark James Miller | Facebook

JMR- What question were you hoping I’d ask but didn’t?

MJM-How do I feel about my life right now?  I feel very blessed, at this stage of my life, that I am able to do three things I love:  Writing, Teaching.  I am also president of my teacher’s union at Allan Hancock College and I have improved pay and working conditions for the people in my bargaining unit.  I also have a wonderful wife who supports what I do, and that makes a huge difference in life.

JMR- Thank you, Mark, for stopping by the Book’s Delight and good luck with your new book. Readers, I have included a link to Amazon if you’d like to check it out.


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