Author Mark W Sasse teaches drama and history in Malaysia. He lived in Vietnam for ten years which helped provide the rich setting for his first novel, “Beauty Rising.” Sasse is passionate about live theater. He has written, produced, published, and directed many different plays for the stage including the thriller “Spy Blue” and the poignant Hollywood comedy, “Life with Stewart.”
Mark W Sasse’s first novel, “Beauty Rising”, tells the remarkable tale of Martin Kinney, Jr. who tries to fulfill his father’s dying request of burying his ashes in Vietnam. As Martin steps out against his mother’s wish and travels to Vietnam, he has his wallet stolen by a beautiful, young, but troubled woman named My Phuong. This chance encounter changes both of their lives forever.
We caught up with Mark to find out more about his life and writing.
1. What was unique about the setting of your book and how does it enhance the story?
The hustle and bustle of modern-day Vietnam makes the setting of “Beauty Rising” unique. There are many books written from the Vietnam War era, but I had the unique opportunity to spend ten years living in Vietnam from 1994-2003. This unforgettable experience certainly enhanced my novel greatly by providing a very uncommon setting – first by bringing the inexperienced Martin to Vietnam and then by explaining the story of My Phuong before she goes on her journey. Many readers have commented how the vibrant setting of Vietnam brings the story to life.
2. What specific themes did you emphasize throughout the novel?
One of the common themes that many readers have mentioned is that of redemption. In the two main characters, Martin and My Phuong, we have two very battered souls who, because of unforeseen circumstances, go on two different types of journeys in order to find out who they really are and to make peace with their pasts.
3. How do characters change or evolve throughout the course of the story? What events trigger such changes?
The change in Martin is triggered by the death of his father at the beginning of the book. His abusive, dying father, asks Martin to take his ashes to a place in Vietnam where he had a chance encounter with a woman during the war. Martin steps out on his own, determined to do something hard and something worthwhile for the first time in his life. As he does so, his life will never be the same. Read more »