Veteran / Author / Speaker
Serious Reading - Interview with Tom Crowley, Author of Mercy's Heroes
Your Most recent book is titled Mercy’s Heroes. What is the nature of the book?
Mercy’s Heroes is at its core a paean of praise for the Mercy Centre, a street based charity in the Bangkok slums with the mission of serving the poor. I was proud to be part of it in a small way as a volunteer but it was only years later that I was able to look back and understand what a unique refuge of love it is for abused children and the families who live in the poorest of slum communities
Why did you take that title for the book?
We soften think of heroes in the context of military heroes or those who protect the public such as the police or fire department or emergency personnel. I have been privileged to see the everyday heroism of traumatized children, teachers and street shelter staff workers who stood up for the children on a daily basis in the worst of slum settings. I thought it was time to recognize their courage, especially the kids who are “kicking open the door” to a place in society and a normal life. These are heroes who show courage on a daily basis not just on occasions when confronted with danger.
Why did you take so long to discuss the reality of your fight with PTSD?
The fact of the matter is that, until recent years, there was substantial stigma attached to admitting to post traumatic stress. Possibly this has been more so with men but nowadays both men and women who’ve experience trauma in differing forms find acceptance when they state they are confronting the issue. After I left Mercy and went to writing full time, a number of friends suggested that I write the story of my fourteen years as a volunteer at the Mercy Centre. It was only as I got deeper into writing the story that I realized that it wasn’t about what I had done for Mercy, but what Mercy had done for me. Seeing the pain of others helps you to recognize your pain. Helping to heal others helps you to heal.
Who is your favorite author?
For my action/adventure writing I have many favorites but the one I try to model myself on is Elmore Leonard. Keep things simple and hard hitting. You can find his ten rules of writing at https://www.writingclasses.com/toolbox/tips-masters/elmore-leonard-10-rules-for-good-writing
I blame it on my librarian when I was a kid. She was a pusher and I got hooked. I didn't know reading led to writing. Honestly. I'm innocent.”
"The books I write have their roots in Asia as this has been where I have lived and worked most of my life since being assigned to serve as a rifle platoon leader in Vietnam over fifty years ago. I was wounded in combat during my tour and spent some weeks in an army hospital in Japan recovering from my wounds. It was that early exposure to Japan, a country I have always found fascinating, beautiful and enjoyable, that made me determined to complete my education and return to Asia to live and work. After spending nearly thirty years working in a number of Asian countries, I have spent the last fifteen years in a retirement position working for a charity in Bangkok that assists street kids."
Featured in World War II Quarterly / 2017
Merrill's Marauders in the China-Burma-India Theatre (1944) has been included in the fall issue of World War II Quarterly, which will be released in late October
Bronze Medal Award / 2015
Received the Bronze Medal award for "Murder in the Slaughterhouse" from the Military Writers Society of America
Goodreads / 2014-2015
Murder in the Slaughterhouse receives 4.3/5 stars on Goodreads.com