About the Author
Gary Harlan made a promise to himself when he turned 72 .
For decades his writing had been limited to philosophy papers, keeping a journal, and writing the occasional newspaper and magazine article. He was going to get serious about writing. He would begin by writing two books: a memoir, and a novel.
After six years of rising at 3 in the morning and writing all day, he fulfilled his promise.
What began as a memoir about his Vietnam and post-Vietnam experience turned out to be much more than that when Harlan expanded the scope of the project. He embarked on a coast-to-coast road trip, interviewing a dozen of the Marines and Navy corpsmen he had served with in Vietnam. He would tell his story and theirs. The project was expanded further when he organized a trip to Vietnam for himself and six of his comrades. They met former Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers they had fought against. The result: Always Faithful: Returning to Vietnam, published in 2020.
Three years later, Harlan published Redbirds: From Vietnam to the Ballpark. For over 25 years, the idea for that novel kept running through his brain. Despite the protagonist being a Marine Vietnam veteran coping with PTSD, Redbirds is not autobiographical. Harlan’s best friend is not a nationwide distributor of marijuana. He did not have a grandfather who was a bootlegger fronting as a door-to-door Bible salesman during Prohibition before transitioning into cattle farming; nor a grandmother who was close friends with Branch Rickey and famous St. Louis Cardinals. All the characters were created in the author’s imagination. Yet, oddly enough, he developed a special love for each of them.
After writing about his own struggles with PTSD in a non-fiction book, and then a novel about a veteran dealing with the same issues, Harlan concluded that showing the reader someone overcoming PTSD in a fictional narrative was more illuminating than telling the reader about it in non-fiction.
Gary Harlan lives in the Missouri Ozarks with his wife Marissa and their cat Alex.