Entrepreneur T Martin Bennett retired early to indulge his passion — telling the story of Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese pilot who led the attack on Pearl Harbor, then settled in the U.S. and became a Christian evangelist.
Bennett co-founded a pet products company before he moved to Oro Valley two years ago from Richmond, Va., to be closer to his parents.
He traveled to Japan in 2007 to research Fuchida’s life, and has written a screenplay and now a book, called “Wounded Tiger.” He will self-publish the book in February, funded with nearly $13,000 raised in a Kickstarter campaign that ended in June.
With hopes that strong book sales will help ease the way for his movie to come together, Bennett is putting the finishing touches on his work.
We asked Bennett, 57, about the story and his goals.
Q: What are the basics of the story you want to tell?
A: The elevator pitch — the slug line — is very simple. It’s a beautiful, terrible story of a man who led the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Q: Was he a conflicted man?
A: After the war, he regretted everything having to do with the war. He spent the rest of his life apologizing to everyone.
Q: What does the “T” initial stand for and why is there no dot after it?
A: In some places, like credit cards, you can’t put a dot after an initial. So I’ve sort of eliminated the dot entirely. The reason I used it is I want to differentiate myself from other Martin Bennetts. There are hundreds of people with that name. My first name is Tracy, but I haven’t used it since I was a kid.
Q: Is this your first book?
A: It is my first book, and is actually a novelization of my screenplay. I reversed the standard order. Usually a book is based on a screenplay, but I did it the other way around.
Q: What led you to decided to self-publish?
A: I did have a literary agent who is very reputable. He loved the book. Publishers saw that the book takes place during World War II and they think bombs, planes and ships. Things that aren’t attractive to women over 50, who make up the bulk of book buyers. But it’s not really about bombs and planes. It’s a character-driven story. I did get offers from four small publishers, but they wouldn’t commit to marketing budgets.
Q: So then what did you do?
A: I did a Kickstarter campaign in June to fund the first run of books. My target was $10,000 but I ended up with more than $12,000. While I’ve been working on this, I’ve also been working on the film side and am in talks with potential investors. Instead of money coming through the studio, I’ll fund it with investors, form a limited liability company and partner with a studio. I want to maintain a level of creative control with the project.