BHS class of 1980: Battles, a best-selling novelist

BHS class of 1980: Battles, a best-selling novelistBruce Auld, a former Sierra Sands Unified School District Superintendent, is writing the history of Burroughs High School. The articles that are being published are excerpts from his upcoming book, exclusive to The News Review. My wife, Ann, recently had hip replacement surgery and is enjoying physical therapy with Rebecca (Cowan) Bechtel, a 1980 Burroughs graduate. I was hopeful that the stories published in the News Review would generate more stories, suggested by readers. The following histories were suggested by Rebecca.

When Ann mentioned Brett Battles’ name to me, I had a recollection that had nothing to with the USA Today bestselling author. In my mind, Brett was a competitive swimmer for the Indian Wells Valley Swim Team in the 9 and 10 year-old age group, that recollection was later confirmed by Coach Charlie Lattig.

Brett was born in Ridgecrest in 1962 and graduated from Burroughs in 1980. He writes in the thriller/suspense genre with Jonathan Quinn as the main character in fifteen of his thirty-five titles. (Wikipedia)

From Brett Battles website: “Bestselling author Brett Battles is that kid back in sixth grade who convinces his teacher (Mr. Hodges), as an assignment, everyone should write a short story that is at least 10 pages long. He received an A- on his project, while another student (name withheld) received an A+. Brett’s not bitter about this, nor does he think about the incident. Mostly.

Since that unfortunate injustice, Brett has written over thirty-five novels, a few novellas, and several short stories, and is a USA Today bestselling author (take that unnamed 6th grade classmate!)” Brett has been nominated for the prestigious Barry Award three times, winning for Best Thriller in 2009, for his novel The Deceived. Brett has three cool kids – Ronan, Fiona and Keira.”

During his senior year at Burroughs, Brett was president of the Drama Club and directed the student production for young audiences, the Hobbit. Brett was recipient of the Bank of America Award for Drama. He was also on staff with the student newspaper, the Blockbuster. (1980 El Burro)

After graduation Brett attended Cerro Coso Community College for one year and traveled for several years. Later he enrolled at California State University, Northridge. His first published novel was The Cleaner. (Nathaniel Liedl, Daily Independent, date unknown)

I read somewhere that Brett enjoys peanut butter and ketchup sandwiches. I am no critic, but that sounds more like a mystery than a thriller.

Brett’s 1980 classmate, was born half a world away in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi, Japan. Merritt David Mullen III is an Emmy Award winning cinematographer.

M. David Mullen, born on June 26, 1962, is a Japanese-born American cinematographer known for his photography on Twin Falls Idaho, Northfork, Akeelah and the Bee, The Astronaut Farmer, Jennifer’s Body and The Love Witch, and for numerous television series, including The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel for which he won an Emmy Award. He often collaborates with the Polish Brothers. (Wikipedia)

After graduating from UCLA with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in English Literature, he studied cinematography at the California Institute for the Arts (CalArts) from 1988 to 1991. His mentor was Krzysztof Malkiewicz; he later collaborated with him on Cinematography (Third Edition), an essential guidebook for film production techniques. By the time he entered CalArts, he was 27 years old and well versed in the technical side of cinematography, having learned everything he could from the UCLA film library. (Wikipedia)

In spring 2004 he was accepted into the American Society of Cinematographers (A.S.C.), one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a cinematographer. He has been nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards for best cinematography, once in 2000 for Twin Falls Idaho, and once in 2004 for Northfork. In 2017, he was awarded Best Cinematography for The Love Witch by the Dublin Film Critic’s Circle. (Wikipedia)

David is a member of the faculty of the Global Cinematography Institute. In his youth, “the film that had the biggest impact came from seeing Close Encounters of the Third Kind in a movie theater when I was 15. It was the ultimate cinematic experience of my youth. I am still in awe of that movie. If not a cinematographer, I’d probably be teaching film making. If, not I might be trying to make a living as a writer.” (From ASC Close-Up, interview March 2006)

Maybe classmates Brett and David should collaborate on an award-winning project. Unless, David was that sixth-grade classmate with the A+!

Courtesy photo: Brett Battles with Timothy Hallinan, an American thriller writer, based in Southern California and Southeast Asia

Story First Published: 2021-09-03