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Local author celebrates book launch

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BOOK SIGNING: Local author Mark Fauser signs a copy of his new book "Because of Burt" for Marion resident Lisa Couch. Fauser wrote the book after Burt Reynold's death in September. Reynolds was a dear friend and mentor to Fauser. The book can be purchased on Amazon.
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CELEBRATING THE BOOK LAUNCH:American gospel singer T. Graham Brown performs at The Mill during Mark Fauser's launch of his new book titled "Because of Burt."

By Clay Winowiecki - cwinowiecki@chronicle-tribune.com

A new book about Burt Reynolds, titled “Because of Burt,” has been published by local author and actor Mark Fauser.

To celebrate the launch, Fauser held an event at The Mill on Monday. Fauser wrote the book to show the world how giving of a person Reynolds was and how much the late actor has blessed his life.

“He was such a sensitive and generous person,” Fauser said. “That’s what I wanted to see him convey (in his acting) more and more.”

Fauser remembers a time when Reynold’s was acting in a scene and his jaw was accidentally broken after being hit with a chair. As a result, Reynolds began losing weight and tabloids claimed the legendary actor had AIDS and was dying.

“People said he had to stay away from his friends who were gay, but he said I am not going to do that,” Fauser said.

Fauser decided to launch the book on Reynold’s birthday for a number of reasons. One, was that Reynold’s funeral took place on Fauser’s birthday.

“I tried to get it done in time for Christmas (but I couldn’t), so I made a spiritual promise to have it out by his birthday, and I am just so grateful it happened,” he said.

Monday's event was held on Reynolds birthday. During the event, Fauser was joined by the American gospel singer T. Graham Brown, who also shares a personal connection to Reynolds.

According to Fauser, Reynolds once helped Brown with a fundraiser, and Brown wanted to honor that friendship and pay the gift forward by singing at the launch.

Fauser was first inspired to write the book while attending Reynold’s funeral.

“I felt like I'm one of many 'Because of Burt' stories, and it was important to me to share what a great person he was,” Fauser said.

Fauser met his idol as a young actor at the Burt Reynolds Institute in Jupiter, Florida. It was at this acting school that Fauser and Reynolds became linked for more than 32 years.

“(As I wrote) I just started recalling the time that I dreamed of being an actor, in large part because of him,” he said.

Thanks to Reynolds, Fauser would go on to become an actor, write in Hollywood, meet countless celebrities and even find his wife.

“These kind of miracles happened on and on,” Fauser said.

Fauser recounted one time when Reynolds hired him to write on his sitcom "Evening Shade." At the same time, Steven Spielberg had just hired Fauser as an actor on the show "SeaQuest 2032." Fauser was split between two opportunities.

“(Reynolds) told me to do both,” he said. “He called Spielberg on the spot and told him the story. Spielberg said it would be no problem for me to do both.”

Emotional, Fauser asked Reynold’s why he was helping him advance his career.

“(Reynolds) said because Jimmy Stewart did it for him and I want you to pay it forward,” Fauser said. “When I made pretty good money and could afford to do it, I made the CSA. It was so rewarding to see Burt Reynolds come to town and see that his investment in me was being paid forward in a small way in Marion and Grant County.”

Fauser said he never dreamed of writing a book, but after creating several Facebook posts about his memories of Reynolds, his friends pushed him to reconsider.

“When I was at Burt’s theatre a famed modeling agent named Nina Blanchard did an evaluation on me and my classmates and said my nose was too big and I have terrible grammar,” he said. “(I thought if I wrote a book) I won’t have to worry about my nose, but I might have to worry about my grammar.”

Numerous friends helped him through the process, including Jamy Bechler, who published his book on Amazon, and Dawn Darga, who designed the cover.

Originally, the book was 350 pages long, but with the help of critics such as his wife, he cut the final product down to 218 pages.

The launch was chockablocked with Fauser's friends and fans. 

“I came out here to support Mark,” said Marion resident Luke Mitchell. “It’s unique for the community of Marion to have someone of his experience. We’re pretty lucky to have him here in town.”

Mitchell said he is anxious to start reading “Because of Burt.”

“I’m very excited (to read the book),” Mitchell said. “I’ll probably start reading it tonight.”

Another Marion resident who came was Lisa Couch.

“I just love Mark,” Couch said. “I’ve worked with him on a lot of different projects, and he is super good. Marion is so lucky to have him in our town.”

Couch first discovered Fauser in the movie "Madison."

“He was in the movie 'Madison' and part of my family is in Madison, Wisconsin and we (loved) to watch that movie…,” she said. “He’s just an amazing, talented guy.”

“Because of Burt” is a book worth reading for a wide variety of people, Fauser said.

“It has something for everybody in it,” he said. “If you're in Grant County, there's a sense of pride ... It's (also) about 'Evening Shade' and 'Waking Up in Reno' and how Burt, at the height of his career, built a school to help his community in Jupiter, Florida. It’s a good moral message for everyone to be the best person you can be and pay it forward.”

“Because of Burt” can be purchased on Amazon for $19.99.