FORT WAYNE – Andy Gardner of Fort Wayne is on medium cruise control down the back road of his mundane existence. And with little emotion, he lives uneventfully down the middle.
At 34, he is middle-aged and divorced. He drives an older, mid-sized car to his job in middle management. It wasn’t until he is greeted by his next door neighbor, Scarlett, that his future, which threatened to be as dull as the small, non-descript house in which he lived, seems to brighten.
Yet what continued to drive Gardner were his memories of when he was 17, when he found Ashley; when summer’s warmth echoed the cicadas’ call, and he was mesmerized with love and rapture.
With his self-published novel Brood X, Journal Gazette reporter Dan Stockman not only guides Andy Gardner through Fort Wayne’s cityscape, stopping and lingering at familiar locations throughout, but takes his readers from present to past.
The 168-page debut novel whose title refers to a swarm of periodical cicadas that surface once every 17 years was published Nov. 25. It marks the conclusion of an on-again, off-again, four-year quest that Stockman compares to scaling a mountain.
It was difficult, Stockman says of his family’s climb up 11,003-feet Estes Cone in Colorado. We had to push ourselves. All four of us – at one point or another – was ready to give up. But when we got to the top, there was this incredible feeling of, We did this!’
I write stories for the newspaper all the time, but something of this length and complexity and the nuances that go into (writing a book) is a lot like climbing a mountain. It is complicated. It is difficult. And it is incredibly rewarding when you’re finished.
A native of Muskegon, Mich., Stockman has received awards as a newspaper reporter. His work has also appeared in Newsweek, the Detroit Free Press and the Chicago Tribune.
Even though I had written a lot of fiction in college and had always loved fiction and writing fiction, to suddenly switch back to fiction was very difficult, says Stockman, whose foray into fiction was contrary to his career as a reporter. ... To make something up is more than just a sin; it’s beyond a mortal sin. It’s so far beyond prohibitive. Entire careers have been ruined. People’s reputations and lives have just been trashed.
To lend authenticity to his characters, Stockman chose to place them in Fort Wayne.
The thing is, I love Fort Wayne, Stockman says. I’ve been here 10 years, and we’re absolutely in love with it. So it’s kind of a nice way to pay tribute to a city we love so much.