West Jefferson resident Adam Lawler doesn’t know where self-publishing his first novel will lead him, but much like his characters, he’s just along for the ride.
In 2008, Lawler, who had always taken a hobbyist interest in writing, lost his job as a finance manager when his workplace closed. Shortly after that, he found out that he had become legally blind.
“I said, ‘Now what am I going to do?’ and I thought, ‘Well I have time now to write a book’,” he said.
The novel he began in 2008 never came to fruition, but last year, inspiration struck and Lawler returned to writing.
“The story just started playing out for me,” Lawler said. “The characters sort of became real, and once they did I just had to see it through to the end of the story.”
His debut novel “Barely Retired” takes newly-retired detective Carter Sykes and his wife Connie on a “risque excursion” from their home in Kingsport, Tenn., to rural South Carolina.
Lawler wanted to infuse his suspenseful mystery with crime, humor, romance and even some adult situations.
“I would say the book is definitely not PG,” Lawler laughed.
He drew inspiration from old local people and news stories, and from some things closer to home. Thor, the black Labrador-mix who plays a crucial role in “Barely Retired” is based on his own beloved Doberman Pinscher, Freyja.
Lawler said he decided to teach himself to self-publish on a “steep learning curve” because he “just couldn’t wait around” for the book to be made available.
“Barely Retired” is available for $3.99 in e-book form from Amazon, Barnes & Nobel and other online retailers. Lawler said he hopes a print version will be available online within the month.
The characters of Carter and Connie are so close to Lawler’s heart that he’s already working a sequel to “Barely Retired” called “Barely Home: Back to the Hills.”
Another novel in the works will be set partially in Sparta and around Alleghany County, and will deal with grief, loss and familial relationships, finding the main character on a cross-country motorcycle trip to California.
Lawler, the son and grandson of coal miners from a small town in Virginia said he’s going to take his character on a journey he’s always wanted to go on.
“I’ve always wanted to ride to California too, it’s always been a dream of mine,” he said.
Lawler works part-time with a local car dealership and is an avid ham radio operator, but said much of his time is consumed by late nights spent writing.
“I don’t know if there’s a blessing to not being able to see,” Lawler said. “But if I had my eyesight, I probably wouldn’t have the time to sit down and write. I just do what I can, and I’m not going to quit.”
Christina Day can be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @CDayinWJ