NU freshman pens fiction novel

Being a freshman in the Corps of Cadets at Norwich University offers many challenges, exhausting individuals both physically and mentally. Long hours are spent balancing academics and corps responsibilities, finding enough time in the day to make it work.

After all, the schools motto is “Expect challenge, achieve distinction.” Cadet Brendan Perry took that challenge to a whole new level and in turn achieved distinction.

At 19, not many college students can say they have authored a book, let alone had their book published and featured on the likes of Amazon.com, but Perry, a sophomore studies in war and peace major at Norwich University has done just that.

His book, Archer, chronicles in about 350 pages the story of a young rebel freedom fighter in Washington, D.C. in America during the aftermath of a devastating national disaster. “The cities are all but abandoned in the shadow of a countrywide police action. The government, desperate to gain control over the chaos, has become enemy to a tattered handful of urban rebels,” as described on amazon.com.

“I imagine it as ‘what would happen if Murphy’s law, if all the worst-case scenarios happened from now until the next 20 years. It’s the what-if scenarios, the good, bad, what exactly would happen.” Perry said.

“You know there’s really no one left, cities have been evacuated, the government has declared martial law, this little tattered rebel bands who think they have a chance at fighting and getting the country back,” he said.

The Amazon.com description goes on to describe Perry’s main character who shares his name with the title of the book, Archer, as “a lone youth in search of a home, a family, and in many ways a sense of self. Through a whirlwind of adventures including gunfights, fistfights, betrayal, and love, the young protagonist rewrites his definition of home.”

The idea came to the young author in 2008 during the ramp-up to and during the election period of that year.

“The idea popped into my head when I was first getting to understand and know politics. When I first got interested in politics, you knew what was going on with the country around 2008,” Perry said.

“I have always had the fascination with writing, tried writing a book in 7th grade and it turned out to be more like a video game screen play, and the grammar was terrible, but this was different,” he said.

“It was right after the 2008 election, I was old enough to understand what was going on, I figured out a little more, I started watching the news a lot more I had this idea and I said “Hey! I really need to write about this,” Perry said.

He began in his living room, typing away on his laptop. As Perry began to write, his idea grew. He just kept writing, straight through his senior year of high school and into his freshmen year at Norwich.

“Next thing I know I had a 20-page chapter,” he said. “I don’t know what it is about this one idea, but I had this mindset that I could finish this one if I really tried.” He spent nights up until 4 a.m. and much of his summer with the windows open sitting at the desk writing and writing and writing, he explained.

He wasn’t alone in his creative process, however. Perry enlisted the help of his family and high school friends to help him create his opus.

“My friends in high school helped me from the beginning saying  ‘sure I’ll read this chapter, I’ll read my friend’s book, and 13 chapters later they are, like, I want another one. They helped me along because I wanted a lot of feedback,” said Perry.

Perry was enrolled in advanced placement classes, was the president of his student council, and a member of the honor society. Even with all that, he stayed up through the hours of the night to write. “I don’t know what compelled me to do it, but I did,” said Perry. “It’s one of those things where if you love it, it’s not a job and this is one of those situations.”

Writing is not just the difficult part, editing also takes time to create a great work, and being a high school student about to enter college, Perry couldn’t send it to an copy editor to look it over.

“My mom helped by editing it over a couple of times, and I actually finished and edited the book during rookdom,” Perry said. “Somehow I had the time, but I couldn’t just leave the book and not touch it until I got recognized so I had to find the time.”

“I was almost done going into arrival day, so I probably finished sometime in the fall. I had a long editing process,” he said.

Late nights ensued. While bathing in the glow of his laptop screen, Perry edited his piece to make it what it is today.

“I read it about 20 more times before it was done,” he explained. As soon as the editing process was done, Perry began to search for a publisher, but he found himself in the standard college student scenario: strapped for cash.

“My grandfather had published a memoir not too long ago and got an agent, went through the whole process, and spent quite a bit of money hiring these people and getting it published,” he said. “It would have cost more in effort, time, and money than I would have been able to.”

So to combat the price and costs, Perry took to scouring the Internet and found Publish America.com, a free publishing company.

He sent his manuscript in and waited for the acquisition editors to decide whether or not they would publish, Perry said.

“It worked out really well. I mean it was up to me to do all the editing legwork, making sure everything was fine tuned and their design department did the cover design and everything,” Perry said.

“I got my first copy which was cool, I sat and stared at it for awhile. It was surreal, knowing that this whole thing was me, that I put it together start to finish,” he said.

“I don’t get much of an author’s discount, I have to buy my book in bulk and make that turnaround and make that profit again,” Perry said.

However, this hasn’t deterred the young author who has taken to pitching his book to classmates as well as local bookstores.

“I bought a few copies and pitched it to local bookstores, one back home near Mystic, here in Northfield, and the school bookstore said they were going to buy a few copies,” Perry said.

“I was very much proud I was able to accomplish this, you know going through this, going through rookdom, and still being able to pull that off,” he said.

In the end, Perry wants Archer to be both a novel with a message as well as an entertaining read.

The book warns of all the possible ways things could go wrong in the world. “It’s up to the students, these rising generation of politically aware Americans to understand. There’s some messages there and some things in there if you read into it and see where I’m going,” Perry said.

“I want people to get out of it is some sense of patriotism, some belief in the strength of this country. They’ll be able to get some good things out of this book,” he said.

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