News: Fort Hood Soldier applies resilience to publish novel written during deployment
Story by Sgt. Ken Scar
KILLEEN, Texas - Soldiers often put their spare time during deployments to good use: some hit the gym, some learn new skills, and some hit the books. One wrote a book.
Spc. Bradley Wancour, a public affairs specialist with the 13th Public Affairs Detachment, spent most of his life wanting to author a novel.
The Army unexpectedly provided him with the perfect opportunity.
“I’ve wanted to publish a book since before high school,” he explained. “I starting writing one and kind of poked at it here and there for years, but I’d get distracted by something else and then forget about it.”
When the 13th PAD embarked on a yearlong deployment to Kuwait, he realized right away that he was going to have a good amount of off time, so he got motivated.
“When my wife and I deployed to Kuwait, I decided to focus on it. Some people go to the gym for hours while they’re deployed to get into shape; my thing was to get my book into shape.”
Wancour’s wife, Sgt. Heather Feenaughty, said she was impressed by her husband’s discipline once he set his goal.
“We lived in a [shipping container] with a bed,” she laughed. “At night after work I’d be playing video games, and he’d be writing two or three hours a night. Some people go for degrees on deployment - I tried to learn French - but Brad writes a book!”
The finished product, “The Human Lie,” is a dark tale about a young man who finds out, quite suddenly, that he’s a werewolf.
“It’s about a guy who wakes up one day surrounded by werewolves who say, you’re one of us,” said Bradley. “I like to say it’s an exploration of the animal side of humanity as told through werewolves.”
But Bradley’s journey to be an author didn’t end when he typed “the end.” The next step was getting the book published, and that’s when the real adventure began.
He started by sending his manuscript to all the big publishing companies, and grins sardonically at their response.
“I didn’t even get rejection letters from them. Just silence.”
Frustrated, Bradley sought out other options, and found a publishing company in Michigan that said it was willing to print his book for a fee.
“It was a pay to play kind of thing,” he said. “I paid them nearly $2,000 for the service of editing, creating a cover, and publishing my book.”
After months of giving Bradley the run-around, the company closed under mysterious circumstances, taking Bradley’s dreams and his money with it.
“I didn’t get anything. I never saw a dime back, and I don’t expect to,” he sighed. “It was discouraging. So I sat on the book for a long time again.”
Earlier this year, he rallied himself once again and figured out a way to use his skills as a military journalist to finally make his dream come true.
“Because of my job in the military I’ve learned to use programs like InDesign and Photoshop,” he explained. “I decided to take it into my own hands and publish my book myself.”
He researched self-publishing options and found an online service called CreateSpace, which is owned by Amazon, that provides self-publishing services and decided to give it a try.
The service offers design and layout options for a price, but Bradley didn’t have to use any of them.
“I was able to create the cover and lay out the entire interior myself using the skills I learned as a public affairs specialist in the Army,” he said. “I didn’t have to pay a dime to get it published.”
The result is a slick-looking paperback that is printed to order. Bradley proudly displayed a small stack of them at his home, the satisfying reward for his long struggle.
“My whole family has been buying it, including my brother, who is [in Afghanistan] right now,” said Heather. “Brad’s worked very hard on that book, and I’m just happy to see the final product. It’s been a long journey for him.”