View Full Version : County native releases 1st novel

01-27-09, 07:45 AM
County native releases 1st novel
Amanda Nuss planned to drop off copies of a story she had written at area Veterans Administration hospitals.

Published: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 4:12 AM EST
Amanda Nuss planned to drop off copies of a story she had written at area Veterans Administration hospitals.

She thought military personnel would enjoy reading “A Coal Region Story,” a fictional tale she penned about a Marine captain from Schuylkill County.

She didn’t expect that anyone outside the hospitals would see the story.

That changed when Nuss’s mother, Jane Harding, read the story and encouraged her daughter to find a publisher.

And now, the Hazleton woman’s first book, written under a pen name — Sarah Jane Storm — is in print through PublishAmerica, Baltimore.

While she promised to drop off her first copies to the veterans’ facilities, she’s excited that others, too, will have the chance to read it.

After all, the story was almost two years in the works.

“It’s about military life,” said Nuss, a native of Mahanoy City. “It singles out a Marine captain, the trials and tribulations of his life, why he comes back to the coal region.”

The story chronicles the captain’s missions — some of them secret — and tells about life on the home front, including his wife’s infidelities.

“I’ve always been intrigued by the military, especially northern Pennsylvanians who served our country,” Nuss said of writing the book. “As a little girl, I heard stories from my elder relatives about Korea, Vietnam, Beirut and Grenada. Not all of those stories were about the military breaking up the enemy. Some of those stories were about how the military broke up families. The military is a hard life.”

Nuss said that while the characters — like protagonist Capt. Bobby Conway — are her creations, there are historical events in the book, too.

“There are a lot of facts about different missions and things like that,” she said. “I researched it on the computer — the facts, the dates, the different places.

“The best fiction will have threads of reality weaved into it. But no matter how many times you toss this coin, it comes up fiction. Any reality will be coincidental.”

“A Coal Region Story” is set in 1982, with Conway and other members of his top-secret unit, The Bakers Dozen, having recently returned from Vietnam. While on a recognizance mission, they located prisoners of war and soldiers who were previously reported missing in action.

The discovery challenges Conway and his military career — especially since the government had claimed that there weren’t any living Vietnam War POWs or MIAs. And to make matters worse, Conway’s wife has been unfaithful — something that could possibly impact his leadership position.

Simply put, Conway has a lot of decisions to make.

But he is able to do some of his best thinking during visits to the coal region. He hunts with his father on the Brockton Mountain, goes ice fishing at Locust Lake State Park and shops at the Schuylkill Mall. Nuss, who enjoys hiking and camping, gives many an account of the area’s natural spots — its terrain, trees and streams.

“This area of Pennsylvania is where I heard all the military stories,” she said of her decision on the book’s title. “Plus, I wanted my readers to know just how wonderful it was growing up in this area of our great country.”

Nuss said the book is her first. She began penning it when health problems, including a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, kept her at home.

“Writing was my outlet,” she said. “It was my way of getting my mind off of my own problems.”

While the story fell into place after Nuss devised a framework, writing it wasn’t always easy.

“I don’t know of one novella written by a woman about Marines. I wanted to get a feel for how a good man felt being betrayed by a woman,” she said. “I wanted to prove to myself that such a story could be written in this way. Women could do anything if they put their mind to it. Writing as a woman seeing through a man’s eyes was indeed challenging.”

The 2000 graduate of Mahanoy Area High School is mother to 7-year-old Sera.

“I am a writer and a single parent. This means I am a full-time mom to my precious 7-year-old daughter. I write when I can. I have a wonderful mother who unconditionally supports my dreams of being the best mom to my daughter and an accomplished writer,” she said.

“A Coal Region Story” is available through Amazon.com, PublishAmerica.com and www.publishedauthors.net/acoalregionstory. Nuss is also in contact with the Waldenbooks store at the Laurel Mall, which should have her book in stock within the next few weeks. She also maintains a MySpace page, www.myspace.com/acoalregionstory.