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Somerset author Steve Manchester pens new book PTSD is the 'villian' in 'Three Shoeboxes'

Herald News - 6/17/2018

In "Three Shoeboxes," Somerset author Steven Manchester takes on subject that's all too common, and yet, highly misunderstood: post traumatic stress disorder.

The main character, Mac Andersen, has a enviable life: a beautiful wife, three loving children, a successful career and a beautiful home. But all that changes when an unexpected event sends Andersen into full-blown depression, anxiety and panic attacks, resulting from an earlier trauma.

Manchester takes the reader on a heart-wrenching roller coaster ride as Anderson tries to find the strength to go from tragedy to triumph, fighting to regain control of his life.

In writing the book, Manchester said he tried to find empathy for all the characters, despite the major life-altering situations Andersen encounters as his PTSD lays waste to the life he once knew. "The villain is the disease itself," said Manchester.

It's a subject Manchester knows only too well, he said. As a veteran of the Gulf War, Manchester said he dealt with the effects of PTSD for five years after returning from the war. "It took everything I had to reinvent/reclaim my life," he said.

In another interview for the book last week, Manchester said he talked about the unexpected suicide of Anthony Bourdain. Due to the stigma associated with mental illness, Manchester said he wasn't surprised Bourdain had not been vocal about his personal struggles. "People never knew about it, because people conceal it," he said. "If you're suffering, you have to get help."

What propels the character Andersen to get help is his love for his children and the desire to have them back in his life, said Manchester.

The novel, released last Tuesday, drew positive praise from reviewers on Amazon as well as praise from authors who read the book in advance. "'Shoeboxes' is a glimpse into real life tragedies that families keep secret," said Charley Valera, award-winning author of "My Father's War: Memories from Our Honored WWII Soldiers."

Manchester originally wrote the story before he became a best-selling author of 17 books, two of which have been national best-sellers. At the time, the screenplay went "nowhere" he said. He took the screenplay to Sue Nadar, founder of Footlights Repertory Company, and he adjusted it into a stage play. The company performed it in 2015, selling out all four showings, said Manchester.

The audience feedback was amazing and they urged him to rewrite it into a book to get the story out to a wider audience, he said.

"I think it's important for people to understand that PTSD is an invisible disease and people suffering from it suffer tremendously," said Manchester.

"Three Shoeboxes" is available through all major booksellers.

For more information about Manchester, visit his author's website: www.stevenmanchester.com.

Email Linda Murphy at lmurphy@heraldnews.com.


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