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Steven Manchester's latest book addresses post traumatic stress disorder

The Standard Times - 6/20/2018

June 20--SOMERSET -- Author Steven Manchester has written about post traumatic stress disorder in his books before. He has addressed the topic in two prior books and does so in his newest novel, called "Three Shoeboxes."

But there is a difference with the new book. The first two times he wrote about post traumatic stress disorder, it had to do with characters from the military, a topic that Manchester was familiar with since he says that he experienced PTSD after coming back from the first Persian Gulf War. However, in "Three Shoeboxes," the character who experiences post traumatic stress syndrome does not have a PTSD from a military experience. While there is a lot of attention with servicemen and women who commonly experience post traumatic stress disorder, Manchester said one of his aims with his new book is to let people know that other people experience PTSD, whether it is from an accident or some other traumatic experience.

"Three Shoeboxes" was released for public purchase just last week, but has already received some positive reviews. "Three Shoeboxes" won the fiction category and overall award at the New York Book Festival and took first place in the fiction category at the Beach Book Festival. On day one the book was on Amazon, there were 15 reviews and they were all five star. One review said "the book celebrates the strength of the human spirit." Manchester said that is what the book is about- being down, but having the strength to get back up.

"I'm very happy with the outcome, the final product, but this was not an easy one to write," Manchester said.

Manchester has written 17 books, with four of the last 10 going to number one on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble charts and two of them being best sellers on Amazon.

The book can be purchased through Amazon and, locally, at Annie's Unique Boutique, located at 1049 County St. in Somerset, and at Riverside Art, located at 1600 G.A.R. Highway in Somerset.

The original version of "Three Shoeboxes" was written as a screenplay by Manchester. Manchester said he never had the funding or the contacts to get it on the screen and he didn't want to produce it as an independent movie. He said he talked to Footlights Repertory Company founder Sue Nedar to see if the story could be used on stage. Manchester worked on adapting the story for the stage over two months and then it was presented at The Grange in Swansea. Manchester's daughter, Isabella, played a part in the play. The play version of "Three Shoeboxes" had four shows and they were all sold out.

"People get emotional over this story," Manchester said. "We got standing ovations every night."

But Manchester said he loved the message of "Three Shoeboxes" so much that he wanted a wider audience for it, so he spoke to his publisher at The Story Plant in Connecticut and put it in novel form, which he said was not easy. He said the script for the play was about 15,000 words. He had to add another 60,000 words without any fluff to make it into a book. He said he set a six-month deadline for himself to get the novel done.

Manchester said that in the book, he is trying to bring attention to PTSD and is trying to do away with the negative stigmas of the disorder. In the novel, the main character, Mac Anderson, has a great job, fantastic marriage and is a wonderful father who is very involved with his three children. But his perfect life is challenged when something triggers his PTSD symptoms and it brings him to his knees. The PTSD has an impact on his marriage, he loses his job and the courts take his children from him.

"This is a feel good tear jerker," Manchester said just a few days before Fathers' Day. "It's a tragedy to triumph type of book. As a writer, it's my way to show or depict the depth of a father's love and what this man has to do in order to get back to his kids."

Manchester said PTSD is like an invisible disease and people suffer in silence from it. He said he realizes the darkness of the disorder, but he said people have to speak up to get help if they have anxiety or depression.

"You don't have to walk alone," Manchester said. "You can go get the help you need and the support out there."

Manchester said it took him five years to heal from PTSD, but said he found people to help him. He said he had two friends who took their own lives because of PTSD. He said people conceal PTSD because they think other people will consider it a weakness.

"Thank God I got help because I don't think I would have survived it if I didn't get help," Manchester said.


(c)2018 The Standard-Times, New Bedford, Mass.

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