The dark and dismal dystopian future in Andrew Edwards' first book, "Dream of Utopia," is the opposite of the bright future one might predict for a high school senior celebrating the publication of his first book.
Andrew, a 17-year-old Kenmore East High School student, calls himself "kind of a Luddite" because he wrote his story by hand on paper instead of using a computer. He said he started working on the book at age 15, when he was in 10th grade, and filled up three composition notebooks.
"I think I filled about 400 pages of regular lined paper. It was much shorter when I typed it out, but I'm glad I wrote it all by hand first," said Andrew. "When you are writing by hand it feels more personal."
"It's pretty strange," Edwards said of his experience being a published author. "Just holding copies of the book is strange."
He said he had an idea in his head and just started writing it down.
The book is the story of a man and the impossible choices he is forced to make in war. The book is set in the future city of Acropolis on another planet – a place that has been devastated by civil strife. The main character is Randall Adams, a former stockbroker, who is drawn into the conflict.
Amidst the ruins of nuclear war, an authoritarian state is besieged by mutated creatures. Andrew uses that backdrop to explore concepts such as ethics, ideals, violence and revolution.
Andrew – who said he has lived in his mind in this other world for the past three years – is happy to take interested listeners along for the ride, explaining the details of his story at length.
He said his main character, Adams, is not based on himself, but is rather a "common man" who is forced to transition seemingly overnight from civilian to military officer.
Andrew's mother, Karen Edwards, said her son is a great listener and history lover. She said he may have been inspired by his dad, William, who served in the Navy, and his late uncle, her brother, Thomas Radlbeck, who also served in the Navy for 20 years and died shortly after returning from service in the Persian Gulf. She said her brother and Andrew were very close.
"When I was reading it, I got a fine sense of the goings on of Randall Adams' mind and being put in the position to basically say who lives and who dies when he sends these guys out on missions," said Karen Edwards. "Adams is just a regular guy, like the guys around him and it really comes to light when you are reading this. You have no other choice but to see the agony inside the mind of a man that is in this position."
Edwards is clearly her son's biggest fan and encouraged him, provided editorial assistance and guided him through the publishing process. She said if the book sells 10,000 copies in its first year, the publisher will give Andrew an advance to continue the story as a trilogy. Both she and Andrew would like to see another goal – having this book become a movie.
Now that he's a published author, Andrew has advice for other would-be novelists.
"People say they will wait until their 30s or 40s, or when they are more skilled. But it's not like that at all. Just get your pen to paper and start writing. Just start. Just get the story out. It's not complicated. Just start writing," Andrew said.