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Man of letters: Boomer postmaster publishes first fiction

BOOMER, W.Va. -- Without question, Robert Maroney is a man of letters. By day, he is postmaster of the Boomer Post Office, and now he has written his first book of fiction.

His first creative outlets were musical, he said. He plays and writes music.

But he said he always wondered what it would be like to write a book. Now his novel "55 Graves" is available both as a traditional book and as an e-book. "I thought it would be fun to write a book and indulge a fantasy. I just wanted to see if I could do it."

When he sits down to read, Maroney likes history and detective stories. His favorite detective writers are James Patterson and John Sandford.

"I have always been fascinated by why people commit crimes," he said. "I've always been drawn to the psychological aspects of crime."

In his book, he imagines a horrific collection of misfits who work their way toward the number of bodies counted in the book's title.

He also decided before he wrote the book that he wanted his detectives to be "just guys. They drink beer. They tell guy jokes." He did not want to write about detectives who are carrying around wounds from other cases or tragic events in their lives.

Maroney has clearly borrowed from his own life story when he imagined his fictional detective, Nicholas Pearce. Maroney is the father of a son and daughter, just like the detective, and he lives in a neighborhood just like Maroney's neighborhood.

"Write what you know," he said. "I drink beer and love WVU football." So does his detective.

He also set parts of the novel in many West Virginia locations: Parsons, Flatwoods and Clarksburg, for example.

Both his daughter and his wife read his drafts and encouraged him to keep writing, he said.

The 58-year-old Maroney was born in St. Albans and spent 22 years in the Air Force. He has no background in law or forensic investigation, two subjects he writes about in his book.

He published the book himself, and he said he is getting good reviews online. "I sent it to a few places, but when you are an unknown writer it is almost impossible to get someone to take on your book. No one wants to take chances with an unknown writer. I have never done anything like this before. I am learning about distribution.

"It's not going to win any literary prizes, but it's not a bad little story," he said.

Readers should be aware it is full of violent scenes.

Reach Susan Williams at susanwilliams@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5112.


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