Aged 72, native of Sayreville realizes his lifelong passion for writing with the publication of his first novel.
“The Off Season” is the first novel by Stephen Heck, who lived in Sayreville for 52 years.
He currently resides in the Rio Grande section of Cape May County. The novel was published by SeaGrove Press, a publishing house that supports South Jersey authors.
“My wife, Janice, and I both grew up on Forrest Avenue and lived on Cambridge Drive,” Heck said. “We moved to Rio Grande in 2007, just outside of Wildwoods and Cape May, both of which are minutes from our doorstep.”
Heck previously worked 36 years managing a distribution center for a national parts company. However, he had always been interested in writing.
“My mother, Marie, encouraged me to write and bought me a set of books on writing,” Heck said. “As a high school student and at Seton Hall University, I wrote a lot of short stories. “
He said having a passion for writing helped him during his career in managing distribution.
“The ability to correspond with our head office remotely regarding all matters of business has been very helpful in keeping my bosses informed and at a distance,” he said.
Now retired from the distribution industry, Heck has transformed his passion for writing into a complete novel.
Heck described “The Off Season” as a beach read and murder mystery with a supernatural undercurrent.
He said he focuses on David Farmer, an author who lives a secluded life in a luxury condominium in Wildwood Crest. After Farmer meets a fan on the boardwalk in Wildwood, the eponymous shadows from his bestselling “Shadows: The Other Side” unexpectedly return.
Set primarily in the Wildwoods and Cape May, with Brazil’s Amazon River region playing a role, the novel also sees Farmer and his seventh-floor neighbors become suspects when a serial killer strikes, according to Heck.
“It’s the off season and the tourists have gone home,” Heck said. “Yes, the season is a bit shifted. “
Writing “The Off Season,” Heck said he was influenced by the 1956 film “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and its concept of an entity attempting to replace people.
“I wanted to change the concept and wondered about the idea of shadows coming to life,” he said. “Although I didn’t follow the film’s plot line, I knew a variation could be just as frightening. Living here in the far south of Jersey, there is a widespread belief in the paranormal, with many people certain that ghosts haunt guesthouses and restaurants Ghost hunts and ghost tours are a cottage industry.
Heck said he spent four years developing the novel’s plot and developing the characters who carry the action.
“Good storylines are needed, but the characters have to be real and the reader has to invest in them, take root for them,” he said. “Without this connection, readers don’t care what happens to them. It’s also more effective to show readers what’s going on through dialogue, rather than just being told by a narrator.
The author thanked SeaGrove Press founder Ronald Rollet for helping him with “The Off Season”.
“Ronald Rollet walked me through the writing and publishing process,” Heck said. “I am grateful to him. “
“The Off Season” can be purchased online through Amazon at: https://www.amazon.sg/Off-Season-Stephen-M-Heck/dp/1737373408