Jason Gourley

Madison’s Gourley finds success
as a 23-year-old published novelist

By Bernadette Wickersham
Contributing Writer

(July 2002) MADISON, Ind. – A mild mannered, soft-spoken Madison, Ind., resident, Jason Gourley, has crossed the threshold into a career in creative writing. 1st Books Library has published his first novel, “My Brother’s Family.”
Gourley, 23, has lived in Jefferson County, Ind., all of his life and is a 1996 graduate of Madison High School. He lives with his wife, Tina, and two stepchildren. He admits he hasn’t fully realized the meaning of his accomplishment.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet, I’m still in shock,” says Gourley, holding the dark blue paperback in his hands. “It’s like a dream.”
Gourley’s determination to be published led him to the library, where he searched in writers’ publications such as “Writer’s Digest Magazine” until he found the publisher he wanted.

Jason Gourley

Jason Gourley

“I sent in a query letter, describing the book,” Gourley recalls, “and I still can’t believe they contacted me, wanting to see the manuscript. It’s all happened so fast.”
Gourley’s novel is a fictional narrative in which the main character, Conner Hurley, relates his painful story of childhood abuse and the surprising outcome of his search for healing. Gourley’s goal in writing the book is summed up on the 1st Books website: “To help the readers unlock their minds and help them visualize the everyday hardships of lives from a different angle, to motivate those who have suffered with undeserved pain.”
An excerpt from the novel gives an insight into Gourley’s writing talent and the seriousness of his chosen subject.
“The illumination from the moon provided shadowy images of tree branches dancing with the wind on my bedroom floor. I was paying so much attention to the beauty of it that I didn’t become aware of a pillow being lowered towards my face.”
According to the publisher’s release, “The brutal images of sexual, physical and emotional abuse Conner suffered makes ‘My Brother’s Family’ a difficult book to read. But we must give credit to Gourley for being loud in echoing the voices of innocent victims and exposing the growing problem of child abuse.”
Why would Gourley write a novel on such a serious subject? He has worked in the Madison State Hospital Adolescent Unit. His awareness of human suffering was gained through the gathering of young patients’ histories.
“I’ve seen the hardships. That’s what motivated me to write this book.”
The novel was written over a period of seven months, with Gourley’s wife, Tina, clearing the way for his progress. Her pride and approval are obvious.
“I try to give Jason all the space and quiet time he needs for his writing. Sometimes it’s a challenge keeping the children quiet and fielding his phone calls so he can work,” she said.
“She’s great,” Gourley says, smiling. “Tina really is supportive and gives me the atmosphere I need to do my writing.”
Tina also worked at the Madison State Hospital and shares Gourley’s awareness of the pain of abuse. Tina acts as Gourley’s in-house critic and reads all his material before submission. “I think we each read the novel about four times before we sent it in,” he said.
Gourley credits his family for his creative talent. “My dad has a creative mind. He’s artistic in his music and landscaping.”
Gourley fondly remembers his grandmother, Helen Gourley, telling wonderful stories of early Jefferson County days as he sat on her lap. “She died when I was quite young, but I remember what a bright person she was.”
Gourley also has a love of poetry. He has works published in “The National Library of Poetry” and “Cader’s Anthology.”
Gourley’s plans for the future are already in motion. He has completed his second novel, called “Watch Your Back,” also a tale of abuse, and is nearly finished with his third book.
“I’d like to make writing a career. I definitely enjoy it.”
Tina smiles her approval. “Jason’s making me wait to read his new novel until he’s completed the first draft.”
Meanwhile, Gourley will be busy with the promotion of his novel. 1st Books has arranged for him to be interviewed by a radio station in Cincinnati, the first of many media exposure interviews.

• Information about Gourley’s book is available online at www.1stbooks.com. Website visitors can order “My Brother’s Family” in electronic form for downloading ($3.95) or order the book in soft cover ($10.95). The book will be available shortly in local bookstores.

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