DOBSON — What would drive someone to hide? More importantly, what would send them into hiding at the BOMARC missile accident site, a radiological waste site, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey?
English major Phil Bradley always wanted to write a book, and 30 years after graduating college, he has published his first, “Hiding in Third Person,” set at the BOMARC site, which he got to visit while he was serving in the U.S. Air Force.
“I visited a little bitty base that was closed in the 1970s,” said Bradley, who retired as a colonel and is an instructor with the Surry Central High School Air Force JROTC unit now. “All the buildings were in tact.”
He said the place appeared just like it would have when it closed, and he thought about somebody who would want to escape life to live in a play like the BOMARC site, but they wouldn’t because of the big warning signs about radiation. “It sits in the beautiful pine lands of New Jersey,” he said.
About 10 years after visiting the site, Bradley sat down to start writing his book, which he was able to find time to do during his summers off from teaching.
“The characters are based on people I met as a teacher,” he said of the two teen main characters, Malachi and Doc. “One is bullied in school, and another is bullied on the internet.”
The two runaway and end up in the crosshairs of an assassin, when they take to hiding at the BOMARC facility.
“The key idea is how bad would life have to be to live in a place like this, and to come out of hiding, [one of the teens] rescues someone from being killed on the spot,” Bradley said of the plot. “It is about how they escape, about friendship, hiding, survival and the crazy things people do.”
The book is geared toward anyone teen and older, and Bradley said he was proud to say there is no foul language in the book.
After graduating from college, the colonel said he needed a job, so followed his dad’s footsteps and joined the Air Force, where he spent the next 25 years. “I was a navigator for C-130s and AC-130s, and was a school teacher at different military colleges,” he said of his enlisted time.
“I went to BOMARC, and right then I knew I would write about it, and it took 10 years to germinate and develop the story,” Bradley said.
“Stephen King wrote a book about writing, and he says your book ought to be about one theme, and my theme was why would people hide,” he said.
The end of the book, while it completes the story, has left an opening for a second book, Bradley said.
“I just wanted to see if I could do it,” he said of writing the 275-page novel.
The book is published by Archway Publishing, a self-publishing company of Simon & Schuster.
Locally, the book can be purchased at Pages Bookstore in Mount Airy, Diana’s Books & More in Elkin and Bookmarks in Winston-Salem. It also can be found on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles websites, and as an e-reader purchase.
Bradley said the book is not a military story, “it is about real people.”
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.