A local author is learning the “challenge of being a public writer in a small town” since distilling his family’s trauma and his experience as a reporter during the Great Recession into a book of short stories.
Scott Neuffer, class of 2000 Douglas High School graduate, said his book — “Scars of the New Order” — is not for everyone.
“I don’t relish darkness or destruction, but there is a lot of violence,” he said. “People assume that writers get to choose what they write, but you have to write what you are called to write.”
For Neuffer, trying to figure out why individuals have committed “guerilla” acts of violence in small communities during the first part of the new millennium was central to creating his characters.
“I have a character who is a reporter and kind of a dark alter ego,” he said. “I throw him into some pretty serious situations but hopefully being tough and exposing dark things will lead to something meaningful and relevant.”
When independent publisher, Underground Voices, accepted his book for publication, there was a worry Neuffer’s small hometown would not accept the work.
“Initially I was worried about it,” he said. “The book is subversive in a lot of ways and I didn’t want to pick at old wounds.”
From 2007-2013, Neuffer reported on business and education for The Record-Courier.
Neuffer covered school budget cuts, failed businesses, bankrupt homeowners and high unemployment.
“I was trying to cover the breath of the catastrophe,” Neuffer said. “By Fall of 2008 it was pretty rough. There was a lot of carnage.”
His characters deal with the “painful aftermath” of some of these social issues in sometimes desperate and violent ways.
“I do warn people that there is a story about a school shooting and it takes place at a Carson Valley school,” he said.
Neuffer was a junior in high school when Columbine happened.
“We were supposed to be the class of promise and then events like Columbine and 9/11 happened and everything fell apart,” he said.
He doesn’t know how people in Carson Valley will respond to his collection, but believes people can tell the difference between fiction and reality.
Delving into his own personal life for inspiration was something that he grappled with, he said, but his family has been supportive of his work.
“There have been some painful times for my family,” he said. “As a writer you tend to cannibalize yourself and those around you; those in your life end up being characters in your work.”
But as Carson Valley and his family have healed from its social and personal traumas, Neuffer believes healing and redemption are in reach for his characters, too, though hard to come by.
“I ask myself at the end of the day, ‘Did I move people in real ways?’” he said. “I’m much more concerned (in fiction) with the emotional truth of a story than the objective truth of a story.”
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