By Lisa Capobianco
For Southington high school teacher John “Brian” Durbin, serving in the military has become a family theme. Durbin, who goes by his middle name, “Brian,” is a retired infantryman who served in the U.S. Army for 23 years. His father, uncle and a first cousin also served in the military. Besides his immediate family, Durbin’s father-in-law, who emigrated from Poland during World War II, was an army veteran who served in the Korean War.
Durbin said his father-in-law, who passed away several years ago, inspired him to write a military fiction novel called “Paine: Time of Anarchy, Volume 1,” published this past June. The plot deals with a CIA-manufactured plague, bioengineered to kill coca plants to eliminate the production of cocaine. The plague destroys food plants worldwide, leaving billions dead. Michael Paine Martin, the son of a mercenary leader, tries to protect himself and his family from the effects of anarchy.
“It is complete fiction based on what could happen if an apocalypse event breaks down society,” said Durbin, a self-publisher.
All the proceeds of this futuristic novel benefit wounded warriors through “Returning Heroes Home,” a support center in Texas where wounded soldiers and their families can have a comfortable healing environment, equipped with a “Therapeutic Garden” and a six acre recreational area.
Currently, Durbin said he has sent $2,000 to the support center.
“My father-in-law appreciated soldiers serving,” said Durbin, who teaches history. “He came to this country with five dollars in his pocket and made a great life for himself.”
“Paine” originated as a short story, written about nine years ago as a way to spark interest among young adults. Durbin said he wanted to turn the short story into novel, but took a hiatus from writing to focus on other aspects of his life. Toward the end of last year, Durbin’s “writer’s block” disappeared, and he wrote 300 pages in just three days.
“My motivation was still there,” said Durbin, who also works as a conditioning coach for the high school football team. “It was set up to have short chapters, with crisp writing.”
Durbin got his students involved in the book by creating a cover design contest. With the help of 24 students at the high school, Durbin chose among a variety of design covers for the novel’s first volume.
Tyler Gillis, a junior, won the contest with a prize of $120. Designed with neon colors, a space photo and a picture of Michael Paine Martin, Gillis said the cover exemplifies both aspects of the future and the military.
“The design went through many phases,” said Gillis who spent a total of 14 hours in the course of a month to complete the design. “I sketched up multiple designs, but found the current one the most applicable.”
Durbin’s novel is on display at the high school’s library, and the history teacher said he plans to publish the second volume next spring. Although he hopes to bring entertainment to his audience through his novel, Durbin also hopes to bring comfort to soldiers wounded in battle, especially since the military veterans in his family came back from battle untouched.
“We are truly blessed, and I am trying to give back to those who sacrificed their limbs,” Durbin said. “I will do anything for them.”
Durbin’s novel is available for purchase on Amazon and Smashwords.com.
By Lisa Capobianco