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Sometimes, fiction and truth are both equally strange



Last modified: Sunday, April 12, 2015
More than two decades after writing his initial version, local author Merle Drown’s fictional account of a shooting at Concord High has made it onto book shelves.

Drown, who taught English at Concord High for more than 20 years, will sign copies of his third novel, Lighting the World, Thursday night at 7 at Gibson’s Bookstore.

While classified as fiction, the book is based on the actual events that rocked Concord High on Dec. 3, 1985, when 16-year-old Louis Cartier held two classmates hostage before police shot and killed him in the school’s front hallway.

Drown began researching material shortly after Cartier’s death and finished the book about 25 years ago, he said in a recent interview.

The current version, which was released last month, is basically the same as the original draft he wrote in 1990. Drown said he doesn’t know why it was rejected so many years ago.

“My agent sent it out and it never got picked up,” Drown said. “My agent wondered if the reason was because they felt I was too sympathetic to the kid who brought the gun to school.”

The book focuses on a boy named Wade Rule, a student at fictional Rumford High School. Rule, whose parents abuse him, plans to quit school and, along with a friend named Maria, move to Vermont, where he wants to care for his handicapped uncle.

Rule’s disillusionment with his parents and society and his search for a better life lead him to Rumford High, where events mirror those of Concord High 30 years ago.

“Wade wanted to help his uncle and Maria,” Drown said. “He had a good heart, and I wanted to show that in the book.”

Drown, who teaches at Southern New Hampshire University, plans on reading a short passage from his book.