WINCHESTER — Growing up in New Orleans, Eric Redmon enjoyed English class more than any other. But his life’s calling proved to be dentistry, as an oral surgeon who practiced all 34 years here in Winchester. Or a far cry from The Big Easy.
How Redmon landed in Winchester is a story interesting in itself, but how he’s come to indulge his passion for English and for words, and for writing them in printed form, is illustrative and inspiring. At age 65, Redmon has self-published his second novel — “Surrogate of Betrayal,” a story of Vietnam and the search for redemption and peace following a searing wartime encounter.
Copies of “Surrogate” can be purchased at the Winchester Book Gallery; all are signed editions. Otherwise, the book can be ordered through Amazon. The paperback costs $16.99, while the Kindle version is $0.99.
Redmon’s first book. “Cold Silence of Deception,” published in June 2017, is about the war against terrorism, and an agent engaged in covert action during the 9/11 era.
Redmon laughs a bit at himself when he says that, for all his love of the written word, “I didn’t think I would write (a novel), much less one with war in the works.”
But the martial aspect is part of what prompted Redmon to write. “My father fought in World War II in the Army, and my son served with the Army in Iraq. So part of my reason for writing is to help people realize war for them isn’t over just because they came home.”
It certainly wasn’t that way for Nate, burdened in time by images of the night his brother Nash died, perhaps at his hand, perhaps not. No need for a spoiler alert here: Suffice it to say that Nash had been captured by the enemy and Nate, a sniper, was confronted by a choice no man should be forced to make: He had a shot at the Vietnamese officer physically holding his brother. Deadly marksman though he was, should he pull the trigger?
The rest, or rather the entirety, of the narrative, revolves around this decision. In fact, the book opens with Nate walking to the coffee house where he and his brother’s grandson, who he’s helped raised, regularly meet for coffee. On this cold morning, he plans to tell his grand-nephew about that night in Vietnam, though he feels his resolve slipping away . . .
Cobbling together such stories for six hours a day is what has smoothed the transition for Redmon, who retired in September, from dentistry to retirement. He has found something more than a second calling. He has stoked a passion lying latent, one supposes, for years.
“I don’t think people in retirement find what they like to do,” Redmon says. “I was lucky to do that. This works for me . . . I love it so much. I’m in an isolated space where I spend hours and not realize it’s time for lunch.”
Although research has been required for both his books (e.g., for “Surrogate,” reading the “The Tunnels of Cu Chi,” again no spoiler alert), once he places fingers to keyboard, he knows who his characters are and “I write it as I go.” Unlike other writers, he does not fashion an outline as a guide.
But there was little question Redmon was guided to Winchester, through which he repeatedly passed on his way to and from New Orleans to Boston, where he did his oral surgery training. On these trips, Winchester’s appeal became more and more obvious — and so here is where Redmon decided to open a practice and where he and his wife Felicia have raised two sons.
And now it’s where he creates characters he hopes will inspire and/or entertain others. His next book, Redmon says, may be a children’s volume influenced by the family pet, a sheepadoodle. He’s also 100 pages into a murder study.
So who knows what the future may hold, though Redmon would like to increase that six-hour writing work day.
“Other things in life do get in the way of that time,” he says. “It would probably be more. After six hours, I wish I had more time.”