Breckenridge doctor writes first novel
summit daily news
Most authors and publishers say a writer’s first “novel” is autobiographical, and that holds true for Gene Allen’s debut, “Caleb’s Journey.”
Allen, an optometrist at Eyes on Breckenridge, based his main character’s experience on his own, but he set the story in a time period he’s fascinated with: the late 1800s. Through research, he colors the story with historic places and events in Clear Creek and Summit counties.
The 170-page book follows Caleb throughout his life, including an abusive father in childhood, an unfaithful first wife and a second wife, whom he loved for 19 years before she died.
“Every human life is a journey from childhood to death,” Allen said. “(Caleb is) an ordinary man, but one who faced life’s challenges with strength and integrity … His journey is a story that inspires.”
Allen, who grew up in Dallas, Texas, and has four grown children, moved to Silverthorne full time in 2005 with his wife, Connie. Caleb’s story had been rolling around in his head for years, but at age 64, he finally sat down to write it, motivated by his wife’s urgings.
“I was slowing down and had more free time,” Allen said about the timing, “and dreams you have tend to matter more (as you age).”
As he spent eight months writing, the story flowed, since he had thought about it for so long. He used a flashback method to portray key points of Caleb’s life, including childhood and marriages.
He didn’t intend to publish the book when he started, but after sending it out to publishers, Publish America accepted it. Publish America pays royalties and takes on the cost of production, but it does not make changes to authors’ works, and it relies on authors to promote their books.
Allen is now working on a second novel, a follow-up to “Caleb’s Journey,” revolving around Caleb Jr., and set in 1918-1930. He said the new story will be “truly fiction,” but he enjoyed writing the first.
“(Writing it) was almost therapeutic,” Allen said. ” … (Though the experiences) are so far in the past, I put them behind me, writing it gave me a cleansing feeling, a way to let go.”
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