Luxemburg-Casco teacher’s novel explores link between storytelling, healing
ALGOMA - We’ve all heard what a challenge it is for military veterans to talk about combat. It triggers images, sounds and smells that launch nightmares. And the military can’t change nor does it seem possible to fix it.
Local author Scott A. Winkler approaches the difficult subject through a historical fiction novel he penned, titled “The Meadow.’’
The book debuted April 27 with a launch party that attracted 90 people. He’s hoping his story helps bridge the communication gap between the soldier and family.
It’s a war on the brain.
And stories can save lives.
Winkler’s story is set in the late 1960s in Wisconsin, in a town that's an embellished version of his hometown of Gillett.
The book's main character, Walter Neumann, struggles with his father Otto’s dream for him — forego college and serve in the U.S. Army as his father had served in World War II. An accident unexpectedly enables Walt to avoid military service and pursue his own dream, but he soon discovers that dreams don’t ensure happiness.
When a tragedy in the Neumann family prompts the revelation of secrets his parents have hidden for years, these secrets threaten to shatter Walt’s world. Through the love and guidance of the people who matter to him and through the redemptive power of stories, Walt arrives at a place of healing — for himself and for his family — and feels equipped to handle the difficulties he knows he, and others, will encounter in the future.
Walt’s influential story parallels the author’s father, Albert, who served in the Vietnam War.
“We are all impacted by war whether we realize it or not,’’ said Winkler, who lives in Casco and is an English teacher at Luxemburg-Casco High School.
Winkler studied war literature in college and how the ripple effect impacts friends and family, and beyond.
“When is war right and when is it wrong?’’ he asked.
Through extensive war studies, Winkler was discovering a link between storytelling and recovery and healing.
“This is very much what this book is about. The need for someone who has undergone a traumatic experience to be able to tell their story,’’ he said. “To know that their story will be heard by someone who is truly going to listen and not necessarily pass judgment.
"I think so much of people who volunteer for service. They are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, and we need to learn what kind of impact that experience has on them,’’ he said, adding “The book explores psychological wounds with moral injury.’’
“The Meadow’’ is not a war story but a people story. Just like his first novel, the 2008 release “The Wide Turn Toward Home,’’ is not about baseball but instead showcases the people with baseball as a backdrop.
“Sometimes fiction allows you to explore the truth, better than the truth does,’’ Winkler said. By incorporating situations into a made-up story, it can reveal deeper truths.
Winkler said he approaches his L-C students with a simple challenge about becoming a novelist — if you want to become a writer, read more.
“Find an author you admire and study them," Winkler said. "How do they put a story together? It’s like any profession; you serve an apprenticeship and work under someone to learn their skills. Take all of what you have learned from a master. Go out on your own and give it your own spin.’’
The book is meant to attract a universal audience. Since the book’s publication, Winkler has made appearances at bookstores and libraries, with more promotional stops and readings from the book on the docket.
“It will appeal to anybody interested in a good story and motivated by interesting characters,’’ he said.
Winkler has started to write a book highlighting the next generation of his fictional military family in a novel titled “The Field’’ in what he hopes will be a three-book trilogy.
“The Meadow’’ by Scott A. Winkler of Casco is published in paperback and hardcover through Peregrino Press and TitleTown Publishing of the Green Bay area. It can be purchased online through Amazon and is offered with Kindle books. Later this summer, an audio version of the book will be available on Itunes and Beacon Publishing. For more on the author, go to scottawinkler.com.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Luxemburg-Casco teacher's novel explores link between storytelling, healing