The story follows three childhood friends, growing up in 1950s New York City. The characters eventually part ways and catch up with each other later in life.
“It’s a solid New York story. These kids get into trouble and we read about how they deal with it,” said Stone. “One of the characters literally walked out of the city, only carrying a duffle bag on his back. The mafia was looking for him and he was told to get out of town, don’t take the bus or a train or a plane. So, JonJon walked.”
The story is divided into two books and is in part, autobiographical. Stone changed some names and identifying details to protect privacy.
“In the second book, Jon Jon comes knocking on his friend’s door in Utah. That friend was actually me. I haven’t seen him in years. When I heard his story, I told him that no one would believe his story and someone should write his story, so I did.”
Stone was born and raised in Manhattan to his single mother. Stone’s mother moved her family to San Diego County when he was 14 in order to escape the negative influence of New York City. He became involved in school, singing and dancing in school plays and choirs. After high school, Stone moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music. He began to write poetry, thus kicking off his amateur writing career. Stone then realized that he didn’t want to be singer anymore.
“It was not what I wanted to do,” he said. “It was something everyone else expected me to do.”
After a stint in Utah, Stone accepted a position on the Fallon naval base. He recently retired after serving on the base for 31 years.
Stone hand wrote the first draft of “Trouble…” in the late 1970s.
“This was all before computers,” said Stone,”I typed it up on the typewriter and didn’t like it. So, I edited it and typed it up again and again, six times. I eventually broke the typewriter.”
In order to further the publishing process, Stone’s daughter helped him learn word processing software on a computer before he submitted his final draft to Create Space.
“I annoyed my daughter and drove her out of her mind,” laughed Stone.
After multiple drafts, Stone researched various publishing houses in order to get his story out and read by the public.
“I wasn’t interested in making any money,” said Stone, “I just wanted the story published.”
He watched an interview with Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, about Amazon’s own publishing house, Create Space, where writers could submit their manuscript and have their work professionally edited and bound for sales.
“Jeff’s intention was that everyone could write and publish a book if they really wanted to,” said Stone.
Stone sent an email to an Amazon publishing representative, explaining the concept of his book and forwarded it to an editor at Create Space. It was looked up, printed out with cover art and released last year. A few months later, “Vista” was released.
“Trouble…” has a small following, with its Amazon reviews ranking the novel with five stars. Readers have emailed Stone fan letters. One even suggested about turning his work into a movie.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do after I retired,” said Stone. “I didn’t think I would be a published author but look at me now! I’ve come a long way, baby. Someone is buying my book! I’m not a lifelong writer. I just wanted to tell stories.”
Stone hopes to self-publish his third book, “The General is Coming! The General is Coming!,” and release it by the end of this year.
“It’s about government waste, especially on military bases,” said Stone, who is using his own experiences on the Fallon naval base to anchor his book.
“When I was on base, I noticed a chain link fence was built around some F-16s. Four months later, they were making the fence taller. Two months after that, they tore the fence down when they widened the road. I think that’s poor planning. The people in the contract didn’t talk to each other about the construction of that fence. That is $1.2 million out of the taxpayers wallets.”
Stone continues to be amazed by his success and encourages aspiring authors to follow their dreams in his footsteps.
“Anyone can do it,” said Stone. “If you have an idea for a book, go to Create Space. If I can do it and have success, you could, too.”
For more information about Kenneth Stone, call (775) 360-6577.