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Local firefighter writes fictional novel to help a real cause
by Cortney Maddock
Jul 08, 2009 | 881 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Living in Reno for more than a decade, firefighter Shawn Grady decided to try his hand at writing and stuck to the old adage, “Write what you know.” It paid off since his first novel, “Through the Fire,” hit bookstores on July 1.

“Since high school I always thought that I would write a novel,” Grady said about his additional career path. “I was really motivated to tell a story of loss and redemption.”

“Through the Fire” is a story about a talented firefighter named Aiden who seeks answers to the questions that surround his father’s death. The novel plays out in Reno as an arsonist’s fiery rampage rips through the city. Grady said that penning a novel in a setting he is familiar with and about a topic he knows lends a “palpable flavor to the writing.”

Grady said that his experience working in emergency services, both as a paramedic and a firefighter, inspired him to write “Through the Fire,” adding that tackling the difficult subject of death is something he has seen on the job.

“Working as a fireman and paramedic, I’ve had the opportunity to be there when someone has passed,” Grady said, adding that everyone reacts differently to death. “The book looks at the concept that in this world we have good and evil, life and death and how to reconcile that.”

While Grady has been successful in the emergency services field, he had originally planned on a different career path for himself.

“I initially went to college believing I would go into pastoral work,” Grady said. “I was a theology major.”

Grady explained that when he saw the San Diego fire medics in action it inspired him to want to help people. He said that he even considered being a doctor before going to work as a paramedic and eventually a firefighter.

“The opportunity to serve and to help people and just be able to provide that to the community in which you work is rewarding,” Grady said.

Adding to Grady’s community service will be the donations that will go to the Reno Firefighters’ Community Assistance Program, which helps victims of fires, from the first 100 copies of his book sold at Sundance Bookstore in Reno on Saturday. Grady will be at Sundance from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday signing copies of “Through the Fire.”

“I’m really excited about this,” Grady said, adding that he is happy the book launch is also helping a local charity. “The fact that this helps the community is huge.”

Grady said that 50 percent of the proceeds from the sale of “Through the Fire” will go to help Reno firefighters. He also said that a fire engine will be at the event for people to explore.

In addition to Saturday’s book signing, Grady will be discussing the book and signing more copies at Dreamer’s Coffee House in Reno on July 18 from 2 to 5 p.m. as part of Artown.

“It will be more along the lines of a conversation,” Grady said. “It also coincides with the wine walk.”

Although Grady said that finding a publisher wasn’t easy, he has snagged a deal with a large publishing house.

“I was really aggressively pursuing publication,” Grady said. “About a year ago I was offered a three-book deal with Bethany (House Publishers).”

While Grady has started work on his second book, which he said is about a Reno paramedic who feels like he is chasing the angel of death, he said the book does not have a title yet and is looking at a 2010 release date. Grady added that his third book should hit stores in 2011 but he has not started work on it yet.

For more information on “Through the Fire” and to purchase a copy, visit

Saturday’s book signing event will be held at Sundance Bookstore, 1155 W. Fourth St., Suite 106 in Reno from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the July 18 discussion and signing will be held at Dreamer’s Coffee House, 17 S. Virginia St. in Reno from 2 to 5 p.m.
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