‘Grow Up Already’ — Former Coaldale man pens first novel
Daniel Urban, formerly of Coaldale, will be in the area over the next week on a book tour, meeting readers and signing books. KAREN CIMMS/TIMES NEWS
Daniel Urban, formerly of Coaldale, has published his first novel, a political satire starring an unlikely candidate for governor who delivers a simple, nonpartisan message: Get involved.
“Grow Up Already” was born of a writing exercise that began in February 2016, said Urban. He created the persona of Theodore Graham to be a stable character for dialogue writing exercises.
“I would put his personality against other personalities and see what kind of dialogue would unfold,” Urban said. “I had a lot of fun with the character interaction. After about the fourth writing exercise, a plot line unfolded. I just kept going, and I wrote a book.”
Urban let the plot line serve as a guide, but made sure to let the characters lead the way.
“It was a very loosely written plot for the dialogue. I would sit down with a goal and how I wanted it to end, and then it went its own way.”
The process, he said, was invigorating.
“I was excited to get in the chair every day and see which way it would go.”
Urban completed the first draft that June. He spent another month tweaking and revising, and then more than a year trying to find a publisher who was a good fit. He went with Page Publishing in the fall of 2017. After seven months of editing, revising, picking the cover art and putting the finishing touches on his manuscript, the book was published this past April.
The story is a “fun, socio-politically astute novel starring Theodore Graham, a burned-out certified genius from a working-class background who challenges the status quo and ends up standing as the unlikely underdog candidate in a tight race for governor.”
According to the publisher, the book is a “provocative thought experiment in the narrative form exploring how much a working-class man can change the political and social landscape when given the change. Irreverent, gutsy and charming, Teddy Graham becomes the perfect agent for such an experiment.”
While Urban’s book is about politics, it is in no way an endorsement of Democrats or Republicans. Instead, it follows a very different path, one that might be considered empowering.
“Politics is the plot line that carries the story, but it’s more about the humor and the strength of friendships that get tested by everyday life and interactions.”
To that end, Urban says the book is an example of if you want something done, you have to help it along.
“You can’t wait for politicians to do what they say they will. The community has to get involved.”
Speaking of community, there are other characters who come to life in “Grow Up Already.”
“I grew up in the coal region, so I know a lot of characters. Over the years, I worked a multitude of jobs: a grocery store clerk, an exterminator, a marketing consultant, a lab technician and a furnace operator. I met a lot of people with all different types of personalities — friends, co-workers, customers. I know funny people, serious people, kind people, storytellers, dramatists and some jerks too. When I create characters, I take personality traits of the people that made an impression on me and invent characters based on bits and pieces of them.”
Reactions to Urban’s book have been positive, and he says he’s overwhelmed by the compliments and the support. His favorite comment came via a text from a friend who was out one night at a bar in Mary D. It read:
It’s rare that you’ll see someone reading a book at a bar in Schuylkill County, but tonight I did and they were reading your book. It must be good.
“If my writing is as good as drinking, it doesn’t get much better than that,” Urban said.
Urban, a 1990 graduate of Panther Valley High School and a 1995 graduate of Penn State University where he was a communications major focusing on creative writing and journalism, currently lives in Willamantic, Connecticut, with his wife, Tracy. A full-time novelist, he also participates in an advanced creative/nonfiction workshop that focuses on helping authors get published with smaller market publishers.
His next project is a memoir about his late dog, Shorty Moser. Told from Shorty’s point of view, it will be a story about growing up in the coal region and Urban’s experience with living in a small town. Another book in the works will focus on the history of this area and Urban’s experiences as he learned it.
Meet the author
Want to meet the author of “Grow Up Already?” Urban will be in Carbon and Schuylkill counties over the next week and is looking forward to meeting readers and signing books. You can catch him at the following locations:
• Friday, 2-4 p.m., Lansford Historical Society Museum, 117-119 E. Bertsch St., Lansford
• Saturday, 10 a.m. to noon, Tamaqua Public Library, 30 S. Railroad St., Tamaqua
• Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tamaqua Heritage Day Festival, Broad Street, Tamaqua
• Monday, 5 to 7 p.m., Mahanoy City Public Library, 17 E. Mahanoy St., Mahanoy City
• Tuesday, 5 to 7 p.m., Lehighton Public Library, 124 North St., Lehighton
• Wednesday, 5 to 7 p.m., Dimmick Memorial Library, 54 Broadway, Jim Thorpe
• Oct. 18, 5 to 7 p.m., Panther Valley Library, 117-119 E. Bertsch St., Lansford
• Oct. 19, 6 to 8 p.m. Hope & Coffee, 137 Pine St., Tamaqua
• Oct. 20, Noon to 5 p.m., Coaldale Volunteer Fire Company Vendor Show, 121 W. High St., Coaldale
If you can’t get to an event, you can find “Grow Up Already” at bookstores and online at Apple iTunes store, Amazon, Google Play or Barnes and Noble.