JEFFERSON – Timothy McBride, author of the new book Raccoon Island: The Encroachment of Man, spent his entire childhood playing in and exploring the woods and the water along the Lake Hopatcong shoreline near his boyhood home in the Prospect Point section of the township. From their vantage point he and his friends could see, almost touch, one of the two big islands that sit in the middle of the main lake, Raccoon Island. They spent many an afternoon wondering what life was like on the island, making up all sorts of wild stories, letting their imaginations run wild but never once getting the chance to explore it for themselves.
In 1992, McBride, 47, became a patrol officer for the Jefferson Township Police Department. It has been during his time on the department that has afforded him the opportunity to visit Raccoon Island. He now knows the island doesn’t hold any secrets, any wild tales.
But his boyhood memories, the stories he made up about the island, have stayed with him. Over the years he has shared his tales with his two children, Colin, now 16 and Morgan, 15. It is because of them said McBride, now a patrol sergeant with the Jefferson PD, that his “fictional adventure story, like a dime novel” came to be.
According to McBride, the framework for Raccoon Island was already in place when, in 2008, he and his children began to mold the story.
“I let them (his children) plug in different characters—like Abraham Lincoln and Native Americans,” he said in an interview Wednesday night during a book signing at Gatwyn’s Restaurant and Bar in Lake Shawnee. “It was fun because they got to be part of it.”
Once written, the story was shared with family and friends and stowed in the family’s library in their home. It was these same family members and friends who urged McBride to publish his book.
“So one day I said okay, let’s do it,” said McBride. The editing and re-editing he said, was the hardest part of the entire process.
Raccoon Island is a short novel that takes place in and around Lake Hopatcong. It features man-size raccoons that have live on the island undisturbed for hundreds of years until one day when man discovers them and the island.
“Originally the book was meant for middle school kids,” said McBride. “But ultimately the book is for everyone. The overall theme of the book deals with cultural differences, how to live with and tolerate each others differences.”
On Wednesday, many of McBride’s fellow officers came to Gatwyn’s to show their support.
“This is pretty amazing,” said Lt. Bill Anderson, McBride’s supervisor at the police department. “I didn’t know he was doing (writing) it. I think he is the first author on the force,” he said.
The book is print-on-demand, published by authorHouse and is available in hard copy or paperback from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or as an eBook. For now McBride said he has no plans to write another book, maybe when he retires from the police department, but he said, the way the story is written there are a lot of loose ends that could ultimately lead to more books.
“If the book gets a good response I will put in the effort to do another one,” said McBride. “But if the book doesn’t sell the character Red Feather dies,” he said with a smile.