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Denare Beach author pens and publishes first book

Writer with cerebral palsy uses dictation to write mystery novel
Lee Ward
Lee Ward with a copy of his first book, The Adventures of the Guardian: Urban Legends. The book was published on Amazon this summer. - PHOTO BY ERIC WESTHAVER

The stories inside Denare Beach resident Lee Ward’s mind have finally come to life.

Ward has self-published his first book – a 126-page tome, titled The Adventures of the Guardian: Urban Legends.

The story follows Kevin Rigby, a teenage boy living in Braxton, a one-industry town Ward based partially on Flin Flon. After a class field trip, he undergoes a series of unexpected and unexplainable changes, manifesting superpowers and using them to track down a shady cabal of villains.

“He winds up in the middle of a mystery, trying to solve these arsons. He finds out that actually, there’s a super villain and a bunch of criminals involved. He gets in a little bit over his head,” said Ward at his home in Denare Beach.

The book took about a year for Ward to compose, putting in between two and three hours per day on most days. Several themes in Ward’s life, including comic books, urban legends, medical ethics and fantasy novels influenced his work.

“I always had an interest in urban legends and that sort of thing. That’s a theme. When I was in university, I took a lot of stuff about the history of science and how ethical codes were developed over time. There’s a lot of that in there, the history of science and what would happen if you had science without ethical codes, sort of the pure discovery and research of science.”

Ward has cerebral palsy, which keeps him confined to a wheelchair.  The disorder affects his entire body, including his hands and fingers. Unable to type, Ward had to use an unorthodox method to piece together the book.

“I wrote most of this through voice-activation software,” he said.

The software allows Ward to say each word aloud, and transcribes his spoken words into a document. While the technology greatly aids Ward’s writing, dictation is not an exact science. Minor differences in acoustics and background noise can greatly affect his writing, often meaning the wrong word or action gets written.

“It adds an extra layer to the editing process. You’ll often get extra little words or things that are wrong that you didn’t notice,” said Ward. “It makes it a lot more difficult.”

In at least one instance, the technology caused the loss of an entire chapter of Ward’s work.

“I always do each chapter separately so I can print them out easily. One time, it wrote the word, ‘all’, so I said, ‘delete all’ and it proceeded to delete the entire chapter,” Ward said. “Luckily I was only about a few pages in.”

Ward is considering writing a sequel to the book, potentially expanding it to a complete series.

“That would be the ultimate dream. That would be my ultimate goal,” he said. “It all depends on what I can get into shape in my brain.”

“For me, there’s at least more stories I could do with this particular one. I could easily do more, the way I left it.”

The book is available on Amazon.