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Farmington man's publishing dream comes true with a little help

John Sheehan has loved to write since he was a kid, but it wasn’t until recently he realized his dream of publishing a book.

After several false starts, Farmington resident John Sheehan finally finished his first novel

Nathan Hansen


It was a pushy neighbor that perhaps allowed James Sheehan to finally remove the “aspiring” from in front of any claim he had to be an author.

Sheehan, a Farmington resident, grew up loving to read. Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series was a particular favorite.

He liked to write his own stories, too. Mostly they were about horses.

Sheehan continued to write as an adult, though most of his work was confined to his job in advertising. He’d still get the occasional idea for a book, though. He would start writing, get about 50 pages in and decide things just weren’t developing the way he wanted them to. So, he’d put the story away and mostly forget about it.

“I had stories I wanted to tell, but I wasn’t really good at developing them,” Sheehan said. “It was kind of by trial and error.”

That seemed likely to be the fate of a story Sheehan started writing about 10 years ago, too. It was a little bit thriller, a little bit science fiction, a little bit mystery. Called The Fifth Seed, the story focused on a woman named Anna, whose ability to peek into parallel universes gave her an ability to see the future, and an ex-FBI agent named Grady Hamilton whose life gets tangled up with Anna’s.

Sheehan wrote the first 300 or 400 pages of that story over the course of two or three years. He’d tinker with it, and maybe more than any of the others he believed it could become something. But eventually it too got put away. It sat untouched for a few years.

That’s where Sheehan’s neighbor comes in. He asked one night if Sheehan had ever written a book, and Sheehan said he’d written half of one. The neighbor asked to read it, and Sheehan declined. The neighbor insisted, though, and eventually Sheehan agreed to let him read it.

A few weeks later, the neighbor came back looking for more.

By that time, Sheehan had gotten excited about the story again himself. He wrote the rest of the roughly 750-page book in about five months.

“I knew where I wanted to go with it,” he said. “It was very easy once Mike wanted more pages. I knew what I wanted to do with it.”

When he was done, Sheehan had an amazing feeling of relief.

“As soon as I wrote the words, ‘The End,’ I posted it on Facebook,” he said. “It was the most incredible experience I’ve had, at least in my professional life.”

He wasn’t quite prepared, he said, for the two years of editing and rewriting he had ahead to get the book ready to publish. But his Facebook post had friends excited. Everyone wanted to read the book.

That demand from friends is part of what led Sheehan to self-publish rather than going through a traditional publishing company.

So far, the book has been well received. People want to know more about the story of Grady and Anna.

“People … have come up to me and said, ‘Don’t take this wrong, but I’m really surprised. This is really good,’” Sheehan said. I knew I would always be a person who would try to write a novel. I just didn’t know if I would have a novel someone would want to read.”

Sheehan has ideas for that sequel. He’s started work on some other stories, too. Who knows? Maybe now it will be easier to finish.

The Fifth Seed is available online in both print and ebook form from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

(651) 460-6606