When the kids move out, every parent handles their empty nest in a different way. Some parents join clubs, some pick up new hobbies. Once Don DeGraff’s last son went to college, he decided to write and publish a book.
For DeGraff, writing was initially a way to push himself outside of his comfort zone. While his wife began flying lessons, DeGraff enrolled in writing courses and embarked on his first novel, “Guns of Revenge.”
“We had a bet. Would she get her pilot license first or would I get published first?” says DeGraff, who lives in Hockessin. “She won, but not by much.”
Since that bet, DeGraff has self-published two novels: “Guns of Revenge” and its follow-up, “Guns of Justice.” Both books take place after the Civil War and follow protagonist Cort Patrick on his fight against immorality in the Old West.
Degraff has always had an appreciation for literature. His mother, who worked at a bookstore for more than 30 years, taught him a love of reading. Perhaps more importantly, Degraff has had a passion for Westerns since a young age.
“I knew I’d write a Western, because that was my first love,” he says.
He wanted to write a classic tale of good versus evil, so the plot of his first book came easily. With the help of his family and their ideals of integrity, DeGraff also found writing his characters to be a painless process.
“My parents always told me to stand up for what you believe and don’t back down. My wife is very much the same way,” DeGraff says. “That’s really where those influences come from, and I like to think I’ve taken on that characteristic.”
Once he began his book, writing quickly became a catharsis. Though he kept his full-time job as a talent acquisition specialist at Bank of America, DeGraff made sure to set aside time for Cort Patrick and his gunslinging gang. He began writing in 2008 and had his first published copy by 2010.
According to DeGraff, holding his published novel for the first time was one of the biggest rewards of the process.
“It was an amazing feeling,” he says. “It was a true feeling of accomplishment.”
Currently, he is working on the third novel in the series. He hopes to publish it sometime next year, but he doesn’t want to rush it.
“At the end of the day, to me it’s not how I make my living,” says DeGraff. “It’s really more for fun.”