It’s never too late to write a first novel

By on February 10, 2016


Review staff writer pens ‘The Great Truth’

What if we lived forever?

Or at least well past 100, and still active and healthy and alert.

That’s the novel idea behind Dick Wanner’s new novel, “The Great Truth,” with the subtitle of “A Modest Speculation about the Future of Everything.”

Wanner, who has spent much of his career in advertising and journalism, has always wanted to write a novel. He was just waiting for the right idea to come along.

That happened when the Akron man was “speculating” on what it would really mean to people to live past 100 or maybe even be truly immortal.

“We all think we would want to live forever and never die, but what would that really mean?” says Wanner.

For one thing, having human beings who never die means that there wouldn’t be room for children. Where would the next generations go? How would we all fit on this planet, if everyone stuck around for 100 years or more?

Those were some of the questions that drifted through Wanner’s mind as he penned his first novel about a Utopian society that might not be as perfect as it would seem. It took Wanner 12 years to write his first self-published book.

“I worked in fits and starts,” he explains. “It wasn’t like I did it constantly.”

That was probably because Wanner was busy working in his career to pay the bills. That career has spanned several decades, with Wanner working in public relations at Sperry New Holland, then in advertising at Armstrong. Next, he was editor for the Lancaster Farming and Lititz Record Express.

The 74-year-old still hasn’t put away his pen, or his camera, as a photojournalist. He is semi-retired and working part-time as a staff writer and photographer for Lancaster County Weeklies, part of the LNP Media organization.

Although Wanner has published thousands of articles and photos in local newspapers, such as the The Sunday News, Lancaster Farming, Lititz Record-Express and the Ephrata Review, this is his first attempt at a book of fiction.

A fan of science fiction, it was clear from the start that sci-fi would be the genre of his first book. An avid reader, he was impressed with the book “The Martian,” that tells about a resourceful astronaut who gets stranded on Mars.

“I like the idea of ‘what if,’ and so I began to wonder what it would be like if we lived forever,” says Wanner.

“The Great Truth” begins when the main character, a man named Weaver Weaver, wakes from a hangover after celebrating his 100th birthday.

It then goes on to describe life on Earth, where some 12 million humans live underground, thanks to The Event. The Event that destroyed life on the earth’s surface was caused by a giant object that hit the moon, and caused the earth to fracture and created a ring of toxic debris around the planet from which would rain storms of death for eons to come.

All that remains are the remnants of a species that survived by just seconds when Army Corporal Daisy Chase plugged software with ancient code into G’s faltering operating system. The only ones to survive The Event were underground at the time, as part of the planet’s extensive subterranean transportation network and a burgeoning underground economy.

“Only a few survived. And then they thrived,” says Wanner.

As a result, people only get an occasional cold, but never get seriously ill. They work for 20 years, which provides for all they will ever need in life. There’s no crime. People can do whatever they please until he day they die.

“Or they can choose not to die,” says Wanner, adding that immortality comes at a price that few are willing to pay.

In “The Great Truth,” the world seems to be a perfect, without death and illness. Look below the surface — underground, as a matter of fact. There is always a catch, and in Wanner’s novel, it’s the fact that people must communicate daily with General Intelligence, also known as “G.”

“I decided to tell the story in one day in the life of one man,” says Wanner.

To discover, “The Great Truth,” visit the Back Home Again Gift Shop at 56 E. Main St. in Lititz. Wanner will be signing copies of his book there on Second Friday, Nov. 13, from noon to 9 p.m.

The 173-page paperback sells for $15. In addition to Back Home Again, the book is available on the web at, and on eBay (search for Dick Wanner). There will be no digital edition.

Laura Knowles is a freelance correspondent for the Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at


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