LYNDHURST, N.J. — Author Roy DeMauro is the type of guy people remember meeting even if they don’t recall the moment they did.
Lanky and silent, with rugged good looks, he could be an alternative Marlboro Man, except with a ponytail down his back, his many tattoos blending into his skin, as if he were born with them.
A quick glance, and people might mistake him a much younger man, zipping away on his motorcycle, no worries ever. But the lines on his face tell a different story, one he painstakingly put to paper.
His debut novel at age 56, "True Blue Friend," loops, twists and suddenly goes sideways, the way life often does. Open the first page of DeMauro’s book and readers will soon find themselves sucked into a compelling life story back from addiction hell.
"Everyone always said I should write a book, but I don't read and I can't spell," said DeMauro, a Kearny native who lives in Lyndhurst. He's been clean and sober for 26 years. "But it's something I kept thinking about. I thought if I could help someone with it, I should try."
He said he finally started writing, using a tool on AOL. "I sat down and started remembering. I looked at old photographs, looked at news clippings and court documents and it came back to me. It took me about three years."
DeMauro said he tried to focus the story on how he recovered, and stayed sober through life's adversities. "I talk about the war stories but I didn't want to rehash every drunk and drug story. I didn't want to glamourize the side of using."
His life in recovery is one of helping others and he emphasizes in "True Blue Friend" that no matter what happens in life, there's never a reason to pick up a drink or a drug. "I put all this stuff about my life in there because I didn't get high no matter what. People will drink over a divorce or go back out after surgery," he said. "It’s a choice. I thank God I didn’t have to get high over anything."
He credits his 26 years of sobriety to God and AA meetings. "Success? The big guy upstairs. I ask him to help me fight my greatest enemy, which is myself. And meetings. There’s never a long course of time I don’t go. That’s my medicine; I need that. I don’t even say much. It’s God and AA. It keeps me clean."
DeMauro said the book is doing what he's hope it would -- helping others. "People have reached out to me over Facebook and tell me how much they were helped by something in the story. It’s a good feeling, this high I get now from helping people."
Not everyone can be helped and that too is part of living life on life's terms. "During this (writing and editing) process, I went to three funerals of 20-year-olds … One was someone we all knew well, a local girl. I thought ‘why didn’t I get a chance to talk to her?' I started thinking with book 'please let’s hurry with this.'"
Aside from the writing time, editing took over six months and the cover design another several weeks. "I never would've done this without people who encouraged me," he said, mentioning Dana, Deanna and Paul, a longtime friend he has also sponsored for 21 years. "I feel like it was directed from somebody upstairs — God, my father or my brother."
He's already at work on a second book, a continuation of "True Blue Friend."
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