- Associated Press - Saturday, May 16, 2015

DOVER, Del. (AP) - One of Bryan Reardon’s jobs in Gov. Tom Carper’s office in 1994 was to write response letters to Delawareans who had reached out to the governor seeking help on one issue or another.

“I was not a good writer when I started,” Reardon admits.

But the practice apparently paid off. Reardon is now a published novelist with a HarperCollins book deal and a favorable write-up in the New York Times’ Sunday Book Review.

Reardon’s thriller, “Finding Jake,” focuses on a stay-at-home father whose missing teenage son is suspected in a school shooting.

“The suspense is killing, but it’s nothing compared with this father’s anguish as he tries to find his son - the real boy, not the one he thought he knew,” the paper wrote about “Finding Jake,” which reached shelves February 24.

Reardon is well-known in Delaware political and government circles. His father is Joe Reardon, the former chair of the New Castle County Democrats.

Reardon’s wife, Michelle, was a spokeswoman for the Delaware Economic Development Office and now works as a communications manager to DuPont Co. chief executive Ellen Kullman.

The two met while volunteering when President Bill Clinton spoke at a rally for Charlie Oberly’s U.S. Senate campaign against Republican U.S. Sen. Bill Roth in 1994.

Oberly lost by 13 points but the rally was a hit. “There were fireworks and music, and Oberly and Hillary Clinton boogied together in joyous defiance of the Democrats’ collapse,” Celia Cohen wrote at Delaware Grapevine.

Reardon worked for the state from 1994 until 2004, first in Carper’s office, then in the state Housing Authority and the Delaware Department of Finance. Writing became a specialty. Reardon wrote speaking points, legislation, and grant applications. But in 2004, he left state service to stay at home with his twin children.

“When my wife found out she was pregnant, we had a real logical conversation about what we were going to do,” Reardon said in an interview. “We knew one of us was going to take a step back. We had no idea what it actually meant when we made that decision.”

Reardon says there was plenty of second-guessing, but he built a promising freelance writing career. He wrote medical materials, including training documents and brochures, and found work as a ghost writer on books for medical experts.

He also helped write a memoir and a parenting book about sports called “Ready, Set, Play” with ESPN analyst, and former NFL player, Mark Schlereth.

Long an aspiring fiction writer, Reardon started a fiction project in early 2013 after reading Dave Cullen’s “Columbine,” about the high school shootings in Colorado. By that summer, he was pitching “Finding Jake,” to agents, and, by the fall, to editors.

Reardon said he knew he wanted to center his story around a stay-at-home father.

“I had enough unique experiences I thought it would be interesting,” Reardon said. “I started thinking from a plotting point of view, what would be the worst nightmare I could put this person in?”

The result was suspense worthy of praise in the Sunday New York Times. Pick up Reardon’s first novel, “Finding Jake,” in bookstores or online at Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.

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Information from: The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., https://www.delawareonline.com

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