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NHS grad overcomes blindness and publishes first novel

Zoe Greszler • Feb 6, 2018 at 4:00 AM

Another Norwalk High School graduate is making a name for herself.

Gail (McGuckin) Cornwell, 61, grew up in Norwalk and graduated as a Trucker in 1974. Fast-forward 44 years and Cornwell has just published her first book in a six-book series call “The Gates of Avalon.” 

Cornwell has written professionally for the past 35 year, mostly for government contracts. She joined the Marine Corps in 1974, then got a position with the U.S. Army as a civilian working in logistics for Desert Storm. Then she moved to D.C. and eventually retired in 2012. 

“I wanted to do something so I didn’t go stir crazy,” Cornwell said. “I do a lot of volunteer work but this is where things get interesting.”

Illness has rendered her legally blind and thus unable to drive, but Cornwell said thanks to advancements in technology, she can “see” and write on the computer.

“I have the Dragon where I talk and it types what I say,” she said. “I also use Grammarly and I have a team and editors that I work with.”

Cornwell said she’s had the idea for her story for some time. 

“This is a concept I’ve been working on for a long time,” Cornwell said. “I can’t nail one particular reason why, but I’ve always loved fantasy, romantic fiction. ... When looking for books I looked for fiction that appeals to boys and girls, men and women.

“I wanted to write something different, something where a man is a man and a woman is a woman, without the language and there’s no explicit sex. This is something all can read and you can leave it with your teenager.” 

This first book, “The One,” tells the story of Talon, who has faithfully served the elven king as a healer, friend and Druid for centuries. Now though he is tired of being alone and is thinking of ending it all.

“But fate has other plans,” according to the book’s synopsis.

“One night, the fey elven empress appears in his dreams and warns him of a terrible threat festering beyond the kingdom. Talon awakens with a message to deliver and a mystery to decipher. Through the sacred Gates of Avalon, a messenger known simply as The One is arriving. The One is said to be a Griffin, a fierce and indomitable creature. The One would wake the great stone golems to return beasts taken from the realm of the gods.”

But Talon must find out who is tearing these indomitable monuments down and why. Fate will push him farther than he’s ever gone before. 

“‘The Gates of Avalon: The One’ is an epic tale of magic, battle, and love, and is sure to appeal to fans of heroic fantasy and romance alike,” the synopsis said.

Cornwell, who now lives on the Chesapeake Bay, Md., paid homepage in her book’s froward to a place near and dear to her heart — Norwalk Public Library.

“When the high school was in its old location, where the junior high school is now, when school let out I lived on Pleasant Street and I always stopped at the library on my way home and did my homework there,” she said. “We formed a study group. And the people there were so accommodating and friendly and I never forgot it. ... They just left such an impression.”

The author said the novel is written for “children, young adults and those young at heart.” Amazon lists the targeted reader age as 10 to 18 years, or sixth- through 12th-graders. 

“The One” can be purchased on Amazon for $15.38 for a paperback version or $2.99 for an e-book. Cornwell manages a Facebook page by the name of the book, welcoming all to discuss the book and ask questions.

Cornwell’s second book is slated to be released in the same fashion in October. She hopes to release “The One” and all subsequent novels in audiobooks soon as well. 

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