With Keuka College’s Field Period® internship program, students can explore the Galapagos Islands, work in a government office, teach English to children in Thailand, or even publish a book.
That was the case for Lucas Nichols ’22, who published his first book at just 20 years old. A work of fiction, “We’re the Wastelanders” was published two months before Lucas received his bachelor’s degree in May 2022.
“I wanted to make my own story and I wanted to make it better,” said Lucas, who used a Field Period® opportunity to not only complete his manuscript, but research how to find an editor and publisher. “I wanted to make my own world, my own stories, and my own characters.”
Lucas credits several members of the Keuka College faculty with getting his book published, particularly Associate Director of Alumni Relations and Adjunct Instructor Laurie Adams ’83 and Assistant Professor of Marketing Kim DeRuby, who also served as his academic advisor.
“They went above and beyond to help me, introduced me to people, and got me more connections to help publish the book,” said Lucas. “The support and the networking from all of the students and professors at Keuka College have been super helpful.”
“We’re the Wastelanders,” published in March 2022, chronicles 10-year-old Jason Phillips and his family after a rapidly spreading disease forces them to take shelter in an underground vault.
Although Lucas started the project in high school, it went through fits and starts, what with studies that included an associate degree through a dual-credit agreement with Tompkins Cortland Community College, an hour’s drive from his home in Afton, Chenango County.
“Over the summers, I would write a little bit more,” he said. “But I was going at such a slow pace that I would have been retired by the time I finished.”
That all changed once Lucas, a business management major with a minor in finance, arrived at Keuka College. While he initially continued academic life in the fast lane, packing “two years into three semesters,” he knew he needed additional support if he were ever going to complete his book.
Laurie, an author in her own right, had Lucas in her KC101 Practicing Academic Culture at Keuka course, and was able to help him through the writing, editing, and publishing processes.
“I listened to the plot, read a couple of chapters of an early draft, and gave him some revision suggestions,” she said. “Through several meetings, phone calls, and text messages, it was clear he is an excellent writer and had the determination to see this project through to publication.”
She also encouraged Lucas to finish writing the book, and then go back and edit. And that’s exactly what he did.
“I went home for winter break, and I just finished writing the rest of the book as my Field Period®. I just hunkered down and finished it and that was great,” said Lucas. “And then I had to go through the editing and publishing processes. Laurie was one of the most helpful and influential parts in finishing the book.”
Lucas also credits Prof. DeRuby, who connected him to people in her marketing network in helping to get the book published.
“To say I’m incredibly proud of Lucas is an understatement,” said Prof. DeRuby. “He is an intelligent, talented, and driven young man who perseveres with humility. It’s been an honor to share in both his education and literary journeys.”
Added Laurie: “He has what it takes to keep going and succeed. His enthusiasm is so exciting for me. The best part is, he has more stories in him, and now he has proof of all he can accomplish.”
“We’re the Wastelanders” is the first in what Lucas is calling the three-book Remnant Series and can be found on Amazon. He’s now at work on volume two.