Lemoore High grad Jeffrey August publishes a novel he started in 2004 - about a pandemic

By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor
Lemoore High grad and first-time novelist Jeffrey August in his Pleasanton home.
Lemoore High grad and first-time novelist Jeffrey August in his Pleasanton home.

Sometimes, it’s all about the timing. In 2004, Lemoore native and 1993 Lemoore High School graduate Jeffrey August began writing a book about a pandemic in the small San Joaquin Valley town of Lemoore. Pandemic? It seems we've heard this word before.

The former school newspaper staffer and sports editor, after setting his fictional novel aside for a few years, picked it up again in 2008 and actually completed his first book, “Inside the Lemoore Incident,” a treatise about a 16-year-old boy from Lemoore suddenly faced with a pandemic in his hometown.

“I came up with the idea in 2004, and I actually started to write,” recalled August. “I finished it in 2008.”

But he ended up shelving the novel. That is, until now, thinking that maybe the time was right to release a novel about a pandemic – during of all things, a worldwide pandemic.   

In an interview with The Leader about his motivation for the book, he said that early on, he surmised that the Iraq War in 2004 might have motivated him to pen his first novel. You see,  August was thinking of family members and friends serving in the U.S. Navy, many of whom may have been required to serve in Afghanistan or Iraq.

“I just noticed a lot of people would talk about the war like it was a football game or something, and I come from a Navy family, and that’s why I was in Lemoore, right? I just thought that people didn’t understand what it was really like to be on the inside, knowing that your family and friends were in harm’s way.

“I tried to think of a way that I could express to everybody what it was like to be in a family that was connected to people who were being shot at,” said August.

After some soul searching, he came up with the idea of a pandemic. “Maybe everybody could understand that if it was a pandemic, and you were stuck inside of a town, and you’re surrounded, and you couldn’t get out of that town because of the pandemic, that would make it a little more clear that life and limb were always on the line in this kind of situation.”

The teenage August always had a hankering to write. A solid student, the personable young man, wrote for the school’s newspaper, The Tiger Tribune, where he covered sports and maybe wrote a column two along the way.

While speaking to him via telephone, August reminded me that he worked briefly at The Lemoore Advance, where I also worked part-time as an editor and sports editor while also teaching at Lemoore High School and serving on the Lemoore City Council.

He said he subbed for me in the newsroom when I couldn’t be there because I was either serving on the city council or working on a master’s degree.

“It was just before I left,” he recalled. “I remember being in the newsroom the day Kurt Cobain died. I was only 18 years old then. I thought, oh my God, this is the real newspaper business.”

August currently lives in Pleasanton, California, with his wife and three daughters. After bouncing around the technology world for the past two decades, working for such high-brown companies as Facebook, Yahoo, Square, and Dropbox, August finds himself now at Equinix, a data center operator.

“I’ve been very fortunate,” he said. I worked when they were just small companies and helped to build them into big juggernauts.”  However, he admits it took a while to get there, having bounced around California pretty much since 1995, picking up mostly technological knowledge wherever he worked. No doubt, he became so technology savvy that it was easy for him to find a job.

“I found that companies in Silicon Valley needed employees who understood data networks to help build their services. So, I went to work in Silicon Valley. I got lucky,” he admitted.

He started the novel in 2004, actually putting words to paper, but it wasn’t until 2008 that he finally got serious and hunkered down, constantly writing from January 3, 2008, thru December.

But still, he wasn’t ready to seek a publisher.

While not giving away the basic plot, August originally considered three different scenarios about how people would react to a pandemic, especially one that isolated a town, forcing its citizens to cope with pandemic isolation. How would they react? Would society enter a militaristic phase? Would religion dominate, or would most people work together to survive and build a better future?

Readers will have to buy the book to find out.

The narrator of sorts is a 16-year-old boy who chronicles life “Inside the Lemoore Incident.” August also wanders into themes of spirituality and the existence of God.

August wanted to tell a story from the young man’s perspective as he observed and narrated about life in a bubble, where society is blocked off from the rest of the world. “What would their lives be like? What kind of media circus would they be running through,” he wondered?

And then a real pandemic hit the world in 2020.

“This may be the time to do it,” wondered August, who had held on to the book since 2008.

The book can currently be ordered on Amazon.com for $20.99.


Lemoore High grad Jeffrey August publishes a novel he started in 2004 - about a pandemic

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