Quadriplegic man pens novel with his mouth

13News Now Philip Townsend interviewed a man who recently wrote a 540-page novel using only a pencil and his mouth.

YORKTOWN, Va. (WVEC) -- Inside his modest brick townhouse in Yorktown, Jerry Flowers brings a hero to life.

“I like to look at characters and put faces with personalities,” said Flowers.

Like any good writer, Flowers often visualizes things before he puts them on paper.

His recently published novel Shadow Trails is Flowers’ take on a country western. It’s a tale of redemption for the main character, Jedidiah Jacobs, shortly after the Civil War. It’s a complex, 540-page novel.

“People say to me that I must be smart,” Flowers told 13News Now. “I’m not really smart, I just work hard.”

By most people’s standards, that’s an understatement, because Flowers wrote the entire novel, all 540 pages, with his mouth.

“If I get five pages a day that’s good,” said Flowers.

At 77 years old, Flowers has been a quadriplegic nearly his entire life.

He started using a wheelchair after being diagnosed with Polio at age 6.

The challenges that followed are hard to imagine. Flowers not only grew up with limited use of his arms and legs, but he did it at a time when society wasn’t always accepting of people who are a little bit different.

“I had trouble with people looking down on me,” said Flowers. “As my mother said to me when I was 8 years old: ‘You can’t get out of here working the shipyard. You’ve got to do something with your head.’"

Flowers went on to become the senior class president of Warwick High School in 1959.

He was voted “Most Popular” that year.

He then was accepted to the College of William and Mary, where he became the first quadriplegic to graduate from the school.

After that, most people knew him as “Mr. Flowers.”

He taught history for 30 years at Thomas Eaton Middle School and Kecoughtan High School.

Without the ability to type with his hands, Flowers still found a way to become a writer. With a pencil in his mouth, types out all of his work. 

It’s a tedious, exhausting process that has taken years to perfect. Even then, it took Flowers several years to finish Shadow Trails.

In his spare time, Flowers also enjoys playing chess and watching movies and tennis on TV.

Shadow Trails is available to purchase on Amazon.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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