After 30 years of working in the security department of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Byron's Sharon Marsh retired with dozens of ideas that she thought would make a good novel. She wasn't really interested in writing one person's true-life story, but rather wanted to build a story around the personalities and issues during the years she worked at the lab.
"There were a lot of colorful characters working at the lab," Marsh said.
Marsh's first step after retirement was to purchase her first computer and get to work on the book that had been floating around in her mind for years.
She describes "The Rad Lab" as a slice-of-life story about what it was like to work at the lab during the early 1970s to the mid-1990s. Although the work may be about issues of the times, her novel really isn't about anyone in particular, although Marsh said one of her main characters loosely resembles herself.
During her times at the lab, Marsh worked investigating infractions.
"People thought those who worked in the security department knew all about them," Marsh said. "When really we didn't know all that much at all. Everything was kept hush, hush."
Marsh describes her novel as a quirky blend of characters "maneuvering through the minefields of workday life and romantic pursuits in the rapidly changing environment of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory."
While the story is set in a science research facility, there is really no science research or weapons development involved in the story. The characters, however, show the effects of working in a politically-infused workplace especially in the late 1970s to the mid-1980s during the lab's involvement in the Star Wars project.
The story begins when Sandra Dillon, the flawed protagonist, is cast out of the giant Engineering Department through her own error despite affirmative action policies that are gathering steam at every level and challenging long-held expectations and roles.
Vowing to redeem herself, she is rescued by the manager of security and begins working alongside armed personnel in uniform and business suit going about the serious and interesting business of keeping the institution secure in accordance with Department of Energy regulations.
"The story could not have possibly happened and in fact didn't," Marsh said. "It was really fun coming up with the story and really hard to get it completed."
She will sign copies of her book at Pittsburg's Railroad Book Depot from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
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Sharon Marsh will sign copies of her book at Pittsburg's Railroad Book Depot from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. "The Rad Lab" is available for sale through Amazon and local bookstores.