Lab tech authors gritty, graphic crime fighter novel

Outwardly, Mark Sewell doesn’t seem like the type of guy who could dream up an extremely unhinged, über-violent, misguided, psychotic crime fighter.

Measured but pleasant, he’s a mild-mannered technician who works in an organic chemistry lab in the university’s Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research. He’s also an aspiring author who just released his first novel, a fictional crime-adventure piece appropriately titled Stabman: Diary of a Superhero/Psycho.

Written in a journal type of format, the novel covers a 606-day period beginning when Sewell’s main character, disgusted by the crime that’s infested his city, decides to take the law into his own hands by killing its worst perpetrators – with a machete.

“It’s pretty violent, and pretty graphic,” Sewell admits.

Published by – the self-publishing division of Author Solutions Inc. – the book was largely dreamed up and written before Sewell started working in Ken Drouillard’s GLIER lab, while Sewell was working as a security guard.

“There were long periods during the day when there was nothing going on, so I had a lot of time to think about the character and the plot line,” he said, adding that the book took about two months of 70-hour work weeks to write.

Sewell describes his main character as “fully psychotic.” Unlike many crime fighting super heroes who have a defining moment – think Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben being shot by a criminal he could have stopped – his protagonist has nothing but an intense desire to rid the streets of crime.

“He doesn’t even know where to find the crime at first,” he said, “so he goes after the wrong people. Eventually he finds real criminals that everyone can agree are evil, and he goes after pedophiles, rapists and drug dealers.”

Sewell, who graduated from the University of Windsor in 2011 with a B.A. in history, began working in Drouillard’s lab part-time while he was still an undergraduate. Now he’s working there on a full-time contract position, running experimental equipment designed to spot signs of PCBs and various organic contaminants in a variety of samples, ranging from seal blubber to fish eggs.

“It’s definitely one of the more enjoyable jobs I’ve ever had,” he said.

He recently held at signing at Chapter’s and sold about eight copies of the book – which is also available at Indigo, Barnes and Noble and on – but doesn’t know for certain yet how many have actually sold.

“I’ll know for sure when the royalty cheque comes in,” he said.

For now, Sewell will continue with his lab work, but is also dreaming up some ideas for a new book. He’d like to write something based on some of his grandfather’s memoirs of his experiences from the historic raid on Dieppe, but hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a Stabman sequel.