WAUKESHA — Will Campbell has displayed many talents since stepping foot on Carroll University’s campus as a freshman two years ago, excelling as a linebacker for the Pioneers’ football team, and as a member of the school’s track & field team, where he competes in throwing events. The sophomore from Kaukauna, Wis. also has some talents that may be unknown even to some peers and coaches, as he will become a published author with the release of his first book on Friday, February 23, entitled The Blackwood House.

A Business Management and Leadership major at Carroll, Campbell has a multitude of interests, but oddly enough, writing wasn’t one of them early on in his life. That changed around the time he attended Kaukauna High School.

“I wasn’t interested in writing at an early age and English used to be one of my least favorite classes, but I decided to write a book because I feel that the ideas in the story needed to be said,” Campbell said. “There are serious problems in modern society, especially in my generation. One of which being the lack of meaning and purpose that plagues so many young people today. It’s sad to see so many of my peers distraught and thinking they have no purpose. I looked at some reasons why this might be happening and think I’ve found at least part of that answer through writing my book.”

One year after earning the CCIW Football First-Year Student-Athlete of the Year award, Campbell was named Second Team All-Conference as a linebacker at the conclusion of the 2023 season. He led the team in tackles with 70, which ranked seventh in the conference, while also ranking 14th in the CCIW in tackles for loss (9.5). Campbell also recorded a team-high nine quarterback hurries, to go along with 2.5 sacks, five pass breakups, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovered.

As a member of the Pioneers’ Track & Field squad, Campbell has recorded PRs of 50-11 in the indoor weight throw, 46-06.25 in the indoor shot put, 145-08 in the outdoor discus, 133-07 in the outdoor hammer throw, and 45-10.5 in the outdoor shot put.

“At Carroll, my teammates and coaches in both sports have encouraged me to keep writing and supported me throughout the process, which I am very thankful for. Outside of Carroll, my family and some high school teachers have also been supportive, with many of my friends taking the time to read rough drafts and provide valuable feedback,” Campbell said. “Additionally, I’ve listened to many lectures from Dr. Jordan Peterson throughout my writing process. He inspired me to do something exceedingly challenging and foreign to me in writing a book, and has also inspired me to think about a few of the ideas that I explore in the story.”

When Campbell began this journey of becoming a published author he, like many young writers, was inexperienced and relied on a lot of trial and error. After a couple years since its inception, Campbell is excited to see the fruits of his labor.

“After graduating high school in the summer of 2022, I decided that I should write a book, but at the time, I didn’t think of myself as a creative person whatsoever, so I just started writing” Campbell said. “It took a while to get going, and much of what I started with, I had to almost completely rewrite. I chose to focus on the broader story rather than the smaller details at first, which served me well.”

Playing two sports with a full college class schedule doesn’t leave much time for anything else, but Campbell, like most collegiate student-athletes quickly learned the valuable skill of time management.

“It was hard to find time to write during the school year, while also participating in football and track & field, but I made a lot of progress during the summer and completed a first draft in July of 2023,” Campbell said. “Since then, I’ve read through the book at least a dozen times, and received proofreading help from many of my friends. It was tough to put the book down and stop tweaking it, but I finished almost all of the editing over Christmas break during this school year.”

Campbell has honed his creative writing skills over the years, but he credits attending Kaukauna High School as the first place where he got ‘the itch.’

“I would say that my experience in high school had the most influence on my writing,” Campbell said. “I haven’t taken any writing or English classes at Carroll, but when I was in high school, I had the opportunity to analyze countless classic books, which really inspired my fascination with stories and their cultural importance.”

The release of Campbell’s first book, The Blackwood House, will be available on Amazon in paperback and kindle versions on Friday, February 23. The Amazon page won’t be live until that day, but you can find it on Amazon at that time by searching the title of the book and Campbell’s name. The cost of the book begins at $12.49 for paperback and $5.99 for kindle.

Campbell’s story, The Blackwood House, is described as, “A post-championship party takes a dark turn when Sarah disappears. Joshua Kelly, the team’s star, is thrust into a role he’s never played: a leader in a search for truth. Burdened by a lifetime of anxiety and self-doubt, he must navigate the complexities of his newfound feelings for Sarah, his best friend’s ex, and the sudden weight of responsibility to find her. Join Josh on this thrilling adventure as he fights to find Sarah and, in the process, discovers the strength within himself.”

With the release of his first book set for Friday, it begs the question – what will Campbell do for an encore?

“I’m currently planning a second book, which is not a sequel to The Blackwood House,” Campbell said. “The next book is a dystopian story that provides a unique perspective on a 2050 America. It’s a chilling depiction of the disastrous endpoint of the strange combination of moral relativism, atomistic individualism, and hedonism that’s taking hold in western culture.”

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By Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak, born and raised in Kaukauna, is cofounder of Kaukauna Community News.