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This Moorman book weaves dark, harrowing tale

By Tim Graham

Brian Moorman's wife once wrote a children's book. It didn't have a title, and it never got published.

But the Buffalo Bills punter, one of the most energetic local athletes when it comes to community service, would take the book with him whenever he read to little school kids.

Amber Moorman's next book is nothing like that. Readers don't have to get too far into "The Survivor's Game" to realize this wasn't about sports or warm-and-fuzzy emotions.

"Let's just say we don't speak that way around the house," Moorman said with a laugh Thursday. "And, to be honest, the first time I read it I was, like, 'Whoa!' It scared me a little. I said 'I'm married to you?' "

"The Survivor's Game" is an e-book that recently went on sale at Amber Moorman had been working on it off and on for about five years.

"It's a story that lived in my head and needed to be on paper," said Amber Moorman, a political science major at Pittsburg State in Kansas, where she met Brian.

In the year I wrote Spotlight pieces for the Buffalo News, readers should have gotten the idea I'm into dark subjects. I spent the past year writing about mysterious deaths, sexual predators, a woman who gambled away her son's cancer-treatment donations, people who prepare for doomsday and graphic war ordeals.

Without giving away the specifics of Amber Moorman's storyline, her novel kept my attention.

She writes from the perspective of the male protagonist, architect Jackson Culney, whose first wife was raped and nearly decapitated. The murderer gets released on parole, and their lives intersect again.

The crime at the nucleus of "The Survivor's Game" is loosely based on real events that happened near her hometown. But the characters, she said, are purely fictional.

"It's not a children's book," Brian Moorman said. "This is a psychological thriller. It's dark. But there's also a love story and a question about what happens. It made me think."

Amber Moorman called the publishing process "extremely exciting and terrifying at the same time." While it's an accomplishment to have finished a novel after several years, putting your work out there for everyone to judge can make a writer feel vulnerable.

As a first-time novelist, electronic publishing was the easiest way to go.

"I think it's harder for somebody to find an agent in the literary world than it is to make it in the NFL," Moorman said. "That's saying a lot. We used everything we could use, asking people who knew people. We didn't have much luck. So we decided to put it out there ourselves.

"I'm proud of her. She worked really hard on it. I've read it twice because it just blows me away. I didn't know she had it in her."

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |