Morris County Resident Publishes First Book

By Steve Sears

Whippany resident Donovan Russo is a happy guy. 

Being a first-time published author can have that wonderful effect on you.

Russo’s first novel, “Steven’s War”, was published early in December 2020, and Russo first held the physical book on December 21. He recalls opening the delivered box of books, looking at the front cover, and then lifting a copy out of the box. “It was exciting. I’ve seen the eBook version, but to actually hold the book in my hand, it was just really unique,” he says. “It was a proud moment, and it kind of felt like I guess in some way this journey with writing was kind of coming to fruition, if that makes sense.”

For Russo, who studied English at Montclair State and is currently working towards his MBA at Seton Hall University, “Steven’s War” took about a year to write. Last December, he was approached by Eric Koester, a Georgetown Professor, entrepreneur, and founder of the Creator Institute, which helps members write a book. “First of all, you gain access to this wonderful team of content developers, layout teams, and a copy-editing team with a hybrid publisher,” Russo says, “and you’re given a great community of individuals to help you write this book.” Russo then started researching in January of last year, outlined his book, and adds, “The survival is definitely the most challenging part. I went through about four different versions of that (his book).”

“It’s much greater than just me, and that was just a really humbling, enriching, and  satisfying experience.”

“Steven’s War” deals with 2009 and the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” period of the military. Without giving too much away, Russo says, “The story is really about a young man trying to figure it out and trying to embrace his individuality, while conforming to the expectations of society. Being the true American patriot, being a man, especially being the man in the low-income area, the story is really about him, finding who he is, but also about him realizing that he’s not as alone as he thinks he is.”

“Steven’s War” is Russo’s first novel, but he’s also done other types of writing. Currently a Literary Development intern for Zero Gravity Management, he has also written a few screenplays, and has written for CNBC and Yahoo Finance. “I definitely know how to put a story together,” he says, “especially for the public eye.” He also cites knowing the type of story you’d like to write and creating string characters is crucial. “I think especially writing all the screenplays that I’ve written, it’s enabled me to get a strong understanding just how to break down a story and characters. Even reading for Zero Gravity; I read a lot of scripts for them, seeing what I like and don’t like in a screenplay or in a story in general.”

Russo, who also plays the piano, is at work on another screenplay.

“Steven’s War” can be purchased online through both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Also, visit for more information.


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