A funny thing happened in January the year I retired: I got an idea for a book. Before I knew it, I was writing it. At first it was going to be called “Seven Walks on a Frozen Lake” and that was all it was going to be. But soon I realized that the main character, Ben O’Brian had a family, and the idea expanded. Soon there were other voices, then, suddenly that Spring, there was another book. I still had no idea how they would be published, but that wasn’t stopping the flow. Soon there was yet another book and another and another. Then I reconnected with my former student, now my publishing partner, Matt Dryer. By the time I had been retired for two years, I had completed drafts of 16 books in all. All short novels, or novellas if you prefer.
After a while I connected with Tony Beres of La Dolce Video and there was an audio book of the first book, Winter Heart. And now, thanks to Tony and his co-worker, Stone, this website exists. The purpose of this web site is to keep you posted on everything that’s going on in the Benegamah Press publishing world, to share some of my latest writing, and to promote my work on the stage with the UP Shakespeare Festival and other local companies, and to let you know about my upcoming gigs with Steve Hooper as part of his performance art group Under This Cold Sky, and also, I won’t lie, to sell books. So, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you the basic nature of what you can look for in coming years from Benegamah Press.
Here’s the current list of upcoming books. Look to see all of them within the next Five years.
Still coming in 2019
Fallback —The story of Jake O’Brian’s (younger brother to Ben and international lawyer) return to his home town of Hunter, Michigan. Jake has a problem which he is trying to keep secret. But there are no secrets in Hunter. Come back to the same environs that you read about in Winter Heart and Summer Rounds and see what’s new with all your favorite characters and find out what happens when a player like Jake, is forced to deal with facts of life by his brother, his sister Jen, and all the other home town folks you’ve come to know and love.
Coming in 2020
At the Sugar Shack—The sap is running and the geese are coming home, but this is the UP so there’s also a blizzard, and a big crowd of Hunter folks find themselves stranded at Ray Mantilla’s sugar shack. How will they pass the time? Based loosely on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, At the Sugar Shack chronicles the tales of all the folks from Hunter and environs you already know and quite a few you don’t, all in their own words. There is poetry, there are hunting and fishing stories, there are lots of laughs and quite a few tears, all while the wind blows and the snow falls outside the sugar shack. Come in out of the cold and hear the tales!
And After That
The first of two collections of four Hunter Lake Novellas, with the working Title: Seasons End
The titular novella concerns Carrie Sylvanus, wife to Dale Sylvanus of Summer Rounds. Carrie faces a startling realization, and reflects on the past and present as a result. The situation is dark, but this is the U.P., this is the small town of Hunter, so there’s always someone there to lend a hand. See how Carrie deals with her adversity, and in the process learn again how we are always stronger when we stick together.
Also in the first novella collection: Old Hunter. How did Hunter and Hunter Lake come to be? Who were the folks who founded and nurtured this community? Old Hunter answers all those questions and more, taking the reader back to 1832 and right up to the present day. Some of your favorites from previous Hunter Lake books show up along the way, mixed in with their friends, their relatives, and their ancestors with lots of new and compelling characters from ages past and the present day. An historical novel based in the UP and explaining the whys and wherefores of all things Hunter.
The third novella in the first collection, Reflections, takes you right back where the series started with Ben O’Brian. There are new unexpected developments there and Ben is hashing it out as only he can with all your Hunter friends and family. More poetry, more gritty northern philosophy and a compelling story to boot.
The closing novella of the first anthology is Young Hunter the story of some of the younger folks in your favorite fictional U.P. community. Follow the exploits of Donny “Flash” Sylvanus and his pals in this intriguing story of what it means to grow up in a small town or anywhere else for that matter.
And on to the second anthology of novellas whose working title is Gathering. The titular novella, in this case, concerns a gathering of Hunter folks for a New Year’s Day cross country ski outing at Hunter Lake. Hear lots of Hunter voices again, as the crew sets out on a sunny winter day which suddenly turns stormy to the peril of not a few of the local skiers. Come along for a tale of adventure and surprises.
How does a priest become a priest? And who is the man behind the collar? Young William concerns the younger years of your favorite Hunter priest: Father Bill. Who is Father Bill? What motivates him now and motivated him as a boy? Lots of your favorite Hunter pals are here again in this story of redemption.
Visitations is the third novella in this collection and concerns the return of Ben’s wandering and unusual son Michael to Hunter. How do you make your way in life? Do you travel far? Do you come back home? And if you do, do you dare to stay? Enjoy this atypical tale of romance, and the pathos and hilarity that ensues.
Closing out the Hunter Lake saga, at least for the foreseeable future, is Passing On, the tale of talented artist Kelly Sylvanus, following her from her young life to age 60. Along the way are plenty of updates and continuations of the threads of previous Hunter books, and, of course, the gang is all here for this final, at least for now, installment of the Hunter Lake Book Series.
And, as the advertisement goes, that’s not all! In coming years look for the science fiction/fantasy anthology Different Strings, which contains the short story collection of the same name and three novellas. The short stories take you into space, back to the U.P., and into places and times, where only imaginative fiction can go. Lots of new perspectives, lots of who’d-a-thunk-it tales.
Sourcer is a unique blend of sci fi, fantasy, noir, and comic book fare, all centered around…ha…mild mannered reporter Emmet Sourcer and his friends. You’ll feel echoes of every comic book or detective story or sci fi novel you’ve ever loved, as well as Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. This is my homage to my reading childhood, one I think I shared with many of you.
Beyond Far Shore is a children’s story with a UP setting and themes. Imagine Peter Pan meets the Grimms Brothers with a hint of Kurt Vonnegut, and John Voelker thrown in. There’s a U.P. style neverland and a boy in search of his father. Need I say more?
And finally, Crossroads, a speculation on time, the multi-verse, the road not taken, and romantic entanglements. It poses wistful question, “What if…” over and over and over again. The results, I think, are disconcerting, humbling, intriguing, therapeutic, and ultimately, I hope, reassuring.
Anything else? Well, yes. There will be, one or more poetry books at least, perhaps a collection of essays once my blog on this page has had time to develop and who knows what else? Certainly not I, from Winter Heart on this has all taken me by surprise. I hope you enjoy reading it all as much as I have writing it.
Talk soon! All will be well and all manner of things will be well.