shores of Triangle Lake provide Chris Mikesell with an outdoor office
and a source of inspiration for at least one of the characters Mikesell
LAKE — If a writer wanted to find inspiration for a character who lives
in a small, lakeside town, then Triangle Lake might be a good place to
look. For local writer Chris Mikesell, the lake is part of his daily
life, which may help explain his success at finding a voice for the
fictional Wilbur Hucks of Kanner Lake, Idaho.
Lake is the creation of Brandilyn Collins, an award-winning and
best-selling novelist who just published “Violet Dawn,” the first of a
three-part series of suspense thrillers. In conjunction with her book
release, she created a Kanner Lake town blog, populated it with
characters from the series and invited writers to audition for the
chance to become the voice of one of those characters.
37, chose the 77-year-old Hucks as the character for his audition
piece. He is a backcountry old-timer and a heart surgery survivor who’s
a bit cranky and was involved in most of the town’s history. Mikesell
captured the character well enough to become one of four writers who
take turns creating the next installment of life at the lake from the
old timer’s point of view.
Hucks sounded like a fun character,” said Mikesell. “I chose him
because he could say almost anything. Also, his surgical scar reminded
me of my dad, who’s less crotchety than Wilbur but still has his
Mikesell met Collins in April
at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference near Santa Cruz,
Calif., where he had arrived with a manuscript for “Revival,” his
unfinished novel. Collins agreed to critique his manuscript and enjoyed
his writing style enough to invite him to audition for the Kanner Lake
blog, an Internet site that promotes online commentary.
is putting the final polish on his 85,000-word novel and hopes to
submit it to a publisher early next year. The story uses theology as a
basis for entertainment, because his primary goal is to entertain and
amuse readers, rather than preach to them.
jaded writer, a roadshow preacher and a demon with a loophole to
exploit converge on a remote Oregon town one November afternoon,” he
said in outlining the plot of his novel. “Within 72 hours the place is
in flames, and the writer must overcome his lack of faith if anyone is
going to survive the weekend. “
describes it as a horror story with elements of mystery and humor, a
description that also fits other pieces of his published work.
just try to tell the stories that come to me as truthfully as I can,”
he explained. “I hope that people will enjoy what they read, but I also
hope they will think about what they’ve just read, and that it will
stimulate deeper thinking.”
fiction piece of mine, ‘Jack of All Non Sequiturs,’ was published at
‘Flashes of Speculation’ on Aug. 10,” Mikesell said.
short story is set in a diner where a waitress suffers a violent death
at the hands of her Jack Nicholson-obsessed boyfriend. It’s an edgy and
unsettling tale, one that seems unlikely to emerge from the mind of
this quiet and gentle man.
Knights, & Angels, an online publication that describes itself as
“the magazine of Christian fantasy and science fiction” recently named
Mikesell’s story, “The Fortunate Purgatory of Arthur MacArthur,” as the
winner of their 2006 fiction contest.
the opening sentence (“I don’t know how I died, but I’m certain it
happened at some point.”) Mikesell takes the reader on a strange
journey through a personal purgatory that takes place in a boiler room
and involves the archangel Gabriel, Albert Einstein, an unseen dragon
and references to King Arthur of Camelot.
me, the most gratifying thing that has happened with my writing has
been the unsolicited review of that story by Tangent, a short fiction
review Web site,” he said.
writing is strong, having a distinctive voice and a facile eye for
viewing the (under)world,” reads the Tangent review. It describes his
story as “both a lighthearted and a sad tale, and Mikesell is able to
successfully switch between both without losing a step.”
modest, unassuming fellow, Mikesell has been married to his wife, Dina,
for 18 years. Along with their son Philip, 6, they live at the Triangle
Lake Camp and Conference Center, where Dina is executive director. The
Mikesells moved from Salem in the summer of 1999 to begin managing the
retreat and summer camp that is owned by the Episcopal church.
is my one-man PR department.” said Mikesell. “He tells complete
strangers that his dad writes books and stories. Before this he told
people I needed to eat more vegetables, so this is better.”
reads everything I write, whether it’s her cup of tea or not — usually
not. Some of my writer friends say their spouses don’t understand their
need or desire to write, so I consider myself blessed,” he added.
someone who’s had relatively quick success in a highly competitive
field, Mikesell has a few word of advice for would-be writers.
support network is crucial. Beyond family or a local writing group,
there are online writing communities and blogrolls. There’s a
“who-you-know” element to the industry, but it’s surprisingly easy to
make contact and develop relationships.”
and writing Amazon reviews helped me find my voice and develop
confidence in my writing ability. Being one among hundreds of thousands
affords some anonymity, but you can still point to what you’ve done and
the occasional bit of feedback helps immensely.”
Copyright 2006 Serif Publishing Group.
Archived with permission.