Local author recreates 1927 in 'Man of Power'
Years ago, Leslie Ericksen Tesch met an older man and, over time, learned about his life. Years later, in thinking about the possibility of writing her first novel, Tesch thought back to the older man, inevitably using him for her inspiration of Henry, the protagonist in her novel, "Man of Power."
"Man of Power" takes place in 1927, in a fictional midwest town. Henry Morrish is a farmer, working alongside his three brothers. He falls in love with Charmaine, the niece of a family in town who moved from Chicago.
"I was talking with one of my classmates," Tesch said. "We used to have a girl named Charmaine in our grade. I didn't remember her, necessarily, but I always remembered the name."
Charmaine's name contrasts with the names of the people who live in her town. Her cousins are Sally and Lucy. She marries Henry, whose brothers are John, Sam and Luke.
"She's supposed to have an Italian father," Tesch said. "And, along with her sister, Isabella, I thought it sounded exotic."
"Man of Power" is divided into three parts: Charmaine, Emily, and Henry.
"I wanted it to be traditional, with a prologue and an epilogue and three parts," Tesch said. "To me, a traditional story has three parts."
Tesch began the novel when she was 40 years old, upon telling herself "if I don't start it now I'll never get it done."
The first part of the book was originally written out by hand, until several changes in Tesch's life led to a nearly 15-year hiatus in writing.
The year she turned 65, however, she resolved to finish her novel.
"I started it again about five years ago," she said. "I was going to finish it for sure."
Tesch, a former English teacher at Clay Central schools, now known as Clay Central-Everly, "always wanted to write," but had never written a novel.
"I'd written a couple of short stories," she said. "I wrote a family book for my family and for my husband's family. Those weren't published, though."
She continued. "Writing a novel takes a lot more time. But I like the process. I like to write. A lot of times, I knew from the beginning where it was going, but sometimes it would change as things popped in."
The publishing process "went fairly smooth," though it took longer than Tesch imagined.
Her book was published in October by Mirror Publishing out of Milwaukee, Wisc. It is sold on Amazon.com, at Hill Avenue Book Company in Spirit Lake and at Arts on Grand. This year, Tesch hopes to release an e-book version of the novel.
Though the first book took nearly two decades from start to finish, Tesch is considering another novel.
"I've started something," she said. "But I'm waiting to see what comes of it."