Posted tagged ‘Book One’

Ten-Year Anniversary Edition Released of Iron Pioneers: The Marquette Trilogy, Book One

April 21, 2016

Marquette, MI, April 20, 2016—In 2006, local author Tyler R. Tichelaar published his first novel, Iron Pioneers, which was soon followed by two sequels, The Queen City and Superior Heritage to complete The Marquette Trilogy. Now Tichelaar is celebrating the ten-year anniversary of this first novel by reprinting it with a new color cover, an interior historic map of Marquette, and a new preface “Creating a Literature for Upper Michigan.”

Iron Pioneers has a new cover for its ten-year anniversary edition as well as a new preface.

Iron Pioneers has a new cover for its ten-year anniversary edition as well as a new preface.

“It felt like the ten-year anniversary of my first book was a reason to celebrate,” said Tichelaar. “And Iron Pioneers remains my bestselling book to this day, but I was never happy with the brown cover, which was chosen by my publisher at the time. I initially envisioned a gold cover, so I’ve chosen that, which seemed appropriate for an anniversary edition.”

Tichelaar first had the idea to write novels set in Marquette back in 1987 when he began writing his first book, eventually published in 2009 as The Only Thing That Lasts. But it was in 1999, when he was living in Kalamazoo, earning his Ph.D. in Literature, and homesick for the U.P., that he had the idea to write a novel that covered the scope of Marquette’s history. “It was Marquette’s sesquicentennial year,” he said, “and I felt it was time to tell Marquette’s story in a new way that highlighted its significant role in American history.” Tichelaar planned to write one novel, but the more research he did, the larger it grew, until it eventually became a trilogy. “It was seven years from conception to publication,” said Tichelaar, “but nearly 600,000 words and countless drafts later, I found it all worth it when people began reading The Marquette Trilogy.”

The plot of Iron Pioneers begins with a prologue about Father Marquette coming to the Marquette area. It then moves ahead to 1849 when Marquette was founded. It follows several fictional families through the early pioneer years, the Civil War, the fire of 1868, and the growth of Marquette. Numerous historical people, including Bishop Baraga and Peter White, are featured in the story. The story concludes in 1897 with the celebrations surrounding the Father Marquette statue’s unveiling. The successive books in the trilogy continue the story of Marquette’s history up to the sesquicentennial celebrations in 1999. “I wanted readers to feel they were stepping back in time to meet Marquette’s pioneers and to come away appreciating the sacrifices they made and the courage they showed when the settled here,” said Tichelaar.

Tichelaar has been very pleased with his readers’ responses to Iron Pioneers and his other books. “People tell me that they look at Marquette differently after they read my books. They notice old buildings, wonder about the people who once lived or worked there, and want to learn more about them. Tichelaar also noted that when he began writing Iron Pioneers, there was a lack of adult fiction set in Upper Michigan. Since then, the number of U.P. writers has exploded. “Today we can be proud that we have a vibrant and diverse U.P. literature,” said Tichelaar. “We have novels, history books, and poetry. I know of over one hundred U.P. writers all doing their part to capture the essence of our life here. I am proud to be one of the pioneers of that movement, and I intend to write many more books for the people who love this place and call it home.”

Iron Pioneers, The Marquette Trilogy: Book One (ISBN 9780979179006, Marquette Fiction, 2016) can be purchased in paperback and ebook editions through local and online bookstores. For more information, visit Review copies available upon request.


For St. Patrick’s Day: Molly’s Potato Famine Story in “Iron Pioneers”

March 14, 2014
Iron Pioneers, The Marquette Trilogy: Book One by Tyler Tichelaar

Iron Pioneers, The Marquette Trilogy: Book One by Tyler Tichelaar

For St. Patrick’s Day, I am posting the passage in my novel Iron Pioneers: The Marquette Trilogy, Book One, where Molly shares for the first time in her life what happened to her during the Irish potato famine. She tells this to her future son-in-law, Patrick, in 1883. He is newly arrived to Marquette from Ireland and he complains to her about how the Irish are oppressed by the English when she is asking him about his past to make sure he deserves to marry her daughter, Kathy. Kathy is waiting in the other room for Molly and Patrick’s private conversation to be finished.

Before I published this novel, I paid for an editorial evaluation to be done, and the editor suggested I cut this scene because it wasn’t about Marquette itself, but to me, this is perhaps the scene that truly embodies the entire theme of the novel and how my story of Marquette’s history is played out as a larger part of the American Dream, for which all our ancestors–Irish and otherwise–came to this country. May we never forget them, the tragedy they endured, and the courage they had to come to this country.

From Iron Pioneers:

“I can to some extent,” Molly replied. “I lived during some hard years in Ireland myself.”

“It’s never been as bad as now,” said Patrick. “And the people only make it worse by being afraid to act. They pray for miracles, even make up stories about them, but nothing changes. I don’t believe in miracles.”

“I do,” said Molly. She remembered how Bishop Baraga had prayed to God to save Kathy’s life, then laid his hands on her.

“Well, I don’t,” Patrick repeated. “The only good miracle would be to have the British drowned in the Irish Sea. Instead, we get a useless miracle like the one at Knock a few years ago.”

“At Knock?” asked Molly, remembering that village had not been far from where she grew up. “What happened at Knock?”

“People claim a miracle happened, but I don’t believe it. It makes no sense.”

“What kind of a miracle?” asked Molly. “I never heard of a miracle happening in Ireland.”

            “Some of the villagers in Knock claim they saw an apparition.”

“Really?” Molly pondered what this could mean for Ireland, if it were true. Was it a sign of peace, or of trouble to come? All her life, she had longed to see a vision, but she had never believed herself good enough to be so blessed. Having God intercede through Bishop Baraga to cure her daughter was in itself more than she had deserved.

“It happened about five years ago,” said Patrick. “Near the church, some people saw three figures: the Blessed Virgin in the center, dressed in white and wearing a crown. On one side of her was St. Joseph and on her other side St. John the Baptist. The vision lasted for two hours; it was evening and dark because it was raining, yet the vision remained and supposedly no rain fell on it.”

“Was a message given?” Molly knew visions and apparitions often resulted in tidings or miracles, as at Lourdes when the Virgin Mary had caused a healing spring to appear.

“No,” said Patrick. “I don’t believe in miracles anyway, but this vision or miracle or whatever you want to call it made no sense. My sister claims it was intended to comfort the poor and suffering of Ireland, but I don’t see how they can be comforted when God and His Church improve nothing.”

“Perhaps the miracle reminded people that God loves them, that they will have a better life in the hereafter,” Molly replied; yet she wondered why a vision had not appeared in those hard years of the famine when her family had been forced to leave their home.

“My sister visited Knock not long after,” Patrick said. “She claims you can sense you are on holy ground there, that the Holy Spirit fills the place. Tons of people now go there on pilgrimage. Some say the miracle occurred at Knock because the local priest is a holy man, but others say that because the priest did not witness it, Ireland is lost. Some claim the sick have been cured there, but I doubt there’s any proof. Everyone is in disagreement about what happened and what it means, so it might as well have never happened for any difference it has made.”

“We can’t know that,” said Molly. “Plenty of things happen that we question at the time, but years later when we look back, we find a meaningful pattern in them.”

“The Irish want salvation from the English, but God sends them a vision that lasts for two hours and that only a handful witness. That makes no sense,” Patrick repeated. “If you ask me, God has abandoned Ireland.”

“Patrick,” said Molly, less angered by his words than grieved by his lack of faith, “remember that people thought the Messiah would be a king, but instead, He was the Son of God who came to free men from their sins. Your experiences were horrible, but you do not yet know the full extent of suffering. Like you, whenever I’ve suffered, I’ve asked why, only to find later that I was the stronger for it. God knows your suffering is to your advantage, and someday you will come to know that too.”

“With all due respect,” Patrick said, “you may have suffered, but you haven’t known the misery I have by being exiled from my family and having to live in daily fear.”

Molly tried to control her voice. What did this young man know about her life?

“I have never been completely alone,” she admitted, “but I have watched my loved ones suffer and stood by helpless. You are too young to know what my generation endured, but your parents or grandparents must have told you about the great famine.”

“Of course,” said Patrick, “but a famine is not the same as political oppression.”

“No, it’s much worse,” said Molly. “We had no one to blame for it, not even the English. We could find no meaning or explanation for our misery. You don’t know what it is to watch your loved ones starve to death, to know there is nothing you can do to help them, even to wonder if there were a morsel to eat, if you would have the decency to share it with your own mother or sister. Hunger can turn people into ravaging animals. It makes you completely helpless until even your mind is lost.”

“Yes, but I don’t think—”

“Don’t interrupt me,” said Molly. “I’ve not spoken of this for thirty-five years, but in all fairness, I think I owe you my story as well, and perhaps you’re the only one who can understand or bear its horror.”

Patrick shrunk back. The painful hunger in Molly’s eyes looked as if it would devour him when unleashed.

“First,” said Molly, “we heard rumors that the crops were blighted. Not long after, my father and brother dug up the potatoes. They stank; they were black, filled with disease. My father let up a wail unlike anything I had ever heard before in my life, not even from a woman. We ran to him in the fields, my mother, grandmother, sister, all of us, and we feverishly dug up every potato, hoping to spare a few. Not one potato was edible. Every single one was destroyed. We fell to the ground in tears. We held each other. We wept in the belief we would all die. Soon we had word that all our neighbors suffered the same catastrophe. There was no food to be found in the entire county. The few who were rich enough to own cattle, slaughtered and ate them, then starved to death when the meat was gone. Our neighbors resorted to eating grass. My grandmother—she became so weak we had no other option; we tried to get her to eat grass too, but she only vomited it all up. Can you imagine watching a good old woman suffering like that? And when she died—”

Molly broke into loud wailing sobs.

In the kitchen, Kathy heard her mother’s tears and trembled. Yet she dared not enter the room.

Patrick waited as Molly wiped her tears. Once she regained control, she continued, “We dug my grandmother a grave. My father could not do it, not for his own mother; he was so weak from hunger he could barely stand. My brother and I dug the grave, knowing we would soon also dig one for my father. I wanted then to toss myself in the hole with my grandmother. I do not know to this day how I managed to live through that week.

“But then my uncle came to visit us from twenty miles away. His wife and his two small children had starved to death. My aunt had wanted to leave Ireland for England, but he had refused; he madly thought the government would help us. I don’t know whether the English were at fault—I think they were at a complete loss what to do since the famine was so terrible. My uncle had some money; he wanted to save the rest of the family by sending us to England, but my father was stubborn. He refused to go to the enemy’s land. Then my uncle became ill; he died quickly while my father continued to linger. We took the money from the pockets of my uncle’s corpse, and my brother, sister, and I forced our parents to leave their home. We fled, leaving behind our land, our home, our friends and neighbors, leaving them all behind to die. Do you know the guilt I still feel over that? Do you know how many times I’ve wished I had been buried on the heath of my family’s farm? How often I have asked myself if I deserved to live when so many of them died?”

She was practically screaming at Patrick, as if demanding an answer, demanding relief from her guilt.

“That wasn’t even the end,” she said. “My sister died on the boat to Liverpool; she gave my father her portions of food, never hinting how sick she was. My father recovered from his illness, but both my parents were broken after that. We barely had money for the passage to America. My brother had to steal food on the ship so we could eat. And then we came to America, and things were hardly better than in Ireland; we had to live in two cramped, sordid rooms in what they would call a tenement house today, and we could not find work for weeks. Finally, I got hired in a factory, long hours for slave wages; after six weeks, I was laid off—then I hired myself out as a maid. When I met Fritz, I agreed to marry him partly so I would not be a burden on the rest of my family. What else could I do? True, I was not alone. I was with my husband, and I loved him, but it was not the same as being with my family.

“Tell me, Patrick, the reason for all that suffering. What justice existed in my innocent grandmother dying like that? Why should my poor uncle save us with his money, yet never see America himself? And my poor sister, who sacrificed herself to starvation so my father could live. None of it should make any sense, Patrick. It would have made more sense if I had died with them, but that’s precisely why it makes sense. I believe God preserved me for some reason. I don’t know what it is; He does not let me know because it is beyond my understanding, but I believe it, maybe only because having something to believe keeps me sane, but I choose to believe anyway.”

"Emigrants Leave Ireland" by Henry Doyle, circa 1868

“Emigrants Leave Ireland” by Henry Doyle, circa 1868

Patrick was silent after Molly’s revelation. He was relieved when she quit talking, yet he hated the silence that followed. He could not find words to cast out her demons.

“You have the death of one man on your hands, Patrick. I have the death of half the Irish race on my conscience because I outlived them. That’s suffering.”

“You couldn’t have done anything else,” he said. “You wanted to die, but you knew your family needed you.”

“But why did any of us have to suffer? What did we do to deserve it?”

“I don’t know,” said Patrick.

“I don’t know either.”

Patrick was sweating from the heat of her tale. He thought of his own grandparents; now he understood why they had never spoken of the famine. He had asked them about it a couple times, but they had always dismissed his questions. He imagined their pain must have been like that of his hostess.

“It’s all right now, Mother,” he said, placing his hand on her shoulder and giving her his handkerchief. “No one can blame you for any wrong. We’re in a better land now, where we’re safe, and where our children will have better lives. We should just be thankful.”

“It is a better land,” she said, wiping her eyes, then placing her hand in his. She was surprised that he addressed her as mother; had he done so from respect for her age, or from affection as her future son-in-law? It didn’t matter; he had said it sincerely, not to butter her up. He was the only one she had ever told these horrors to—not even Fritz had known; she had not wished to burden her family with that misery, any more than she wanted her children to have empty stomachs.

“I’m sorry,” she said, squeezing his hand. “I’ve tried to forget it all for so long that when I remembered it now, it seemed as awful as if I were living it all over again.”

“It’s all right,” he soothed.

“A million people died, Patrick. Do you know that? One million people died during the famine. I could cry for years and never shed enough tears for them all.”

Patrick said nothing, just allowed her to finish her thoughts.

“If I had stayed in Ireland, like your family did,” she said, “I don’t know whether I wouldn’t be just as angry about the oppression. I try to be a good Catholic, but if I were a man, I might have done the same to that English soldier.”

“Thank you,” said Patrick, “for understanding.”

“I’m glad we’ve had this talk,” she said. She swallowed, trying to clear the dry throat caused by her sobbing. “You understand I had to know for Kathy’s sake.”

“Yes. You’re a good mother to care so much about her.”

“Kathy will be worried,” she said, now feeling at peace with her decision. “You can go tell her I give you my consent. I need a moment alone now. I’ll come join you in the parlor in a few minutes.”

“Thank you,” Patrick smiled, almost reluctant to leave this courageous woman.

Left alone, Molly thought, “The priest was right. If I try to be generous, I receive more. I’m glad I told Patrick; we trust each other now. I think he’ll take good care of Kathy.”

Patrick went into the parlor but found it empty. He wondered what to do until he saw Kathy’s silhouette through the lace curtains. Then he went out onto the porch, welcoming the cool air, the smell of coming rain, the relief to the end of the heat and humidity.

Kathy was leaning against a pillar. She did not even tremble when the thunder clapped.

“Kathy,” Patrick nearly whispered.

A flash of lightning showed him she had been crying.

“What’s wrong?” he asked. For the first time he placed his arm around her waist. He marveled at how natural it felt to hold her. She did not shiver at his touch, but leaned back against his chest.

“Your mother gave us permission. Will you marry me, then?”

“Yes,” she sighed.

“Are you happy?” he asked. “Why are you crying?”

“Yes, I’m happy,” she said. “I love you.”

“I love you,” he replied, kissing her hair.

“I heard,” she said, “what my mother told you.”

“About what? The potato famine?”

He quivered, fearful she had heard his own tragic tale.

“I only heard when she raised her voice, talking about how her grandmother had died. I had no idea she went through that. Can you imagine, my great-grandmother having to eat grass, and then starving to death, and her poor uncle, and all his family, and her sister—her sister would have been my aunt if she had lived. I wish I could thank them all for what they suffered so my mother could come to America.”

“You thank them everyday by living and being happy,” said Patrick.

“I understand now why you left Ireland; if I had to live in such poverty, I would have left too. I’ll never pester you again about it. I understand how awful it must be to speak of it.”

He was glad she understood, without having heard the actual reason he had left.

His chin rested upon her head. The sudden cool air made the perfume of her hair all the sweeter. The rain broke. It came down in torrents. They stood watching it. Patrick remembered Molly saying she could never cry enough tears for the million who died in the famine. He felt as if Nature wept tonight for all those innocent lives.

“How can we live in America, knowing that others are suffering?” Kathy asked.

“By appreciating our good fortune and being happy.”

“Happy?” she asked, feeling it impossible after years of living under her stepfather’s oppression, after the suffering her mother had known. She feared to be happy from fear it would not last.

“Yes, happy,” said Patrick. “All those people who suffered would want us to be happy, to live and marry and have children who will not know such pain. We are the extensions of our parents and grandparents and all those brave people; we’re a continuation of their spirits, and our happiness helps to validate their struggles, to give meaning to their lives.”

He only understood this truth as he spoke it, as he suddenly believed the world could be a wonderful place; that everything could work out for the best. He felt like an old Celtic bard who foresaw a hopeful future capable of washing away past grief.

“We should go inside,” he said. “Your mother expects us to have dessert.”

Early Upper Michigan Literature – a Brief and Incomplete History

July 18, 2011

The U.P. Author Book Tour is in its last week, but several events are still happening. You can find the list of the remaining events at: The book tour has generated a lot of discussion about Michigan, and specifically Upper Michigan authors, both present and past, so I wanted to post a little about the legacy of Upper Michigan literature. I am sure there is much more than what I will post here so I invite others to let me know of any early U.P. literature I forget. Finally, thank you once again to Ron Riekki, author of U.P. for all his work organizing the biggest literary event in Upper Michigan history with more than 60 authors over the course of a month!

The Beginnings

the song of hiawatha

The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Upper Michigan literature really begins with the Native Americans since they were here first. They practiced oral traditions and talked about their myths and the supernatural creatures and beautiful Great Lakes area. Much of this wonderful oral tradition has probably been lost, but some parts of it were preserved. As far as printed books go, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft and his half-Ojibwa wife, Jane Schoolcraft, lived at the Sault and wrote down several Ojibwa legends that were collected into book form. Various versions of these works exist today. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow used these stories to compose his famous The Song of Hiawatha in 1855. Longfellow never set foot in Upper Michigan, but we can claim him as one of our own for first making Upper Michigan significant in literature on a nationwide level. The poem remains well-known today and the U.P. continues to commemorate the Hiawatha legend in the Hiawatha National Forest that composes a large part of central Upper Michigan as well as the Hiawatha Music Festival held in Marquette every July (coming this weekend July 22-24–visit And any true Yooper knows Lake Superior’s true name is Gitchee Gumee, as Longfellow states:

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

ojibwa narratives charles kawbawgam

Ojibwa Narratives

Once you read the poem, the rhythm never gets out of your head. An interesting sidenote is that Longfellow borrowed the meter for the poem from the famous Finnish epic, the Kalevala–a work also well-known in Upper Michigan because of the large number of Finnish immigrants who have come to this area, although a generation after Longfellow’s poem was written.

Another wonderful collection of Ojibwa narratives are those that Chief Charles Kawbawgam of Marquette and his brother-in-law Jacques LePique told to Homer Kidder in the 1890s (a depiction of this event is included in my novel Iron Pioneers). The manuscript was not published until 1994 by Wayne State University as Ojibwa Narratives, but it is another example of early Upper Michigan literature.

The First Novels

Snail-Shell Harbor Langille

Snail-Shell Harbor by J.H. Langille

I am uncertain what the first Upper Michigan novel was, but for now, my best guess is Snail-Shell Harbor (1870) by J.H. Langille. This novel is set in the bustling early village of Fayette, Michigan, once an iron-smelting town in the Garden Peninsula. Today it is a famous Michigan ghost-town. The novel describes the everyday life in the village of the ironworkers, fishing in the harbor, and the life and death struggles that those early pioneers faced. A reprint of the book is available at Great Lakes Romances. Fayette is today a historic park open to visitors. For more information, visit Historic Fayette State Park.

Anne by constance fenimore Woolson

Anne by Constance Fenimore Woolson

Another early novel is Constance Fenimore Woolson’s Anne (1882) set on Mackinac Island. Woolson was the great-niece of James Fenimore Cooper. she lived in Ohio but dearly loved to visit Mackinac Island. She was the aunt to Samuel and Henry Mather, owners of the Cleveland Mining Company. Henry Mather’s home still stands in Marquette, Michigan today, although no record exists that Woolson visited any of Upper Michigan other than Mackinac Island. When Woolson died, her nephew Samuel erected Anne’s Tablet on Mackinac Island in her memory. On the tablet is a passage from the novel. The novel itself has beautiful descriptions of Mackinac Island in winter, and frankly the Mackinac Island scenes are the most worth reading. It is a rather conventional romance novel of its time in that the heroine leaves the island and goes to the East Coast where she falls in love with a man in society but is ultimately jilted and returns home to Mackinac Island. It is not a great novel, but it is well worth reading for the descriptions of Mackinac Island alone.

Children’s Books

Much of Upper Michigan’s early nineteenth century literature is in the form of children’s books.

In 1904, Marquette author Carroll Watson Rankin published Dandelion Cottage, which is still considered a minor classic by many children’s literature enthusiasts. She reputedly wrote it because her daughter complained that she had read every book ever written for little girls. The story is about four little girls growing up in Lakeville in Upper Michigan who want a playhouse. The church allows them to use a small rental property it has in exchange for picking the dandelions off the lawn. The novel is based on a real house which still stands in Marquette today. See my previous post on Dandelion Cottage. Rankin went on to write several more books, including three sequels to Dandelion Cottage.

James Cloyd Bowman lived across the street from Rankin on Ridge Street in Marquette. He was the head of the English department at Northern State Teacher’s College (now NMU). He became famous for his children’s book story collections, especially Pecos Bill for which he won the Newberry Medal, but he also published a book about Upper Michigan’s own Paul Bunyan, and Tales from a Finnish Tupa (doubtless because of the Finnish population in the U.P.) and he wrote a little known novel Mystery Mountain, set in a fictional version of Marquette and featuring the Hotel Superior. I imagine he and Carroll Watson Rankin knew each other, living across the street from one another. If only their conversations had been recorded.

Two other children’s authors from Marquette were Dorothy Maywood Bird and Holly Wilson. Bird’s best known book, Granite Harbor (1944) is also set in a fictional Marquette and tells of a girl from Texas who comes to stay in Upper Michigan. Although resistant to her new home at first, she soon discovers how much fun a girl can have in the U.P., especially in winter with skiing and other activities. Bird wrote a couple of other novels as well.

Holly Wilson grew up in Marquette on Arch Street. She wrote several children’s books set in Upper Michigan, and others just set in the Great Lakes region. Among her best books are Clara the Unconquered, which depicts a fictionalized version of Marquette in its early years, Deborah Todd, the story of a girl’s antics based on Wilson’s childhood, and The Hundred Steps, about the hundred steps in Marquette that led from Ridge Street down to the harbor; Wilson uses the steps to depict the class divisions in the town.

U.P. Literature Becomes Famous

Anatomy of a murder by Robert TraverDr. James Cloyd Bowman taught creative writing at Northern, and one of his students was John Voelker, who would publish the bestselling Anatomy of a Murder (1956) under the pen name Robert Traver. Voelker used to bring his writing to where Bowman was residing and go over his stories with him. Wouldn’t we love to have those conversations recorded as well? Of all the novels to come out of Upper Michigan, Anatomy of a Murder remains the best known. It is based on a real murder that took place in Big Bay. Voelker was the defense attorney in the court case, and consequently, he was well-qualified to write a fictionalized version of it. In 1959, it was made into the film of the same name, starring Jimmy Stewart, Eve Arden, Lee Remick, George C. Scott, Ben Gazzara, and Arthur O’Connell.

Upper Michigan Literature Today

Novels set in the Upper Peninsula remained relatively few throughout the rest of the twentieth century, but in the last decade the number has grown tremendously as more and more locals come to appreciate how special Upper Michigan is as well as changes in the publishing industry allow people to self-publish their books.

Misery Bay by Steve Hamilton

Misery Bay by Steve Hamilton

Well-known authors like Jim Harrison have depicted Upper Michigan in books like Returning to Earth. Lilian Jackson Braun’s Cat series (The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare etc.) are set in a fictionalized U.P. town. Mystery novelist Steve Hamilton has set several books in the U.P. including Misery Bay . (You can catch Steve Hamilton as part of the U.P. Author Book Tour. He makes his last appearance on Beaver Island on Thursday afternoon, July 21st at the museum).  These authors have all achieved nationwide attention.

The list of UP authors today is far too numerous to list them all. I encourage anyone interested in who is writing about the U.P. today to visit the UP Publishers and Authors Association for a list of all the member authors’ books. Another, far from complete list of U.P. authors can be found at my website

I began writing novels set in Upper Michigan back in 1987, although I did not publish any until 2006. I felt strongly that Upper Michigan is full of stories, wonderful characters, dramatic episodes, significant history, and beautiful settings. The perfect place to write about. At the beginning of my first published novel Iron Pioneers: The Marquette Trilogy, Book One, I inserted the following quote from Ralph Williams’ biography of Marquette pioneer Peter White. I think those words, more than a century old, remain true today about why Upper Michigan literature is and will continue to be significant:

Iron Pioneers The marquette trilogy book one tyler r. tichelaar

Iron Pioneers: The Marquette Trilogy, Book One

“The beginnings, therefore, of this great iron industry are historically important and are of interest to every citizen in the United States, for there is not a man or woman today living who has not been, directly or indirectly, benefited by the great mineral wealth of the Lake Superior country and the labor of winning it and working it into the arts . . . . Has it not the elements in it out of which to weave the fabric of the great American novel so long expected and so long delayed? For the story is distinctly American. Indeed there is nothing more distinctly American.”

—Ralph Williams, The Honorable Peter White: A Biographical Sketch of the Lake Superior Iron Country (1905)