MANITOWOC, Wis. — Silver Lake College alumnus Derek Kohlbeck of Two Rivers recently published his first novel, “Yeggdeus,” a coming-of-age story of Tessa Jones, a 12-year-old tomboy living on a Wisconsin dairy farm on the brink of financial collapse.
In the 465-page Amazon Kindle book, Tessa meets an unusual monster in the woods named Jambo, who holds the key to saving her parents’ farm. First, the girl must fulfill her bargain with Verma, the worm queen. Tessa and her friends travel to the depths of the underworld, where the dead cry for their lost memories and the monsters wait in a convoluted maze of roots. It is also where Yeggdeus holds the wonders and terrors of a civilized world.
“I find inspiration for my characters and the worlds they inhabit in my everyday life, from the place I live and the places I watch in David Attenborough’s nature documentaries, to the stories I read in books and the stories I heard from my family members. For example, the old Mirro building may seem similar to the Ruebberstein factory in the story,” said Kohlbeck, who graduated from Silver Lake College in 2011 with a major in English and an emphasis in writing.
“Overall, it is a mishmash of so many pieces and parts,” he said. “That’s how creativity functions. The cast of characters in this book are strange, but also comical at times. I take the reader to prodigious, exotic and terrifying places. I make sure they know the environment and surroundings they step into.”
Kohlbeck doesn’t use an outline like many authors do.
“Stephen King is notorious for writing this way,” he said. “I feel using an outline restricts my creative process. For the most part, I understood where I wanted to go, but sometimes you wind up in another direction. That’s the beauty of writing a novel this size. I had to capture each scene played out inside my head.”
Kohlbeck admittedly hates editing, but realizes it must be done.
“Since I’m dyslexic, it took me awhile to polish all the rough edges,” he said of his novel. “I also was going to graduate school while editing this book. I learned that you could possibly spend an eternity editing. Sometimes you need to just accept the book at some point.”
The author explored finding a literary agent or self-publishing his book, and decided to self-publish through Amazon Kindle.
While Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing took care of most of the work, Kohlbeck designed his own cover.
“First I sketched the image on paper and then traced it with a marker and painted the background with acrylic paint. I scanned it to my computer and then, pow, I had a simple but eye-catching cover,” he said.
Kohlbeck said he became captivated by the genre of horror writing when he was introduced to R.L Stein’s Goosebumps series. Then, in middle school, he remembers reading the strange and terrifying stories of H.P. Lovecraft.
He has a laundry list of authors that motivate and influence him to write. Contemporary authors include Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Richard Laymon and Laird Barron.
Classical authors include Clark Aston Smith, Ray Bradbury, Victor Hugo and Richard Matheson.
More information about Kohlbeck’s novel can be found here.