Interview with The Author

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Tomah native pens detective novel


For Tomah native Tim Vernier, writing his first novel was as much of an adventure for himself as it was for the book’s main character.  “There were more surprises than I expected,” Vernier said.

“Feckenmeyer’s Mailbox” tells the story of reluctant detective Dick Stranger in a fictional small-town of Woodstock, Wis.  “Dick does not intend to become a detective,” Vernier said.

Stranger becomes a detective by accident.  “There is a case that is near and dear to his heart that does not get investigated, and he decides that that was a fairly easy thing to do,” Vernier said.  One thing leads to another and Stranger gets drawn into the mystery as it gets more complicated.

“Dick happens to uncover a number of things going on in town that are not on the up and up,” Vernier said.  The case involves several crimes and a conspiracy involving a fireworks store, drugs, car thefts and a farm.

“I think you could say it’s partially about how the story unfolds, and part of the question is does the small town lose its innocence in the process?” Vernier said.  The novel examines the effect of larger city problems on small towns, as well as offering a little tongue-in-cheek look at small towns.

The town is inspired by Tomah, but it is not Tomah.  “The people in the story are not Tomah people. No one has to look for themselves,” Vernier said.

Vernier began the novel several years ago.

“It’s more in the manner of local color than some dramatic thing that changed or popped into my mind,” Vernier said.  Vernier spent six months writing the first draft out by hand.

As the story went on, it began almost to tell itself.  “I would start a chapter and there was some twist in the chapter that I didn’t expect,” Vernier said.

Something would happen that was completely outside of his outline, and he would be forced to revise his story.  “They weren’t all things that were critical to the story, but there were things that actually changed the course of it a little,” Vernier said.

The story ends the way he originally intended; however, there were subplots that completely changed.

“There was one guy that was going to die. I decided partway through that I liked him more than that,” Vernier said.

After the handwritten version was complete, Vernier spent two years editing and revising, polishing the story and getting it formatted to publish.  “It’s a fair amount different than the original hand-written version,” Vernier said.

Vernier self-published the novel, a process he describes as challenging.  “There was a learning curve,” Vernier said.  Vernier did the graphics for the cover and took care of publication and distribution himself.

The day the first completed print copy of “Feckenmeyer’s Mailbox” arrived at his home was a bit surreal, Vernier said.  “The day that you take it out of the cardboard box, it’s in your hand and it’s a paperback book, and it’s got pages and page numbers and things like that, it really feels like it’s a real book,” Vernier said.

Vernier will be doing a reading and book signing 1:30 p.m. Oct. 12 at the Colors of Kendall Autumn Ridge Tour and Festival.

“Feckenmeyer’s Mailbox” by T.E. Vernier is available online at and For more information visit his website at