Spotlight On…. Tyler Tichelaar of Marquette Fiction

Interview with author Tyler Tichelaar, Marquette Fiction,  Superior Book Productions, UP holistic business, UP holistic wellness publication

What do you write about and why?
I write lots of books about Upper Michigan, mostly Marquette, lots of historical fiction, and some non-fiction books. My most recent was a biography of Chief Kawbawgam.

As for why, I think because the advice given writers is to write what you know, and I knew the UP. There weren’t a lot of novels for adults about the UP, and I thought the UP deserved to have its own literature, especially its own fiction. I also write historical fantasy about King Arthur, and literary criticism.

How did you get into writing?
I was always a lover of books. When I was in about third grade, I had a friend who told me her aunt was an author who had written a few mystery novels and that put the idea into my head that “Hey that’s a job, and that’s the job I want!” Ever since then, I’ve written.

When I was in eighth grade, I took a creative writing class at NMU for middle school students in which I wrote a story called “The Ghost of Stonegate Woods,” named for where I grew up in the neighborhood Stonegate Heights near the Crossroads. That story had a mystery about a ghost, and some UP history. It was chosen out of the others in the class to be made into a video on the Upper Michigan Today Show. That was probably my first real story that brought in an interest in the UP and UP history. Of course I had the history all wrong. But the fact that my story was chosen was a big boost to my ego and made me feel like I could become an author.

How many books have you published now?
Twenty-one, and there are more in the works, including a couple of historical novels set in the UP.

What keeps you inspired to write?
I think my desire to share knowledge and also to make sense of out things. I also think in many ways writing is therapy for authors. In some way, it’s my way to make sense of the world, and control the world a little bit, especially when writing fiction. As for non-fiction, it’s more an interest in making sure history is preserved, or certain ideas are preserved.

I had an English professor in college who said that English professors are the keepers of the culture, and I think writers are also keepers of the culture, at least writers of history.

What do you hope to convey to others through your books?
It varies from book to book. Sometimes, with fiction especially, you want to give people a sense of hope, of purpose, to be able to go on in difficult times. With history, it’s more wanting people to draw strength from the past, and understand the past, and not necessarily have romanticized ideas about the past.

What is your writing process like?
I typically write every day for an hour in the evening. On the weekend, it may be two or three hours in the afternoon. The process varies from book to book.

With non-fiction, I do a lot of research and outlines, and try to figure out how the parts of the book will go together. If it’s a novel, the process is a lot less structured. I usually try to write chronologically, but sometimes I’ll have an idea for the middle or the end, and I’ll write that. Then it becomes a matter of just sewing together the different chapters and scenes until you have a whole. And I do many, many revisions. Most of my books go through about a dozen drafts before I finally publish them.

How has your family influenced your writing?
My interest in UP history largely came from my grandpa who was always telling me stories about when he was a kid in the UP, and I had his brothers and sisters, eight great-aunts and uncles, who were always telling me stories about their past and stories about their parents and grandparents, so I became interested in genealogy. So my Marquette Trilogy, the first series of books I published, was largely inspired by my family history. One branch of my family came here in 1849, so I’m a seventh-generation Marquette resident. I had all of those stories to draw upon so a lot of the characters in my books in some ways resemble some of my ancestors. None are intended to be exact portraits but there are elements of them that are very similar to my ancestors.

What kind of feedback have you received about your books?
Initially, I was very surprised at the feedback from my early historical novels. People told me how much they learned from them. I just kind of assumed, growing up here, that everyone else here knew what I knew and that I was just creating fictionalized versions of it, but I apparently taught people a lot of local history through my novels. And I also wanted to entertain people, so I chose to write novels rather than history books in the beginning.

People have told me as they walk or drive around Marquette, they look at the city in a different way now because they know the history of the different buildings and the stories of what happened here based on my books, so I really have helped people understand history better that way. And the same is true with the non-fiction books.

I’ve also received several awards–my book on Chief Kawbawgam was named a UP Notable Book last year, my novel Narrow Lives was named Best Historical Fiction in the 2009 Reader Views Literary Awards. I also received the Barb H. Kelly Award for Historical Preservation in the Marquette Beautification and Restoration Awards, and was named Outstanding Author in the Marquette County Arts in 2011. Twice I’ve also had a short story nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

What was the process of becoming a professional writer like for you?
It’s very difficult to survive on being an author alone. Very few people can do that. Consequently, I got a PhD thinking I’d be an English professor and write on the side. There were hardly any teaching jobs available, so I was not an English professor for long. I came back to the UP and found a day job and wrote in the evenings.

Eventually, once I published my books they sold well, but not enough to live on, so I got involved with the UP Publishers & Authors Association and started connecting with other authors who needed help, and I ended up becoming an editor and founding Superior Book Productions. So the bulk of my income actually comes from editing.books, not writing books. But, of course, writing books is my passion. Being a writer has made me a better editor and being an editor has made me a better author.

How can someone purchase your books?
Locally they’re available in various stores, including Snowbound Books, the Marquette Regional History Center, the Marquette Maritime Museum, Michigan Fair, and Touch of Finland. They’re also available to order from my website, All of them are also available as e-books at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
I would encourage readers to read local books, learn the history of the area and support local authors. Most authors these days are not traditionally published. They’re not New York Times bestsellers. They’re people in your own backyard who have a story to tell and they are independently publishing their books. Just like we support independent films and independent bookstores, we should also support independent authors.

Excerpted from the Summer 2022 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2022, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

A Fresh Look at… Genealogy & Social Harmony, by Tyler Tichelaar

Genealogy was her favorite insanity. — Anthony Trollope

When I start talking about genealogy, people often don’t understand how
I can get so excited about dead people. They might think the only reason
people are interested in genealogy is to claim descent from royalty or
someone famous. But genealogy teaches far more than ancestral pride.

My interest in genealogy began from stories my grandfather told me
about growing up in Marquette. After his death, I wanted to learn more
about my family, including why they had come to Marquette. To find out,
I visited the local cemeteries, the Family History Center at the LDS
Church in Harvey, the County Courthouse and the Marquette County
History Museum. I discovered my ancestor, Basil Bishop, had owned a
forge in New York and came to Marquette to work in the iron industry.
After learning a great deal about my Marquette ancestors, I decided I
wanted to know about their ancestors.

I learned Basil Bishop’s father and grandfathers had fought in the American
Revolution. Their ancestors had been New England Puritans. I discovered a
vast amount about the Puritans from researching those family members.
The most prominent ancestor was Thomas Dudley (1576-1653), second
governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He presided over the notorious
Anne Hutchinson trial and signed the charter to establish Harvard College.
Although Dudley is not a household name today, his contributions to
American history are vast. His descendants number in the tens of thousands
and include Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and Presidential
Nominee John Kerry. But what about Governor Dudley’s ancestors?

Have you ever considered how many ancestors you have? You have 2
parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents. Each generation back,
the number doubles. Thomas Dudley is my 11-greats grandfather—one
of 8,384 ancestors in that generation, and one of only 6 whose names I
know. I wish I knew the other 8,378 ancestors’ stories.

Another 7 generations back, to my 18-greats grandparents, provides over
one million ancestors in that generation. However, the numbers do not
consistently double because people married someone who was at least a
distant cousin, so many ancestors appear multiple times in a family tree.
The result—everyone ends up related in multiple ways. In fact, Thomas
Dudley is descended from King Alfred the Great (reigned 871-899) by 28
different lines.

My point isn’t to impress you with my ancestry but to reveal the human
family’s closeness. DNA research reveals that everyone of European
descent alive today is descended from everyone who lived in Europe and
had children before 1200 A.D. (See Mapping Human History by Steve
Olson). That means every white person alive is descended from
Charlemagne, Alfred the Great, and William the Conqueror.

Consider how such a connection affects questions of race. When people
ask what nationality I am, I might say Dutch or Irish because my ancestors
came to the United States from the Netherlands or Ireland, but because
I’m descended from everyone who lived in Europe and had children before
1200 A.D., I have ancestors from every European country from Spain to
Finland to Hungary to Greece. I’ve done the research to confirm it.

Genealogy proves that race does not exist. For example, one of Thomas
Dudley’s ancestors was King Edward III of England (reigned 1327-1377).
Was he really English? His mother was Isabella, Princess of France.
Isabella’s grandmother was Princess Isabel of Aragon (now part of Spain).
Her mother was Jolan, Princess of Hungary. Her great-grandmother
was a Russian princess, who was descended from Swedish royalty.

Racism becomes ridiculous when you consider the bigger picture. In
1066, William the Conqueror of Normandy defeated Harold the Saxon
King of England. I’m descended from both of them. Which side do I
take? I’m descended from Irish kings as well as the English kings who
invaded their lands.

Recently, I discovered I have Asian ancestors. One of my European
ancestors was a Byzantine emperor. He married a Persian shah’s daughter.
Her ancestors included Indian maharajahs and Chinese emperors. Xerxes
the Great (known today from the movie 300) is one of my countless Asian
ancestors. I may not look Chinese, Persian or Indian, but their blood
is mingled in me with the French, Polish, Hungarian and Swedish. No
doubt I have African ancestors also, whom I look forward to discovering.

My ancestry is your ancestry. Race does not exist. It’s time we realized
we are all one family and we need to get along.

Editorial note: Explore your own family history by joining the Marquette
County Genealogical Society, searching online at, researching
county records, and interviewing family members.

Tyler R. Tichelaar is the author of The Marquette Trilogy and recently
published The Children of Arthur series. Genealogy research inspired his
novels. For more information, visit

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2009 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

*Join us for Myth-Busting & Self-Help Tips: YOUR Health & Happiness Forum, Saturday, Sept. 30th 2017, 1 pm – 4 pm in the Community Room on the lower level of the Peter White Public Library, Marquette, MI, and help us celebrate our 10th Anniversary.  Click here for more info!

**FOLLOW us here and/or on Facebook to be entered to WIN in our 10th Anniversary drawing! 

Celebrating Our Fifth Anniversary!

by Roslyn McGrath

Anniversaries can be a great opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate what got you there, as well as what is and what can be, and refine and recommit to your vision of what you’re celebrating as you move forward.

Five years ago, I recognized the need for a truly local wellness publication, one where community members share their expertise and insight with us, increasing our understanding of the many ways we can increase our health and happiness and the many wellness resources available locally to support us in this

A big thank you to each of our writers –regular column writers Barb Dupras, Victoria Jungwirth, Jenny Magli, Miriam Moeller, Jessica Nagelkirk, Heidi Stevenson, Steve Waller and Val Wilson, as well as all those who’ve contributed articles and photographs along the way, (see full list on p.3), who so impress me with the quality and care they bring to each article. I and our many readers get to learn so much every time!

A big thank you to all our advertisers, whose passion and purpose are a big part of what makes our community tick, and who help make presenting this wealth of wellness information possible. I think you’ll enjoy discovering more about what their big hearts and expertise gift our community on pages 10 and 11 of this issue! And please consider letting them know how much you appreciate all they do.

A big thank you to proofreader Tyler Tichelaaar for his expert eyes and mind, kind heart and helpfulness, Curtis Kyllonen for his years of cheerfully and faithfully getting over a quarter of our many copies to where they need to go, to Tom O’Connell for making our early covers beautiful, to the various photographers whose eyes for local scenes have also helped create beautiful covers, to all our print shop helpers who’ve assisted me in getting the job done right, the many businesses and organizations who’ve made a place for Health & Happiness to be easily picked up, and to my husband, Kevin McGrath, for always pitching in with whatever’s needed, whether it’s a warm hug and smile, sound advice, listening ears, great ideas, timely deliveries, inspiring, light-hearted articles or encouraging words.

And a big thank you to YOU, our readers, for all your support and appreciation. You make it all worthwhile!

It’s the support of all of you that has made it possible to cover topics ranging from cooking with rutabaga to traditional Chinese medicine, child rearing tips to overcoming writer’s block, mortgage and energy-saving advice to mindfulness practices, pet treat recipes to U.P. kayaking, long distance elder care to wild crafting and so much more; increase our distribution to 7,500 copies at over 250 locations, five times where we started five years ago, (and there are still places where we run out of copies!); and further invest in our community with donations to the Beaumier Upper Peninsula Heritage Center, Devos Art Museum, Great Lakes Recovery Centers, Hiawatha Music Festival, Huron Mountain Club Gallery, Lake Superior Hospice, Marquette Arts & Culture Center, Marquette County Health Department, Marquette Maritime Museum, Marquette Regional History Center, Medical Care Access Coalition, Northern Initiatives, Oasis Gallery, UPAWS, Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum, and Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition’s Celebrate the U.P.

Below are a few excerpts of the congratulations I’ve received on our fifth anniversary. Thank you so much to all those who’ve made a point of expressing their appreciation, whether in person or in writing!

I look forward to continuing to serve our community’s wellness information needs with high quality and creativity, as well as launching our five year commitment to supporting a different area of community life each year through increased coverage and donations, starting this year with the increasingly important issue of elder care.

So fittingly, this issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine is dedicated to the topics of celebration, age and “fives” – enjoy!

Roslyn Elena McGrath, Publisher, Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine

 I want to congratulate you on your fifth anniversary of Health & Happiness. Every cover has been beautiful and the wide array of articles has provided a wealth of information and insight to readers. Your vision of a need and your willingness and excitement to fill that need has been remarkable. Here’s to many more issues! – Gareth Zellmer 

Congratulations on the 5th anniversary of Health and Happiness!  It’s some of the best reading to come out of our “far northern outpost” community.  May the coming year be the best yet; here’s to five more! – Sue Schenk Drobny 

Congratulations from Natural Connections!  We celebrate you for your commitment and passion in providing a wonderfully effective information connection between our holistic community and U.P. residents through your beautiful magazine, Health & Happiness!

Happy 5th Anniversary from Lake Superior Holistic Connection!   Your magazine is a bright light in our community!  It’s a beacon illuminating paths of possibility to those seeking natural ways to align their body, mind, spirit!  Congrats! – Diana Oman

It’s a joy, truly an inspiration to witness this evolution of Health & Happiness, how you have brought this brilliant idea, an idea that lit you up and lit us up as well, into manifestation.  I look forward to receiving this uplifting publication with its focus on our possibilities and potential, and the labor of love that you as creator, as bridge-maker, as editor, as publisher, as marketer have put into each and every issue.  It is a template for all of us, the way that you have taken a dream and made it reality, learning the next step and the next step as you’ve walked this creative path.  And look how we all benefit, what you have brought to all of us!  – Helen Haskell Remien

Health & Happiness’s Contributing Writers & Photographers, 2007 – 2012:

Leslie Allen, Linda Andriacchi, Stuart Baker, Leslie Bek, Gina Brown, Audra Campbell, Lisa Cerasoli, Joan Chadde, Pam Christenson, Amy Clickner, Stuart Cooper, Patty Cornish, Martha Crenshaw, Kim Danielson, Sarah Dean, Chuck Delpier, Sara DeFrancesco, Melinda Dollhopf, Barb Dupras, Cindy Engle, Sydney Giovenco, Lee Goodwin, Genean Granger, Kathy Harsch, Victoria Jungwirth, Kristen Karls, Kim Kee, Mick Kiaros, Virginia Kleaver, Amanda Klein, Tammy Krassick, Lucy LaFaive, Jamie LaFreniere, Betsy Little, Jeaneen Luokkala, Alanna Luttenton, Dawn Lundin, Jenny Magli, Karen Mallinger, Amy Mattson, Kevin McGrath, Roslyn McGrath, Lisa McKenzie, Brian McMillan, Kristine McPeak, Miriam Moeller, Neil Moran, Mohey Mowafy, Jessica Nagelkirk, Kim Nixon, Colleen O’Hara, Valerie Olson, Diana Oman, Marissa Palomaki, Kris Harris Pfaffle, Phil Poutinen, Gretchen Preston, Diane Raven, Robert Regis, Helen Haskell Remien, Carol Rose, Sherri Rule, Christine Saari, Jon Saari, Diane Sautter, Deb Sergey, Dar Shepherd, Mary Soper, Jennifer Stelly, Heidi Stevenson, Tyler Tichelaar, Lynn Vanwelsenaers, Cassandra Vore, Steve Waller, Nicole Walton, Fran Walters, Cynthia Whitehouse, Val Wilson, Gareth Zellmer, & Joseph Zyble.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2012 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2012.