New! ‘Winter Lake,’ a clever novel of music and adventure in Wisconsin

Craig J. Hansen’s bold new sequel to “The Skeleton Train.”

By Kevin S. Giles

My friend Craig Hansen has done it again.

This talented Minnesota author has published a sequel to his popular first novel, The Skeleton Train. Craig’s new book, Winter Lake, continues the story of protagonist Jason Audley. It is now seven years later and Jason is still a seeker, someone who wanders in and out of the mainstream trying to find his place. Although these years have brought him losses, he’s kept his wry humor, and looks for the best in others while expecting the worst for himself. Hoping to work on a tree farm, he ends up as a drummer in the Chess Chalmers Band. Each summer, Chess and his band wander a circuit of bars, casinos, resorts and strip clubs in northern Wisconsin, playing anywhere they can. Jason wanders with them, meeting the eccentrics, misfits and just plain regular people of the north woods. His journey eventually takes him to Winter Lake and adventure, where his aimlessness doesn’t work, where others grow to depend on him, and where he finds that he must confront his past in order to reveal his future.

You can also read a free excerpt of Winter Lake here. Here’s some insight into Craig:

His friends know him as a prolific artist. When he’s not writing he’s playing guitar in one of three bands. When he’s not playing guitar he’s writing yet another book. His motto: “Writing in the morning, music at night.”

It’s apparent that these two creative pursuits share more similarities than some folks might think. Good writing plays like a song to the ear. A skilled guitar carries in its lilt a writer’s voice. Precision. Tight construction. Quest.

Either discipline, done well, shares a message that strikes the emotions.

Craig J. Hansen is a Minnesota author and a university writing professor.

Craig does both well. His novel, published under Sky Blue Waters Press, will be available soon. I’ll update this post when that happens. Meanwhile, The Skeleton Train remains for sale here and at all major online bookstores. It’s now available in e-book format also.

This is what Craig has written for the book:

Craig J. Hansen earned his doctorate from the University Of Minnesota and is a professor in the Department of Communication, Writing, and the Arts at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota.  He has published short stories and a variety of academic works, and has played guitar in various bands for many years.  He has deep family roots in northern Wisconsin and now lives with his wife Karen in Stillwater, Minnesota. This is his second novel.

Craig plays lead guitar for the More-Tishans, a 1960s garage band that has seen a popular revival in recent years. He’s shown at a recent practice session. (Kevin S. Giles photo)