Throughout his life, author and former area school superintendent Dan Woll, of River Falls, has loved to write. As a superintendent, Woll wrote a weekly column which served to stoke the fires of his writing passion. In 1988, Woll decided to write something for fun, so he sent the Eau Claire Leader a story, which was subsequently printed in the paper.
"That was really satisfying and I really liked it, so I decided to pursue it. About that time, a buddy and I started work on my first book together. The book never really went anywhere, other than Wisconsin Public Radio having me do a show on it because it was pertinent to Madison politics," Woll said. "But it was enough of a taste to realize that I like writing for the sake of the art of writing. So I've been writing every since."
Woll has written four books in total, including his latest novel, "Paperclip," which he co-authored with Walter Rhein.
"This book has been on my shelf for two to three years now. It is like an accordion because it gets bigger and smaller and then bigger again. A buddy of mine, Walter Rhein asked to take a look at it and see if he couldn't help me out with it," Woll said. "He took it and made edits. A couple months later, I asked him how it was going and he said things were good, but he was re-writing it as he went. He took a left turn at the end, but I liked it so we kept his ending."
As part of his re-writes, Rhein expanded on the historical information, references and character development.
The main plot device for the book, which is being published by Burning Bulb Publishing, was based on the idea of synchronicity, which is a concept - first introduced by analytical psychologist Carl Jung - that events are "meaningful coincidences" if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related.
"Everybody has it to some extent, where you feel like you're going to get a phone call and, sure enough, you get one shortly after having that feeling," Woll said. "I've always thought about the idea. The story is about a young boy and girl who both have a hyperactive sense of synchronicity and it follows them from childhood to adulthood. The antagonist also has this sense and there is a vortex where they all come together."
The book, which Woll said is set in the late 70s and early 80s, is a thriller based on historical events such as MKUltra and the Stanford acid tests.
"The key for this book is that it ties to historical fact. I'm not a conspiracy guy, but history is history. One of the darker times in American history is the CIA experimentation that they did with LSD to manipulate minds. That is just a fact," Woll said. "That is the historical antecedent to this book. This book will be real good for people who like historical fiction."
So far, "Paperclip" has received interest from the Chippewa Falls Library, which has asked Woll and Rhein to speak at the library, and Volume One out of Eau Claire.
"I don't want to say I'm surprised that the book has been taken so well so far. I've been close before, so I don't want to get ahead of myself since we are still trying to get it to a larger audience and the competition is so severe. But this thing seems to have legs," Woll said.
The book is available in paperback and Kindle eBook on Amazon.com.
Woll currently lives with his wife Beth and Bernese mountain dog, Emmett, in River Falls. He is a retired school teacher, principal, and superintendent and father to three grown daughters. During his career, Woll spent time teaching at inner-city schools, an experience he draws upon as an author for both subjects and characters.