Former SCC educator turns novelistFormer St. Croix Central school district administrator Dan Woll has added another title to his career accomplishments: novelist.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
Former St. Croix Central school district administrator Dan Woll has added another title to his career accomplishments: novelist.
Woll and his long-time friend John W. Lyon, penned the historic novel “Death on Cache Lake.”
The book has been in the works for some time. Actually, decades. Woll said he first wrote a vignette about a harrowing canoe trip in the 1980s and sent it to Lyon.
“It came back a year later wrapped in a novel,” Woll said.
Neither man thought the book was strong enough to be published at the time. A couple years ago, they came up with a new spin for the book.
“We tore out the old plot, got excited about the new one and things went from there,” Woll said.
The book is structured around the bombing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus in 1970. Woll and Lyon were living together in that area at the time, teaching at Sauk Prairie.
The book intertwines several major historical events of that period along with many adventures from Woll and Lyon’s long friendship. Those adventures are woven into the personalities of the main characters.
While the book is packed with conspiracy, murder and political intrigue, Woll said the relationship between the main characters is equally important to the book’s ability to involve the readers.
“In the end, this is about their lengthy friendship,” Woll explained.
The friendship between Woll and Lyon carried them through to the end of the project. Lyon was in failing health and he died of heart failure days after the book was sent to the publisher.
“Finishing the book kept him going,” Woll said of his friend of nearly 40 years. “Writing the book gave him a renewed sense of purpose.”
At Lyon’s funeral, Woll read the dedication of the book, giving Lyon a chance to thank the friends and family with whom he enjoyed his life adventures.
Woll has always had an adventurous spirit, whether it was rock climbing, motorcycling or distance bike riding.
“John was a partner in a lot of my happenings. I was always getting into a bike accident or a motorcycle accident and I’d end up in the emergency room and John would be the guy to come get me,” Woll said with his characteristic raspy laugh.
The towns and characters in the book are based upon places and people that Woll and Lyon experienced. Woll said he believes fiction is “all based in real-life experiences. The story became real to me. I picked things I had a real knowledge of so I had a real plot.”
The book is now available. It can be purchased at Amazon.com, from Kindle and at bookstores. It can also be purchased through a website developed for the book, danwoll.com.
Woll said he plans to continue writing, but he also has more plans for “Death at Cache Lake.” Woll said he’d like to see the book turned into a movie.
“It’s a better screenplay than a book. Somebody will make a movie about (the 1970 bombing in Madison), if not me,” he said.
By Dave Newman
Woll’s book filled with intrigue, characters
If you experienced Wisconsin and national political events of the early 1970s, “Death on Cache Lake” gives an enlightening, sometimes shocking retrospective on what might have happened during the events that shook the nation’s political landscape.
While political intrigue is the constant in the novel written by Dan Woll and John W. Lyon, the strong bond between the main characters through their harrowing adventures will keep the readers involved in the book from cover to cover.
Woll, of River Falls, served as the administrator of the St. Croix Central School District for 21 years, through 2008. He recently retired from a career in education. He and Lyon were friends since they began teaching together in the Sauk Prairie School District in 1972. Lyon died after the book was completed last year.
The book is centered around a bombing that killed one person at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1970. Readers won’t find that out until they are well into the book, but that is part of the book’s charm. In each chapter readers are given another piece to the puzzle that reaches a politically tense climax that few would see approaching.
The book is set in Wisconsin and many of the characters and places in the book are based upon real people, places and events. The plot builds in intensity, with twists and tales that range from amusing to blood-curdling.
Readers who enjoy detailed, developed plots will enjoy the journeys and adventures they are led through in this edgy literary piece.