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Bemidji author publishes collection of short stories

Wade Alan Steele, a person who hasn't been around Bemidji for almost 20 years, has reappeared as the author of a collection of short stories, "A Sudden Dominance of Shadows." The title page of his book thanks his mentor and school pal, Anton Truer, for his assistance in Steele's "Wild Rice Tiger."

"Bemidji continues to influence me creatively," says Steele. "So many stories steal images from my childhood running through dark woods."

Steele said his collection of short stories "sweep the dark corners of the mind to find the catches, barbwire and hobgoblins that daily haunt our thoughts."

The first few stories take place in and around Bemidji. "Farewell, Avalon" tells the story of a young farm boy, Arthur, who drives with his father in a beat-up truck with rust holes on the driver's side, the floor of the passenger side and traps on the seat between them. Father and son arrive at the grandparents' farm and Arthur is surprised to see his two cousins already there and realizes how mature they have become compared to him. Steele calls it a story of forbidden teenage lust, but it is really a coming-of-age story. His stories are divided along two lines: what he calls "Shadow Genesis" in which the characters fumble about morality and "A Shadow Full Grown" in which the characters are trapped in state of exhausted moral ambiguity.

There is no moral ambiguity in Steele's choice to change his career choice to writing due in large part to the support of his wife and their young son.

Steele left Bemidji about 20 years ago to pursue his love of acting at the National Shakespeare Conservatory in New York City. He was well known around town for his many ventures in theater including as an intern at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse and while a student at Bemidji High School. Steele, local author Roy Booth and professor of theater at Bemidji State University, Patrick Carriere, all performed together in "King Lear" at BSU. Steele was also the Jester for the Madrigal Dinners at BSU from 1989 to 1994 and the director of the teen acting group called Vital Communications, Inc.

"We wrote plays that dealt with serious teen issues like suicide and drug addiction," Steel said. "In 1990, the group received the Exemplary Youth Service Program Participant award presented to us by Gov. Rudy Purpich.

Steele went on to describe the years he spent in New York City as "a little fish in a very big pond." He met his wife during a production of "Richard II." Now a graduate of Queens College of the City University of New York with a degree in English, Summa Cum Laude, and the father of a 2-year-old, Steele said he realized that those short stories he had been writing would be his pathway to financial stability.

"I struggled away at an acting career for 10 years or so before realizing that I would much rather eat on a consistent basis than do 'Space Hamlet' on Staten Island," Steele said. "I finally realized how much time I was wasting while traveling to and from Manhattan on the F train (subway)."

Steele writes his stories in a Mead composition book, puts a "well done" Looney Tunes sticker (preferably Daffy Duck) and then moves on to the next new empty book. All his writing is done on the subway while balancing his composition book on a laptop.

This first collection of short stories, "A Sudden Dominance of Shadows," is available both in paperback and Kindle versions through or his

Steele is making the final touches to the upcoming fantasy novel, "Plague Seed," that has been in the works for the last several years and a graphic novel, "Greek Gods," with artist John Amor of the Philippines.