Scheherazade Inspires Fable Collection
environmentalist publishes Arabian Nights-esque book
A quarter of a century in the making, environmentalist and Eau Claire author Steve Betchkal has published his eighth book, The Blessing of the Beasts or 101 Apologus Nights. In this modern twist on the popular narrative of The Arabian Nights, 11-year-old Cara embodies Scheherazade and summer nights replace royal chambers.
“101 Apologus Nights is a collection of what I call spirito-environmental fables,” Betchkal said. “The 27 stories return again and again to issues of kindness, empathy, justice, and fully functional humanity.”
I just set one project aside and let it simmer while working on another... it’s like the muses are doing all the heavy lifting.
Betchkal’s prior published works mainly fall into the nonfiction genre. This particular collection of fables began accumulating 25 years ago. “I started with the germ of an intriguing story idea and fleshed it out with good sentences,” Betchkal said. Flash forward 24 years, and this local author finally put his foot down last fall. “Story ideas were coming at me so fast I could hardly keep up,” he said.
Of the 27 stories found in the collection, Betchkal is particularly fond of “The Calendar Prince,” which was actually based on what Betchkal calls an “error.” “Twenty-five years ago, I heard a radio announcer introduce a piece of classical music as ‘The Calendar Prince,’ ” he said, “when the actual title of the Rimsky-Korsakov work was ‘The Kalender Prince.’ But the idea of a ‘Calendar Prince’ stuck, and led to a story all of its own!”
The avid bird watcher always has multiple projects – books, articles, speaking programs – on his plate, so writer’s block never really has a chance to emerge. “I just set one project aside and let it simmer while working on another,” Betchkal said. “When I come back, the ideas have time to percolate. It’s like the muses are doing all the heavy lifting!”
Betchkal offered a piece of advice to aspiring writers here in the Chippewa Valley: “Make yourself write, even if it’s never published,” he said. “If you practice writing long enough, you will discover that your skills and your life experiences meet in a place of success and satisfaction.”
To purchase a copy of 101 Apologus Nights, contact Betchkal at firstname.lastname@example.org.