WILKIE — Miguel Fenrich has lived most of his life in the Wilkie area, currently living on his grandparents’ (Barb and Tony Schwab’s) farm northeast of town. Although he attended kindergarten at Norman Carter School, he was homeschooled throughout the rest of his childhood.
Fenrich says he believes homeschooling has ultimately been an advantage, leading to his having published a well-received first novel, Blue; opening his own publishing company, Supernova Press; and working as a front-line reporter for the Battlefords Regional News-Optimist – all before turning 21 years of age.
Perhaps surprisingly, however, Fenrich is most proud of his ability to connect with people, saying as a teenager he was not really a people person and in fact was “scared of people.” Now he is involved with the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild and the publishing group SaskBooks, serving as a board member for both organizations. And, of course, his reporting job requires him to speak with a wide variety of individuals in and around the Battlefords.
Fenrich says he has already made some positive contributions at meetings of the boards he is on. He considers having been told he is “genuine” a great compliment.
While many people with a completed novel might consider that was their greatest accomplishment, Fenrich says, “because I did it so early, it just feels like what I do.”
Fenrich says he was troubled by conversations with others after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the resulting Black Lives Matter protests in the United States. He perceived a lack of understanding and not a lot of empathetic responses and wished he had some way to educate people on an emotional level. Then, learning about Jane Elliott’s 1968 experiment, where she divided her Grade 3 class by eye colour to prove prejudice is a learned behaviour – which can thus be unlearned – Blue was conceived.
As Fenrich said, “Everyone has eye colour,” and he envisioned an entire world divided by the colour of one’s eyes. He started writing in June of 2020 and had his first draft complete by the fall of that year. “Once the idea came to me, the writing was shot into me,” he said. He says he felt divinely inspired and spiritually led and found himself saying “Oh my God, I got it, “ many times during the writing.
After some 18 months of refining and polishing, Blue was published in June of 2022. After being told by agents and publishers that it was “a very challenging book,” an “out-there book” and “a very good book” but unfortunately that there was no current market for such a book, Fenrich set up his own publishing company, Supernova Press.
Although his own novel was the first one published by Supernova – and received a positive reaction at the book launch and during a Book Week tour – Fenrich set up Supernova to also give other authors with challenging and thought-provoking material a chance to be read and considered for publication.
Meanwhile, along with his day job, Fenrich is working on two new and different novels. The Homesteaders, a paranormal horror story about a German immigrant family living on the Saskatchewan prairie in the late 1920s, will be released Jan. 13, 2023 at a book launch at the North Battleford Public Library. His second project is 273 Days, a contemporary story about a young man given nine months to live who sets out on a road trip across Canada. He also envisions creating a comedic play as a spinoff of 273 Days.
Although he wrote his first story for an aunt when he was six years old, Fenrich says he wasn’t a writer as a child. He was, however, an avid storyteller. He loved to play pretend, creating scenarios in his head and then acting them out. One day, he realized he could write them down and a young novelist was born.
Fenrich says he believes there is a stigma around homeschooled children and his biggest challenge in life has been overcoming that stigma. He pointed out that although people say to him things like, “but you missed out on some of life’s best experiences,” he believes writing a novel has been the best experience of his life. He also says, because he was homeschooled, he got to do it earlier in life than would have otherwise happened.
Blue can be ordered as either a print or ebook at supernovapress.com, and is available through the Lakeland Library system. SaskBooks has the book available at their online book store as well and soon Amazon will offer Blue as an ebook.
For more on Miguel Fenrich and his upcoming projects, you can check out his website at miguelfenrich.ca.