Appalachian alumnus self-publishes science fiction novel

Appalachian alumnus self-publishes science fiction novel

Kelsey Hamm

Appalachian State University alumnus Michael Candelario self-published his first novel, “The Puppet Record,” in Dec. 2013.

The science fiction story follows protagonist Joey Omaha as he is stowed away on a spaceship sent to solve the mystery of missing children in his universe.

Omaha’s universe, united by a government called the Bastion, consists of two different species, yawmkind and humankind, that peacefully exist together on multiple planets.

“In the story, the humans and the yawm have worked together to govern the universe,” Candelario said. “It’s a theocracy, and they believe in a creator, who has created both the yawm and human species.”

In the book, the humanoid-like species, yawmkind, have similar features to humans, but they lack the ability to speak. Instead, they communicate with a form of telepathy that manipulates the electrical signals in the brain.

Candelario was a student at Appalachian from January 2009 to December 2011, and graduated with a degree in English with a concentration in creative writing.

Candelario said he appreciates his English professors for inspiring him, particularly faculty members Joseph Bathanti and Susan Weinburg.

“[Michael] was a terrifically imaginative and sensitive writer who always grounded his fantasy writing in the real world,” Weinburg said, “His realistic writing was equally powerful and easy to connect with.”

While the story is science fiction, the themes in the novel have a religious undertone.

While at the university, Candelario, a long-time Christian, became interested in the ideas of Calvinism, a branch of Protestantism that believes in predestination and places God above an individual’s free will. His beliefs have since influenced his writing, as evidenced by the creator in “The Puppet Record,” he said.

“This novel is, in a lot of ways, me wrestling with ideas such as predestination and the sovereignty of God,” Candelario said, “The central theme and problem in this story is how God is in control of everything, and how our choices have meaning.”

The illustrator of the novel’s cover is an Appalachian alumna, Mary Fonvielle, who majored in English with a concentration in creative writing and has also self-published two novels. The third novel in her book series, called “Children of Fire,” is set to come out in March.

Self-publishing is a process that Candelario said he recommends. He had a personal editor as well as other writers help him through the process, and he used Amazon’s self-publishing program to edit his novel and create print copies.

“The hardest part for me was formatting,” Candelario said. “It was a learning process. You have to learn about formats and file sizes and stuff, and for a while I had no clue what I was doing.”

Candelario is working on a new fantasy book, which he hopes will end up as part of a three to five novel series. So far, he has written 50,000 words.

He currently lives with his wife and two children in Newport.

A synopsis of Candelario’s “The Puppet Record,” as well as a collection of poetry, can be read at his website,

Story by Kelsey Hamm, Intern A&E Reporter