Faulty Fiction – Professors of English David Faldet and Amy Weldon release new books


Simon Engstler ('20)

David Faldet ('79) gives reading of his new book, "King."

This past spring, Professors of English David Faldet (‘79) and Amy Weldon published two fiction books  titled “King” and “Eldorado, Iowa” respectively.

    Faldet is the author of the  fiction novel “King,” a mystery set in Northeast Iowa. The story follows the investigation of a religious leader’s life and death by a night watchman. Faldet started writing the story in January of 2009. “King” is his first work of fiction aimed at a wider audience, which takes a different approach than his previous book “Oneota Flow”, which is an ecological analysis of the Upper Iowa River.

     “It began with just research,” Faldet said. “I just drove around the areas where I was going to set the book and ate at the local bar or talked to some of the local people at the convenience store. I drafted the whole thing fiendishly. I was writing several thousand words a day.”

      Weldon echoed those same experiences when talking about her new novel, “Eldorado, Iowa,” the tale of a lonely woman on the Iowa frontier following the conclusion of the Civil War. Weldon has experience writing and publishing fiction. Her short story “The Serpent” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2018.

      “I was trained as an academic writer, but ever since I was a kid I have always written things in notebooks and just enjoyed making up stories.” Weldon said. “I became really obsessed with the fact that these writers I loved had tried really carefully to fit language to the world.”

     Between meetings, events, and teaching six courses a year, the two authors often struggled to find the opportunity to write.

     “The people I know who have been hired in the department as writers as their main work outside of teaching have keenly felt the lack of time for it.” Faldet said. “We are given sabbaticals every seven years and we have a teaching load that is the standard load of six courses a year. When I came it was seven and it has been lowered down to six partly to give people more time to do their work.”

     For Weldon, the greatest impediment to her writing was the pressure the American education system exerts on its subjects.

   “Faculty are definitely under pressure, as scholarly writers, to look and sound a certain way on the page, and I don’t think it has been good for us, and our fields in general,” Weldon said. “I remember coming up as a graduate student and my dear dissertation advisors were shocked and kind of alarmed that I was so interested in writing fiction and writing nonfiction for a general audience, because to them that was not serious. I used to feel like critical work and creative work were miles apart. Now,  more and more, I see that everything I write has a very similar voice.”

       Luther has, in part, inspired these authors work. Faldet has always been inspired by the beauty of Northeast Iowa, from “Oneota Flow” to “King.” The original inspiration for Weldon’s “Eldorado, Iowa” came while teaching a class on the lawn outside of Main.

  English Department Head Lise Kildegaard sees this focus on fiction as a strength in the department.

    “In the English Department, we greatly value all of the publications and the wide range of interests of all our faculty,” Kildegaard said. “We have creative writers and historical analysts and scholarly essayists and a lot of people who do more than one thing. We are very excited that we published two fiction novels in this short span of time.”

   Both authors held events to publicize their novels. On Monday, Sept. 9, Weldon gave an author talk at Dragonfly Books in Decorah, Iowa. Weldon spoke about writing her book, and signed copies.  Faldet gave a reading of his work on Sept. 26, in Olin 102, at 7:00 pm. During this time, Faldet read excerpts from the novel, and answered questions from the assembly.

   Both “King” and “Eldorado, Iowa” can be found for sale in the Luther College Bookshop, along with other publications of Luther Faculty, including Professor of Religion Robert Shedinger’s new Darwinian critique, “The Mystery of Evolutionary Mechanisms: Darwinian Biology’s Grand Narrative of Triumph and the Subversion of Religion.”

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