News Article about Red Sky Anthology

‘Red Sky Anthology’ offers insight and introspection
Glen YoungSpecial to the News-Review | Posted: Friday, March 18, 2016 7:00 am

‘Red Sky Anthology’ offers insight and introspection
“Red Sky Anthology: Reading Out Loud in Northern Michigan” by Randy Evans
After a successful career in business, Randy Evans found grief pushing him in a different direction. This reorientation turned him toward writing and that has seen Evans publish his first book, “Red Sky Anthology: Reading Out Loud in Northern Michigan.”
“I started writing when my wife was diagnosed with cancer,” Evans says, reflecting on the process of moving from grieving to healing as he rediscovered an early appreciation for writing. “She gave me a journal.”
Evans says that though he didn’t get serious about writing until his wife’s diagnosis with breast cancer, he first developed an interest in high school. “We had this English teacher, she was from Wellesley, and we’d read one major work a semester,” he says remembering his earliest exposure. Evans says his teacher’s passion pushed him to major in English at Ohio University, though he later earned an MBA, turning to a career in business.
He never lost his interest for literature, however.
After the death of his first wife Laurene, he says, “I had more time and I had things I wanted to write about.” He wrote short stories, poetry, even a couple novels. Each genre shows up in “Red Sky Anthology,” the title a nod to the monthly open mic nights at Red Sky Stage in downtown Petoskey, where Evans regularly reads his work.
In 2011, Evans attended a workshop with noted memoir writer Wade Rouse. In 2012, he attended the Bear River Writers Conference, and the result was “Crooked River: Love and Adventure in Northern Michigan,” a portion of which is excerpted in “Red Sky.”
“It’s about people who come from all over the world and end up in Northern Michigan,” Evans says. “I had never written anything of any length before,” he explains. “It turned out to be too sprawling, too long. But it was a lot of fun,” he adds with a smile.
Evans credits useful advice from early readers for helping to shape his process and his style. He says Karen Langs of Petoskey and James McCullough of North Central Michigan College both provided useful feedback on his early efforts. “The encouragement to take my writing more seriously came from that support,” he says.
As much fun as the writing was, Evans says he soon after recognized an important lesson he’d initially missed. “I realized this fiction I was writing was not facing directly into the grieving I was feeling,” he says. And though he’d once thought of memoir as “vain,” he turned to the genre in “Out of the Inferno: A Husband’s Passage Through Cancerland,” also excerpted in his new book, and again helped by a collaboration with Rouse. He says the difference is that he “started telling it like a story,” and it came naturally.
What results from the memoir is an honest close-up of the grief Evans says triggered his return to writing. He recalls the hunting rifle his father-in-law Neil gave him, and how Evans’s wife Laurene “wanted us to love each other,” and how “After a while, we did.”
Laurene also believed “that if you followed the rules, life would be fair to everyone and all would be well,” and for a while it worked.
Evans inserts reality checks, however, and in “Lesson One,” he explains, “It doesn’t matter how good you happen to be, or how well you follow the rules. Bad things can happen. There is no limit to how many bad things can happen.”
Bad things happened indeed, and in “Out of the Inferno,” with epigrams from Dante, Evans details the decade long struggle of his wife’s cancer.
As well as the poignant and painful, however, there is also the uplifting in “Red Sky Anthology.”
In his poem “November, Petoskey, Michigan,” for example, Evans writes how “The young boy at the library on Mitchell Street reads/ his first lines,” as well as how “In a coffee shop, a boy and girl bend their heads/ together over hot chocolate.”
Evans, now remarried to Denise, has plans for additional books in the Red Sky Series, with complete editions of each of the novels excerpted here. “Out of the Inferno” is scheduled next, followed by “Crooked River,” and then “The Lawnmower Club: How Leo Zitzelberger Lost and Found Paradise on Earth,” a story Evans conceived while motoring past the Wequetonsing golf club.
In total, offering a variety of poetry, several short stories, a drama, and three novel excerpts, “Red Sky Anthology” demonstrates a writer in control of multiple genres, each providing insight and instruction for introspection.
Evans says one of the most important lessons he’s learned is how “readers determine content and it doesn’t always have to do with (the writer).
“Red Sky Anthology: Reading Out Loud in Northern Michigan” is available locally at McLean and Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Between The Covers in Harbor Springs, and Round Lake Books in Charlevoix, as well as in e-book form at Amazon.com. Randy Evans is designating a portion of his book’s proceeds for the Petoskey High School Strive program.