Back in 1971, when Dennis Frahmann graduated from Mercer (WI) High School, he was eager to escape the lakes and loons of Northern Wisconsin. Little did he anticipate that forty years later those same things would inspire a novel.

Frahmann’s new novel, "Tales from the Loon Town Cafe," is clearly inspired by the northwoods of Wisconsin. Careful readers will see echoes of everything from the once infamous Silver Street in Hurley, WI to the stately old theater in Ironwood, MI to the giant loon mascot outside Mercer, WI. But at the same time, the small fictional town of Thread and the nearby community of Timberton create a unique world, inhabited by an uncommon set of characters.

Q: What inspired you to write a novel set in this area?

A: A few years ago, I rediscovered an author named Edna Ferber who is too often neglected today. She wrote such well-known novels and plays as "Showboat," "Giant," and "Dinner at Eight." In 1934, she published "Come and Get It," which was clearly inspired by the lumbering days of Hurley. Ferber spent some lengthy time in Hurley, staying at the long-lost Burton House, researching the area and talking to old lumberjacks. As I read the novel, it was as though I was again walking Silver Street, and that sparked me to think about what the heirs to those old lumbering barons might be up to 50 years later.

Q: But isn’t much of the novel more about the eccentrics of this small town than about the heirs to the old lumber fortunes?

A: As I began to draft out the story, I became much more interested in the rhythms of small town life, and the people who create that beat. So as I explored how the lumber heirs might now spend their vacations in northern Wisconsin plotting new ways to make money, I begin to think about the people who would be affected. As I did that, their stories took over. They were so much more interesting and life-affirming.

Q: So why is the book set in the 1980s?

A: I wanted to put some distance between today’s events and the stories I was trying to tell. By setting the novel in the ‘80s, I was placing it squarely in the go-go spirit of the Reagan presidency when big ideas, like the resort scheme that drives the novel’s plot, were possible. It also allowed the story to leverage emerging Native American rights in areas like fishing and gambling.

Q: Would you ever come back to northern Wisconsin to open a restaurant, like your novel’s narrator? I know part of your past including being a restaurant reviewer in the Twin Cities and that you once worked in the kitchens of a northwoods resort.

A: Curiously, when I left Wisconsin for college and then graduate school in New York City, I thought I would never return to a small town like Mercer. My career was spent, first in journalism and then in high tech marketing, in Minneapolis, Los Angeles and New York. But I just recently retired and moved to a very small resort town on the central coast of California called Cambria. It was once the butter making capital for San Francisco, but now is a seaside getaway. In a way, I guess I went back to my small town roots.

Q: If people are interested, where can they buy the book?

A: It is available as a trade paperback or an ebook on amazon.com. Ebook versions can also be ordered through iTunes and other book suppliers. Book stores can also order copies.