Former Mining Journal editor publishes novel



Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — After 30 years of nurturing, writing and rewriting, former Mining Journal reporter and editor Dave Edwards has finished his magnum opus: a novel titled “Sing for the Lonesome Messenger.”

Edwards uses knowledge from his award-winning 50-year career in the field of journalism — and the adventures he’s had along the way — to inform the narratives in his novel.

“Messenger” follows Maggie Maise, a young Chicago reporter who works as a freelance columnist covering funerals and “weaving stories spun from the lives of recently deceased World War II veterans,” Edwards said.

While on a job, she is forced to relive the memories of her time at a small, fading newspaper called The Messenger in a run-down fictitious Upper Peninsula city called Ore Town. Through memories of her old editor and a Holocaust survivor’s widow, Maggie finds she has the uncanny ability to transport herself to someone’s past just by speaking with them.

Realizing her life’s purpose, Maggie continues to search out voices and stories lost to time that she feels must be told to prevent history from repeating itself. This motivation is not entirely unlike Edwards himself.

Aside from the supernatural aspect, the details and plots of the novel were inspired by the author’s real-life experiences with newspapers, the U.P., veterans, war and the importance of human connection and compassion.

Edwards can attest to that final point himself.

He wasn’t always an award-winning journalist and editor. In fact, as a high school senior one credit away from graduation, he considered dropping out to spend the rest of his life working at a Detroit factory.

It was only due to the additional support from one of his teachers that he finished his high school education and got the chance to pursue a degree in journalism at Central Michigan University.

Edwards likes to call this a miracle.

“I think that miracles are everywhere you look every day,” he said. “Most times they aren’t the miracle you pray for. You only see them in hindsight.”

These everyday miracles are made possible through the people put in one’s life, he said. Edwards uses this idea of compassion and understanding in his book by making a mosaic of raw, human stories that all connect in one way or another.

A key aspect in these characters’ stories throughout “Messenger” is the concept of pity.

“People will say, ‘I don’t want your pity. How dare you pity me.’ Pity, in my opinion, is the only thing that separates us from the buffaloes,” Edwards said. “People can feel and act upon pity. That’s what separates us, that’s what makes us more than mammals. Everyone will feel it, unless you numb yourself to it, but when you feel that and you don’t act on it, it bothers you.”

Contrary to the widely held view of pity as something you give to other people, especially those who are beneath you, Edwards argued that it’s an internal motivator that makes people take action. He said that pity is “a step beyond empathy.”

“It’s not just, ‘I’m feeling a tug because I completely understand your situation,'” he described. “No, I’m looking at you and I’m hurting with you. And what can I do next to fix it?”

This view is informed by his extensive life experience while working on the novel. Throughout the years, Edwards told countless people’s stories, acted as a watchdog for sneaky government happenings and gave his time in service to the community and the people around him.

Edwards said he would periodically take his drafts of “Messenger” out of storage, the first of which were done by manual typewriter, to rewrite the entire book multiple times. Since retiring five years ago and spending a substantial amount of time recovering from numerous surgeries and even a cancer diagnosis, Edwards has had plenty of time to stew on the words put to paper.

“It’s true to say that my book is written by three people,” he said. “This young, impulsive guy who wants things fast, a middle-aged guy worrying and working too much, not spending enough time with his family and an old guy who’s kind of confused by the world now.”

Part of the reason for writing his book is to remedy his one professional regret: he left his career in journalism to work a much higher-paying public relations job at a hospital.

“I say (journalism) is a career but it’s more of a vocation because there are easier ways to make more money,” he said. “There always were. That’s why I always shudder a little because the very last thing I did was, I took that money. And I was never any damn good at the other part. I was only ever good at one thing in my whole life and I left it.”

Edwards sees “Messenger,” a novel that’s been with him through ups and downs over the decades, as a way to make amends for his regret. He heralds the book as an “homage to the small community journalists that still make such a difference.”

Throughout his life journey, Edwards, like Maggie, absorbed a little bit of humanity from every person he met and every person whose story he’s told. The retired editor and journalist likes to think of himself as a messenger, bringing these stories to the public for so many years.

But in a world that desperately needs to listen “to the lost voices of innocence,” as Edwards said, those voices must first sing for the messenger.

Alexandria Bournonville can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 506. Her email address is abournonville@miningjournal.net.


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