Eliot Treichel came to Eugene searching for a mecca of kayaking that he knew he wouldn’t find back in his home state of Wisconsin. Eugene then became a haven for him as a writer. Twice now, Treichel, an author of two books and an occasional reviewer for Eugene Weekly, has been a recipient of a Career Opportunity Grant from the Oregon Arts Commission and The Ford Family Foundation.
The first grant Treichel received was for his first book, Close Is Fine, a collection of short stories. His latest book, A Series of Small Maneuvers, is his first young adult novel and is due out in November.
The novel follows the story of Emma Wilson after the loss of her father during a canoe and camping trip. The book confronts many of the struggles most teenage girls can relate to from fighting with their parents over clothing choices to having a cell phone.
Treichel’s stream-of-consciousness writing also captures the deeper, complicated feelings that accompany the transition from childhood to adulthood. Asked how he empathized so deeply with the character of a teenage girl, Treichel says, “I was a dad to a 12-year-old girl when the book started,” and that Emma “was a voice that just kind of came to me.”
Treichel says he is excited about the opportunities the grant opens for him. He says he wants to return the support that his publisher, Ooligan Press, has shown him, and he also wants to fundraise for libraries. Ooligan’s nonprofit status meant there wasn’t a budget for a book tour before Treichel won the grant. Now, he is planning an unconventional tour that promotes the book but also allows him the opportunity to offer writing workshops at high schools and local libraries.
Treichel says he believes reading and writing have the ability to impart empathy. He says his experience of empathizing with and writing about Emma’s grief “broke me open pretty hard.” Those experiences are important for young writers, and Treichel says he seeks to teach them how to put themselves in other people’s shoes.
Treichel is not the only wordsmith who will receive grant support this year. Wordcrafters in Eugene was recently awarded a $30,000 grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust. The grant will give professional writers residencies in Lane County schools through the Writers in the Schools Program (WITS).
To contact Treichel, find him at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association’s fall trade show Oct. 2-4 at the Holiday Inn – Portland Airport or contact him through his website, eliottreichel.com.