Professor pens book that 'freaks me out'

May 01, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Wilson College professor credits his students with contributing to his newly published book, a mystery thriller set in modern-day Chambersburg.

"I get inspired to write when they're writing," Michael G. Cornelius said. "They're consumers, too, so it's nice to get their feedback."

Although the book officially was released Monday, some students have already been reading "The Ascension."

One commented that she is now afraid to go outside at night. Cornelius can understand the fear, considering he had nightmares while writing.

"I figure that if it freaks me out, it's going to freak everyone else out," Cornelius said.

His fourth published book begins with a murder, and police detective Caldwell "Cal" Evans is pulled out of rehab for the case.


"Bodies start piling up," Cornelius said, "and clues start piling up."

Readers will recognize references to roads like Pa. 997 and certain landmarks, which are described but renamed. Wilson College, for instance, bears a resemblance to the fictional Milton College.

"As they say, all the names have been changed to protect the innocent," Cornelius said.

Cornelius, who has lived in Chambersburg for five years, described the 235-page book as a new direction from his others. A longtime fan of the genre, Cornelius taught a horror literature and film class that also cemented the desire.

He is pleased that the tale mostly stuck to his original vision.

"It moves at this breakneck pace, which is something I really enjoy as a reader," Cornelius said.

While there is a whodunit aspect, the primary question is about how it will come together, he said.

Cornelius wrote the first draft in about 10 weeks but took a year to revise it. He feels his voice as an author has become more independent over the years, whereas he used to absorb the voices of others.

His next story, already in development, also will be a mystery, but will include more humor.

"The Ascension" will be available at most bookstores and on, according to Cornelius. His Web site is

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