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Chamber Staffer Publishes Fiction Work

Travis Dahlke, the marketing and communications manager for the CT River Valley Chamber of Commerce, also recently became a published author, and has a book that relates to an upcoming time of the year.

Hollow As Legs is a 101-page grouping of seven stories, all set in a present-day, fictional Connecticut town called Aberdeen, but one that shares some characteristics with Glastonbury, Marlborough, Middletown, and others. The book was published by Otherwhere, which is based in Amsterdam.

Dahlke, 29, a Middletown resident, has been published in literary journals, with earlier short stories and a book in 2013. One of his works that was published online caught the attention of Otherwhere's founder, who contacted Dahlke about working together on a project.

"I sent him a few things that I had that were unfinished," Dahlke said. "I lumped this story, Hollow As Legs, in there, and he said, 'This is the one.' I said, 'Really?' Then we bounced it back and forth, and we finished it."

The stories, while separate, tie together in some ways.

"It's between a novel and a short-story collection," Dahlke said. "It's seven stories that take place overnight, during a snowstorm. A lot of it is about how winter changes everything and winter creates almost a parallel reality. Everything's white and blanketed. It's interesting how snowstorms change people in Connecticut."

The stories are also very much about people in New England. One chapter is about a plow driver, which Dahlke created after listening to what plow drivers see on a shift.

"What I would do is go to coffee shops after Nor'easters, and eavesdrop on them and the way they talk," he said. "Then I would try to lift what they said and use it as dialog in the story."

The book also has a supernatural side. Originally, the story incorporated zombies, Dahlke said, but he changed his mind because he felt that genre had been overdone.

"I said, 'I'm going to write a zombie story with no zombies,'" Dahlke said. "That was the theme of the story [in my process]. It's kind of a calm-but-tense feel in a zombie movie, but before they come out."

After writing most of the stories, he decided to insert the undead walkers back into the tome, but only in a minor, almost cameo, way.

"I decided I was going to add just a pinch of zombies back in," he said. "They're kind of like walking mold."

The audience for the book, Dahlke said, are people who want to read something different and unexpected.

The author's aim is for people to come away feeling that they read something unlike anything they've read before.

"It definitely has a scary, dark elements to it, but it's not a horror novel," he said. "It's weird and different. It's off-beat."

The hope is that there will be another edition, perhaps an e-book and/or a U.S. printed version in the future.

Hollow As Legs can be ordered online, via www.deffbridges.com/shop.

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