Interview with Michael Lechner, Author of Beautiful Prison

07 Jul 2020

What can you tell us about your new release, Beautiful Prison?

Beautiful Prison is the story of my childhood when my father uprooted my family from the Florida suburbs to go live in the mountains of Idaho. The story follows the struggles my family and I experienced all due to my father being unprepared and absent. We lived miles away from anyone in a “cabin” my father built in the middle of a forest. Our residence resembled more of a shack than a cabin with no electricity, running water, or insulation. We lived on that mountain for four years, barely surviving, neglected, and abused by my father, with little to no education, food, and warmth. Beautiful Prison is our survival story, and the story of my mother’s redemption when she gained the confidence to leave her husband.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

Reading was my only form of consistent education I had growing up. When the nights came earlier in the freezing months, there was not much to do because we had no way to see except by the illumination of candles and lamps. Before we would head off to sleep for another hard day of felling trees for the next winter, I would sit by the wood stove reading books. I do not know what I would have done if I did not have my stories to keep me company. I believe my inspiration for writing my memoir is a combination of my love of books and wanting to tell my story. I have told it many times in person, each time met with either disbelief or with encouragement to write a memoir. I decided to stop attempting to disbelieve I had a messed-up childhood and write it down so I could not forget.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

I am a sucker for anything Tolkien has written. He created a fantasy world that no other author has ever come close to beating – or ever will. I used to imagine I was in Middle Earth, somewhere lost in Mirkwood with all the miles of endless trees engulfing my every minute. I could not tell you which of his books are my favorite as they are all dear to me.

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask

My fascination with fantasy does not stop at Middle Earth. My first guest on my talk show would require a little bit of divination and maybe a séance. I would want to call upon the bards who wrote the story of Beowulf. My inquiry would revolve around Grendel: who/what was he? Was the story inspired by true events? Were Grendel and his mother just some poor reptiles who became a hunter’s trophies?

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I love being able to think of creative ways to explain and show my world through words. Writing is a wonderful method of sharing the beauty that is all around us.

What is a typical day like for you?

A typical day consists of going to work, exercising, relaxing with a good book, writing, and spending quality time with friends, family, and my love of my life.

What scene from Beautiful Prison was your favorite to write?

Living on the mountain was not all misery and pain. I was surrounded by unmatched beauty. I loved describing the scenery and nature that I called home.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

Disadvantages are not an excuse for who you are, they are inspiration to others for how far you have come.

Michael Lechner is the author of the new book Beautiful Prison.

Connect with Michael
Author Site

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