Newman alumnus publishes short story

Oct 08, 2021
Jeff Baker short story

Jeff Baker’s advice for writers is to persevere and not take rejection personally — two recommendations he takes to heart himself.

Recently, that hard work paid off.

Baker, who graduated from Newman in 1983 with a communications degree, published a short story titled “Solar Pons and the Testament in Ice” in the anthology “The Necronomicon of Solar Pons: Lovecraftian Tales of the Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street.” The anthology can be purchased on Amazon.

About Baker’s work

The book was published by Belanger Books, which is one of the world’s most prominent Sherlock Holmes publishers. Last year, press owner Derrick Belanger put out a call for story submissions about August Derleth’s classic pulp detective Solar Pons squaring off against the evils of Cthulhu Mythos, a fictional universe created by American horror writer H.P. Lovecraft.

Jeff Baker

“I’m a big fan of both Lovecraft and Derleth, and I love the Solar Pons stories,” Baker said. “Since I had been reading Edgar Alan Poe’s and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Arctic stories and I remembered Lovecraft had set a horror story at the top of the world, I jumped at the chance to write one of my own.”

The story involves detective Solar Pons and his devoted friend Dr. Parker investigating a series of disappearances connected to an exhibit of artifacts brought back from the Arctic.

“One of the challenges was finding out how long it would take to fly from London to the Arctic Circle in the early 1930s, but that’s part of the challenge of writing,” Baker said.

Baker posts one flash fiction story a week on his blog and writes a monthly column called “Boogieman in Lavender.”

A writer’s origins

Baker started writing in grade school, mostly because he enjoyed creating something. By the time he was in high school, he was writing parodies of comic books in his notebooks during class.

At one point, Baker wanted to be a cartoonist and created cartoons for both his high school paper and then for Newman’s student newspaper, The Vantage, but said “I was never that good of an artist.”

Baker chose to major in communication at Newman with the intent of becoming a journalist, but after graduation, he couldn’t find a job in the field and admits he didn’t have a lot of discipline at the time.

Sporting his favorite Newman University T-shirt, Jeff Baker works away on his writing projects.

While these two paths didn’t work out, Baker still wanted to pursue his passion for writing.

“I had written a couple of short stories at Newman, but I didn’t think of trying to write fiction until after college when I read a ton of anthologies of fantasy, horror, sci-fi and mystery stories and started writing my own,” Baker said. “I didn’t get published until the turn of the century and then it was almost a decade before I published anything else. Not for lack of trying; I have a large file of rejections.”

That’s where Baker’s perseverance has come in — a trait he honed while a student at Newman. He credits English professors Deanna Zitterkopf, the late Jeanne Cardenas and the late Madeleine Kisner for teaching him to write. Outside of class, he worked as a staff writer for The Vantage, was part of the Renaissance Faire and sang in the Newman Chorale.

“I certainly learned a lot about writing at Newman, as well as the technical stuff about sending a manuscript off for consideration,” Baker said. “In addition, I was exposed to all different kinds of people, as well as the wonderful campus with its possibly haunted halls — perfect for a writer of horror stories.”

Earn a communication degree

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