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Author’s mystery-adventure novel ranges from the North Shore to North Korea

Oct 23, 2017 06:48AM ● By Editor
By Jonathan Young - The Gazette - Oct 21, 2017

Most people wouldn’t see a connection between a photo of a ship with a bend in it and a shot of a dead badger on the side of the road.

For Stillwater author David Fabio, they became the starting point for his latest novel.

Fabio took both photographs on a trip to the North Shore with his wife.

He snapped the picture of the ore ship in Two Harbors, when he noticed it had a “distinct bend in the middle.” At first he thought it was an optical illusion.

“Analyzing the photograph proved me wrong,” he said. “This ship did bend in the middle. ... I was looking for something for a good mystery, and a ship with the bend in the middle — especially in Lake Superior, especially with November coming — I thought, ‘This must be a ship that everyone and their brother wanted to get off of.”

A ship that sailors feared — that could make for an intriguing story, he thought.

Fabio took the shot of the badger by the side of the road while photographing wildlife. Eagles were picking the carcass clean.

The dead badger struck him as slightly mysterious — just mysterious enough to incorporate into a murder investigation.

Titled simply, “The Ship,” Fabio’s book, released earlier this year, involves two murders and a smuggling case investigated by FBI special agent Mark Lawson.

It’s much more than a murder mystery, however, taking unexpected turns that lead to the source of the smuggling in North Korea, Fabio said.

Combining mystery, murder and adventure, the story ranges from the Minnesota North Shore to Hong Kong and North Korea.

When he began writing, Fabio said, he had no idea North Korea would feature so prominently in the news at the time the book came out.

“It actually delayed me about a month because I was just wrapping it up, and all of a sudden back in February Trump and N. Korea weren’t getting along,” he said.

Although the story is fiction, Fabio incorporated research regarding the history between the U.S. and North Korea to make it more plausible.

“The vast majority of the U.S. population has no idea of some of what goes on in North Korea,” he said.

Fabio said “The Ship” was a fun book to write. It wasn’t his first, however.

“I’ve written three for teenagers and eight for adults,” Fabio said.

He began writing while working for 3-M.

“While I was trying to recover from neck surgery, I decided to try writing for the fun of it,” Fabio said. “I’d done technical writing in the past … This gave me a chance to just write something the way I wanted to write it.”

Now retired, Fabio is a nature photographer, author and regular columnist in The Gazette.

Learn more about “The Ship” at

Contact Jonathan Young at [email protected]