A Novel Is Born

Michael started writing screenplays shortly after retiring from TRW in 2000.  In 2003 he and his wife Joyce, moved to a mountain overlooking Watauga Lake.  A neighbor there told him about a little known book published in 1981, Tragedy at Old Fish Springs. Joyce a part-time employee, at the Elizabethton-Carter County Public Library, brought the book home. Michael loved the story and with author Lawrence Timbs’ permission, (then in his late 80s), he adapted it to a screenplay.

The said-to-be-true fascinating story was told to Mr. Timbs in 1938 by his grandfather who died in 1938 shortly after telling it.  At that time Timbs was a 17-year-old boy living in the community of Fish Springs that now lies beneath the surface of Watauga Lake.  Lawrence promised his grandfather he would keep the story alive, and 43 years later he told the story in a little self-published book, Tragedy at Old Fish Springs.

In 2009 Michael caught the attention of movie producer Belle Avery with the screenplay, at a screenwriter’s workshop.  She wanted to make a movie of the story but first wanted him to rewrite the book.  If the rewrite could get more exposure with a good, reputable publisher, a film would be easier to produce. 

Lawrence Timbs Jr., the original author’s son, a retired journalism professor from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C, agreed to edit the new book.  Michael soon realized Larry’s talents and made him a co-author. It took another three years after they finished the book to get a publisher, Ingalls Publishing Group.  So some 76 years after the story was told to Lawrence Timbs and 34 years after he told it in his little book, Michael and Larry have brought it back, adding historical facts, color and human interest, enhancing the story.

While their novel is a work of fiction, they still believe the core of the story passed down by Larry’s great grandfather to be true. According to Carter County Historian Scott Bowers, the authors' assessment of Fish Springs at the time of their story is close to the truth.

Unfortunately, Larry’s father passed away in January 2012 at the age of 90, but not before he knew his story would be kept alive.