ESCONDIDO — Once homeless, Mikel Wilson is now a best-selling author making a name for himself with his series of murder novels.
Wilson, 55, of Escondido, published his first book 10 years ago and then moved into his series, “The Mourning Dove Mysteries.” Wilson’s third book in the series, “A Light to Kill By,” will be released Aug. 3.
Wilson will hold a book signing from 2-5 p.m. on Aug. 7 at La Fleur’s Winery in San Marcos.
Wilson’s first novel, “Sedona: The Lost Vortex,” turns 10 on Sept. 28 and will be celebrated with a special new edition with a new cover and audiobook. Additionally, to celebrate the anniversary, Wilson said “crystals for eight of the novel’s characters will be hidden throughout Sedona at sites they visited in the book.”
In his latest book, a bottle of wine from La Fleur’s Winery in San Marcos plays a key role.
The Mourning Dove series is based in the Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee, an ode to Wilson’s roots where he was raised in the city of Lebanon. Although his books are dark in tone and nature, Wilson has a no guns and no knives policy to his writing.
“I always loved mysteries,” Wilson said. “I like murders that seem supernatural. I like to focus on how done it as much as who done it. I compare them to the ‘X-Files’ and if Dana Scully was right and not Fox Mulder.”
Before Wilson was a best-selling author, the native of Tennessee had his sights set as a screenwriter in Los Angeles. He said his home state wasn’t the happiest place to grow up as a gay adolescent.
So, he made the move to LA at 19 but was homeless for two months.
Wilson panhandled to survive and was able to secure a hodge-podge of jobs, including stints as a pharmacy technician, bartender and even a position in marketing.
However, in 1999 his life would change on a trip to Sedona, Ariz.
Always a fan of the supernatural, Wilson took a vacation to reconnect and soon found himself inspired by the trip, so he wrote a screenplay. The screenplay would become his first novel.
Wilson was also inspired by famed authors such as Agatha Christie and others in the murder-mystery genre. With his series, the murders appear supernatural at first but have a logical conclusion.
He also weaves the infamous Trail of Tears into “A Light to Kill By” and even had a member of the Cherokee Nation read his manuscript to review for factual accuracies. He wrote a ghost story called “Hugo Hickory,” which is part of the third book but will also be a standalone book to be released at a later date.
Also, his main character, Emory Rome, is gay as Wilson found there were very few to no gay protagonists in the genre.
“One thing I always wanted to read was a series with a gay protagonist,” Wilson said. “I present that in a very natural fashion. It comes out naturally and no big deal is made out of it.”
Wilson, though, took several years off between the second and third books in the series to battle cancer. He said the treatments left him hazy, so he waited until he got a clean bill of health to resume the series.
After he recovered, Wilson teamed up with the owners of La Fleur’s Winery to collaborate on a wine to be paired with the book. Additionally, Wilson said the wine, Coyote Red, has a role in the third book.