Owensboro author’s thriller book series earns awards

June 17, 2024 | 12:09 am

Updated June 17, 2024 | 12:10 am

Owensboro author Michael Houtchen began writing in 2018 after four decades as a draftsman at Texas Gas. He released his first book in 2019, a thriller titled “Tybee Island H-Bomb,” eventually turning it into a series with two more books to follow. 

“Tybee Island H-Bomb” uncovers a fictional tale of how the government lost a hydrogen bomb around Tybee Island around 1958, and six friends seek to find it during the present time. Their adventures lead to kidnapping, murder, treason, and more, leaving them to make some drastic decisions in the end. 

“Death of Innocence” follows suit, transforming the reader into the eyes of the narrator, Ray, who discovers his 16-year-old godchild murdered and left in an abandoned house. The story follows Ray’s journey to find the killer and seek revenge. 

The third novel in the series is “Phantom of the Circus,” which follows some of the same characters from Death of Innocence in another murder hunt. This trek includes many twists and reunions, with stops in L.A. and a small Mexican town. 

Houtchen said he always knew he had a vivid imagination, and writing was the best way to express himself. 

“A guy I was working with at Texas Gas was writing a story. He let me read some of his stories, we talked about, and he encouraged me to write my stories down,” Houtchen said. “The next thing you know, I started coming out with these novels. I had to find out the hard way, though, that I’m not an editor or publisher.”

In 2018, he accompanied his wife, a children’s author, to Louisville for the Imaginarium Conference. She was attending to pitch one of her books and encouraged him to pitch his novel. 

So he did. 

“Typically, they give you three minutes to pitch a book,” he said. “I got 40. The publisher at Seventh Star Press offered me a contract for the book plus another one. They have editors, and they did a beautiful job.” 

He finished “Tybee Island” in 2019 and returned to the conference in 2020 to realize he had won the best thriller award. “Death of Innocence” earned top-three status the following year, and he’s hopeful “Phantom of the Circus” will earn the gold this year. 

Houtchen has already submitted a fourth novel to the publisher, “Death on Drakes Creek,” in which an environmental study on the creek quickly transforms into an alien story. He’s also working on a fifth book, “The Boogie Man Comes to Franklin.”

Born in Owensboro and raised on a small farm on the river in Maceo, Houtchen had a simple upbringing. As a teenager, he was a soda jerk at Utica Junior High, often chalked the base paths at the local ball diamond, and sold concessions to earn money. 

He began his professional career as a mapper at Texas Gas, eventually earning an IT degree from Brescia in 1990 to become a computer analyst.

June 17, 2024 | 12:09 am

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