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Mandy Mikulencak Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Burn Girl (2015)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Last Suppers (2017)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Forgiveness Road (2019)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Mandy Mikulencak is a historical fiction author from Colorado best known for the 2017 published title “The Last Suppers.” Her debut novel was “Burn Girl” a young adult fiction work that won critical acclaim and was the winner of the Westchester Fiction Award in 2016. She was born to Czechoslovakian immigrants and her name is pronounced Micka-len-check though she does not speak a word of the language. She grew up in a small Texan town that had less than 1200 residents and hence it was quite the culture shock when she went to a university with a student population of 50,000. Once she graduated from college, she worked in several occupations including as a PR professional and editor, where she worked for more than three decades. Mandy started working as a reporter and then graduated to editor before she switched careers and got a job in the nonprofit sector as a communications specialist. She is an expert in grant writing, strategic planning, special event planning, research, and program development. Over the years, she has lived in a lot of places including Geneva Switzerland, Houston Texas, and Washington DC. She currently makes her home in Southwest Colorado where she lives and works with her husband.

Mandy Mikulencak’s teachers encouraged her to do something that had to do with writing and given how naïve she was at the time, she thought that she should do a degree in journalism. As such, she graduated then worked in the news for several years before she went on to work on non-profits for more than two decades. She never thought about becoming a professional author until she attended a women’s writing retreat in 2008. It was this retreat that sparked in her an interest in short and flash fiction. It was not long before she felt like writing new stories that were focused on illuminating the differences in the human condition. Her novels are all about demonstrating redemption and joy in the face of great tragedy and pain. While she had a passion for writing. it was tough as she wrote three manuscripts and was rejected every time she queried agents. Her first manuscript garnered 91 rejections since she rushed to query before she had removed many of the kinks in it. With the rejections piling up she started doubting if writing was for her but never gave up as she wrote two more manuscripts but was careful to remove the errors before querying. Even though Mandy got so many rejections, she believes the feedback made her into a better writer. She finally got “Burn Girl” published in 2015 after writing and polishing the manuscript from the feedback of 47 rejections.

Mandy is inspired by authors such as Donald Ray Pollock, George Saunders and John Irving. In this regard, she writes novels that capture the ugliness and beauty of real life through flawed yet complex characters. She frequently combines themes from adult fiction with those from young adult fiction since these often have crossover appeal. In a recent interview, she asserted that the choice of literature should never be dictated by a person’s age. Still, Mikulencak’s work takes into account the language of teens including how they talk to each other, the music they listen to and their use of social media. This meant not talking down to teenagers and being aware of how their world operates in every step of the writing process. Having worked in the nonprofit sector for more than twenty years, the views and tone of her works show significant influence from that world. In many of the jobs, she held she was writing about marginalized people such as those with criminal history or addiction, those living in biting poverty and people that did not have the privilege of education. It was from working with such groups that she learned not to stereotype and how to empathize. By the time she was penning fiction manuscripts, she believes that she could write anything about the human experience. As a fiction author, she has succeeded in capturing the experiences of such groups in very realistic fashion.

Mandy Mikulencak’s “Burn Girl” is the story of Arlie who is left permanently scarred both emotionally and physically after a meth lab explosion. But over time, she has developed the survival skills and street smarts that she needs to ensure that her mother who is an addict is not located by Lloyd her stepfather or arrested by the police. Her husband Lloyd had been making meth in the house and it is his lab that had exploded and killed three people and disfigured Arlie. Shortly after her sixteenth birthday, she loses her mother to a drug overdose and so has to stop her nomadic lifestyle. Social services are called in and though she had lived most of her life with no rules, she suddenly finds herself under a strict set of rules. A few weeks later, she is living with her eccentric uncle in a 31-foot trailer and started attending high school. Even though it is not so easy to fit in given her scars, she slowly begins to hope for a normal life. But then Lloyd her stepfather finds her and demands that she give him the drug money her mother had run away with. How far is she willing to go to ensure she does not lose her newfound life?

“The Last Suppers” by Mandy Mikulencak is a compelling story of Gunny Polk who decides to come back home to work as a prison cook. She had grown up in the shadow of the Greenmount State Penitentiary and knew full well how harsh the conditions inside could be. But while she had seen the lines of the shuffling inmates and their cries when they were beaten, she never viewed them as monsters. That is the reason she decides to take the responsibility of preparing the last meals of the men on death row. They usually have coconut cake, pot roast or rice and red beans with pork neck stew or anything that a prisoner may ask for. She sometimes goes as far as getting recipes from the heartbroken relatives so that she can make the special recipes. She sees it as a way of honoring the men’s humanity and showcasing her compassion while they are living their final days. The prison does not like the ritual and Roscoe Simms the warden of the penitentiary has never hidden his disdain for it. He had always watched out for her ever since her father who was his best friend died. Soon, their friendship evolves into something unexpected and deep even in the face of painful and dark revelations about the murder of her father.

Mikulencak’s “Forgiveness Road” is set on a humid and hot July morning, where Cissy Pickering a sixteen-year-old girl just shot her father in the back. He had been a respected attorney and his death in those circumstances is, to say the least scandalous. Caroline her mother believes that what she did was despicable but Cissy is a troubled girl that believes it was the only way to save the two people she cherished most in the world. Cissy had entered into some kind of devil’s bargain with her father in the hope that he would not abuse her younger siblings. But once he abused that trust, she had no choice but to act. The matriarch of the family had kept away from Caroline her daughter but she now thinks it was not the right thing to do and wants to make up by being there for her granddaughter Cissy. She had always been an unusual girl that loved to make lists and compulsively count. When the girl is remanded in a psychiatric hospital, she loses touch with reality even more. The only hope she has is Janelle who is determined to be her rescuer and advocate in the trying times.

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