Recognized nationally as one of the best independent books of 2019, The Wonder of Water: Fascinating Facts about Life’s Sustaining Liquid by Edina resident Tom Hamel combines his passions for art, education and water.
Released in May 2018 from Beaver Pond Press, the book illustrates how water interacts with its surroundings physically and culturally through a variation of text, photography and poetry.
“I know it is a good book and it may be a niche book, but I think there is a good message,” Hamel says. “It’s not taxing. It’s not political. It’s about something that is a valuable resource that everyone can relate to in one way or another.”
Created from his pure fascination for the subject, Hamel was pleased to find out his book was recognized as a finalist for the Science, Nature and Environment category and the Best Cover Design (a photo he took of the North Shore) in the Non-Fiction category for the 2019 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, said to be the world’s largest nonprofit book awards program for independent publishers and self-published authors. Though he did not win, Hamel says it means a lot to know his work was recognized both academically and artistically.
With two thirds of their authors from Minnesota, Beaver's Pond Press is a local publisher that values the ability to be hands-on and interactive with authors, creating a variety of content from coffee table books to memoirs and even children’s picture books.
“I kind of have an affinity for water,” Hamel says. This love for water developed from his experiences as a child catching crayfish in the creek in South Minneapolis, spending time fishing and boating at the family cabin on White Fish Lake and being part of The Twin Cities Sailing Club on Lake Harriet in his later years.
Though channeling his creative voice is his focus right now, Hamel is also a manufacturers’ representative and was co-owner (alongside his twin brother) of Hamel Associates Inc. In this business he merges his background in mechanical engineering and his fascination for natural wonders to promote and educate commercial builders about water filtration, conservation and distribution through an array of products and technology.
Hamel is also active in the community. “I like to get out into the field as a sales person and into nature to see what is out there and do some good,” Hamel says. As a master naturalist for the Nine Mile Creek citizen advisory committee, Hamel commits 40 hours a year to biological and physical testing to analyze the water conditions for habiting organisms. He and wife Marcie were nominated as a hometown hero for educating local homeowners on how to maintain the water quality of surrounding bodies of water, such as Lake Cornelia, through salt management, animal manure and the creation of natural buffer zones between the land and water.
As for the future of his writing career, Hamel is studying character development in hopes of crafting a historical fiction novel inspired by elements in the Great Lakes region.