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September 07, 2011 - By Megan Bildner

Review Intern

Lake Orion resident and author Robert Lytle recently added another book to his resume with the release of his eighth young adult fiction title, Mr. Blair's Labyrinth.

Lytle's job as a pharmacist and owner of Lytle Pharmacy in Rochester allows him freedom to pursue his passion for integrating historical facts with imaginative and Michigan-based stories for entertainment and enjoyment.

Inspired by Jerry Spinelli and Mark Twain, Lytle admits launching his writing career was not easy. After three years, twenty-six drafts and hundreds of rejections, Lytle released his first tale of the five-part Mackinac Passage series, A Summer Adventure, in 1995. As his fan base grew, Lytle when on to release the continuation of the series including The General's Treasure (1997), Mystery at Round Island Light (2001), The Boathouse Mystery (2005) and Pirate Party (2006).

Lytle says he finds inspiration from past experiences, family vacations and his personal appreciation of Michigan.

"I was inspired when I began remembering how safe and carefree my summers up north were," he said. "Summering in the Les Cheneaux Islands in the 50s and early 60s was simply idyllic."

After the first five Mackinac stories, Lytle began writing about other areas of interest—baseball, family, and now his home in Lake Orion, with all of its beauty and history, he said.

His recent endeavors include three time-travel tales. These include Three Rivers Crossing (2000), A Pitch in Time (2002) and this year's Mr. Blair's Labyrinth, which is situated in early Lake Orion. Lytle lives at the home referenced in the book with his wife Candy.

"Mr. Blair was a wealthy Detroit banker who lost everything in the Great Depression," the author said. "I built a labyrinth in what was one of his formal gardens, as in the story. As I was building the 70-foot wide garden from rocks brought up from the lake, I was researching him and constructing the story."

To augment his writing, Lytle said he read extensively about that period in history. It took almost four years and 50 revisions before Mr. Bair's Labyrinth was published, he added.

The ultimate goal of Lytle's is to be invited to a school where one of his stories has been read by the whole class and have them ask him questions about that book.

"As a pharmacist, I don't get people telling me how much they enjoyed my prescriptions, even though I know I've helped them with their medical problems," Lytle said. "But when a kid stands up in front of his classmates and tells me that one of my books was the best he ever read—and read it ten times, well it doesn't get any better than that."

The local author's books are available at Lytle Pharmacy, as well as online at Amazon.com, keyword: Robert Lytle. They also will soon be sold at various shops in downtown Lake Orion. If anyone is interested in Lytle presenting at school, he can be contacted via email cblytle@aol.com or 248-814-8488. Lytle's publisher can also be reached to set up an appearance at 248-475-4678.

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