Alumnus’ New Novel Explores Regional Mysteries

“Finding Franklin" book cover

“Finding Franklin,"the newest book by Joe Tennis ‘92.

Bristol author and Radford University alumnus Joe Tennis ‘92 writes about the "lost state" of Franklin in a new adventure novel, “Finding Franklin,” set in Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina.

Franklin, named for senior statesman Benjamin Franklin, never officially became a state and eventually folded into Tennessee just south of Virginia. Tennis grew up in Virginia Beach, but often visited relatives in Greeneville, Tenn., capital of the state of Franklin in the 1780s.

In Tennis' book, two young boys, two uncles and a young girl embark on an adventure to explore Tennessee's Douglas Lake in a submarine, search for a lost silver mine on Unaka Mountain on the Tennessee-North Carolina border and zip across Virginia with a Floyd blueberry farmer named Aunt Maggie and her dog, Blob. The book features a pick-your-own-plot format, with the reader determining which way the characters should go, Tennis said. "The book actually ends six times."

"The kids are trying to find the lost fortune of the lost state of Franklin," he said, “but they mess up the plans. It's funny. And it all has to do with the real-life mystery of what happened to the capitol building that was torn down and never came back to Greeneville."

The building was dismantled at the end of Tennessee's centennial celebration in Nashville in 1897, Tennis said, but then disappeared.

"Finding Franklin" follows Tennis' regional best seller “Haunts of Virginia's Blue Ridge Highlands,” featuring ghostly tales of Radford University’s first dormitory as well as stories about Mountain Lake, Buffalo Mountain, Breaks Interstate Park, Avenel Mansion, Cumberland Gap, Blacksburg's Lyric Theatre and the Black Sisters of Christiansburg.

Now in its third printing, "Haunts" has been featured on public television and in “Blue Ridge Country” and “Virginia Living” magazines.

To learn more about Tennis’ works, call (800) 992-2691 or email

Oct 20, 2011
Bonnie Erickson