Math professor and a murder plot; Wilkes Emeritus mathematics professor publishes a short story

Jackie Kurovsky, Staff Writer

What does a math professor, a murder plot, and an underground tunnel system all have in common?

These can all be found in “The Tunnels”, a short story by Wilkes Emeritus mathematics professor Dr. Steven Tillman, has been published on Mysterical-E, an online journal centered on mystery.


Tillman’s story focuses on a math professor and his girlfriend who unexpectedly find themselves targets of a murder plot. They seek escape through a system of tunnels, hence the title, underneath a snowy New York campus.


Tillman said the story’s concept originated from a few chapters of his first unpublished novel. Some aspects were also drawn from his personal experiences.


“When I was a student at Brown there was a small tunnel system under part of the campus,” Tillman said. “That gave me the idea of putting a tunnel system under the entire campus of my story locale, and use it to have the protagonist escape the bad guys.”


Tillman’s interest in writing sparked when his retirement in 2012 left him with much free time. While he mainly writes novels, Tillman said “The Tunnels” was his first major success.


“I thought that as long as I’m writing, I may as well try to get something published,” he said.


Tillman hopes to one day have a novel of his published, a process which he said is very frustrating. He has been unable to get a literary agent, which is necessary to publish a novel.


“An agent is not necessary for short stories,” said Tillman. “Having “The Tunnels” accepted for publication was very satisfying.”


Tillman is an avid reader of mystery and science fiction. Some favorite authors of his are John Sandford, David Weber, and the late Robert B. Parker.


Those interested in reading Tillman’s story can go to, and select “The Tunnels by Stephen Tillman” under the “Current Issue” section.