Monday, November 17, 2008

Michigander Monday: Kristin Nitz

This week we welcome Kristin Nitz!

Debbie: Tell us a little about yourself.

Kristin: Since graduating from Michigan Tech with a degree in electrical engineering, I’ve moved ten times. One of the moves was to Merano, a spa town in the Italian Alps. Geographically and culturally, it’s about halfway between Verona, Italy and Innsbruck, Austria. Since my family made up the entire American community, this experience was a full scale immersion. My kids went to Italian schools; I went to Italian parent-teacher conferences. By the time we left, I was “conversant” in Italian—that’s a step lower than fluency—but my kids sounded like little Italians. Defending Irene, my first novel about a girl playing on an Italian boys’ soccer team, was set there.

Debbie: And, of course, we want to know all about your latest book!

Kristin: Saving the Griffin came out in the spring of 2007. It opens in a Tuscan garden with my main character coming nose to beak with a baby griffin under a laurel hedge. I actually finished a first draft of this book before starting in on my soccer novel. I accidentally pitched it to my editor at Peachtree over dinner one night when she was presenting at a conference in Missouri. Since I knew that her house didn’t publish fantasy, I was surprised beyond belief when she said, “Why don’t you send it along?” Saving the Griffin is on the master list of 24 books for the Mark Twain Children’s Choice Award in Missouri. I’ll find out sometime next year if it makes it to the final twelve nominees. Since I lived in Missouri before and after our time in Italy, this would be a dream come true.

Debbie: Other books, and and projects on the horizon?

Kristin: I have a young adult mystery called Stand-In for Murder, which will come out in 2010. It’s set at a bed-and breakfast in Missouri during a mystery weekend. Right now I’m working on a sequel to Saving the Griffin. This one is set in Egypt. I’m going on a research trip there this December. My sister lives in a suburb south of Cairo, so she’s been giving me the expatriate view.

Debbie: Upcoming appearances?

Kristin: I’ll be signing books at the Rivertown Crossings Mall in Grandville on January 24 at 1:00 P.M.

Debbie: Your favorite place in Michigan?

Kristin: After going to school for four years up at Michigan Tech, Houghton is close to my heart.

Debbie: Favorite Michigan event or happening?

Kristin: It’s tough to beat Michigan Tech’s winter carnival with its snow sculptures, human sled-dog races, and other chilly events, but I’ve also learned to enjoy Tulip Time in Holland. My oldest daughter was a Dutch Dancer.

Debbie: A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Kristin: Goodness. There are so many wonderfully charming Michigan writers and illustrators. But the word “fun” really triggered a memory of going to Detroit’s Greek Town with Leslie Helakoski, Lori McElrath-Eslick, Shutta Crum, Sarah Miller and Ruth McNally Barshaw during the 2008 Michigan Reading Association. These are five gracious, talented, and funny women. Opa!

Debbie: Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about our state.

Kristin: My dorm’s takeoff on OKLAHOMA didn’t make the cut for Winter Carnival skits, but the judges agreed that our closing song was a killer. So with apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein:

Oklahoton, where the wind goes rushing by the MEEM,
Where the northern sky is wide and high,
And the air is crisp and cold clean.
Oklahoton, every night my honey lamb and I,
Hit the books and cram for our exams
As the northern lights go flashing by.
We know we belong to this place,
And the place we belong to is great.
And when we say,
‘Ya to the U.P., eh?’
We’re only saying you’re doing fine, Oklahoton.
Oklahoton, okay.
Debbie: Some residents of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: Are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?

Kristin: Despite going to MTU and living in the Holland area for the past four years, I still feel like a Minnesotan deep down. But I’m definitely married to a Michigander.

Debbie: Kristin, thanks for the great interview, for the fun lyrics (which we're now all singing), and for being this week's Michigander!


Boni Ashburn said...

Kristin- I totally would have voted for a skit with that song in it no matter what!! :)

Thanks for all the kind U.P. words. Our Winter Carnival snow just started collecting today, as a matter of fact. We ought to have plenty by February!


Kristin said...

Thanks, Boni. My group did have fun writing the lyrics. The snow was as high as an elephant's eye.
Instead of a box lunch auction, we had a pasty sale. A Silicon Valley recruiter was trying to entice a young lady with a 4.0 to leave Oklahoton behind for a "Little Condo on a Sandy Beach." It wasn't a tough sale because this was the opening line to her theme song: "I'm just a girl who can't stand snow."