Monday, December 22, 2008

Michigander Monday: Johnathan Rand

This week we welcome Johnathan Rand!

Debbie: Tell us a little about yourself.

Johnathan: Born in Pontiac, 1964. Moved to Grayling in 1973, Prudenville 1985-1986, Petoskey 1987-1993, Cheboygan 1993-1998, Topinabee 1998 - present. Got a job in 1982 at a radio station where I was on the air and wrote/voiced radio commercials. I made a career out of writing and creating radio commercials, until I wrote my first book in 1998: St. Helena, a novel for adults, written under the name 'Christopher Knight.' First Michigan Chiller, Mayhem on Mackinac Island, was published in March of 2000. Later that same year, the 'Chillers' series really took off. I quit my radio job and never looked back. Nearly 4 million books in print, and (I believe) I'm the only author in the world that has a store that sells only my books. 'Chillermania' is located in Indian River, Michigan, just off I-75 exit 313.

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

Johnathan: Just released this month is American Chillers #25: Mississippi Megalodon, about a giant, prehistoric shark. #26 will be released at a big world premiere party in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The book is called Oklahoma Outbreak, and it's about a cootie infestation at a school in (where else?) Oklahoma. Released another adult book a short time ago called The World is Black and White.

Debbie: Other books and projects on the horizon?

Johnathan: Working on American Chillers #27: Kentucky Komodo Dragons. I also write another series for younger readers called Freddie Fernortner, Fearless First Grader, and I'm working on book #10 in that series, along with another adult novel that will be published in the spring.

Debbie: Upcoming appearances?

Johnathan: Tulsa City-County Library, Oklahoma, on January 13th. I'll also have periodic events at Chillermania, in addition to over 100 school visits across the country between January and May 30th, 2009.

Debbie: Your favorite place in Michigan?

Johnathan: I love where we live, and I get to spend the entire summer here without having to travel. But I LOVE the upper peninsula, and I try to get up there once a year to take a two-week writing sabbatical.

Debbie: Favorite Michigan event or happening?

Johnathan: Each year, I host two writing camps for kids called 'Author Quest.' It's four days and three nights of magic. We plan all year for this, and it's the most rewarding thing I think I've ever done. On Thursday, kids are nervous and fidgety because they don't know anyone. By Sunday, they've made great friends, and no one wants to leave (including the staff and counselors!).

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

Johnathan: Singers/Songwriters Will and Ann Rowland, Musician Mike Ridley, Musician Duffy King, Musician Billy Jewell, authors/illustrators Gisbert van Frankenhuyzen and Robbyn Smith van Frankenhuyzen, authors/illustrators Darrin Brege and Karen Bell-Brege, authors/illustrators Kevin and Stephanie Kammeraad, author/illustrator/playwright Michal Jacot, artist Mark Thompson.

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

Johnathan: We have mosquitos the size of pheasants.

Debbie: Some residents of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: Are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?

Johnathan: 'Michiganian' sounds tougher and more meddlesome; I'm one of them.

Debbie: What a pleasure to have you here with us today! Thanks for stopping by.

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