Monday, December 21, 2009

Michigander Monday: Monica Harris

I'm pleased this week to welcome Monica Harris, a Michigan author and also co-regional advisor for SCBWI-Michigan!

Debbie: Tell us a little about yourself.

Monica: Well, what’s your definition of “little”? :) Let’s see, I was born in Kalamazoo and consider Michigan home. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to live in Germany and Switzerland where I learned a better appreciation of family time, hiking, delicious cheese, and mouthwatering chocolate. As a writer, I’ve been described as being “eclectic” simply because I don’t focus on any particular genre. I write picture books, middle grade novels, YA novels, nonfiction, educational materials, pieces for magazines. Personally, I don’t think it’s “eclectic” but rather “ADD prone.”

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

Monica: My last book was Wake the Dead which was published by Walker & Company in 2004. I’ve sold several magazine pieces since then but for some reason, the book fairy hasn’t stepped forward with my million dollar contract. It will happen though….that’s my mantra!

Debbie: Other books and projects on the horizon?

Monica: I have several completed picture books which need to find homes but in the meantime, I’m trying to move forward on a middle grade novel that’s a psychic mystery. My YA novel follows a similar vein but is more of a psychic coming of age thriller.

Debbie: Upcoming appearances?

Monica: Check me out at the next SCBWI event where I’m bound to make an announcement or two! :)

Debbie: I'm sure we'll see you at the spring 2010 SCBWI-Michigan conference! (Terrific line-up for the May 1 event; details here.) How about your favorite place in Michigan?

Monica: Having grown up here, I have several places. I love spending summer days in South Haven where I suffered my first heartbreak (long story). The Keweenaw region of the Upper Peninsula holds fond memories as well with its fresh air, friendly people, and easy-going lifestyle.

Debbie: Favorite Michigan event or happening?

Monica: There is ALWAYS something going on in Michigan so there’s no excuse to be bored. Check out the monthly Art Hops in Kalamazoo, Celebration on the Grand in Grand Rapids, the Hot Air Balloon Competition in Battle Creek, and the walk across Mackinac Bridge in the fall.

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

Monica: Not everyone on my list is considered “fun” but they’re all Michigan based people that have offered something to our culture:

Jerry Bruckheimer – TV and movie producer
John Hughes – Movie producer, writer, and director
Jack Kevorkian – Assisted suicide doctor
Sojourner Truth - the self-given name of Isabella Baumfree, an African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist.
James Anthony Bailey – Cofounder of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus
Homer Stryker – MD and inventor of mobile hospital bed and found of Stryker Corporation
Dave Coverly – Speed Bump comic strip creator
Music: Madonna, Eminem, the Verve Pipe, Alice Cooper, Sonny Bono, the Romantics, Iggy Pop, and OkGo.
Children’s Authors:

  • K.A. Applegate
  • Jon Scieszka
  • Chris Van Allsburg
  • Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Wendy Anderson Halperin
  • Sue Stauffacher

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

Monica:

  • We have some of the best freshwater beaches in the country.
  • We’re extremely generous people when it comes to bringing something to a potluck (which I learned is a very Midwestern thing to do)
  • Michigan people have earned the right to complain about the weather so grin and let us vent.
  • When asked where we live, we all put up our right hand and point to some random place on our palm.

Debbie: And the left hand makes a handy upper peninsula!

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

Monica: Oh, a Michigander all the way!

Debbie: Thank you, Monica, for joining us today!

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