Monday, November 7, 2011

Michigander Monday: Wade Rouse

I'm pleased to welcome Wade Rouse to Michigander Monday!

Debbie:  Wade, please tell us a little about yourself.

Wade:  I am a bestselling humorist, whose work has been featured on NBC’s Today Show as well as on Chelsea Lately on E!. USA Today has called me “a wise, witty and often wicked voice,” and the Chicago Tribune’s Pulitzer Prize-winning cultural critic states that my memoirs are filled with “sparkling humor” and that everyone should “read Wade Rouse, especially if you value laughter and wisdom.” I am a regular contributor to Michigan Radio, one of the nation’s largest public radio stations, and live just south of Saugatuck-Douglas on three acres of pines and sugar maples in a knotty-pine cottage named “Turkey Run.” In fact, my partner and I fell so deeply in love with Michigan that we quit our jobs and moved (in the winter, no less!) from the city to more rural, small-town life (it’s the basis of my memoir, At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream). I am a huge runner, I love caffeine, wine, Kashi, lip shimmer, as well as Michigan’s beaches and unique resort towns. I do not love the snow, however. I tend to go all Shining after a few months. Most importantly, Writer’s Digest recently named me the #2 Writer, Dead or Alive, “We'd Love to Have Drinks With” (I was just behind Ernest Hemingway, and just ahead of Hunter S. Thompson). Depending on how you look at it, that’s either a wonderful honor or a very sad one. (Personally, I equate it with winning the Pulitzer, especially since I’ll never win a Pulitzer).

Debbie:  Never say never!  Wade, please tell us about your books.

Wade:  I am the author of four critically acclaimed memoirs: America’s Boy (Dutton/2006), Confessions of A Prep School Mommy Handler (Harmony/2007), At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream (Harmony/2009), and It’s All Relative: 2 Families, 3 Dogs, 34 Holidays, and 50 Boxes of Wine (Crown/2011). My current book is the hilarious dog anthology, I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship (NAL/2011), which features essays by some of America’s favorite humorists about their neurotic relationships with their dogs. I created and edited the project, and also contributed an essay. It features a Foreword by Chelsea Handler’s dog, Chunk, as well as nine New York Times bestselling authors and a Tony winner; and 50 percent of the book’s royalties are going to the Humane Society of the United States. I’m proud that my books have been national and IndieBound bestsellers, as well as “Books of the Year”, “Must-Read Picks” and “Breakout Books” by such places as Target, Barnes and Noble, (the former) Borders, Detroit Free Press, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Chicago Public Radio, the Grand Rapids Press and the American Library Association. It’s All Relative will be released by Random House in paperback this February, and my first memoir, America’s Boy, is being reissued this fall, which thrills me to no end.

Debbie:  What an amazing array of work!  Do you have other books on the horizon?

Wade:  Yes. A lot. I’m working on two memoirs, a novel and another “celebrity” anthology. In regard to the memoirs: My next book is entitled, THIS BLOWS! A Life, in Locks. It is what I’m calling the first-ever “hair-moir,” a memoir about my addiction to my hair (something to which I think most of us can relate). The book is a funny look at the styles – good, bad, sad – and Dippity-do’s and Dippity-don’ts of hair trends over the years. It’s also a deeper look at vanity and addiction, and the book juxtaposes my vanity against that of my mom, who had zero. As a hospice nurse who eventually battled cancer, she could have cared less how she looked, or whether she was wearing a wig. “A body is a body,” she always told me, “but a soul is a soul.” I’m also working on a book about our late mutt, Marge, titled One Final Walk: The Cross-Country, Ash-Scattering Odyssey of Two Men and the Rescue Dog Who Re-Taught Them to Laugh, Love and Live in the Moment. My partner and I are scattering Marge’s ashes in the 16 states she ever lived in, or visited, and recounting the lessons she taught to us. Michigan, of course, is featured prominently. It’s really a lovely tribute to her, and the power of animals, and loving unconditionally. I’m also working on a new celebrity anthology, which will also showcase humor to raise awareness, as well as a novel, both of which I’m playing close to the vest right now (although I’m not wearing a vest). I also speak and teach writing workshops around the country (http://www.wadeswriters.com/), am a regular contributor to Michigan Public Radio, and write two humor columns. I’m a busy boy, but I know it is a blessing to be doing what I love.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Wade:  I just finished a nearly month-long tour (NYC, Chicago, Milwaukee, lots of stops around Michigan) for Bitch, but I do have a number of others scheduled here and around the country, including:

-November 10 at the Fennville Public Library at 7 p.m. (Reading/signing)
-November 18, Forever Books, St. Joseph, 6-8 p.m. (part of town’s luminary holiday festival; will be signing books)
-December 10, Writing Workshop "Facing Your Fear and Finding Your Voice" at Schuler Books in Grand Rapids -- for event details, click here; for registration info, click here
-December 17, Barnes and Noble, Holland, Noon (Reading/signing)
(For complete appearances info, please see Wade's appearances page on his web site.)

I’m also doing some national appearances, including the mega Pulpwood Queens’ Book Club 12th Anniversary Girlfriend Weekend from January 12-15 in Texas. I’m leading the Tulsa Writes! program (component of Tulsa Reads!) in April. And I’m also leading a three-day writer’s retreat in my hometown of Saugatuck from May 17-20. For more, folks can go to my web sites, waderouse.com and wadeswriters.com

Debbie:  Do you have favorite Michigan bookstore? And/or a favorite Michigan library?

Wade:  Michigan has been incredible to me: The readers, the fans, the booksellers, the libraries. I truly heart the Mitten. I hate to name one, as I’ve been to nearly every one of them, but here goes (and forgive me if I’ve forgotten to mention one): Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord; McLean and Eakin in Petoskey; Brilliant Books in Sutton’s Bay; Schuler Books in Grand Rapids and Lansing; Forever Books in St. Joe; Reader’s World (and Barnes and Noble) in Holland; Singapore Books in Saugatuck; Barnes and Noble (and MacKenzie!) in Rochester Hills; Common Language in Ann Arbor. I hope to visit Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor soon.

As for libraries, I adore the Grand Rapids Public Library. It is beautiful, the staff is amazing, and I love doing events there.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Wade:  I love my hometown of Saugatuck-Douglas. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world, as is Oval Beach and our local dunes area. I adore the Leland/Sutton’s Bay area, as well as Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Debbie:  Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Wade:  I live for the annual adult Halloween parade in Douglas. More fun than a human should have. I love the summer Ox-Bow artist events/auctions, where talented young artists get to showcase their work in Saugatuck. It’s perfection. I love the annual fall Blue Coast Artist tours in southwest Michigan as well as the annual Mt. Baldhead run here. And when they light the towns of Saugatuck-Douglas for Christmas, it is one of the most beautiful, special traditions I’ve ever experienced. Michigan has some amazing traditional events!

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

Wade:  I hope folks know the amazing author Bonnie Jo Campbell, as well as the wonderful writer Kris Riggle. I am a huge fan of local Saugatuck painter James Brandess and writer Jacqueline Carey, both of whom are hugely talented and nationally famed. Matt Balmer, the chef and owner at Everyday People Café in Douglas, is as creative and talented on a culinary level as they come. The owners of Evergreen Creamery, which makes the best goat cheese I’ve ever eaten, live around the corner from us. Uncommon Grounds in Saugatuck roasts the best coffee and makes the best lattes (Caramel Silk rocks!) anywhere. And Crane’s Pie Pantry and Orchard in Fennville is an institution: Go pick some apples or peaches, or just pick up a homemade pie. All of these folks make Michigan magical.

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

Wade:  Perhaps the most stunning scenery in America. The most beautiful beaches, the most unique towns. And the state is home to some of the nation’s best colleges and universities. And the people: I’ve been blown away by their kindness, compassion, and love of Michigan. This is a special place, so do we really have to let others know?

Debbie:  It's the best kept secret in the nation!  Finally, last question:  Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally, are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?

Wade:  Michigander. Totally. I was born in Missouri, so I was a Missourian. And I lived in St. Louis, so I was a St. Louisan. I went to grad school at Northwestern in Chicago, where I was a Chicagoan. Michigander just sounds right. Or maybe I’m just sick of being an “ian.” (And if any of you just said, octogenarian, I’m comin’ after you!)

Debbie:  Non-octogenarian Michigander it is!  Wade, thank you so much for joining us today for Michigander Monday.

To learn more about Wade and his books, stop by his web sites:  http://waderouse.com/ and http://www.wadeswriters.com/ .  And check out his blog at http://blog.waderouse.com/

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