Monday, April 15, 2013

Michigander Monday: Lori A. May

I'm pleased to welcome Lori A. May to Michigander Monday!

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

Lori:  Thanks for having me, Debbie. First, I love what you’re doing here with Michigander Monday. I moved to Michigan a little more than four years ago, when I married my Detroit-based husband. I grew up close by, though, in various locales across Southwestern Ontario. So, I’ve always had a connection, by land and by water, to this area. More and more, I find myself writing about place and now that I live in Michigan, much of my writing is influenced by my ‘new’ surroundings. It’s wonderful to have a fish-out-of-water experience to inspire new work. Michigan is full of interesting stories and I love how often I discover something new-to-me.

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

Lori:  My most recent book is a guide for emerging writers. The Low-Residency MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Creative Writing Students (Continuum, 2011) offers practical research, tips, and advice to writers considering a creative writing graduate degree. I had written about the various programs and opportunities available in low-res format for years and I had a positive response to these articles, published in magazines such as The Writer and Writer’s Digest. One day it occurred to me there was a market for a larger, more detailed resource and that’s how this book was born. The response has been wonderful and I’m so pleased to help others research the possibilities for seeing their writing dreams come to life.

Not long before that, I also had a poetry book published. It’s called stains and offers a bit of free verse in a coming-of-age arc that looks into and outside of the self. I write across the genres and am always multi-tasking between fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Lori:  I have two pieces of good news! I have a new poetry book coming out sometime between December 2013 and January 2014. Square Feet will be published by Accents Publishing. They’re based out of Lexington, Kentucky, and I have been so fortunate to work with the wonderful team there. This full-length collection explores the domestic spaces—emotional, psychological, and physical—within a wounded relationship. We’re in the end stages of editing now and it’s such a joy to work on with a really talented team.

I’m also knee-deep in a new nonfiction book. American Drive is a travel/writing/culture memoir in linked essays. The stories explore my emigration from small-town Canada to the US where I married a Detroit cop; compares cultures and traditions between my two countries; offers immersion stories of road-tripping across my new homeland covering 30,000+ miles per year, for several years, in which I discover towns and people off the interstate; and documents how a small town Canadian writer married a Detroit homicide detective and survived (so far). I’m really thrilled about this work-in-progress and hope to have it ready to send to an editor soon.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Lori:  I’m always offering a variety of writing workshops at community colleges across Michigan. Right now I have some scheduled for Delta near Bay City, Washtenaw in Ann Arbor, and Macomb in Warren. I invite readers to visit my website where I have upcoming events and workshops listed.

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore?

Lori:  Every one of them! I love books and so does my husband, and when we roadtrip we always pop into the local indies. One of my favorites is McLean and Eakin, in Petoskey. There is such a warm, inviting atmosphere there and I love how often they host writers and readings. This is truly a book lover’s paradise. We also frequent Horizon Books in Traverse City. This seems to be a regular pit stop for us on roadtrips as Traverse City is so central to our travels. Their selection is incredible, the staff is friendly, and the coffee shop is always a favorite destination. I can get joyfully lost in their bargain basement, too.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Lori:  This is the hardest question. My husband and I really do have so many areas we enjoy getting away to, and do so any chance we get. We have what I call “the whitefish tour” that takes us along the eastern side of the UP from Whitefish Point into Snug Harbor, from the Sault through to St. Ignace and down into Mackinac, and then over to Cross Village where we dine at Leg’s Inn before heading down the 119 through Good Hart, Harbor Springs, Charlevoix, and finally into Traverse City. I love fish, so we eat in all of these towns, nibbling on whitefish and more, until we’re tired and full.

But we have so many favorite places to travel. I adore the coastal trip from Sleeping Bear Dunes into Frankfort, down into Manistee and Ludington, and all along the shore. Those small towns offer so much to do as far as dining and exploring. This past summer we went to the Coast Guard Festival in Grand Haven and spent the day soaking in the sun, watching the parade, and having a great time along the water.

My husband and I take any chance we get to hit the road and we’ve driven through every county except one—Delta County, the home of Escanaba—but we plan on ticking that off our list very soon.

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

Lori:  Everyone should know about Loreen Niewenhuis, a Michigan author who writes about her impressive walks along the Great Lakes. She’s walked around the entirety of Lake Michigan and wrote about it in her book, A 1000-Mile Walk on the Beach. Then Loreen set out to walk another thousand miles around the other Great Lakes and writes about that in her very hot-off-the-press book, A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk. Loreen has such an amazing connection to Michigan—its land, its water, its people—and she is an inspiration on so many levels.

I also recommend readers check out The Smoking Poet, a journal edited by Zinta Astairs. She’s a wonderful author in her own right, from the Hopkins area, and she does such a beautiful job sharing works of other writers through The Smoking Poet. They publish work from Michigan and beyond, but Zinta is so supportive of our local authors and communities. Readers and writers will appreciate both the journal and Zinta’s own writing, which they can learn more about on her website.

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

Lori:  What I am really fascinated by is the diversity of areas in Michigan. We have lakefront towns and big cities; there are amazing produce farms and ranches sprawling across the land; then we have quaint neighborhoods bordering on the metro areas that offer so much local flavor by way of independent shops, eateries, and services. Whether you’re an outdoorsy type or a city lover, there’s so much to see and do—and you can do it all. My husband and I switch up our roadtrips and will spend concentrated time in each of these areas just to remind us that there is so much to see and do here. In an hour or two drive, you can feel a world away—and yet so close to home, because it is home.

Debbie:  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?

Lori:  Ha! Most people around here refer me to as “the Canuck” because I still sound like my Canadian roots. Yet my accent has transformed, admittedly, and I have a strange combination of Ontario-Michigan dialect. When called upon, though, I proudly say I am a Michigander.

Debbie:  Lori, thank you so much for joining us today for Michigander Monday, Canuck edition!

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