I'm very pleased to welcome James M. Jackson to Michigander Monday!
Debbie: Jim, please tell us a little about yourself.
Jim: I’m a birdbrain. That is, I follow the migratory birds, who know there are real advantages to being up north in the summer and down south in the winter. We now split our time roughly 50/50 between the deep woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (in Iron County) and Georgia’s Lowcountry. Although I am happy in either place I am, I far prefer our northern home. I must say, though, I was not sorry to miss this year’s winter in Michigan.
After I retired in 2002 from a career as a financial consultant specializing in pension and post-retirement medical plans (yes, you may yawn) I took up writing. I write both fiction and nonfiction.
Debbie: And, of course, we want to know all about your books.
Jim: I write the Seamus McCree mystery series for Barking Rain Press. Bad Policy was published in 2013 and Cabin Fever was published April 2014. Cabin Fever uses Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the dead of winter as its setting. Here’s the back copy blurb:
Financial crimes investigator Seamus McCree returns in this thrilling sequel to Bad Policy. With his house in Cincinnati in ruins, Seamus retreats to the family cabin for some well-earned rest and relaxation. But his plans for a quiet, contemplative winter in the wilds of Michigan's Upper Peninsula are shattered when he discovers a naked woman on his porch during a blizzard. The mystery woman is suffering from hypothermia, frostbite, high fever, amnesia—and rope burns on her wrists and ankles.
Snowbound at the cabin, without transportation or phone coverage, Seamus struggles to keep the woman alive and find a way to get an SOS message out. What he doesn't know is that a domestic paramilitary organization is hunting for an escaped female prisoner—and closing in on his isolated refuge.In addition, Master Point Press published my acclaimed book for intermediate bridge players, One Trick at a Time: How to start winning at bridge (2012).
Debbie: Other books or projects on the horizon?
Jim: I am currently working on the third Seamus McCree mystery, titled Doubtful Relations. In it Seamus’s ex-wife’s husband goes missing and she ensnares the whole family in determining what happened to him.
I am also starting work on a YA novel set at the end of the 21st century.
Debbie: Upcoming appearances?
The best way to check on my schedule is through my website: jamesmjackson.com, which has a current listing.
Debbie: Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore? A favorite Michigan library?
Jim: Whatever bookstore I am in is my favorite bookstore at the time, although I prefer to support independent bookstores rather than chains. We are lucky that we have two great libraries in my home county. At a time when my fellow taxpayers reduced taxes for local governments our township continued to approve full funding of the Crystal Falls Community District Library. On the other side of the county in Iron River, MI is the West Iron District Library. Since my taxes do not support that one, I have become a lifetime member of their Friends of the Library.
Debbie: How about a favorite place in Michigan?
Jim: How corny is this, right? My favorite place is my home on eighty acres situated on the east side of a small remote inland lake fifteen miles from the nearest place (Amasa, MI) where you can buy anything.
Debbie: Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?
Jim: I love the name of this: The Humongous Fungus Fest. Located in Iron County is a single living organism that covers approximately 37 acres, an Armillaria gallica fungus. Deemed at its discovery the world’s largest and oldest living organism, it weighs some 21,000 pounds and is 1,500 years old (give or take). An Oregon fungus was since discovered that is much larger (2,200 acres), but unlike the Michigan fungus, which is all connected, the Oregon fungus is in multiple pieces that have the same genetic code.
Regardless of whether or not it is the largest living thing, it’s still a good excuse for a multi-day party in the county seat, Crystal Falls.
Debbie: A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?
Jim: I think it’s great that Steve Mariucci (former NFL head coach and now sports commentator) and Tom Izzo (Michigan State head basketball coach) have been best friends since high school in Iron Mountain. When I think of Michigan writers, Jim Harrison first comes to mind, although he no longer lives in state. Only last year did I become aware of Bonnie Jo Campbell, but I’ll add her to my list.
Debbie: Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?
Jim: Michigan is the second largest state east of the Mississippi. It takes ten hours to drive the six hundred miles between Detroit and Ironwood. You get to cross the Mackinac Bridge—the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere and fifth longest in the world.
Debbie: Last question. Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders, others as Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: are you a Michigander or a Michiganian?
Jim: Michigander sounds correct to me. (Of course, I’m proud to call myself a Yooper!)
Debbie: Jim, we'll add you to the Michigander column (and the Yooper column!). Thanks so much for being here today!