Monday, September 1, 2014

Michigander Monday: Nancy Barr

I'm pleased to welcome Nancy Barr to Michigander Monday!

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

Nancy:  Although I wasn’t born in the U.P., I've lived here since I was nine so I consider myself a Yooper after thriving through enough winters!  As far as my day job, after ten years as a newspaper reporter and editor at two small U.P. daily papers, I switched to academia in 2007 and now teach technical communication to mechanical engineering students at Michigan Technological University.

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

Nancy:  The “Page One” mystery trilogy is set primarily in the central and western Upper Peninsula and features newspaper reporter Robin Hamilton.  I think of her as a scrappier, smarter, and prettier version of myself when I was around 30!  The plots are not based on any real stories I covered as a reporter, nor are the characters based on real people, but the setting is completely authentic.  Anyone familiar with the U.P. will recognize the locales throughout each book!  They’re published by Arbutus Press and available in e-book format as well.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Nancy:  While I took a five-year break from “fun” writing to work on a master’s and PhD, I've begun work on a new work of fiction set in the early 1970s in the Copper Country, after the last copper mine shut down.  While the plot is still in the very development stages, it will be edgier and darker than my first three books.  I've always been a fan of Stephen King’s work and this book will take a cue from some of his earlier novels.  Of course, it will have a strong female protagonist, though!

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Nancy:  Nothing planned right now.

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

Nancy:  I love any bookstore that makes it a point to support regional authors.  Two in particular are Grandpa’s Barn in Copper Harbor and North Wind Books in Hancock.  As for libraries, my favorite is the Bayliss Library in Sault Ste. Marie.  They have great programming and an enthusiastic community of supporters.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Nancy:  Oh, I have lots of them!  There’s hiking in the Porcupine Mountains in the fall, watching freighters near Copper Harbor or at the Soo Locks in the summer, exploring historical places like Fayette State Historic Park or the old abandoned mines around the Keweenaw, or sitting on the beach at Whitefish Point.

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

Nancy:  The Eagle Harbor Arts Festival in August is awesome, and Michigan Tech’s Winter Carnival is a great way to get outside and celebrate winter via the student-built ice sculptures.

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

Nancy:  This is another tough one; there are so many!  Leslie Du Temple’s children’s books are a treat, Tyler Tichelaar's fiction is unique, and Ron Riekki's a great advocate for Upper Peninsula authors.  We also can’t forget about Steve Parks, Delta County’s prosecuting attorney and a fellow author, who finally convinced the folks at Merriam-Webster to add the word "Yooper" to the dictionary!

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

Nancy:  While industry is important to the state, we have so much more to offer.  We have some of the best scenery in the world here in the Keweenaw as well as one of the best-kept secrets in higher education – Michigan Technological University, which adds so much to the community in terms of diversity and culture.  We also have a thriving arts and culture community, with great writers, poets, painters, and sculptors, especially here in the U.P.

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?

Nancy:  Sorry, neither.  I describe myself as a Yooper from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula!

Debbie:  Nancy, we'll add you to the Yooper column.  Thank you for joining us today for Yooper Monday!

1 comment:

Nancy Barr said...

One update: I will be at the U.P. Author's Day and Book Fair on Oct. 4, 2014, at the Westwood Mall in Marquette, Michigan. Looking forward to it!