Monday, November 3, 2014

Michigander Monday: Laura Lee

I'm pleased to welcome Laura Lee to Michigander Monday!

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

Laura:  I’m a full time author, or more accurately a half-time author. I divide my time between producing ballet educational tours, which has me on the road five months a year, and writing. The division is not neat. I often write while on the road. Between tours I am working to set them up. But those are the two sides of my career.

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

Laura:  I've published 15 books. Mostly humorous non-fiction. My biggest seller was The Pocket Encyclopedia of Aggravation which sold 85,000 copies or so. It is about the science behind annoying things. It’s part of my “negative things” series. The most recent is Don’t Screw It Up published by Reader’s Digest. It is about how to avoid various common screw ups. There is also Broke is Beautiful about the joys of being broke, 100 Most Dangerous Things and How to Avoid Them, and Schadenfreude, Baby. I've also written one children’s book, A Child’s Introduction to Ballet, The Elvis Impersonation Kit and various other things.

My first novel was Angel, which has just come out in audio format. It has been really interesting to hear characters I created voiced by an actor. Shea Taylor, the narrator, did a great job with the dialogue.

I wrote Angel to explore themes of beauty, identity and inspiration. Some people consider its plot to be controversial, as it is about a Christian minister who becomes attracted to another man, but my purpose was not to be shocking or political. It is much less controversial a topic today than it was when I was writing it a number of years ago.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Laura:  I've just successfully crowdsourced my second novel. It will be the first independent fiction I have put out. I am glad I crowdsourced it because it does not feel as if I am out there all alone. It is great to have a team. The novel is called Identity Theft. It tells the story of a young man who works in a rock star’s office handling the social media. He decides to pose as his boss and flirt with a fan. This sets off a chain of events he can’t control. It is sometimes comic and sometimes chilling as he tries to fix what he has broken without revealing what he has done.

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

Laura:  My favorite Michigan bookstore is John K. King in Detroit. I could explore there for hours, although it has been some time since I have. I’m a starving artist after all. I am much more of a library person these days. I am a power user of Melcat, the interlibrary loan system.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Laura:  I've always had good experiences when I visited the U.P.

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

Laura:  I’m very involved in the Birmingham Unitarian Church’s twice-a-year rummage sales. They fall in between my two ballet tours. I like the camaraderie, the hard work and the treasure hunting.

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

Laura:  Have you heard of Ric Carver?  He’s a local actor and a fixture at the Michigan Renaissance Festival. He is a multi-talented variety performer and one of the most genuine people you could hope to meet. I really admire him and the naturalness of his ability as a performer. There are few people who can connect to an audience on a personal level like he can. He is the real deal.

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

Laura:  If you ask someone from Michigan where he lives he will instinctively raise his right hand, hold it as if it were in a mitten and point to a spot on the palm. This amuses people from outside the state, but it is actually useful. The other day, I was watching Orange is the New Black with my mother and a character was supposed to be from Michigan. “Where are you from?” “Muskegon.” “Where is that?” She did the hand thing, pointing to the center of the hand near Mt. Pleasant.  My mother and I both turned to each other and said, “That’s not Muskegon.” Michiganders know where they live on the hand. They also know where other cities are on the hand. You can’t just point at random. It’s a real map.

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?

Laura:  Michigander.

Debbie:  Laura, we'll add you to the Michigander column!  Thank you for joining us today for Michigander Monday!

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