Debbie: Darrin, please tell us a little about yourself.
Darrin: I was born in Saginaw, grew up in Grand Rapids, and then lived for over a decade in Kalamazoo. I also taught English in Osaka, Japan for a year. I earned my MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and then earned my PhD in English at the University of Cincinnati. I taught at Miami of Ohio, the University of Louisville, and Kansas State University before landing my tenure-track job at Central Michigan University. Writing is my most prominent artistic outlet, but I've also played music for many years in different bands as well as just around the house. My main instrument is guitar, but I also do OK at the banjo, bass, mandolin, piano, ukulele, and drums. I’m a big horror movie fan, and I can juggle. I don’t usually juggle while watching horror movies, but who knows? There’s a first time for everything.
Debbie: And, of course, we want to know all about your books.
Darrin: My first novel, Revenge of the Teacher’s Pet: A Love Story, was reviewed in the New York Times. That was exciting for me. They called it “an original tale that earns the reader’s trust and breaks their hearts a little in the process.” My second novel, The Girl Who Ate Kalamazoo, is sort of a modern fable/dark comedy/monster movie – a girl grows up to devour the city of Kalamazoo. This is the central event of the story, but really the novel is about a highly dysfunctional family, and the effects of people not being able to connect with each other. My most recent book is a collection of my short fiction, titled The Dark Will End the Dark. The stories in it are a mixture of horror and humor, fabulism and realism. Thematically, the pieces often have to do with the body, and in this way they also engage with questions about death and life and how we treat each other along the way. But mostly when I write I’m trying to entertain, and I think these pieces – sometimes weird, sometimes frightening, sometimes funny – will keep the reader turning the pages.
Debbie: Other books or projects on the horizon?
Darrin: Yes! I’m always working on something. I've actually got a couple of other completed novels that I’m shopping around for publication. One of them is a murder mystery set in Grand Rapids. Stay tuned!
Debbie: Upcoming appearances?
Darrin: I’ll be doing a number of readings in support of my new book this summer and fall, and people can hear about these on my website or find me on Facebook or Twitter. One event I’m very excited to be appearing is at the Kerrytown BookFest in Ann Arbor, which takes place on September 13th this year.
Debbie: Do you have a favorite Michigan library?
Darrin: The Mount Pleasant Library is great, and we go there with our kids all the time, but I have to name the Harrison Public Library as my favorite. My wife is the Youth Librarian there, so I’m a little biased, but the staff there is so upbeat and smart. It’s a wonderful environment.
Debbie: How about a favorite place in Michigan?
Darrin: I love Wilderness State Park, about ten miles west of the Mackinac Bridge. Their rustic cabins are so secluded, so peaceful. So many stars at night, and you can even see the Northern Lights if you’re lucky.
Debbie: Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?
Darrin: I’m going to go with Detroit Tigers baseball. Nothing says summer like a trip to the ballpark, and Comerica Park is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon (especially if the Tigers win).
Debbie: A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?
Darrin: Monica McFawn is an amazing fiction writer and playwright with a dynamic personality. Everyone should know her and read her story collection, Bright Shards of Someplace Else. And I have to give a holler to my colleagues at Central Michigan University: Matt Roberson, Jeffrey Bean, and Robert Fanning are some extremely talented writers and teachers, and it’s such a privilege to work with them.
Debbie: Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?
Darrin: I've lived in three other states and visited plenty of others, and Michigan has some of the coolest, most friendly, and laid-back people around. People here are humble, hard-working, and unpretentious, and that’s my kind of people. Any state that can have the fan-base that the Detroit Lions have after all of their years of ineptitude (I’m a fan since age 9) must have an extremely generous and optimistic population.
Debbie: That's a wonderful description of the attitude of our state! 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?
Darrin: No offense to the title of your interview, but I’m going to go with Michiganian. I can’t help but think of a male goose when I hear the other one.
Debbie: Darrin, we'll add you to the Michiganian column. Thank you so much for joining us today for Michi