Monday, February 19, 2018

Michigander Monday: Annie Spence

I'm pleased to welcome Annie Spence to Michigander Monday!

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

Annie:  I grew up in mid-Michigan, youngest of five children and we were all book lovers. In a family that big and a house that small, I think my mother encouraged reading to give herself some peace. Now I am a librarian and writer in the Grosse Pointe area where I live with my husband, son, and cat, Barbara. Between books and audiobooks, movies, and the host of other material available at my local library (tools, seeds, lawn games, telescope) my home rarely has less than 30 library items in it at once. I cannot go a day without checking something out from the library.

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

Annie:  Dear Fahrenheit 451:Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks is a compilation of letters I wrote to the books I’ve had relationships with throughout my reading life. There are love letters, Dear John notes, and everything in between. And a collection of reading suggestions in the back. I have been both praised and scolded for making my readers’ TBR piles bigger.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Annie:  Yes! I’m working on a novel. Hopefully the more people I say that to, the more motivation to finish. Hold me accountable!

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Annie:  In the upcoming months, I will be in Dearborn Heights, MI; Newport Beach, California, and Mississauga Canada. I’ll be scooting around Michigan this summer as well. Please check my website for updates.

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore?

Annie:  I love to wander in John K. King’s used bookstore in Detroit. I could stay there all day and not have seen half of what they offer.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Annie:  Michigan has so much beauty and culture, it’s difficult to settle on one place. Locally, for me, it’s the Fern Room at the Belle Isle Conservatory. It’s beautiful and lush and a warm place to go in the winter. The past few summers, I have been really taken with Ocqueoc Falls up near Rogers City. It’s beautiful and the sound of the falls drowns out all of your thoughts. The falls are fun for kids and relaxing for adults and I always get the feeling everyone there is having the best day.

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

Annie:  Oh there’s so much! Harbor Springs Book Festival, Detroit’s Thanksgiving parade, the Wheatland Music Festival, any event where I can pick up an old book or an elephant ear, preferably both. I also missed the Northern Lights a few years back because I was already in bed and feeling lazy, so I dearly hope I get another opportunity and didn’t squander my one chance.

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

Annie:  The Shady Ladies Literary Society

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

Annie:  I don’t like to give away too much information about Michigan to people who don’t know about it. I still want space for my towel at the beach!

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?

Annie:  Michigander, for sure. I’ve never heard anyone say Michiganian out loud.

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

Monday, February 5, 2018

Michigander Monday: Kelly Fordon

I'm pleased to welcome Kelly Fordon to Michigander Monday!

Debbie:  Kelly, please tell us a little about yourself

Kelly:  I was born in Washington, D.C. My father was a Republican congressman from Ohio and my mother, a journalist for ABC news. I am an only child and a Democrat. My father was in congress during a period when it was possible to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative, so he was not the least bit dismayed when I turned coat. He always claimed to have joined the Republican party mostly in homage to Abraham Lincoln. He died in 2002, so, unlike the rest of us, he’s been spared a lot of absurdity.

I attended Kenyon College and met my husband, Fred, there.  We have lived in Michigan for more than two decades. In a previous incarnation I worked for National Geographic magazine in DC and WDET radio in Detroit, as well as various newspapers and magazines. We have four kids: Jack, Charlie, Megan and Peter. I didn’t write much from 1994-2004 as a result. Remember the Rotor amusement park ride--the one that spins so fast you’re stuck to the wall of the drum as the floor drops out beneath you? That was me--sucked into the parenting vortex for the better part of a decade. Not much time for writing, but I gathered a lot of great material!  In 2004, I enrolled in some creative writing classes at the University of Michigan and after that I was admitted to the Queens Low Residency program where I received my MFA in fiction writing in 2013.

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

Kelly:  Wayne State University published my novel-in-stories, Garden for the Blind, in 2015. I have also published three poetry chapbooks: The Witness, Kattywompus Press, 2016; Tell Me When it Starts to Hurt, Kattywompus Press, 2013, and On the Street Where We Live, won the 2012 Standing Rock Chapbook Contest.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Kelly:  I am currently working on two full-length collections of poetry, a short story collection and a novel. Such an eclectic mix and so many projects swirling—possibly the sign of a mind in disarray.  J

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Kelly:  I have a reading scheduled with Lolita Hernandez and Laura Thomas on March 24th at 2pm at Pages Bookshop. I’m teaching a Poetry and Prose class at CCS in Detroit this winter and hopefully will teach again in the fall. This summer I am also teaching a one-week creative writing camp for kids at CCS from July 9-13. I offer online classes as well. Check out:

https://www.collegeforcreativestudies.edu/assets/files/km/wi18_pcs-course-cat.pdf or
www.kellyfordon.com

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

Kelly:  Favorite Michigan bookstores include:

Pages Bookshop in Detroit
Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor
McLean and Eakin in Petoskey
Kazoo Books in Kalamazoo
Battle Creek Books in Battle Creek

I am so grateful for the many services our Michigan libraries provide including MelCat and Kanopy. The Library of Michigan chose Garden for the Blind as a 2016 Michigan Notable Book and I was able to tour several libraries throughout the state—they were all stellar!

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Kelly:  Favorite places in Michigan:

Charlevoix in particular, but pretty much anywhere up north.
Hamtramck: 1923 Café.
Midtown Detroit.

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

Kelly:  There are a couple of great conferences in Michigan that come to mind:

Rochester Writer’s Conference
Detroit Working Writers Conference (great organization for writers as well!)
Springfed Arts offers tons of writing classes: www.springfed.org.

Also, lots of great reading series in and around Detroit:

Eastside Reading Series
The Public Pool in Hamtramck
Poets and Pies
The Farmhouse Reading Series

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

Kelly:  Michigan writers abound!

Aubri Adkins, memoirist and Eastside Reading Series coordinator
Alise Alousi, poet
Terry Blackhawk, poet
Bonnie Jo Campbell, fiction
Desiree Cooper, poet, fiction
Diane DeCillis, poet
Vievee Francis, poet
Cal Freeman, poet
Mel Grunow, nonfiction, memoirist
Lolita Hernandez, fiction
Laura Kasischke, poet, fiction
ML Liebler, poet
Peter Markus, fiction
Dawn McDuffie, poet
Andy Mozina, fiction
Matthew Olzmann, poet
Keith Taylor, poet
Laura Thomas, fiction
Kristine Uyeda, poet
Gloria Whelan, fiction, poet

There are so many more! The more I name, the more I realize I’m likely to forget people. It’s not intentional! We have so many great writers working in this state.

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

Kelly:  I always tell non-Michiganders that I was skeptical when people told me it was “beautiful up north.” Growing up on the east coast, I was partial to the Atlantic Ocean and thought there was no way Lake Michigan could rival it. I was wrong.

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?

Kelly:  Michigander just sounds better than Michiganian to me. J

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