Monday, August 11, 2008

Michigander Monday: Mark Crilley

For this week's Michigander Monday, it's my pleasure to introduce you to: Mark Crilley!

Debbie: Tell us a little about yourself.

Mark: I was raised in Detroit and went to Michigan schools from first to last, last being Kalamazoo College from 1984 to 1988. It was there that I was lucky enough to be among David Small's last students before he became a full-time author/illustrator. I spent five years or so teaching English in Taiwan and Japan before getting my first comic book story published as a series ("Akiko") in 1996. That led to Random House inviting me to develop it as a chapter book series in 2000. I've had two more titles published since then: Billy Clikk, a pair of chapter books, and Miki Falls, a series of four graphic novels.

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

Mark: Miki Falls is the tale of a high school girl in Japan, Miki, who finds that the new boy in town, Hiro, is secretly a cupid-like being who controls the distribution of love among human beings, transferring it from those who are falling out of love to those who have not yet fallen in love. When the two of them fall for each other, they are soon on the run since such pairings are strictly forbidden. I had fun teaching myself to draw in a manga style for this project, and was very honored that Susan Rich, Lemony Snicket's editor, wanted to personally oversee the whole series.

Debbie: Other books and and projects on the horizon?
Mark: I've got a couple of proposals out there at the moment. I think the one that may have the best chance of seeing publication is a graphic novel series about an ordinary boy who finds himself in a world populated entirely by paranormal beings: vampires, zombies, and the like. The tone is actually fairly comic, with just enough real scariness to give young readers a good chill now and then!

Debbie: Upcoming appearances?
Mark: I've been invited to speak at the Target Children's Book Festival in Detroit on August 23rd. After that an appearance at the Brandon Township Public Library in Ortonville on September 13th.

Debbie: Your favorite place in Michigan?
Mark: I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be in Michigan than strolling around Ann Arbor on a sunny summer day. Or any time of year, really. A close second is Cranbrook.

Debbie: Favorite Michigan event or happening?
Mark: I am very fond of cider season, though I confess the nostalgic image of it in my mind is rarely matched by the overcrowded -- and bee-infested -- reality!

Debbie: A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?
Mark: I've got to assume everyone already knows the illustration work of my old college mentor David Small. But if you're one of those people who has only seen Imogene's Antlers and So You Want to Be President, by all means seek out the lesser known books like Fenwick's Suit and Paper John.

Debbie: Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about our state?
Mark: Southeast Michigan has one of the most vibrant Japanese communities of any region in the country other than California and NYC. As a result there are excellent Japanese restaurants, grocery stores, and even a Japanese-style bakery.

Debbie: Some residents of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: Are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?
Mark: My mom always taught us to say Michiganders, and she ought to know: She's from Texas!

Debbie: Thanks, Mark, for being this week's Michigander Monday!

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