Monday, March 1, 2010

Michigander Monday: Kathe Koja

I'm pleased to welcome Kathe Koja to Michigander Monday!

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

Kathe: I'm a Detroit native and love the city.  I've been writing since I was a child, writing professionally since 1984, and my fourteenth novel is due to be published later this year. I'm a huge supporter of animal rights, a volunteer for the Michigan Humane Society, and the happy companion of two rescued cats and a kitten.  I'm married to Rick Lieder, an artist; our son Aaron lives in Brooklyn Without coffee, I cannot exist.

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

Kathe:  My newest novel is called Under The Poppy, and it's coming out in October from Small Beer Press.  This one's for the adults: It's a love story set in a Victorian brothel during wartime.  I'm also working on a theatrical adaptation of the novel, to be staged in Detroit in 2011.

Debbie: Other books and projects on the horizon?

Kathe: I'm busy with a new YA novel called Planchette, that examines the Dracula story from the perspective of one of the maids in the Westenra household, a girl who finds within herself a disturbing affinity for the darkness.  I first read Dracula when I was ten years old, and loved it ever since, so having the chance to revisit the story has been a real thrill.

Debbie: Upcoming appearances?

Kathe: On March 4, I'll be helping to facilitate a GSA summit meeting at Salem High School in Canton.  March 20-21 I'll be at the Michigan Reading Association's 54th Annual Conference, at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit, presenting solo as well as on a panel with Sarah Miller, one of my own favorite Michigan authors, signing books, and attending the Author/Illustrator Breakfast. In early May I head down to Florida, where my novel Buddha Boy is the focus of a "One Book, One School" program in Zephyrhills. In the summer, I'll be part of the Shared Worlds creative writing residency for teens, at Wofford College in South Carolina.

Debbie: Your favorite place in Michigan?

Kathe: Midtown Detroit, facing downtown, on a cool afternoon, the sun hitting just right: no question, my favorite. Throw in a pit stop at Avalon International Breads for a scone and some coffee, a scoot up Woodward to Leopold's Books to pick up a magazine, sit awhile on the steps of the DIA ... Nirvana.

Debbie: Favorite Michigan event or happening?

Kathe: The change of seasons: every year a miracle.

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

Kathe: Rick Lieder, artist and illustrator, whose Wild Life photography will show you some of Michigan's smallest, most delightful residents.  The aforementioned author Sarah Miller, natch. Diane Cheklich, award-winning filmmaker, in the vanguard before it was cool to make movies in Michigan. Torya Blanchard, of Good Girls Go to Paris creperie, and Greg Lenhoff, of the aforementioned Leopold's, two awesome Detroit entrepreneurs.

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

Kathe: Its beautiful diversity. There's a lot going on here, town AND country, and we're our own best-kept secret.

And we're shaped like a dog running away with a mitten, I mean, come on!

Debbie: Finally, some residents of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others, Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally:  Are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?

Kathe: Gander, totally.

Debbie: Kathe, it’s been a pleasure having you here today!

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