Debbie: Tell us a little about yourself.
Lesley: I live year round in the Keweenaw Peninsula, right on the shore of Lake Superior. In the summer I get to kayak just by stepping out my front door, and in the winter I get to plow our road. I've been writing children's books for more than 20 years, with more than two dozen books in print, and before that I worked in marketing and advertising. So most of my post-college career has been spent working with words. I'm married, have two children, a cat, and a three-legged dog.
Debbie: Please tell us about your latest book.
Lesley: Stars in the Water: Three Tales of Magic and Nature is a children's book that's actually suitable for all ages. It's three legends that are based on First Nation oral traditions. In a nutshell, the book tells you why coyotes howl, why deer have black knees, and how water lilies came into existence. Preschoolers love having it read out loud, anyone over the age of eight can read it for themselves, and adults get caught up in the stories. When I was writing it, I wasn't really thinking of a particular age level with the vocabulary, so it just sort of happened that way. It's turned out to be a kids book where one-size-fits-all. And the illustrations, by Jack Oyler, are gorgeous. They're three dimensional woodcuts that have then been photographed for the book.
Debbie: Lesley, do you have other books and projects on the horizon?
Lesley: For me, it's usually a case of too many ideas, too little time. My next book, which should be out spring 2012 is a children's Christmas story and it's also being published by Mudminnow Press. And I'm working on an adult mystery with a paranormal bent. I entered several chapters of that manuscript in a literary contest (first time I've ever done that) and it won first prize, so I keep chipping away at it. My agent is representing that manuscript and I'm not yet sure who will be publishing it.
Debbie: We'll definitely watch for that! Lesley, do you have upcoming appearances?
Lesley: I'm doing a lot of book signings and story hours for Stars in the Water this coming summer. The best place to check the schedule is on the Mudminnow Press web site: www.mudminnowpress.com
Debbie: Favorite Michigan bookstore? And favorite Michigan library?
Lesley: Grandpa's Barn, in Copper Harbor, is my favorite Michigan bookstore. It's charming, well-stocked, and in a beautiful location. You can sit on the porch and watch hummingbirds. As for libraries, my two favorites would be the Peter White Public Library in Marquette, and the Portage Lake Library in Houghton. One's old, one's new, but they're both great libraries.
Debbie: Favorite places in Michigan?
Lesley: I really love the Keweenaw Peninsula and the upper peninsula in general. I live in the most beautiful place in the world. Eagle River, Eagle Harbor, and Copper Harbor are all spectacular and I love being part of this community. And Isle Royale is amazing. I've been going to Isle Royale since I was a kid, and every year a high school friend and I go out there and spend a week kayaking. We've been going to the island since high school, so this is now a decades old tradition. All of Michigan is amazing.
Debbie: Agreed! Lesley, do you have a favorite Michigan event or happening?
Lesley: I usually attend both the Eagle Harbor and Copper Harbor art fairs. They occur on consecutive weekends in August. I actually miss a lot of Michigan events because so many of them occur in the summer and early fall and I'm frequently traveling during that time. But I like jazz, so one of my goals is to attend some of the great jazz festivals that take place in the state.
Debbie: A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?
Lesley: Oh geez, way too many to count! Laura Smyth, in Copper City publishes two beautiful magazines (Further North and Adventures in the U.P.), Joe Kirkish runs Club Indigo, a great dinner-and-a-movie affair that occurs monthly in the Calumet Theatre. Suzanne Van Dam, at Finlandia University, is always organizing interesting events. Rolf Peterson does the wolf-moose study on Isle Royale. There's the Raptor and Migratory Bird Study that's been taking place on Brockway Mountain. The Keweenaw is geographically remote and a lot of the time you have to make your own entertainment. It seems like everyone's adept at that, and there's no lack of talent up here.
Debbie: What's something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about our state?
Lesley: It's not always winter! Our summer's are amazing and our Great Lakes alone are worth the trip. And Michiganders are friendly people. I think Michigan embodies the best of the midwest.
Debbie: I agree with you on that! Finally, some resident of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others prefer Michiganian. For our ongoing vote tally, are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?
Lesley: Oh, I am definitely a Michigander.
Debbie: Lesley, thank you so much for being with us today!
To learn more about Lesley DuTemple and Stars in the Water, head over to Mudminnow Press.