I'm pleased to welcome Matthew Baker to Michigander Monday!
Debbie: Matthew, please tell us a little about yourself.
Matthew: I grew up in a house in the woods on the outskirts of Grand Rapids. The house was at the end of a very long road lined with ponds and farms. I spent most of my childhood out in the woods climbing trees, collecting feathers, inspecting mushrooms, and chasing fireflies. It was perfect really. Anyway, I went to undergrad out in Holland, and then afterward I left Michigan for a while. I moved to Tennessee for a few years to study in the MFA program at Vanderbilt. I lived in Ireland for a year as a Fulbright Fellow. I was homeless for a while and bounced around between artist residencies in New York and New Hampshire and Illinois. And now I'm back in Grand Rapids. I currently live in a studio on the top floor of what used to be a gigantic church. I drink a lot of matcha, eat a lot of halvah, and like people-watching. I usually listen to video-game soundtracks while writing.
Debbie: And, of course, we want to know all about your book.
Matthew: If You Find This is a novel about a boy growing up in a village on the shore of Lake Michigan. It's a unique book in that it's narrated in a fusion of English and music notations. Every sound word in the book (like "slammed" or "sneezed") has a music dynamic attached underneath (like "forte" or "piano"). It's basically written like sheet music except with words instead of notes. The story is about a bootlegger grandfather, a supposedly haunted house, and a hunt for missing family heirlooms. So, in terms of genre, it's an experimental novel with elements of mystery and adventure. It's especially for readers between the ages of eight and thirteen.
Debbie: Other books or projects on the horizon?
Matthew: My next novel is about computer hacking, urban exploring, and some other things that I'd better not mention specifically because I'm afraid of giving everything away. (That book should be coming out sometime in 2016.)
Debbie: Upcoming appearances?
Matthew: My next reading/signing will be at Hope College on September 24th. (I'll be sharing the stage with the poet genius Kathleen McGookey.)
Debbie: Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore?
Matthew: So many. The Cottage Bookshop in Glen Arbor. Bookbug in Kalamazoo. The Book Beat in Detroit. Literati in Ann Arbor. I spend a lot of time, a lot, browsing the comics at Vault of Midnight. Have Company has got the best zines.
Debbie: How about a favorite place in Michigan?
Matthew: Well, my number one favorite place is The Secret Road, but that's probably not a very satisfying answer considering that I'm not allowed to tell you where it is or what it is or really anything about it at all. I have other favorites, though. The Bowl in Holland. Fishtown in Leland. Sleeping Bear. South Manitou and North Manitou. Mackinac Island. Interlochen. Marie Catrib's. Madcap. Robinette's Apple Haus.
Debbie: Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?
Matthew: I go to The Cherry Bowl Drive-In every summer without fail.
Debbie: A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?
Matthew: If you don't know about Captain H. Tanny, I'd like to tell you about Captain H. Tanny. Captain H. Tanny is a mysterious adventurer who travels the world and periodically corresponds with the kids at the Creative Youth Center in Grand Rapids. She or he (not much is known about the captain's identity) has excellent taste in postcards.
Debbie: Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?
Matthew: It's best not to provoke the Ada Witch.
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?
Matthew: There's no such thing as a Michiganian.
Debbie: We will put you firmly in the Michigander column! Matthew, thank you so much for joining us today for Michigander Monday!