I was born in a small town. Growing up with a busy mind and busy feet, I split my formative years between books and the outdoors. This pairing greatly influenced my storytelling. I start with the world as you know it and apply a sharp twist of the unreal. Imagine the small-town tenor of Stephen King, but replace the horror with a sense of wonderment.
I’m from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It’s a tract of land so culturally obscure, the map in my high school history book labeled it part of Canada. True story. This makes me a Yooper. If this word arrived in your lexicon by way of my post, you’re very welcome. “Yooper,” as a real word, was finally acknowledged by the Merriam-Webster folks in 2014, which is to say, we’ve made great progress. Like most of my fellow countrymen, I have forgiven the map-making transgression, but never surrendered the dissident mindset common to the region.
The “U.P.” is a beautiful, tranquil part of our country. Wooded bluffs and hidden waterfalls pepper the landscape, and the whole territory is embraced by the rocky shores of the Great Lakes. With an autumn display much like Vermont, it has half the population but twice the winter. Upper Michigan influences my writing to this day. In fact, it serves as the philosophical anchor to the hero in my novel, Freelight.
Though I “emigrated” to a more populated part of the Midwest years ago, I return to the quiet embrace of the Upper Peninsula every year. I realized, long ago, that my heart never left.