Skip to main content

2014 Michigan Notable Book Author Biographies

Beyond Pontiac's Shadow: Michilimackinac and the Anglo-Indian War

Keith R. Widder received degrees from Wheaton College, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Michigan State University. He was curator of history for Mackinac State Historic Parks from 1971 until 1997.

The Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych

Doug Wilson is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and author of Fred Hutchinson and the 1964 Cincinnati Reds. An ophthalmologist by day, Wilson has been a lifelong baseball fanatic. He played baseball through college; however, his grade point average was higher than his batting average and he was forced to go to medical school to make a living.

Birth Marks

Jim Daniels' poem "Factory Love" is displayed on the roof of a race car. Daniels has garnered such honors as the Brittingham Prize for Poetry, the Blue Lynx Poetry Prize and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is the Thomas Stockham Baker Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University, and currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with his family.

Bluffton: My Summers with Buster

Matt Phelan is the illustrator of many books for young readers, including The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, winner of the 2007 Newbery Medal. He is the author/illustrator of The Storm in the Barn, Around the World and Bluffton. Matt lives with his family in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Farm

Mardi Jo Link is the author of Bootstrapper, When Evil Came to Good Hart and Isadore's Secret, recognized as a 2010 Michigan Notable Book. She lives with her family on a small farm in northern Michigan.

The Colored Car

Jean Alicia Elster is formerly an attorney. Elster now writes fiction for children, middle graders, and young adults. She is also an editor, essayist, writing instructor and grant writer. The Colored Car is the companion volume to Who' s Jim Hines?, a 2009 Michigan Notable Book. Elster is the founder and president of Write Word LLC. She and her husband live in Detroit, Michigan and are the parents of two adult children.

Detroit: An American Autopsy

Charles LeDuff was a staff writer at the New York Times and a reporter for the Detroit News, and is now a television journalist for the Detroit Fox 2 News. He contributed to a Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times series and has received a Meyer Berger Award for distinguished writing about New York City. LeDuff lives with his wife and daughter on the edge of the Detroit city limits.

Detroit: Race Riots, Racial Conflicts and Efforts to Bridge the Racial Divide

Richard W. Thomas is Professor Emeritus of History at Michigan State University. He has conducted workshops on race relations for over thirty years. Thomas is author and co-author of several books on race relations and the African-American experience.

Joe T. Darden is Professor of Geography at Michigan State University and former Dean of Urban Affairs Programs from 1984 to 1997. He is also a former Fulbright Scholar. Dr. Darden's research interests are urban social geography, residential segregation, and socioeconomic neighborhood inequality in multi-racial societies. He has written numerous books on race and social issues.

The Great Lake Sturgeon

Dave Dempsey has over 25 years' experience in environmental policy. He has published several well-received books on the conservation and environmental history of Michigan and the Great Lakes ecosystem. Dempsey's biography William G. Milliken: Michigan's Passionate Moderate (2007) and the book co-written with his brother, Jack Dempsey, Ink Trails (2013) were recognized as Michigan Notable Books. Dempsey lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Nancy Auer teaches in the Department of Biological Sciences at Michigan Technological University ion Houghton, Michigan. She is a renowned expert and field expert on lake sturgeon.

I Invented the Modern Age: The Rise of Henry Ford

Richard Snow had a 37+ year career at American Heritage Publishing Company and is the author of multiple fiction and nonfiction works. He has a grown son, William, and lives in New York City with his wife, Carol, their daughter, Rebecca, and a picturesque but ill-tempered cat that he alone likes.

In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods

Matt Bell's debut novel In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods was published in 2013 by Soho Press. He is also the author of two previous books, How They Were Found and Cataclysm Baby. He earned his MFA at Bowling Green State University and teaches in the English department at Northern Michigan University.

November's Fury: The Deadly Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913

Michael Schumacher has written twelve books, including Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, recognized as a 2006 Michigan Notable Book, and Wreck of the Carl D., in addition to twenty-five documentaries on Great Lakes shipwrecks and lighthouses. He currently lives in Wisconsin.

Poetry in… Michigan… in Poetry

Jack Ridl's latest collection is Practicing to Walk Like a Heron published by Wayne State University Press. He taught at Hope College for 37 Years. Students named him their Outstanding Professor and in 1996 The Carnegie Foundation named him Michigan Professor of the Year. More than 75 of his students are now published authors.

William Olsen is the author of five collections of poetry. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Olsen teaches at Western Michigan University and lives in Kalamazoo.

The River Swimmer

Jim Harrison is the author of over thirty books of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, including Legends of the Fall, Dalva, Farmer, The Road Home and The English Major. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship. Harrison's books have been published in 27 languages. He currently resides in Montana and Arizona.

Something That Feels Like Truth

Donald Lystra has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the MacDowell Colony, where he was honored with the Gerald Freund award for emerging writers, and his short fiction has received Special Mention in the Pushcart Prizes. Lystra's first book, a novel entitled Season of Water and Ice, captured both the Midwest Book Award and was recognized as a Michigan Notable Book in 2010. He and his wife divide their time between Ann Arbor and a farm in northern Michigan. He has two grown children.

Sweetie-licious Pies: Eat Pie, Love Life

Linda Hundt is a former government employee turned small business women and author. She started her pie business, Sweetie-licious, by selling pies at a local farmers market. Her second storefront has just opened in Grand Rapids.

Clarissa Westmeyer is a commercial photographer for Kalman & Pabst Photo Group. A proud Cleveland resident, she frequents many local restaurants armed with an appetite bigger than her camera. Stop by the downtown studio and she might even make you a breakfast sandwich with an egg from one of her five "girls" (the best-fed chickens in Cleveland).

Taken Alive: The Sight's Rock and Roll Tour Diary

Eddie Baranek has fronted The Sights since their inception in the summer of 1998. The Sights have toured with Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), The Donnas, The Kills, The Zombies... but he has also shared the stage with The Creation, The Dirtbombs, Electric Six, and Blue Oyster Cult. Eddie has toured across the United States and Canada countless times, headlined a few U.K. tours, as well as gracing Europe for a month with Guided By Voices.

Tear - Down: Memoir of a Vanishing City

Gordon Young grew up in Flint, Michigan where his accomplishments included learning to parallel park the family's massive Buick Electra 225. After reaching an uneasy truce with the nuns in the local Catholic school system, he went on to study journalism at the University of Missouri and English literature at the University of Nottingham. He is a senior lecturer in the Communication Department at Santa Clara University and lives in San Francisco.

Tuesdays With Todd and Brad Reed: A Michigan Tribute

Todd and Brad Reed are a father-son outdoor photography team based in Ludington, Michigan. Todd has been recording Michigan for over 35 years. Twenty-three years were spent as a photojournalist for the Ludington Daily News where he won dozens of industry awards. Brad's journey to photography started as a young boy. He took every opportunity to work with his father and learned that good photography requires "chasing the light and capturing the defining moment."

The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula Works

Ron Riekki has an M.F.A. in Theater Arts from Brandeis, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Virginia, and a Ph.D. in Literature & Creative Writing from Western Michigan. His fiction and poetry have been in numerous literary journals including Spillway, Verse Wisconsin, New Ohio Review, Juked, Moonshot Magazine, Mizna: Prose, Poetry and Art Exploring Arab America, and One Ghana, One Voice.


Updated 04/03/2014