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2017 Michigan Notable Book Author Biographies

Frances Stroh, Beer Money: a Memoir of Privilege and Loss (Harper/ Harper Collins Publishers)

Frances Stroh was born in Detroit and raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. She received her B.A. from Duke University and her M.A. from Chelsea College of Art in London as a Fulbright Scholar.  She practiced as an installation artist, exhibiting in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London before turning to writing.  Frances is a member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, and her work across all media explores issues of identity, point of view, and the mythologies that define us.

Wade Rouse writing as Viola Shipman, The Charm Bracelet: A Novel (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press)

Wade Rouse is the internationally bestselling author of six books.  His work has been selected multiple times as s Must-Read by NBC’s Today Show, featured in the New York Times as well as on the Chelsea Lately on E!, and has been chosen three times by the nation’s independent booksellers as an Indie Next Pick.  Having written for numerous magazines, he is a regular contributor to All Things Considered.  Wade earned his bachelors of arts in communications from Drury University and his master’s of science in journalism from Northwestern University.  He divides his time between the coast of Michigan and Palm Springs.

Alexander Weinstein, Children of the New World: Stories (Picador)

Alexander Weinstein is the Director of The Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing.  His fiction and translations have appeared in Cream City Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, Notre-Dame Review, Pleiades, PRISM International, World Literature Today, and other journals.  He is the recipient of a Sustainable Arts Foundation Award, and his fiction has been awarded the Lamar York, Gail Crump, Hamlin Garland, and New Millennium Prize.  His stories have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, and appear in the anthologies 2013 New Stories from the Midwest and the 2014 & 2015 Lascaux Prize Stories.  He is an Associate Professor of creative writing and a freelance editor.  He resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

Nathan Bomey, Detroit Resurrected: To Bankruptcy and Back (W.W. Norton & Company)

Nathan Bomey, a journalist at USA Today, was the lead reporter on Detroit’s bankruptcy and General Motors for the Detroit Free Press.  Previously he covered Detroit’s historic bankruptcy and General Motors for the Detroit Free Press.  He joined the Free Press in March 2012 after spending six years as a business reporter and editor for and the Ann Arbor Business Review.  He was a co-author of How Detroit Went Broke, which delivered the conclusive take on how the Motor City collapsed into Bankruptcy.  Bomey holds political science and journalism degrees from Eastern Michigan University.  He was a 2012 fellow in the East-West Center’s China-U.S. Journalists Exchange.  He was raised in Saline Michigan and now lives in the Washington, DC, area.

Bob Tarte, Feather Brained: My Bumbling Quest to Become a Birder and Find a Rare Bird on My Own (University of Michigan Press)

Bob Tarte and his wife Linda live on the edge of the countryside near the West Michigan village of Lowell.  When not fending off mosquitos during temperate months and chipping ice out of plastic wading pools in the frigid winter, Bob writes the Technobeat world music column for The Beat magazine which he has done since 1988.  He has also written for The New York TimesThe Boston GlobeThe Miami New Times, the Whole Earth ReviewFortean TimesMonitoring Times, and other publications.  He is the author of Enslaved by DucksFowl Weather, and Kitty Cornered.

Maureen Dunphy, Great Lakes Island Escapes: Ferries and Bridges to Adventure (Painted Turtle/Wayne State University Press)

Maureen Dunphy teaches writing workshops for Springfed Arts, coaches writers and provides editing services for individuals and institutions.  She has taught writing courses at Oakland University, the University of Windsor, and Oakland Community College and facilitates writing workshops on islands and on the mainland.  She has published poetry in Beyond the Lines: Writing What You Couldn't Say, fiction in Bear River Review, and nonfiction in Peninsula: Essays and Memoirs from Michigan.  She lives in the lower peninsula of Michigan but frequently escapes to Great Lakes islands, including to her cottage on Ontario's Pelee Island. 

M.L. Liebler, 
Editor of Heaven Was Detroit: From Jazz to Hip-Hop and Beyond (Wayne State University Press)
Author of I Want to Be Once: Poems (
Wayne State University Press)

M. L. Liebler is an award-winning poet, literary arts activist, musician and professor.  He is the author of several books of poetry, including Wide Awake in Someone Else’s Dream (Wayne State University Press, 2008), and an editor of the anthology Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking out the Jams.  He is also co-editor of Bob Seger's House and Other Stories (Wayne State University Press, 2016).  He has taught at Wayne State University since 1980.  He is a graduate of Oakland University, and resides with his wife in Saint Clair Shores, Michigan. 

David Means, Hystopia: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

David Means was born and raised in Michigan.  He is the author of several collections of stories, including The Spot: Assorted Fire Events, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for fiction; and The Secret Goldfish, which was short-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize.  His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, Zoetrope, Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and numerous other publications.  He lives in Nyack, New York and teaches at Vassar College.

Desiree Cooper, Know the Mother: Stories (Wayne State University Press)

2015 Kresge Artist Fellow, Desiree Cooper is a former attorney, Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist and Detroit community activist whose fiction dives into the intersection of racism and sexism.  Using the medium of flash fiction, she explores intimate spaces to reveal what it means to be human.  Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Callaloo, Detroit Noir, Best African American Fiction 2010, and Tidal Basin Review, among other publications.  Cooper was a founding board member of Cave Canem, a national residency for emerging black poets.  She is currently a Kimbilio Fellow, a national residency for African American fiction writers.  A native of Detroit, she holds Bachelor of Science degrees in journalism and economics from the University of Maryland and a law degree from the University of Virginia.

William Rapai, Lake Invaders: Invasive Species and the Battle for the Future of the Great Lakes (Wayne State University Press)

William Rapai is an amateur naturalist and former newspaper journalist. He is the author of the 2013 Michigan Notable Book The Kirtland’s WarblerThe Story of a Bird’s Fight against Extinction and the People Who Saved It.  He has traveled across North America and to Cuba, Iceland, and Thailand to view and research wildlife. He was an award-winning reporter and editor for the Grand Forks Herald, the Detroit Free Press, and the Boston Globe before focusing on writing.  He is the president of Grosse Pointe Audubon and a member of Detroit, Michigan and National Audubon.

Allison Leotta, Last Good Girl: A Novel (Touchstone)

Allison Leotta served as a federal prosecutor in Washington for 12 years.  Her work focused on sex crimes, domestic violence, and crimes against children.  She draws on this experience to write legal thrillers.  As a contributor to the Huffington Post, she reality-checks TV crime dramas like Law & Order: SVU.  Her own blog, The Prime-Time Crime Review, was named one of the best legal blogs in America by the American Bar Association.  She serves on the Board of Directors of the Mystery Writers of America.  A graduate of Michigan State University and Harvard Law School, Allison lives outside of Washington, D.C., with her husband, Michael, and their two sons.

Amy Arnold and Brian Conway, Michigan Modern: Design That Shaped America (Gibbs Smith)

Amy L. Arnold is the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office’s preservation planner.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in history from Western Michigan University and studied at Duke University before obtaining her master's degree in historic preservation from Eastern Michigan University.  She has been the project manager for Michigan Modern since its inception in 2008.

Brian D. Conway, trained as an architect, has been involved with historic preservation and the rehabilitation of historic buildings throughout the state since 1980.  In 1997, he was appointed Michigan’s State Historic Preservation Officer.  Mr. Conway holds a Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Florida.  He has served on the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers board and is an adjunct professor in Eastern Michigan University’s graduate program in historic preservation.

Dustin M. Hoffman, One Hundred-Knuckled Fist: Stories (University of Nebraska Press)

Prior to teaching as an assistant professor of English at Winthrop University in South Carolina, Dustin M. Hoffman painted houses in Michigan for ten years.  Hoffman obtained his Ph.D. in creative writing from Western Michigan University.  His published short fiction appears in many magazines, including Threepenny Review, Black Warrior Review, Puerto del Sol, Midwestern Gothic, and Cimarron Review.  His story Building Walls received a Pushcart Prize special mention.  He lives in South Carolina. 

Steve Lehto, Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow (Chicago Review Press)

Steve Lehto has authored three previous Michigan Notable Book titles including: Chrysler's Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit's Coolest Creation; Michigan's Columbus: The Life of Douglass Houghton; and, Death's Door: The Truth behind Michigan's Largest Mass Murder.  These titles were listed in 2007, 2010 and 2011 respectively.  In addition to numerous other full sized works, he has also published articles in places like the Huffington Post, Michigan History Magazine, and other publications.  Mr. Lehto is a weekly columnist at, an attorney, and professor. 

Travis Mulhauser, Sweetgirl: A Novel (Ecco/ Harper Collins Publishers)

Travis Mulhauser is from Petoskey, Michigan and is the author of the short-story collection, Greetings from Cutler County published by the University of Michigan Press.  Mr. Mulhauser graduated from both Central Michigan University and North Central Michigan College.  He taught in North Carolina state schools for 12 years before focusing on writing full time.  He currently lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife and two children.

Tom Stanton, Terror in the City: Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society that Shocked Depression-era Detroit (Lyons Press)

Tom Stanton is author of several nonfiction books, among them The Final Season and the Quill Award finalist Ty and the Babe.  A journalist for more than thirty years, he co-founded The Voice Newspapers in suburban Detroit, winning numerous press awards, including a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan.  Stanton is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Detroit Mercy and a longtime member of the Detroit Board of the Society of Professional Journalists. He also edited The Detroit Tigers Reader and is a past recipient of the Michigan Library Association's Author of the Year award.  He lives in New Baltimore, Michigan, with his wife, Beth.

Kevin Keefe, Twelve Twenty-Five: The Life and Times of a Steam Locomotive (Michigan State University Press)

Kevin P. Keefe has been a journalist and editor in the fields of news, entertainment, and railroads.  A former editor and publisher of Trains Magazine, currently he is a director of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art and a columnist for the Classic Trains Magazine.  In 1975, he edited the series Passenger Train Journal which he continued until 1987.  In 2012, he wrote the introduction for Rails Around the Thumb: Images of Rail by T. J. Gaffney.  As a documentary film producer, he is known for Trains on Location: Best of the West (2001) and Trains on Location: Horseshoe Curve, Conrail’s Mountain Railroad (1993).  He resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

John Smolens, Wolf’s Mouth: A Novel (Michigan State University Press)

John Smolens began teaching at Northern Michigan University in 1996.  He has published eight novels (Cold, The Invisible World, Quarantine, The Schoolmaster’s Daughter, The Anarchist, Fire Point, Angel’s Head, and Winter by Degrees), and one collection of short stories (My One and Only Bomb Shelter).  Cold was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.  His short stories and essays have appeared in various magazines and newspapers, including:  the Virginia Quarterly, the William and Mary Review, the Massachusetts Review, Yankee, Redbook, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe.  He holds degrees from Boston College, the University of New Hampshire, and the University of Iowa.  He was the awarded the Michigan Author Award from the Michigan Library Association in 2010.  He currently splits his time between Boston, Massachusetts and Marquette, Michigan. 

Lora Bex Lempert, Women Doing Life: Gender Punishment and the Struggle for Identity (New York University Press)

Lora Lempert is a University of Michigan–Dearborn Professor Emerita.  She was a professor of sociology in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters and assistant research scientist in the Institute for Research on Women & Gender.  Lempert was involved in promoting the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program in Michigan and providing college level courses to the inmates of the Scott Correctional Facility for Women and the Huron Valley Women’s Facility. Lempert received her B.A. degree from Michigan State University in 1968, her M.S. degree from San Francisco State University in 1985, and her Ph.D. degree from the University of California, San Francisco in 1992.  She currently resides in San Francisco, California.


Updated 01/26/2017