Dan Klefstad

Morning Edition Host & Book Series Editor

Good morning, Early Riser! Since 1997 I've been waking WNIJ listeners with the latest news, weather and other information, with the goal of seamlessly weaving this content into NPR's Morning Edition.

What do I do after the show ends at 9:00? I read. I'm especially interested in literature from the WNIJ listening area, which led me to adopt the "Book Beat" in 2012. Throughout the year, I immerse myself in works written by authors from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Then I interview these writers for Morning Edition and record them reading excerpts. Interviews and excerpts are available as podcasts in our Book Series archive.

If you're a writer from this area, or have a personal connection to this place, send your book to me at 801 N. 1st St., DeKalb, IL 60115. You can also email a .doc or .pdf to dklefstad@niu.edu. I'm looking for novels, poems, short fiction, memoirs and creative nonfiction. While most of the books I feature come from established presses, I do accept self-published works. Just make sure your manuscript is well edited.




Ways To Connect

In 2000, dozens of U.S. Navy veterans arrived on the Greek island of Crete to restore a former American warship and sail it home. All were volunteers. Several served during World War II.

Their average age: 72.

One of the younger vets (at 61) was Robert Jornlin, who recounts the story in Bringing Back a Hero, a Summer Book Series selection for 2015.

The title, Annabelle and the Sandhog, introduces two of the book's main characters, so let's take them in order:

Annabelle is a nursing-home aide who befriends the sandhog, in the novel and in real life. We'll learn more about her in a bit.

"Sandhog" is American slang for a person who works underground at an urban construction site.

The sandhog in this story is John O'Malley, modeled after author Ray Paul's grandfather, who made a career of blasting bedrock to carve the foundations of tall buildings in the early 20th Century.

Maria Boynton

This weekend, WNIJ started airing 30-second promos for the Summer Book Series which runs Friday mornings in June. Here are links to the promos featuring clips of our selected authors (Ray Paul, Robert Jornlin, John Bradley and Florencia Mallon):

A middle school student council meeting. That's how reporter Stacy St. Clair characterizes last week's Board of Trustees meeting at College of DuPage.

St. Clair covered Thursday's meeting for the Chicago Tribune. "There was a lot of eye rolling," she says. "A lot of whispering, then passive aggressive comments and aggressive-aggressive comments." St. Clair added:

"It was not what you wanted to see from a college in crisis."

Maria Boynton

Remember when we issued a call in March for books from Illinois and Wisconsin authors? WNIJ received dozens of submissions before the April 3 deadline and, for the last month, we've been reading fiction, non-fiction and poetry from all over the region.

With some difficulty, we decided on four works that are listed below. I'll start interviewing the authors this month, and we'll present these conversations Friday mornings in June. Listen at 6:52 and 8:52, and then come back here for additional content -- including author excerpts.

The 2013 pension overhaul signed by then-Gov. Pat Quinn is being decided by the seven justices of the Illinois Supreme Court. The law extends retirement ages for current state workers, reduces retirees' automatic and compounded yearly increases in the cost-of-living allowance (COLA), and limits the amount of salary used to figure pension benefits.

The law is expected to save $137 billion over three decades. It has yet to be implemented, pending the outcome of the suit filed by unions and retirees.

Author? Author?

Mar 2, 2015

WNIJ is calling all authors in the Northern Public Radio listening area to submit their published work for consideration in the summer edition of the #WNIJReadWithMe Book Series which airs in June. Submissions will be accepted through April 3.

When you write a novel, how much of your life experience do you give to your characters? And how much of that experience do you fictionalize?

This question came up during two panel discussions with WNIJ Book Series authors last week. One panelist, Katie Andraski, described how she transferred her experience as a publicist to her protagonist in The River Caught Sunlight.

Performance artist. Visual artist. World's Best Dishwasher.

These are just a few of the things Jesus Correa lists on his website. He also ran for Mayor of Rockford, getting nearly 400 votes in 2009.

More recently, Correa released a book of poetry after a successful Kickstarter campaign. The collection, Iced Cream, is published by Zombie Logic, a firm that bills itself as "The most dangerous small press in America."

The latest book in our 2015 Winter Book Series is a novel set during a time when evangelical authors and publishers pushed for wider recognition of books with a Christian perspective.