The 2014 Summer Book Series

The WNIJ listening area is a hotbed of literature, according to Dan Klefstad, host of Morning Edition and editor for the Book Series. Since the summer of 2012, Dan interviewed more than twenty writers of fiction, poetry, creative essays and memoirs -- all from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

Here are this year's Summer Book Series authors...

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."

You rise at 5:00 every morning, hoping for an hour of creativity before the kids awake. You fire up your laptop and stare at the blank Word .doc, straining to write the greatest opening line since Anna Karenina.

Bust.

Happy writers are all alike. Each unproductive writing session is unproductive in its own way.

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.

If you saw Ron Modell leading Northern Illinois University's Jazz Ensemble, you'll recognize the title of his memoir, Loved Bein' Here With You.

If you haven't, here's the story behind the title:

Early in his career at NIU, Modell invited trombonist Phil Wilson to perform with the ensemble. In between rehearsal sessions, Wilson heard Modell singing Peggy Lee's tune, "I Love Being Here With You," and bet $10 that Modell wouldn't have the nerve to sing it on stage:

"This is the story of a retired high school Latin teacher who murders her son-in-law."

That's what Robert Hellenga wanted on the cover of his latest novel, The Confessions of Frances Godwin.

"I felt it was necessary to give some oomph to the story," Hellenga explains. "Otherwise, the memoir of a retired Latin teacher doesn't sound too exciting."

In less than a week, Barrie Jean Borich won two big awards this spring for her latest book, Body Geographic.

On May 28, her memoir tied for a gold medal at the Independent Publisher Book Awards, or IPPYs. Then on June 2 it won a LAMMY, or Lambda Literary Award, which recognizes LGBT authors.

Dan Klefstad

Joseph Gastiger writes prose poems, a hybrid form that reads like fiction but uses poetic imagery. He prefers writing this type for two reasons.

"I found it made certain stories in my life more available," he says, "rather than break whatever it was I was trying to say into lines."

In an interview with WNIJ, Gastiger said the form allowed his sentences to flow more easily, and led to more surprises. The other reason:

Gary Lawrence is a Rockford native who uses familiar sights and people in his fiction. In Baffled and Other Stories, Lawrence takes us to the "On the Waterfront" and "Summerfest" music festivals.

One of his characters works for an aerospace firm named "Sundstrom" (a nod to his former employer Sundstrand). And two stories are set in Rockford's West High School, now West Middle School, during the early 1970s. 

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