WNIJ Read With Me

WNIJ's "Read With Me" archive collects dozens of interviews with authors from the WNIJ area -- northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

Each interview was conducted by Dan Klefstad. Highlights contained in each post include audio of the authors reading their work, and in many cases video.

We hope you take the time to read the books featured here. And if you talk about them on social media, please use #WNIJReadWithMe.

Dan Klefstad

Poet Susan Azar Porterfield remembers meeting a Syrian family in Beirut. She was visiting Lebanon during a period of peace, in 2003.

The Syrians were brand new parents and allowed Porterfield to hold their infant.

"They were very sweet," she says. "And the baby was adorable."

She doesn't know where the family is today; they were from Aleppo, the site of intense fighting between government troops and rebels.

Rock 'n roll author Joe Bonomo has written books about AC/DC, Jerry Lee Lewis and The Fleshtones. His latest book, however, is a collection of essays about his childhood in Wheaton, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C.

"If you're from a small town," Chris Fink says, "one of the things that's required of you is that you have an opinion about that town."

Fink's debut novel, Farmer's Almanac, is full of characters who criticize or defend the Wisconsin villages of Bergamot Pond and Shady Valley -- fictional communities that struggle with the very real challenge of low milk prices.

A picture may be worth a thousand words. But how many of us write down the words inspired by an iconic photograph, such as this one of Billy the Kid?

NIU poet John Bradley is familiar with this photo, the only authenticated image of the Wild West outlaw.

"I've studied that many times," Bradley said. "I think it's just one of the things a writer needs to feed the imagination."

450 miles. That's the distance Marnie Mamminga's family traveled every summer from suburban Chicago to their cabin in northwest Wisconsin.

Mamminga recalls the cabin, and the long journey it took to get there, in her latest book Return to Wake Robin: One Cabin in the Heyday of Northwoods Resorts.

In the 1950s, America's Interstate highways weren't completed, so Illinois families headed "Up North" drove rural roads for much of the trip.

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