Tag Archives: Northern Michigan Authors

3 to 5 Questions: Kathleen Stocking

Kathleen Stocking; writer, teacher, traveler, and Northern Michigan native. Her life is a collection of amazing experiences in incredible places. She has been a  teacher to hardened criminals and vulnerable children around the globe and she shares her experiences in her autobiographical books. Lake Country: A Series of Journeys, Letters from Leelanau, and her latest The Long Arc of the Universe detail in essay form her experiences and the people in her life. Her life is moving, inspiring, and surprisingly familiar. Although she travels the world and makes an effort to see and experience as much as possible, Northern Michigan has always kept her “grounded.”

How did you start your literary journey? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Not sure how to answer this because I think that, at least in my case, I didn’t start my literary journey, as such, but it was more that it started me, or maybe the way to say that is that it was “in me” and after a while I recognized it. At that point, maybe when I was about nine or ten years old, I began to see that this desire to express in words, a deep need to do so, is what was called being a writer.

You’ve been to and seen some incredible things. Where do you find the strength to face so much human suffering?

Well, a lot of people have more strength than I have to face a lot of human suffering: Doctors without Borders comes to mind, people working in refugee camps. People who work in hospitals, schools, prisons in this country and all across the world.  A neonatal intensive care nurse, how does she do her job, day after day? And, of course, soldiers and policemen.  Somehow, in each person there must be inner reserves of strength, maybe from a good childhood where they were loved and they know it, or they find that helping others is its own reward, that they are doing something to make things better, and that makes them feel good and gives them the strength to continue doing the work. And for the writer, someone with a lot of curiosity like me, there’s always the chance to understand something difficult. But, that said, people need to have a break from ceaseless trouble and I found that by returning to my home in Lake Leelanau from time to time, I could rest and build up my reserves, and go out again.

What was the best teaching moment you’ve ever had?

The child in the homeless shelter who didn’t speak for weeks and weeks, because of trauma, and then one day wrote the most beautiful poem about a star in the night sky. I’ve never forgotten it.

Who is your favorite author?

There’s more than one. Here are a few: Shakespeare, Nabokov, Walt Whitman, D. H. Lawrence, Marguerite Duras, James Baldwin, Jim Harrison. I admire writers who have an intuitive sense of the way images and events in nature create emotions. I admire writers who have moral courage.

Have you ever considered writing fiction?

All the time. But fiction takes more time than I’ve ever had.  I would like to write a mystery and put in it all the things I had to leave out of the nonfiction. In nonfiction you can’t use certain material because it might put someone in harm’s way or sometimes, even though you know something to be true, you can’t write about it because you don’t have corroborating evidence or a second witness. But in a fictional mystery story I could talk about the things I left out.

What book is on your bed stand right now? (What are you reading right now?)

I’m reading, “The Story of America,” by Jill Lepore. She’s so logical and witty and her research is extensive.  It’s wonderful. Nonfiction. I read, “The South,” by Paul Theroux a while ago and it was great.

With which Dewey Decimal number or section do you identify? (your books rest squarely in the 900s – 910, 917, and 977.)

I love the whole library and at different times have read a lot of fiction: Somerset Maugham, Mark Twain, Thomas Wolfe, John Steinbeck, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Gorky, Ibsen, Malraux, V. S. Naipaul. Many, too many to name.

3 to 5 Questions: Mardi Jo Link

3 to 5 Questions for Authors:

In Which A Librarian asks a Talented Author a Small Number of Questions

Mardi Jo Link started her publishing career with true crime titles like When Evil Came to Good Hart, Isadore’s Secret, and Wicked Takes the Witness Stand. In 2013,  this Michigan native switched to biographical material. Her memoir, Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass On a Northern Michigan Farm, was an Indie Next pick, has been optioned for film, and received significant national attention. Her latest book, The Drummond Girls: A Story of Fierce Friendship Beyond Time and Chance, tells the story about how her eight best friends met and how they now take yearly trips to Drummond Island and will be out in paperback this August. Mardi’s books are uniquely North Michigan and are filled with so much humor and heart (yes, even the true crime books) that they are hard to put down. Her books have been wildly popular in Michigan as well as all over the country. We met for coffee and breakfast at Brew in order for me to ask her a small number of questions.

I love both your true crime books and your memoirs, why did you choose to stop writing true crime?

After publishing my first books I was looking for an agent to take my career to the next level. In the meantime I had also published some essays about my life as a single parent and the agent who was most interested in my work suggested I write a memoir. So, I had the unexpected opportunity to turn the spotlight on my own life. Bootstrapper was the result.

Bootstrapper gets very detailed about life on the farm and the difficult time you went through keeping everything running on top of raising three boys! What was the most difficult part for you and what is your favorite farm animal?

I’d say the most difficult thing is the relentless string of issues that arose during that difficult year. There was always something to be fixed or something going wrong. I’d say my favorite animal is definitely horses though I was surprised at how interesting chickens are!

In Drummond Girls, the eight of you become friends at Peegeo’s Food and Sprits (some of you as employees and some of you as regulars at the bar). What was/is your favorite thing to order there?

Vodka Soda and deep fried cauliflower! Yum! Today I’m partial to their Veggie Sub.

In interest of Fine Print tradition, I’ve gotta ask, if you were a dewey decimal number, what number and why?

My answer, at least today, is American Colonial History (973) because I have been conducting research on my own family tree for my next book. I’m researching specifically the Penn’s Creek Massacre and two young German girls a Delaware Indian raiding party captured and then raised when their parents settled on Indian land. I’m not sure what form the book will take, and to help me figure that out for the first time I’m doing something called “blogging your book.” Which just means blogging about the writing and research process. You can find it at  “A string around my finger.