Category Archives: 3 to 5 Questions for Authors

3 to 5 with Stuart Dybek

3 to 5 Questions for Authors:

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

Stuart Dybek is a talented poet and short story writer and the recipient of many awards, including a Guggenheim fellowship, an O. Henry Award and a PEN/Malamud Award.  Lately he has published (simulataneously) two books of short fiction: Paper Lantern: Love Stories and Ecstatic Cahoots: Fifty Short Stories.


You can check out his books here and look for him in Northwest Michigan on May 13 at 6:30 p.m. at our Main Library.

In the meantime, read our short  interview from a master of short fiction:

Q: What books had a strong influence on you at the beginning of your writing career? Lately?

A: I’m not sure exactly when the “beginning of my writing career” was but whenever it was it seemed to go on a long time. I started to write some as a senior in high school, a time I was moving away from my obsession with science fiction and turning into a beatnik. Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man in one hand and On the Road and A Coney Island of the Mind in the other. I think the writers that most made me want to write were that so-called Lost Generation of Jazz Age exiles: Sherwood Anderson, Scott Fitzgerald, Joh Dos Possos, TS Eliot, Ernest Hemingway. I still love their work. Lately, I read a beautiful book of poems, The Earth in the Attic, by a Palestinian-American doctor named Fady Joudah.

Q: What did you find the most useful in learning to write? The least?

A: [Most useful] Learning that to rewrite meant not to correct “mistakes” but to tell the story to myself over until it was ready to tell to a reader. [Least useful] Fancy words when simple ones would do.

Q: Tell us some of your most vivid memories of libraries or librarians, good or bad (but hopefully good).

A: The old vinyl collection in the days of 33 ⅓ records at a library in Memphis where they let you take out six in a day. In the summer, I listened my way through 20th century classical music.

Q: What number would you be in the Dewey Decimal system?

A: 527 (Celestial Navigation!)

Q: What is just the best thing you’ve ever seen?

A: Necker Island, when it rose deserted from the Caribbean in the British Virgins, circa 1969 when the sea was still the sea.


Now that’s poetry.

Photo credits: author image from; book images from


3 to 5 with Rachel Weaver

3 to 5 Questions for Authors:

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

We were fortunate enough to have author Rachel Weaver stop by the Woodmere branch to promote her new novel Point of Direction. This adventure story set in Alaska has been described as romance, psychological thriller, and moving literary fiction. Check it out and decide for yourself! Weaver’s debut novel is an Indie Next selection and has been praised in Publisher’s Weekly and O, The Oprah Magazine. We see big things coming for Rachel and we’re so happy she came by and answered our 3 to 5 Questions:

Q: Point of Direction definitely has elements of adventure in it. Do you have any favorite adventure stories?

A: My dad was a storyteller and big adventurer, from hitchiking to travelling through Mexico, so I grew up always hearing stories of mischief and adventure. I also love Ordinary Wolves by Seth Kantner.

Q: Have any books or authors helped to shape you as a writer?

A: Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson; Hemingway for his sparse and adventurous writing and Louise Erdrich for her lyrical prose.

Q: Tell us some of your most vivid memories of libraries or librarians, good or bad (but hopefully good).

A: I have a lot. To get my first library card, I had to be able to write my name and I practiced and practiced for hours because I wanted a card so bad! My Mom would take us every Saturday and check out four books and let us pick out books too, but I wanted my own card.

Another one: when I lived in Petersburg, Alaska, I decided I needed to read poetry and just started at A, reading one poet from each letter, A to Z.  Petersburg is a small town (only about 1,000 year-round residents) and when the librarian got a grant to purchase more books, she took suggestions from patrons on what to buy in order to fill the collection with material that the residents loved. I suggested so many titles that one day when I came in, she had changed the “New Books” sign to “Rachel’s Books”!

Q: Finally, what number would you be in the Dewey Decimal system?

A: Oh, I think I would be in the 500s. (The 500s is the Science section of our non-fiction collection and includes subjects like natural science, math and physics, astronomy, plants, and zoology, the perfect section for an adventure seeker like Rachel!)

To learn more about Rachel Weaver and her book, visit and watch the super awesome book trailer for Point of Direction here.

Photo credits: photos from


3 to 5 with Michael Hainey

3 to 5 Questions for Authors:

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

We Skyped with Michael Hainey!!!

photo (1)

One of our awesome book groups, Books & Brewskis, got the chance to talk face-to-screen with author and Deputy Editor of GQ Magazine, Michael Hainey about his book, After Visiting Friends: A Son’s Story. In the book, Mr. Hainey describes his journey to find out the truth about the night his father, a newspaper man in Chicago, unexpectedly died. Hainey was just six-years-old at the time. If you like true stories of family and secrets and mysteries and healing, and books with heart (but not gushy heart), don’t miss it.

Honestly, I was so excited to talk with Mr. Hainey and so impressed at the thoughtfulness with which he answered our questions, my notes look like chicken scratch. So this isn’t a true 3 to 5 interview but I did manage to write the answer to one question he answered for us:

Q: If you were a Dewey Decimal number, what number would you be?

A: Why do I want to say 800s? [we informed him that poetry can be found in the 800s ]. That makes sense because I love poetry and I lived in the stacks when I was a kid!


To listen to more Michael Hainey check out this interview or visit his website Listening to him speak will make you want to read his book even more.

To learn about our next Books & Brewskis date, click here.

Thanks also to The Filling Station Microbrewery for being our gracious hosts every month.

Photo credit: Featured image from