Monday, October 17, 2011

Z on WMUK Arts and More: Talking to Author Joseph Heywood

by Zinta Aistars

At WMUK radio station with Joe Heywood

WMUK at 102.1 FM, Kalamazoo Michigan's NPR affiliate radio station, has invited me back again to talk to another local author for their expanded Arts and More program, now airing from 7:50 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays. That's two arts stories each time. Perfect! I love doing the interviews, just as I love listening to all the other stories on my radio as I drive from home to work.

I think about what local author or artist I'd like to talk to and learn more about ... and a book I recently read comes to mind. It came off the presses just this past September, so the time is right. Joseph Heywood has written the eighth book in his Woods Cop Mystery series: Force of Blood. (See my book review on my other blog, Zinta Reviews.)

And I loved it. Just as I have enjoyed all seven in the series prior to this one. While I am not usually a mystery or detective story reader (with the possible exception of Maisie Dobbs), this series caught my attention because it is placed in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, an area very close to my heart. And, as interesting chance would have it, the author actually lives right here in Portage, in southwest Michigan, just a few miles from me. Joe spends several months each year in the U.P., riding along with real woods cops, researching his books.

So I had plenty of questions. Plenty! And not just about Grady Service, the DNR cop in his books, but also about how he balances his life as a troll (what UPers ... Yoopers ... call those of us who live below the bridge, which is the Mackinac Bridge, connecting lower and upper peninsulas) and turning back into a Yooper again.

Fortunately, WMUK news director Andy Robins was running late, and Joe and I had plenty of time sitting in the waiting room outside of the recording studio to talk about writing, the U.P., and all things interesting to wilderness fans and literary types. I like this guy! I came away with all kinds of new insights into U.P. authors (I have many more happy discoveries to make), about my plans to retire in the Keweenaw (4,406 days to go), and balancing different art interests (Joe not only writes novels, but also poetry, and he paints, too).

Andy came in, all apologies, but I wasn't having it. This pre-interview interview for me had been an absolute treat. Andy brought us into the recording studio, set us up on mics, turned on his broadcast booth magic, and we were off. It wasn't long before Joe had me laughing with his answers. For those of you who live in the greater Kalamazoo listening area, tune into WMUK 102. 1 FM on Friday this week (October 21) at 7:50 a.m. to hear a snippet of our chat. Or, visit the WMUK website ( Arts and More programming) and hear the snippet, or listen to the entire 16 minutes plus of our conversation.

The really good stuff, though? After the mics were turned off. Ain't it always the way?

Joseph Heywood will be reading one of his short stories this Friday, October 21, at 7 p.m., at Kazoo Books, 2413 Parkview in Kalamazoo. Force of Blood will be available for purchase and signing. Be there, Kalamazoo!

And, as we walked back to our cars following the interview, Joe promised me a new short story to publish in the upcoming Fall/Winter 2011-2012 Issue of The Smoking Poet, online in December. I can't wait to read it!

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