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Fiction writers with U.P. links hit the road

April 23, 2011
By RENEE PRUSI - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - Negaunee native Ron Riekki - whose most well-known book so far is called "U.P." - is putting together a literary event that emphasizes just that: The Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

This summer, some of the most popular fiction writers associated with the U.P. will be particpating in a series of book signings, panel discussions and workshops at spots throughout the peninsula, all being organized by Riekki.

It will be called "U.P. The Book Tour."

Article Photos

Steven Wiig, left, and Ron Riekki autograph copies of Riekki’s novel “U.P.” during an event at the Vista Theater in Negaunee last fall. Standing behind them is Jeremy “Syms” Symons, who created T-shirts in support of the book and a planned movie. Riekki is organizing a monthlong literary tour of the U.P. this summer. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)

"In this case, U.P. isn't 'U.P.' my novel, but rather an Upper Peninsula book tour that I am putting together to be the largest literary event in the history of the U.P. with well over 30-plus writers and 30-plus events in 30 days," Riekki said via email. "The events are going to be at various bookstores, libraries and other venues with readings/panels, workshops and book signings throughout the Upper Peninsula.

"We already have three Guggenheim Award recipients scheduled to appear - William Olsen, Thylias Moss and Tom Bissell."

The tour, tentatively, is scheduled to start June 23 in Marquette and continue through July 23 with stops in Menominee, Mackinac Island, Calumet, Copper Harbor, Ishpeming, Negaunee, Manistique, Naubinway, Escanaba, Paradise, Cedarville, Houghton, and many other peninsula towns.

"The panels are informal events where authors do a question-and-answer with typically about three other authors and a host, followed by a Q&A with the audience and an ending book signing," Riekki said.

Writing workshops are being planned at the Vista Theater in Negaunee so aspiring writers can learn from their favorite authors and the book signings are set so readers will have a chance to get more than one autograph at a time.

"I'm planning for high-energy events where multiple authors will be present, especially hoping for the excitement of having the best Michigan authors all in one room in locations that typically are not thought of as stops on book author tours.

"For example, I have John Smolens, Steve Hamilton and Tom Bissell booked to appear in Negaunee. I have Thylias Moss and Steve Hamilton booked to appear in Paradise," he said.

Bissell is a Guggenheim Award winner while Moss has twice been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

And Detroit-native Hamilton, whose first novel "A Cold Day in Paradise" earned him the Edgar Award for the Best First Novel by an American Author and went on to become a USA Today bestseller, is excited to be part of the tour.

"It's just a rare chance for me to do anything like this with other authors - and even some authors who don't work in the crime fiction field," Hamilton said via email. "It's going to be something very different and I'm totally looking forward to it.

"I admit I'm a little nervous, too, because it's not what I am accustomed to. But I am hoping it's going to be just amazing," he said adding: "Like the biggest literary event the U.P. has ever seen. That's all. No pressure."

Hamilton's first six books all featured Alex McKnight, a former Detroit cop who leaves the force and escapes to the most remote place he knows - the Upper Peninsula. Hamilton has either won or been nominated for every major crime fiction award in the United States and United Kingdom and his books have been translated into 15 languages. In 2006, he received the Michigan Author Award from the Michigan Library Association and the Michigan Center for the Book in recognition of his overall body of work.

He took a break from the McKnight series to write two stand-alone novels: "Night Work" in 2007 and "The Lock Artist" in 2010. The latter, about a young safecracker, was selected by the American Library Association as one of the 10 best Young Adult Novels of 2010 and is one of the finalists for the Edgar Award for Best Novel, which will be announced Thursday.

Alex McKnight will return June 7 after a five-year break in the novel, "Misery Bay."

"This is my first Alex McKnight book in almost five years. I didn't plan for him to be away for so long, believe me, but that's just the way it worked out," Hamilton said. "Now that he's back, I can't imagine doing any kind of book tour without hitting the U.P. - not only because the books are set there, but because the people who live in the U.P. are really the only people who can truly get what it feels like to live there year-round like Alex does.

"There's really no other place quite like it. And of course this time around, for the first time in eight books, Alex is coming the Copper Country. So I've got to come there, too!"

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is



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