Author Next Door Spotlight: Aaron Stander

Aaron Stander, KayakingAaron Stander—a novelist, poet, passionate reader, radio show host and in his spare time, a kayaker.

Aaron spent most of his adult years in the Detroit area, where he taught English and trained writing teachers. In 2000 he and his wife left college teaching positions and moved permanently to their cottage near Traverse City. He is the author of Summer People, a mystery set in Northern Michigan. Color Tour, a sequel to Summer People, was released in July of 2006. Deer Season followed in the spring of 2009, Shelf Ice in the summer of 2010, Medieval Murders in 2011, and Cruelest Month in 2012, He is also the author of numerous articles, stories, poems, and reviews, and the host of Michigan Writers on the Air on Interlochen Public Radio. When not writing or thinking about writing, Aaron spends a lot of time in his kayak.

Death in a Summer Colony, Aaron Stander

How did you become a writer?
By late junior high I became passionate about reading. I started with the then contemporary best-sellers, and later I moved on to the big Russian novels. My sister brought a Thomas Hardy book, The Mayor of Casterbridge, home from college, and I spent months bingeing on Hardy. Numerous other author binges followed. Along the way I started to write. My first publication was in a small literary magazine, Voices, published in my hometown. I continued to produce short pieces of fiction and satire in college and graduate school, and dabbled in fiction over the years. However, during my teacher career, most of my output was professional writing: research reports, book chapters, etc. After leaving college teaching, I published my first novel, Summer People. And in the last ten years six more novels have followed.

How do you write? What’s your process?
I start early in the morning at 6:00 and work till noon or later. Then I try to get some exercise: in a sea kayak, skiing, walking with my wife and dog. When I’m really into a project, I work seven days a week. I find that any interruption of my routine slows me down.

Who are your favorite authors?
Where should I start—the unnamed poet who wrote Beowulf, Homer, Shakespeare…Hemingway, Fitzgerald…Updike, Cheever, Mailer…P.D. James, Elmore Leonard, Sara Paretsky…Robinson Jeffers, Emily Dickenson, Donald Hall? The list goes on and on. Through books I’ve been able to travel through time and peer into other lives. And, sadly, there’s not enough time to read again so many books I’ve loved along the way.

What books are on your bedside table?
I have stacks of books all over the house: bedroom, bath, study, living room—old friends and new acquisitions. Much of my reading is guided by review deadlines and books submitted to Michigan Writers on the Air. Currently near my bed are the latest novels from Steve Hamilton and Dennis Lehane and a collection of short stories by Gloria Whelan.

What writing project do you have planned next?
I am starting research on background material for the next book in my Ray Elkins crime series. I would also like to do some short fiction again. And then there’s a book-length piece of political satire that’s been floating around in my head for about ten years.

What advice do you have for young writers?
Read voraciously, seek out skilled teachers and mentors, put your butt in a chair everyday for four or five hours and mess with words. Most writers continue to grow their craft through decades of hard work. If you are seeking great riches, instant fame, adoring fans, and a life in the fast lane, buy a guitar.

His lastest book
Death in a Summer Colony (Writers & Editors, $15.95, paperback), is the 7th Ray Elkins Mystery Novel. It’s a warm summer evening in Cedar County and a storm is just beginning to roll onshore from Lake Michigan. In the auditorium of the Mission Point Summer Colony, the audience settles in for a performance of a stage adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Death at the Vicarage. By the first intermission the intense thunderstorm is overhead. The old auditorium reverberates to the violent tumult. Flashes of lightning cast eerie shadows through the rolling, heavily wooded landscape. Then the power fails. The building and surrounding countryside go black. When the electricity is restored, Ray Elkins, the sheriff of Cedar County, is guided from his seat in the auditorium to the stage area. A member of the cast has been found fatally stabbed.

It is available at independent bookstores throughout the state and from Partners Book Distributors. Visit Aaron’s author page.

Author photo: Dave Dalquist