Zinta Aistars

Host of 'Between The Lines'/Freelancer

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.

Aistars is creative director, writer, and editor at Z Word, LLC. She's also the published author of three books in her native Latvian language. Aistars regularly contributes to many print and online publications in addition to freelancing for WMUK.


A glass of Michigan wine, served with murder. The eighth in Aaron Stander‘s Ray Elkins’ Mystery Series, Murder in the Merlot (Writers & Editors, 2016), takes readers to yet another story set in Northern Michigan — this time to the vineyards.

“I started writing this series about 20 years ago but I didn’t publish the first one until maybe 14 years ago,” Stander says. “It was about my experiences up here in Northern Michigan.”

Carrie Ann Hoffman

He may teach in academia now but for ten years, Dustin M. Hoffman painted houses in Michigan. Hoffman’s story collection, One-Hundred-Knuckled Fist (University of Nebraska Press, 2016) won the 2015 Prairie Schooner Prize for his gritty portrayal of painters, carpenters, roofers, firemen, ice-cream truck drivers, the homeless, and the retired. In short, for the invisible 99 percent. 

Lillie Rice

Christine Maul Rice doesn’t avoid the tough subjects in her novel, Swarm Theory (University of Hell Press, 2016). Set in a small city in Michigan that's modeled after her own hometown, Flint. Rice’s characters cope with teenage angst, failed marriages, HIV, suicide, rape, and more. It is a "swarm" of activity involving a swarm of vivid characters.

Tony Avelar / AP Photo

Early childhood expert Robert Needlman is a leading pediatrician, professor, and author. He's also the co-founder of Reach Out and Read, a literacy program that helps millions of children grow up loving books. And Needlman is a widely-sought speaker on early learning, literacy, and developmental-behavioral pediatrics.

“Overall, the United States doesn’t do as well as it should,” Needlman says. “The richest and most powerful country around, and we’re not even near the top of the list in terms of literacy.”

Tayler Stirrett

Kelly DiPucchio writes children’s books because she can’t imagine writing anything else. She’s written twenty of them so far and is just getting started. Two of her books, Grace for President and The Sandwich Swap, were New York Times bestsellers. This month, she added a new book to the shelf: Everyone Loves Cupcake.