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.

Tony Dejak / AP Photo

Imagine unplugging your computer, shutting down your cell phone, and tossing your television. Then you trade in your car for a horse and buggy. Journalist Jeff Smith was fascinated with the changes two friends, Bill and Tricia Moser, were willing to make as they sought faith, community, and purpose. Smith relates their story in his new book, Becoming Amish (Dance Hall Press, 2016).


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.”