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.

Shamiel Hollins

We’ve all heard stories about the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth. But there are others about African-American history. Writer Sonya Hollins and her husband Sean Hollins, a graphic designer, have created a series of children’s books about African-Americans in Michigan who aren’t necessarily famous but whose stories are inspiring. The first is Benjamin Losford and His Handy Dandy Clippers. They published the book through their own company, Season Press, LLC, in January 2016. It's illustrated by Kenjji Jumanne-Marshall.

Cassie Kotlarcyzk

Phillip Sterling likes his writing short. In his poetry, he captures the passing image. In his prose, he writes a quick vignette, enjoying the word play. But he passes on the novel; it's just not his thing. Instead, Sterling has gained acclaim for his collection of flash fiction, In Which Brief Stories are Told, and even shorter "micro-fiction," Animal Husbandry. He wrote his newest poetry collection, And for All This (Ridgeway Press, 2015) while he was artist-in- residence on Isle Royale in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Beowulf Sheehan

What if you could erase painful memories forever? But if you did, you lost the good memories as well as the bad? In his long-awaited novel, Hystopia (MacMillan, 2016), David Means creates an alternate history in which veterans returning from war have their trauma “enfolded” to erase painful memories.

But for some veterans, the process doesn't work because their trauma goes too deep. Means, who grew up in Kalamazoo, sets the novel in Michigan although he now lives in New York.

Dawn Cochran

Erna Roberts was only 22, and expecting her first of four daughters, when she watched Soviet tanks roll down the streets of Latvia’s capitol city, Riga. In the coming days, she would lose her home, her family would scatter, and the life she had known would be gone forever. Her mother, grandfather, and 16-year-old brother were captured and deported to Siberia. Her father went into hiding in the woods. Erna and her husband became refugees overnight.

Convergent Books

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2,220,300 adults are incarcerated in federal and state prisons. In 2013, the Michigan Department of Corrections reported a prison population of 43,704. The United States has the largest prison population in the world. And our recidivism rate is around 70 percent. “That’s another way of saying our prison system is failing 70 percent of the time,” says Shaka Senghor.