Novelist signing book in Mount Pleasant this weekend

Novelist Jack Westbrook will host book signings this weekend in downtown Mount Pleasant.

The signings will take place at the Book Garden, 114 S. Main St., Friday at 3 p.m. and at the Book Shelf, 1014 S. Mission St., Saturday at 1 p.m.

Westbrook is premiering his first fiction novel, "Kaisa: A Novel of Michigan’s Copper Mining & Oil and Gas Industries; Calumet, Mt. Pleasant, Holland, Mackinac Island and Jekyll Island, Georgia."

The visiting writer penned several photo-history books focusing on the state of Michigan in the past. He was inspired to take his new novel a few steps further with a visit to Jekyll Island, where a tour guide told him no one had written a book that addressed the history of that place.

“The reason I finished it now is because (this) Christmas Eve will be the anniversary of the Italian Halls Tragedy,” Westbrook said.

Kaisa follows the story of two women, each from a separate generation, as they travel throughout Michigan in times of great change. Major events in the book include the Italian Hall Tragedy of 1913 and the founding of Holland’s Tulip Festival.

Westbrook, who was raised in Mount Pleasant, has done several book signings in the area before. Mount Pleasant resident Kristin Moutsatson of the Book Shelf said she already has several of his titles in stock.

"Jack usually brings in quite a few people,” Moutsatson said. “He's got quite a following."

Westbrook’s signings have usually given both bookstores a boost in business, according to Richard Templeman of the Book Garden.

"Jack actually did his first signing ever at our store way back in 2006," Templeman said. ‘We've known each other for many years."

Westbrook has taken his time with his first fiction novel, a project that began back in July of 2002. Previously, Westbrook was the managing editor at the Michigan Oil & Gas News magazine.

“My writing process is a little bit different because after editing a weekly magazine you design certain habits,” Westbrook said. “That’s where writing fiction has been tough for me.”

According to Westbrook, the book took so long to write because he would need to stop in order to verify some date, name or fact. It sometimes took an entire day just to write one page, with the intensive part of his writing process has really only been the last five months.

“Over the years I kind of developed a knack of visualizing the end publication,” Westbrook said. “It’s been kind of a fun process.”


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