Bonnie Jo Campbell

Contributor Interview: Bonnie Jo Campbell

What’s your connection to the Midwest?

I’m connected to the Midwest by every connection point on me. I was born here, raised here, went to school here (in Chicago), and live here now. I’ve lived in Los Angeles and Boston but bounced back to Michigan. I eat most of my meals here, and I have all my sex here in the Midwest.

Favorite places or features of the region?

The Midwest is a rather large area. I feel little connection to Nebraska, but I took two black belt tests there in Okinawan Kobudo weapons arts. I feel most connected to the great lakes region and have lived in Kalamazoo, Chicago, Milwaukee, Bowling Green, Ohio, and Greencastle, Indiana. Chicago is my big city, and I can catch any of four trains a day and be there in two hours. Michigan is the most beautiful state in the union and is also the center of the universe.

What is your favorite season of the year?

Autumn, of course, the season of death and decay, and therefore beauty.

Has the Midwest been an influence or inspiration for your work, and if so, how?

Everything I write takes place in Michigan, and my characters are the way they are because they are from Michigan. Landscape makes the character, and probably it makes the writer, as well.

Pencil, pen, typewriter, computer?

Computer. (Though I wrote all my college essays on a typewriter.)

What’s the best job you’ve ever had?

Writer! Fiction Teacher! Typist!

What’s the worst job you ever had?

Schensul’s Cafeteria. I lied about my age to get the job of keeping mashed potatoes and Salisbury steak and plates of various colors of jello all lined up for the taking. I can still see the dark red carpet, the way food got crushed into it. Pies had to be cut in seven pieces.

What do you do in your free time?

I ride my bicycle. In 1989, I had a lot of free time so I organized a bicycle trip to Russia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Favorite food or beverage?

Berries! Blackcap raspberries (from the barnyard), blueberries (from Pleasant Hill Blueberry farm in Fennville, MI), strawberries (stolen from my niece’s garden), blackberries (from my friend Lisa Lenzo’s yard), thimbleberries (from Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula). Gooseberries, Juneberries, currants, cranberries. You show me a berry, I’ll eat it. Cherries, too.

Do you have a pet?

Two full-size donkeys.

What’s on your radar now? Current projects?

Thunderstorms! Rain! Floods of biblical proportions! I’m trying to write a very long novel about a girl who loves mathematics. Also a villanelle about breast cancer.