Favorite Vacation Destinations by Steven Harper – Guest Blog

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Steven Harper who is visiting with us to celebrate today’s release of The Importance of Being Kevin.


Grandma’s House: We didn’t have much money when I was young (this was part of the inspiration for Kevin and his father in THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING KEVIN), so my parents had to get creative with vacations. As it happened, my grandmother lived in Cadillac, Michigan. Her tumble-down house was in the middle of a bunch of woods and farmland, and not far from Lake Cadillac and Lake Mitchell. And so for several summers, we spent our vacations in her back yard. We slept on cots on the porch, or pitched pup tents in the backyard. My siblings and I explored the woods, swam in the lake, and rode our bikes around Cadillac’s hilly downtown. Every year, I made it a personal tradition to bike all the way around both lakes. This took up most of a day. It’s one my favorite childhood memories.

Higgins Lake: In the middle of Michigan is a huge, crystal-clear lake called Higgins Lake. Part of the shore includes a state park, and this was another inexpensive vacation option for my cash-strapped parents. My brother, sister, and I rode our bikes all over the trails, played on the playground, and spent our allowance at the camp store. The wooded trails created an endless labyrinth, and the hill above the campground was precipitously steep–perfect for speeding down on a bicycle. But I went back there as an adult and was amused to discover the trails are are actually short and limited, and the steep hill I remembered is a gentle slope. A piece of my childhood–warped by memory!

Michigan Cottages: When I got older, camping lost its appeal. Everything from cooking to going to the bathroom to bathing is work. Still, it was about the only way I knew to have a vacation. Traveling and staying in hotels and eating at restaurants are all so expensive! Then one year, on impulse, I splurged and rented a cottage on a Michigan lake. It was a complete delight! All the advantages of a house–kitchen, bathroom, shower, bedroom, bed, roof and porch when it rained–and none of the disadvantages of camping–outdoor toilets, bugs, campfire cooking, lack of hot water. And I could walk out the back door straight onto the beach. Heaven! This is how I spend nearly all my vacations now.

Mackinac Island: Mackinac Island is pronounced “mack-in-aw,” and it’s just off the Michigan coastline near Mackinaw City (note the spelling) near Fort Michilimackinac (ditto). If that doesn’t make you want to vacation there, nothing will! Mackinac Island has been a vacation spot since the 1800s. They invented the concept of selling fudge to tourists. Cars and trucks are forbidden on the island; walking, bikes, and horse-drawn carriages provide all transport. The island air is cool and refreshing (a change in Michigan’s hot, muggy summers), and the island itself is so chock-full of charm and fun that it’s always a joy to visit. So I visit a lot.

Cemeteries: It’s true! I’m a history buff and a cemetery buff. So is my husband. Whenever we go somewhere (say, a Michigan cottage), we hunt up the local cemetery and wander through it. (Mackinac Island has more than one awesome cemetery, in fact.) We love playing detective. How is this person related to that person? Why did this person die so young? Why is this grave separated from all the others? Every single stone represents a story. This fascinates us no end, and we probably spend more time in graveyards than is good for us!
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Kevin Devereaux’s life can’t get worse. He’s on probation. He’s stuck with an unemployed ex-convict dad. And he lives in a run-down trailer on the crappy east side of town. To keep his probation officer happy, Kevin joins a theater program for teenagers and falls hard for Peter Finn, the lead actor in the show—and the son of the town’s leading family. Despite their differences, Peter returns Kevin’s feelings, and for the first time, Kevin learns what it means to be in love.

But Peter’s family won’t accept a gay son—let alone a boyfriend from the wrong side of the tracks—and in their conservative town, they must keep the romance secret. Still, they have the play, and they have each other, so they’ll get by—

Until a brutal attack shatters Kevin’s life and puts Peter in danger of going to jail for murder.

About the Author: Steven Harper Piziks was born with a last name no one can reliably spell or pronounce, so he usually writes under the name Steven Harper. He grew up on a farm in Michigan but has also lived in Wisconsin and Germany, and spent extensive time in Ukraine. So far, he’s written more than two dozen novels and over fifty short stories and essays. When not writing, he plays the folk harp, lifts weights, and spends more time on-line and in cemeteries than is probably good for him. He teaches high school English in southeast Michigan, where he lives with his husband and youngest son. His students think he’s hysterical, which isn’t the same as thinking he’s funny.

Website | Steven Harper Website | Facebook | Twitter

Buy the book at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Indie Bound, or Google Books.

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