Aug 12, 2016
Today, we have author and poet Jeff Vande Zande with us in the
Welcome to the Recovered Podcast studio.
Jeff, I’m going to have Anna introduce you to our listeners.
Anna take it from here
Jeff Vande Zande teaches fiction and screenwriting at Delta College. His books include the novel Into the Desperate Country , the novel Landscape with Fragmented Figures and Threatened Species and Other Stories. His novel American Poet won a Michigan Notable Book Award from the Library of Michigan. In May of 2016, Jeff’s most recent novel was released, Detroit Muscle, which was influenced by Vande Zande’s screenwriting knowledge. He maintains a website at
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Jeff welcome to the Recovered Studio
In preparation for this interview, Jeff, I asked our audience about whether they ever wanted to be a writer like you. Guess what percentage of our audience have literary aspirations.
As you know Jeff, the Recovered Podcast is intended to be a support for those of us in 12-step recovery program.
Do you know anyone who had struggled with addiction?
Are you in recovery?
Your new book is Titled “Detroit Muscle”.
Here is a brief summary of your book, Jeff.
The main character Robby Cooper is an addict just out of rehab, Robby has debts to pay
Robby has a pregnant ex-girlfriend.
Robby is like everyone in early recovery, he has problems.
During this stage of Robby’s early recovery, his grandfather
Otto invites him on a fly fishing road trip to northern
Robby begins to understand how his family’s dysfunction spans generations…
Jeff, I think the question is, can Robby break this cycle?
Jeff, this book is ultimately a book of hope which sets it apart from other fiction recovery novels I have read.
Anna says, “Why did you write the book?”
But tell us about your characters, the setting you chose, and most interestingly, the literary style you designed.
You are a poet, and that is evident in the novel. I’d like to
read a portion…. (the part about Robby’s feet planted in the stream
bed and the description up his body to the fish at the end of the
line. Trust me, I’ll have the text in front of me).
Tell us about this short poem.
Do we ever know how old Robbie is?
Robby drinks in the story, why?
Why does Robby keep his drug of choice with him?
Robby’s mom is classic codependent, was this intentional?
What is the point of the woman at the cemetery with the other mourners and Robbie talking on the phone with Tiffany?
Tell us about Robby’s dad and his Dad’s brothers.
Interesting That Robbie's dad, the good one according to grandpa Otto, is the one that committed suicide.
The two uncles are so different, yet agree about their father Otto, tell us more about these characters.
The fishing destination Grand Marais, Michigan?
What is the significance of this location?
Your description of the local landscape was meticulous. You even got the details on the Mackinaw Bridge right in regards to the center lanes being steel grating. Tell us more about your home state.
The act of Robby making amends is a big part of the beginning of the book. What do you know about the 9th step of recovery?
Many say the amends step is the most difficult step in recovery, tell us about Robby’s experience of making amends.
Why was it important for Robby to make these amends?
Looks like Otto's apology is more about hearing them forgive him than truly apologizing. P 142
There is a saying in recovery to “Do the next right thing.” It seems to me that Robby is living this code. What are your thoughts, does this work for Robby?
Interesting, the similarities between Robby’s and Otto’s addictions, such as the well-meaning promises as well as the broken promises.
Who does Robby represent?
Who does Otto represent?
Robby’s life is bleak. Is there hope for Robby, why?
Is there hope for Michigan?
In the final pages Robby looks over his list and folds it and puts it away. He is checking things off his amends list. He reminded me of my name is Earl, the TV show. Do you remember it? Did you ever see it?
When is the next Robby Cooper novel coming out?
This has to happen.
What was the #1 thing that has held you back in your writing career?
What is the best advice you ever received about writing?
What is something that is working in your creative life right now?
What is the best book you have read on recovery?
This podcast is about Hope
What would you say to the new guy about recovery?
Jeff, thanks for joining us in the studio