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Wisconsin Author Michael Perry Adds Adult Fiction to his Repertoire

Michael Perry


Michael Perry has been known  for his non-fiction work about his life in rural Western Wisconsin. He has accumulated a mass of fans around the world drawn to stories touching on topics from raising poultry to parenting.

After writing his first children's book, Perry is making his first attempt at a novel geared towards adults with his latest book, The Jesus Cow.

"Jesus Cow" is Michael Perry's first work of adult fiction.

I chatted with Perry before his book tour stop in Milwaukee.

He compares his writing technique as a painfully slow game of desperate literary solitaire.  Perry prints out rough notes, cuts them up with scissors and tapes them on the wall.  He moves the pieces around until the story flow suits him. 

"Even later in the process, when  I’ve start to get chapters roughed out, I print those out and tape ‘em together end to end so I can read ‘em while I’m walking backwards and in an uninterrupted flow. I’ve equated my writing process to carving concrete with a spoon," Perry says.

The inspiration for his new book came, in part, from his experience writing at a coffee shop in Nashville, Tennessee.

"This was in the 1990s.  When you went to pay for your coffee at the counter there they had this little glassed-in illuminated shrine that contained a cinnamon bun that was said to resemble the likeness of Mother Teresa," he says.

The story is based on pareidolia.  "A phenomenon where your mind is wired in such a way that if you see a series of shapes or dots you try to construe something meaningful from it," Perry explains.

Michael Perry introduces, and then reads a passage from The Jesus Cow.

He has moved on to new projects, including a stab at French writer and philosopher Michel de Montaigne.  So far, unless his editor says “no,” Perry plans to call it Montaigne in Barn Boots.

Michael Perry appeared at Boswell Books on Jun 19 with fellow Wisconsin novelist Dean Bakopoulos.

Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.