Stephanie Burgis
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Go congratulate Merrie Haskell, who's just signed on with the excellent agent Caitlin Blasdell! Merrie is a fabulous writer, and I can't wait for her fantasy novel to sell.

Here's the funny thing about growing up in Michigan. The cities of East Lansing and Ann Arbor are HUGE rivals - huge, huge, huge - because they're the homes to the two biggest state universities, Michigan State and the University of Michigan. Insane levels of competition over quality of sports, intelligence, and everything else you can imagine, are perpetrated, along with obnoxious jokes, the point where, when I was going through a rebellious phase at the age of 8, the way I expressed it in public was to be a supporter of U of M's football team, the Wolverines, instead of my local team, MSU's Spartans. (Although I changed my mind later, when I realized that the Spartans were the underdog. Yeah. Anyway...)

So, as a kid in Michigan, you know that you must, must, must align yourself with one or the other city/team...and then you grow up. And you move into a wonderful and exciting wider world. And guess what? You meet people who are from the other city and you think: HOORAY! Another Michigander! And not just any Michigander, but someone much closer in culture, outlook, etc. than even most other Michiganders, because let's face it, like every traditional group of deadly rivals, East Lansing and Ann Arbor are a whole lot more similar than they are different. (That's exactly how people become rivals, isn't it?)

So, Merrie and I had been writing back and forth to each other about how much we loved each other's short stories for quite a while before I figured out that she was from Ann Arbor (and, I guess, she figured out that I was from East Lansing). But it was an irrationally cool realization to make. Two fantasy writers of about the same age, with a common outlook on life, both from the twin Michigan cities! And, irrational or not, it's felt like a kind of bond ever since (not hurt by her great sense of humor, sweet kitty photos, and, oh yeah, consistently smart & fabulous short stories).

I cannot wait until her novel is published!

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