With new book for tweens, Ann Arbor lawyer Paul Dimond launches a new career as a fiction writer
Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com
His most recent effort, however, takes him down a different path. With the publication of the tween fiction book “North Coast Almanac,” Dimond, 68, acknowledges a shift in careers. The book—inspired by an area in Northern Michigan near Glen Arbor and written in an effort to help his grandson Jack learn to read—is the first of several works of fiction he has in mind.
“A few years ago my grandson, then approaching his eighth birthday, had a hard time learning to read well enough in school to enjoy chapter books,” Dimond recalled. “So we read stories together at home, including the C.S. Lewis fantasy series about the Pevensie children, the Hardy Boys adventures, and Peter Pan and the better Barry-Pearson riffs about eternal youth. On a plane trip with his mom, Kate, to visit my other daughter Ali, Jack asked, ‘Pip—why don’t you write a kids' novel?’”
Before the plane had landed, they had finished drawing the rough figure of a totem pole with the three generations of the Pippin clan, their long-time animal allies and new adversaries. The result—with a finished version of that original totem on the cover—is a multi-generational work about tough times and an even tougher family.
“We have such a close relationship with my grandkids, (but) part of what made me motivated me to do this story was not just to help Jack to learn how to read, but to kind of convey this kind of resonance that you can have when you can have when you are 50 of 60 years apart from the younger person you’re dealing with,” said Dimond. “Frankly, we learn as much from them as we ever teach them.”
The book’s publisher is Ann Arbor’s Huron River Press. Dimond said local author/educator Nicholas Delbanco encouraged him and helped him find an editor, speeding the process along.
‘Over the 12 months it took me to write the 12 chapters of ‘North Coast Almanac’ and read them with Jack, he graduated from learning to read to reading to learn,’ Dimond said. “He gobbles up books in print and on his eReader and has begun to write short stories and essays on his own. He jumped way above his grade level to become a superior reader.”
Dimond grew up in Ann Arbor and has been associated with the Miller-Canfield firm since 1989. He and his family have close ties to the Glen Arbor area dating back to when he was a child.
“Every year from 1949, when I was five years old, my dad and mom took my older brother and me to a little cottage there on little Glen Lake We went there every summer from 1949-1960,” he recalled. “By then I was in high school and we stopped going. But I still went up with friends to a cottage on Old Mission. Then I bought a place in Glen Arbor in 1975 and took my kids there through 1993 when I sold it to leave for five years working 24-7 at the White House.”
He’s referring to the time he served as Special Assistant for Economic Policy to President Clinton. When he returned home in the fall of 1997 his love affair with Northern Michigan resumed.
Eight years ago, when he turned 60, Dimond said he knew it was time for a sea change.
“I set a goal to do these four things. I was going to do a love story, called ‘Widower’s Song.’ I have drafted that. I was going to do a kids’ story. I have done that and it’s published. I was going to write a historical novel and I’m nearly done with that. And I was going to write a political-intrigue murder mystery and I’m just starting that - ‘it’s called ‘Assassination at the White House.’”
Dimond said his law career is winding down and most of his time now is spent writing and with his family.
“My next published book will be the historical novel called ‘Belle.’ Set in the years 1899-1953, it's about a reclusive woman poet born in Glen Arbor who raises a younger brother when their mother dies. When Belle comes to Ann Arbor when she’s 21 to go to school, she meets Robert Frost, Theodore Roethke and Wystan Auden. It’s the story of their time together,” he said. There’s a big advantage to writing fiction over fact, Dimond said.
“Unlike my stuff I used to write when I was a policy wonk and an advocate, or a constitutional law professor where I had strong views but little influence here, within limits, you can invent your own story lines and outcomes.”