Paula Tutman is a transplant to Michigan, born in Washington DC. Her father was a director in the Peace Corps so she spent her formative years in Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and traveling much of Europe. She has spent more than twenty years as a television reporter in a variety of markets, eventually landing in Detroit. The Emmy-winning journalist is now a specialty assignment reporter for the city's NBC affiliate, WDIV Channel 4.
In 2008, Paula released her first novel, Deadline. The riveting thriller was inspired by her own journalistic experience on the police beat, and chronicles the story of a television reporter being stalked by a murderer. The book has been critically acclaimed and was selected as the 2009 Winner, Best General Fiction at the Hollywood Book Festival. Paula is a member of the International Thriller Writers, Debut Author Class of 2009 and a member of Sisters In Crime.
BMN: When did you first move to Michigan and what brought you here?
PAULA: Loooove this question. It was fate. I was working in Baltimore as a police reporter and very unhappily married. I decided to get a divorce and move in one fell swoop. Five cities wanted me, but I chose Detroit. I've never regretted the decision. First, fate put me in a state with no-fault divorces. That meant all I had to do was establish residency, and I was free. But I also fell in love with the people, and the longitude and latitude. It fits me to be in a state that's kissed by four of the five Great Lakes. I've made friends with the seasons, embraced our inherent problems and 18 years later, I'm just as in love with Michigan as I was when I first stepped off the plane as a young divorcee in a strange land, far away from home. Who knew? I had actually found my true soul's home here.
BMN: What were some of your first impressions of the state?
PAULA: Cold. Damp. Overcast. But for some reason my toes stopped tingling when I stepped off the plane. I'm a Peace Corps brat. I've lived all over the world. I grew up in Africa, traveled Europe. My father was an international nomad who didn't mind dragging his family around with him. I had a fabulous childhood and really consider myself a child of the world more than anything else. But my toes always had a tingle in them when I moved around. For some reason, I stepped onto the soil in Detroit and for the first time in my life, my toes weren't tingling. At first I didn't know what that odd feeling was in my feet. I was confused by it. But then I realized, they had stopped making noise. I know that sounds weird, but it's true. My feet stopped making noise with the rest of my body, and I realized it was because I was finally on firm soil that meant something to me.
BMN: What are some of the things you've come to love most about this place?
PAULA: Gosh, do you have a week? Too many things to mention. What's not to love about Michigan? It is truly the most beautiful state in the nation. Just get in your car and drive in any direction, and you're going to see something new, or interesting, or beautiful. Our shorelines are spectacular. There are places you can stand and see the sun set over a lake the size of an ocean. You can swim in big water and there's nothing there that can hurt you except time, injury or panic. There's nothing in there that can eat you. I've seen Sturgeon migrate, and Bald Eagles, I've biked the countryside with really good friends, I can call nationally recognized sports teams my own. The people here are friendly, when you look at strangers, they smile back. We're a poor state, but a proud state. And we're always happy when people are visiting us for the first time. Golly, there's so much to love about Michigan. If you stop for a moment and create a list and put the good on one side and the bad on the other, you'll see the good far outweighs the bad.
BMN: What are some lesser known Michigan treasures that you recommend people visit or try?
PAULA: Gosh, do you have a month? I would say visit our Metro Parks. We have amazing public outdoor spaces. There's a great orchid greenhouse in Monroe called, Taylor Orchid Greenhouses. I met the owner, and he is so knowledgeable, and treats his plants like children. He's even done some breeding projects down there...yes, orchids are bred. Up North in Port Austin, there's this restaurant called, The Bank 1884 Food and Spirits. It's haunted, and sometimes this face appears in the wooden beams. The food is fantastic. I got engaged at Crystal Lakes resort. Yup, I'm given marriage another shot. It was so beautiful up there, and keep your eyes on the trees while driving through Cadillac for Bald Eagles. I love the locks in Sault St. Marie. That's a must see--not kidding. Mackinac Island is a favorite. I just love it there. Great shopping, beautiful scenery, and The Pink Pony's Rum Runners are the best in the world. They'll spoil you, so you won't want them anywhere else. Port Huron is a real treasure. Go to the Maritime museum with your family to watch the barges going by. Have a martini or brunch at Global Atlas in downtown Detroit. These are the kinds of places that remind you why we live in the best state in the country.
BMN: How do you think living in Michigan has impacted your life and career?
PAULA: Very positively. It's great to love where you live. It's a treasure in itself.
BMN: Do you have any advice for Michigan kids dreaming of a future in broadcasting?
PAULA: Absolutely! Learn to speak well and properly. Journalism is not the place for abbreviated language. It's fine to text-message your pals, but don't speak like that. Take a diction class and an acting class. Those kinds of classes will teach you discipline and an ability to go forward, even with roadblocks. The most important thing I can suggest is to develop a solid curiosity base. A good knowledge base of lots of things is important, too. But to be curious about everything around you, is the basis of learning lots of things, about lots of things. Find activities that take you outside your comfort zone and learn about them. Find passion in new hobbies, and learning for the sake of learning. Whether you're in journalism, or not, just being interested in all things will serve you well.
BMN: People mostly know you as a news reporter, but your career has recently taken another exciting turn. When did you know you wanted to write fiction?
PAULA: The funny thing is, I never ever wanted to be a reporter. I stumbled into journalism accidentally. I always wanted to be a writer. I just never realized that stumbling into this profession would give me such interesting things to write about. I'm a former police reporter. A police reporter is someone who's not sent out of the studio unless someone is dead, dying, burning or decomposing. It's ghastly stuff. But I did it for eight years. While working in Baltimore, a killer developed an obsession with me. I had covered his original crime, and ended up covering the trial. It became the basis for my first novel. Journalism is a fascinating career. We see and experience so much. Sometimes we ride around and giggle that 'they're paying us to do this'. But there are many times we ride around and think, 'they're not paying us enough'. It's a very dichotomous profession. The things you love are the things you hate. But it gives you such an interesting voice in which to write. Many times I'll be on a story, and something totally outrageous will happen...right in front of me. I immediately pull out my mini-computer and takes notes. So much is great fodder for great fiction. In fact, you can't make some of this stuff up.
BMN: When can we expect the next Paula Tutman book to be available and can you give fans a teaser as to what it's about?
PAULA: April 2010. The sequel to the first book is being released. The DEADLINE! series is about a police reporter named, PS Garrett. She shows up on the scene of a double murder, not realizing the killer is still there--kind of admiring his handiwork. It's a crime of opportunity, but when he sees PS, he realizes that he just loves watching her on TV, and he makes a decision to keep killing, so she'll keep showing up to cover the crimes. His hope is that one day he'll get a chance to meet her and make her his own. In DEADLINE!!, Second Block we actually meet the killer, and watch him finally make contact with PS Garrett. His argument for killing is so compelling that it will change the way you watch your local news forever. Even if you don't read book one, you'll be able to catch up quickly in book two. I'm excited about its release.
BMN: What are your thoughts on the Buy Michigan Now campaign?
PAULA: I love the whole concept about buying locally. My husband and I always try to buy our products in our neighborhood, first. And then we start moving outward as we have to. Let's face it. We can't save our neighbors by ourselves, but if everyone made an effort to buy Michigan products, we'd keep our communities, friends and neighbors working. Lisa, I think the Buy Michigan campaign is just brilliant!
BMN: What Shout Out do you have for your fellow Michiganders:
PAULA: Love who you are, where you are, and the people around you. We really are our brother's keepers, and our sister's, too.