U.P. author visits Marquette high school

Bestselling author Karen Dionne speaks to the students of Marquette Alternative High School. (Journal photo by Alexandria Bournonville)

MARQUETTE — International bestselling author and former Upper Peninsula resident Karen Dionne visited Marquette Alternative High School students on Wednesday.

Dionne is best known for her 2017 suspense novel published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, titled “The Marsh King’s Daughter.” In 2023, the book was made into a Lionsgate major motion picture starring Daisy Ridley and Ben Mendelsohn.

MAHS students in Cindy DePetro’s English class read “The Marsh King’s Daughter” and saw the movie adaptation at the Thomas Theater in Marquette when it came out.

The book focuses on an adult woman named Helena who is a product of abduction — born from a kidnapper and his victim. After growing up in their remote cabin in the marshlands of the Upper Peninsula and trained by her father, Helena realizes she’s the only one capable of tracking him down when he escapes from prison more than 20 years later.

With funds from an anonymous grant, DePetro said faculty were able to provide their students with the chance to meet an award-winning author of a book they read in their studies.

Poster recipients Zai Lampinen and Will Miglio are seen with Dionne. (Journal photo by Alexandria Bournonville)

Students listened to Dionne descr

ibe the process of becoming a successful writer, including all her struggles and failures. She hoped to express to the students that she “didn’t just burst on the scene as a best-selling author.”

“I want them to see the journey and see that if you keep pursuing your goals, there’s a very good possibility that you might reach them and even surprise yourself with some of the cool things that can happen,” Dionne said.

After the presentation, DePetro encouraged her students to ask the author questions about her career and body of work.

Dionne said it was “really nice” to see students putting so much thought into the questions they wanted to ask her.

“It was really rewarding,” she said. ” … When I think of reaching readers, I think of reaching established readers, people who read dozens of books a year. To know that my books have made a difference for people who are at the beginning of enjoying reading, that’s just such a bonus. I never expected to have such an effect with my books.”

To their surprise, two of DePetro’s students who asked questions — Will Miglio and Zai Lampinen — were rewarded by their teacher with full-size movie posters for “The Marsh King’s Daughter.”

“I’ve been to foreign countries, my publishers have brought me to the (United Kingdom) and Norway for book signings, I’ve been on stages with best-selling authors talking about the movie, but this has to be absolutely the most rewarding experience, talking to the kids here in Marquette today,” Dionne said.

When the event was over, DePetro said the greatest thing Dionne taught the kids was that she’s a normal, real person.

“This was important for them to see that (Dionne’s journey) wasn’t easy,” DePetro said, “that she felt the same things many of them feel, like the thought of giving up.”

More importantly, DePetro was happy to give her students the opportunity to read a novel and then meet its author.

She said, “This meant a lot to Marquette Alternative High School as an educational facility that really believes in hands-on learning.”

DePetro thanked Dionne for taking the time to come speak to the kids. The author will be visiting Marquette Senior High School today.

Alexandria Bournonville can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 506. Her email address is abournonville@miningjournal.net.


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