Author Erin McCahan is smitten with Lake Michigan, so she made the lake a character in her latest book, “The Lake Effect,” which came out earlier this week.
Schuler Books is hosting an official launch party for “The Lake Effect” on Tuesday, July 18 at 7 p.m. at its Grand Rapids store, 2660 28th St. SE. McCahan will answer questions about the book and sign autographs during the event.
“The Lake Effect,” a young adult novel, is the story of 18-year-old Briggs Henry who leaves his Forest Hills home and family to spend the summer as an in-home assistant to an elderly woman living on Lake Michigan and quickly finds his life altered.
“One summer at the beach, one old lady and one girl with a secret completely upend his life the summer before college,” McCahan explained.
McCahan said the story is inseparable from its Lake Michigan setting.
“When people ask why I love the lake so much, it is the place where I’ve always been happiest. I find it a place of perfect peace and joy and also prayer and contemplation. It’s the place to figure things out and celebrate good news. And, with all of that, I wanted to make it an element in a novel so it became a character. The lake actually becomes a character inseparable from the plot.”
“The Lake Effect” is McCahan’s third novel and the second set in West Michigan. Her first book, “I Now Pronounce You Someone Else,” was set in East Grand Rapids, and her second book, “Love and Other Foreign Words,” includes mentions of Holland and Hope College.
McCahan said West Michigan is “in her blood” and has always “felt like home,” which is why she continues to include the area in her novels. She was born in Grand Rapids and spent the first five years of her life there before her family moved to Ohio (where she still resides). Even after the move, she said she always spent her summers on Lake Michigan.
“My grandparents and aunts lived in Grand Rapids, so we came up every summer,” she said. “We went to the north shore in Grand Haven mostly and sometimes down to Holland. My mother grew up with a cottage on the north shore, that was her beach home and it became ours as well.”
McCahan still makes regular visits to South Haven and Grand Haven, where her mother lives, but she said next week’s visit to Schuler Books will be her first trip back to Grand Rapids in six years and she’s looking forward to seeing all the changes to the city she’s been hearing about.
Visit Schuler Books for more information on “The Lake Effect” launch party.