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Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Fort Wayne native Michael Martone was recognized Saturday as the 2013 Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors National Award winner.

City, state provide fodder for award-winning author

– “Michael Martone was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana ...”

The same eight words begin almost all of the vignettes – a series of 42 “contributor’s notes” – in his 2005 book, “Michael Martone.”

Just as in his other works, the anecdotes and reminisces of growing up in Fort Wayne in “Michael Martone” helped earn the local writer the 2013 Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award.

Martone, 58, was recognized Saturday at the downtown Allen County Public Library, where he gave a brief reading from his works and held a book signing.

By winning the national award, he also was able to present a $2,500 grant to a branch library of his choice. He chose the Little Turtle Branch Library.

“It’s where my mom (the late Patty Martone) took me, and I learned to read there,” he said.

Martone, a 1973 graduate of North Side High School who also holds a master’s degree from the Writing Seminars of The Johns Hopkins University, will officially be presented the award in the Indy Author Fair next Saturday at the Central Library in Indianapolis.

Most of his work focuses on his hometown of Fort Wayne, as well as Indiana.

“It’s back to the cliché of writing what you know,” he said. “It was the hand I was dealt. So maybe the question is ‘Why would one write?’ There are a lot of people born in Fort Wayne, and it never occurs to them to write. What was it about me that was going to use this material?

“I didn’t start out that way. When I went to Baltimore and started studying to be a writer, I was writing more international stories. But what struck me was that the people who I was studying with, who had grown up in either the East Coast or the West Coast, I would just tell them that Fort Wayne was seventh on Hitler’s list, something we take for granted, I guess. And I’d get this huge reaction.

“But meanwhile, I would be writing these various serious stories, and people would go, ‘Well, you’re very good,’ but it didn’t hit them the same way until I learned that even though the material of Fort Wayne, for a lot of people in Fort Wayne, where I grew up, was like, ‘Oh yeah; that’s just normal life.’

“Once you get outside, it can look pretty strange pretty quickly.”

Martone’s 1979 book “Fort Wayne is Seventh on Hitler’s List” makes a reference to the city being ranked No. 7 among U.S. cities to be bombed in World War II because of Fort Wayne’s magnet wire industry, which was critical in aviation and bomb production.

Martone also indicated that he would provide some of his $10,000 earnings for the award to the Little Turtle branch in addition to the $2,500 grant.

Former Little Turtle manager Rosie Stier said she is uncertain how the branch will use the money.

“We’re looking at a lot of different areas, and it will be something special,” she said. “I think there is some thought about adding additional material on Allen County and Fort Wayne. Michael has written about Fort Wayne and all the different aspects. His family has worked so many times with the history of Fort Wayne and so forth, so that has potential, as well as some other things.”

stwarden@jg.net

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