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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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‘U.P.’ book to be made into movie

Two Negaunee natives, R.A. Riekki and Steven Wiig, have teamed up to bring Riekki’s novel “U.P.” to life on the big screen. The duo was at the Peter White Public Library Wednesday, Sept. 15 on one of many stops of their book tour that goes throughout the Upper Peninsula. The discussion was held to promote the book and movie while also gathering feedback from locals.

The tour ends Thursday, Sept. 16 with a stop at Safe Harbor Books in Cedarville, Mich. at 2 p.m. and later at Falling Rock Café and Bookstore in Munising at 7 p.m.

The novel has been one of its publisher’s, Ghost Road Press, top ten best sellers for more than 70 weeks. Author Riekki is also the author of poetry and short stories. Among other degrees he holds a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from Western Michigan University.

Actor/Director Wiig has shot many heavy metal documentaries while touring with the band Metallica, and had acting roles in both “Milk”, which was directed by his good friend actor/director Sean Penn, and “Into the Wild,” directed by Gus Van Sant.

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“U.P.” movie affiliates location scout various U.P. areas for their upcoming film. A start date for filming has not yet been set. // Photos courtesy of

For the film “U.P.,” Riekki and Wiig said they bring an insider perspective giving a different look to the U.P. culture outside of the cliché “Yooper,” who just hunts and fish all day.

“I wanted a punk-aesthetic to U.P. literature instead of the safety net,” said Riekki on why he was inspired to write the novel. “One of the best punk bands ever, NC 5, was playing in Marquette the year I was born.”

According to the films website, “U.P.” is the story of four teens immersed in an ugly and often violent world, redefining the traditional coming-of-age story.

“It’s not a cute little book, like the rest (of U.P. literature). This is much more brutal,” said Riekki. “I was excited to have such characters.”

In a review on Riekki’s website, Ryan P. Dolley said, “It’s a novel about Michigan’s near-empty Upper Peninsula that turns the stereotype of a tranquil country upbringing on its head; it’s a novel about four deeply wounded young men who make fantastic, interesting, compelling, sympathetic and frightening characters. It’s funny as hell, the structure works to support the story, and the ending is absolutely incredible.”

Wiig came across the book when his mother suggested he read it and brought him a copy.

“I was doing some touring with Metallica and cracked the book open on an international flight, and it had me from the first sentence,” Wiig said.

After reading the novel, Wiig said he knew he had to get the book on the big screen.

“It was a magnetic pull I felt that shouldn’t be denied,” said Wiig. “If somebody is able to bring the story to the screen I think I should be responsible for some of that because of the location and the characters.”

The script for the movie is yet to be finished, so a date to begin filming has not yet been decided, he said.

“I want the script to be bullet proof,” Wiig said.

When ready, the film will be shot in the U.P. mostly between Negaunee and Ishpeming at landmarks such as the Ishpeming Cemetery and Caving Grounds (also known as Old Towne Negaunee), Wiig said.

Like with many novels turned into movies, there will be differences between the stories. The goal is for the movie and book to complement each other and for each to fill in gaps that the other isn’t capable of, explained Wiig.

“It takes the book into new dimensions and new territory,” said Wiig. “It adds a different layer of flesh to the book.”

Acting talent is still being scouted. Some A-list actors are being looked at for this movie, but nothing is final, said Wiig.

“We’re going to aim for the highest level of talent we can but would also like to have local talent,” Wiig said.

More information on the book and movie can be found on their Facebook page,, or their website,

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