JJ Starr

JJ Starr is a writer and author of “Bum Rush the Commons: Enter the Era of the Water Wars” and “The Mother I Knew: Race to Thunder Bay and the Battle for the Commons.”

Starr had a talent for writing at an early age, but he didn’t come to know his love for the art and that it would be something much more in his life until he was in his early 20s. He was taking classes toward a business associate degree at Lansing Community College when a writing teacher noticed his literary aptitude and encouraged Starr to further pursue writing by taking more advanced classes. He excelled at the higher-level writing courses and in 1994 entered the journalism program at Michigan State University.  

Following graduation in 1996, he worked as a reporter for newspapers in Grand Rapids and Lansing, Michigan. He continued to hone his craft, finding a particular joy in writing personal profile stories about many of the people living in the communities he covered. In 1999, he took a job working on the copydesk of The Ann Arbor News, an award-winning daily fighting for stories with the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press in the highly competitive southeastern Michigan market. Starr called his time at The News the single most rewarding experience of his career. 

“The pace and the deadlines were insane. I got so stressed. I used to throw up at least once a month before coming into work. And talk about feeding the beast. When you’re putting out a newspaper every day there is always something going on. That newsroom was always alive. It was the most amazing experience of my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I got to work with some of the most talented journalists in the business.”

Starr moved on from The News in 2002, and has held various positions in corporate and government communications since. He launched StarrWriter in 2005, through which he published both his books, launched a successful weekly news publication as well as consulted countless clients with his writing, editing and design services. 

Starr was born in Lansing, Michigan in 1970 to William Starr, a masonry contractor and Wanda Starr; an office staff worker. He graduated from Grand Ledge High school in 1988. Starr worked for his father’s masonry business as a tender. He occasionally jokes with people saying his jobs have been getting progressively easier since he started working for Starr Construction at age 13. 

He was the first in his family to graduate from university. Starr currently lives in Fairfax, Virginia with his wife Sarah and their cats Georgie and Lenny, and dog Louie.