Author Archive for Robin Agnew

Winners of the 2016 Book Cover Contest Announced!

At a lovely reception at the Ann Arbor District Library, the winners of the 9th annual cover contest were announced. For the first time ever, all the finalists attended.  All of them were able to meet Andrea Hannah, the author of this year’s book, Of Scars and Stardust.

First Place – Peyton Johnston, Kensington Woods High School

2nd Place – Shaye Rumsberger, Kensington Woods High School

3rd Place – Logan Gorman, Community High School

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Congratulations to all the entrants and finalists! Stay tuned for next year’s selection.


Finalist Alexis Higgins & her family


Logan Gorman and author Andrea Hannah

John Smolens & Benjamin Busch

In the Main Tent at 4, two of our favorite guys, John Smolens and Benjamin Busch, join us to discuss Mr. Smolen’s latest book, Wolf’s Mouth.

ben busch

Benjamin Busch

Mr. Busch is a United States Marine Corps infantry officer, photographer, film director, and actor whose many roles have included Officer Anthony Colicchio on the HBO series The Wire. He is the author of the memoir Dust to Dust about his childhood and his war experience in Iraq.

John Smolens is a professor and a writer and his latest book, Wolf’s Mouth, is about Italian officer Captain Francesco Verdi, who is captured in 1944 by Allied forces in North Africa and shipped to a POW camp in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where the senior POW, the ruthless Kommandant Vogel, demands that all prisoners adhere to his Nazi dictates. His life threatened, Verdi escapes from the camp and meets up with an American woman, Chiara Frangiapani, who helps him elude capture as they flee to the Lower Peninsula.


By 1956 they have become Frank and Claire Green, a young married couple building a new life in postwar Detroit. When INS agent James Giannopoulos tracks them down, Frank learns that Vogel is executing men like Frank for their wartime transgressions. This is a book and an author you won’t want to miss, as you’ll find out about less well known portions of Michigan history and learn how a gifted writer can combine truth and fiction.

Meet B.A. Shapiro

B.A. Shapiro is the author of seven novels, but most recently she has turned her eye to art history and is the author of The Art Forger and The Muralist. At 2:45 in the Main Tent, Ms. Shapiro will be interviewed by art historian Ellen Longsworth.

art forger

On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art worth today over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history and in The Art Forger, Claire Roth, a struggling young artist with her own scandalous past, is about to discover that that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye. The Art Forger uses real history and real art history mixed with fiction to create a gripping story, impossible to put down.

In The Muralist, the follow up to The Art Forger, Shapiro turns her attention to 1940’s New York City. Alizée Benoit, an American painter working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), vanishes amid personal and political turmoil. No one knows what happened to her. Not her Jewish family living in German-occupied France. Not her artistic patron and political compatriot, Eleanor Roosevelt. Not her close-knit group of friends, including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner. And, some seventy years later, not her great-niece, Danielle Abrams, who while working at Christie’s auction house uncovers enigmatic paintings hidden behind recently found works by those now famous Abstract Expressionist artists. Do they hold answers to the questions surrounding her missing aunt?

ba shapiro


You won’t want to miss this exciting discussion about art, art history, and creating a great story at the same time.

A Mysterious Sense of Place

1:30 in the Main Tent is the source of all things mysterious, as four mystery authors gather to discuss their craft. Moderating the panel is U of M alum and Hopwood Award winner Carrie Smith, the author of the New York City set police novel, Silent City, about a female detective recovering from cancer and now back on the job.


Carrie will be asking questions of New York Times Bestselling author William Kent Krueger, the author of the beloved Cork O’Connor series set in Northern Minnesota. The latest in the series, Manitou Canyon, comes out the week before the bookfest. Mr. Krueger is also the author of the Edgar winning modern classic, Ordinary Grace.


He’ll be joined by the multiple Agatha and Anthony Award winning Hank Phillippi Ryan, who writes a Boston set series featuring reporter Jane Ryland, who has complicated her life by becoming involved with a cop. Hank is also a multiple Emmy winner, as she’s an on air reporter in Boston. Her latest Jane Ryland book What You See, is just available in paperback.


And last but not least the lovely Patricia Abbott will join the panel. Patricia is from the Detroit area and the author of two noir novels, Concrete Angel and Shot in Detroit.


If you love mysteries or just plain good writing this is not a panel you’ll want to miss.

The Quest for Identity

Join Michigan authors Desiree Cooper, Kelly Fordon and Andrew Mozina in our Main Tent at 12:15 as they discuss the various ways the characters in their books search for identity. The discussion will be moderated by author Don Lystra.


In Know the Mother, author Desiree Cooper explores the complex archetype of the mother in all of her incarnations. In a collage of meditative stories, women—both black and white—find themselves wedged between their own yearnings and their roles as daughters, sisters, grandmothers, and wives.

Kelly Fordon‘s Garden for the Blind is set between 1974 and 2012.  The intricately woven stories follow Alice and Mike through high school, college, and into middle age, but also skillfully incorporate stories of their friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers who are touched by the same themes of privilege, folly, neglect, and resilience. A WWII veteran sleepwalks out of his home at night, led by vivid flashbacks. A Buddhist monk is assaulted by a robber while seated in meditation. A teenaged girl is shot walking home from the corner store with a friend. A lifelong teacher of blind children is targeted by vandals at the school she founded.  This book is a 2016 Michigan Notable Book.

blind garden

Andy Mozina’s sardonic novel, Contrary Motion, tells the story of a dysfunctional, divorced, family man who is trying to make a go of playing the harp professionally while battling the circumstances surrounding him.The story was prompted by Mozina’s mother, a long-time hospice nurse, who sent him a picture from a newspaper that showed a harpist playing a bed side vigil for somebody who was dying.”She thought that was an interesting subject and I thought it was too,” he says. “And I thought it was kind of a cool sort of beautiful, sort of charged thing and it got my imagination going.”

contrary motion

This promises to be a wonderful discussion – don’t miss it.