2014 Speakers
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Read up on the speakers we have confirmed for this year’s events!

Tasha Alexander
Tasha Alexander is the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Emily series and the novel ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE. She attended the University of Notre Dame, where she studied English and Medieval History. Her work has been nominated for numerous awards and has been translated into more than a dozen languages. Her latest Lady Emily book is BEHIND THE SHATTERED GLASS. She and her husband, novelist Andrew Grant, divide their time between Chicago and the UK.

Deborah L. Diesen
Deborah Diesen's first book, The Pout-Pout Fish, was published in 2008 and spent two weeks on the New York Times bestseller list for children's picture books. It was selected as the 2009 "Michigan Reads" book. The Pout-Pout Fish was followed by a sequel in 2010, The Pout-Pout Fish In The Big-Big Dark. A third adventure for Mr. Fish and his friends, The Pout-Pout Fish Goes To School, will be published summer 2014. Debbie is also the author of a new series of mini-adventures for The Pout-Pout Fish, board books created especially for babies and very young toddlers. The first of these, Smile, Pout-Pout Fish, was released in January, and will be followed by Sweet Dreams, Pout-Pout Fish next year. Her other books are a rhyming story called The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade and a non-rhyming story called Picture Day Perfection. Previously a bookseller and a reference librarian, she now works at a small nonprofit organization. She and her family live in Grand Ledge, MI. She is a lifelong fan of Fox In Socks.

Loren D. Estleman
Loren D. Estleman is the author of over sixty novels, including the Amos Walker Private Eye series, many Westerns, and historical mystery fiction set in Detroit. He has won the Spur Award, tbe Western Heritage Award and the Shamus Award. He has been nominated for the Edgar Award and the National Book Award. He is a past winner of the Kerrytown BookFest Community Book Award, as well as a frequent bookfest panelist and speaker. His 23rd Amos Walker novel was published in March of 2014 and his latest Western, RAGTIME COWBOYS, in May. He lives in Whitmore Lake with his wife, the author Deborah Morgan.

Don Faber
Don Faber is author of THE TOLEDO WAR, winner of the 2009 Michigan Notable Book Award. Former editor of the Ann Arbor News, he also served on the staff of the Michigan Constitutional Convention, won a Ford Foundation Fellowship to work in the Michigan Senate, and was a speechwriter for Michigan governor George Romney. He is also the author of THE BOY GOVERNOR: STEVENS T. MASON AND THE BIRTH OF MICHIGAN POLITICS.

Brian Floca
Brian Floca is the author and illustrator of Locomotive, winner of the 2014 Caldecott Medal. He has also written and illustrated Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, Lightship, The Racecar Alphabet, and Five Trucks. He is the illustrator of the Poppy Stories series, by Avi; Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring, by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan; Kate Messner's Marty McGuire novels; and Lynne Cox's forthcoming Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas. His books have received four Robert F. Sibert Honor awards, an Orbis Pictus Award, an Orbis Pictus Honor, a silver medal from the Society of Illustrators, and have twice been selected for The New York Times' annual 10 Best Illustrated Books list. Brian was born and raised in Temple, Texas. He graduated from Brown University and received his MFA from the School of Visual Arts. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. You can visit him online at brianfloca.com.

Richard Gilbert
Richard Gilbert worked in newspapers and university press book publishing, each for more than a decade, was a Kiplinger fellow in journalism at Ohio State, and earned an MFA in creative nonfiction at Goucher College. He has taught writing at Ohio State, Indiana University, Ohio University, and Otterbein University. He currently teaches English and journalism at Otterbein, on the banks of Alum Creek in Westerville, Ohio. He is the author of SHEPHERD: A MEMOIR. He is married to Kathy Krendl; they have two grown children, Claire and Tom.

Michael Harvey
Michael Harvey is a writer, journalist, and documentary producer. He is the author of the Michael Kelly private eye novels as well as the stand alone novel THE INNOCENCE GAME. He is the co-creator, writer and executive producer of the Prime Time Emmy-nominated television series Cold Case Files and a former investigative producer for CBS in Chicago. Michael's work as a documentary producer and journalist has won numerous national and international awards, including multiple Emmys and an Academy Award nomination for the Holocaust documentary Eyewitness. Michael earned a law degree from Duke University, a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and a bachelor's degree in classical languages from Holy Cross College. Michael was born and raised in Boston and graduated from Boston Latin School. He now lives in Chicago with his wife, Mary Frances, and their dog, Maggie. Michael also owns The Hidden Shamrock, home to a great pint of Guinness and a place Michael Kelly likes to frequent.

Elizabeth Heiter
ELIZABETH HEITER likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists, and a little bit (or a lot!) of romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy's shooting range. Elizabeth graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English Literature. Her manuscripts have been finalists in the Golden Heart, Marlene, Daphne Du Maurier, and Golden Gateway contests and she won Suzanne Brockmann's 2010 Haiku Contest. She's a member of International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America and has volunteered for several chapters, including serving as the Greater Detroit area president. In 2012, Elizabeth fulfilled a lifelong goal when she sold her first five novels.

Jessica Hollander
Jessica lives in Northport, Alabama, is a recent graduate of the University of Alabama's MFA program, and teaches English, composition, and creative writing at the University. Her book IN THESE TIMES THE HOME IS A TIRED PLACE won the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for short fiction. She's originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she returns as often as possible. She lives with her husband Richard and her toddler Oliver, who speaks the language of lions, monkeys, and the wind.

Anna Lee Huber
Anna Lee Huber was born and raised in a small town in Ohio. From a young age, her imagination was boundless. She spent her summers with her four brothers and one sister playing Star Wars, wearing snow boots and her mother's old nightgowns while swinging plastic bats as light-sabers, and The A-Team hanging off the riding lawn mower (what else were they supposed to use for the van?). In the fourth grade, she penned her first story and asked her teacher to read it to the class. Sure, it was titled Prom Duty, and a ten-year-old doesn't really know much about high school dances, but she chalked it up as her first success. She went on to write several more stories, including a series featuring her own gang of mystery-solving teens, keeping her pen moving despite teenage hormones and a cross-country move to South Carolina. Having dreamed of becoming a Rock Star, more along the lines of Amy Grant than Britney Spears, Anna attended college in Music City USA-Nashville, Tennessee. There, she met her husband while acting in a school production of Our Town. They married just before she graduated summa cum laude from Lipscomb University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and a minor in Psychology. Discovering she was better trained to sing opera than Top 40, and uncertain where her future lay, she found work as an administrative assistant while she tried to find herself again. While pondering her choices, Anna rediscovered her need for creative expression. She began arranging music, and returned to her love of writing fiction. She now pens the award-winning Lady Darby historical mystery series for Berkley Publishing. Anna is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Historical Novel Society. She currently lives in Indiana with her husband and troublemaking tabby cat, Pita. When not hard at work on her next novel, she enjoys reading, singing, travel, and spending time with her family.

Linda Hundt
Linda McComb Hundt grew up in Lansing, Michigan with a huge sweet tooth, loving her Easybake Oven, and dreaming of owning her own pie shop someday! She married her high school sweetheart, John Hundt in 1985, graduated from Michigan State Univ. with a degree in Education in 1988, and worked as a substitute teacher until 1989. Because teaching jobs were scarce, Ms. Hundt went to work in the political arena while her daughters, Ellie and Betsie were young. In 2002, after struggling with depression for many years, Linda quit her job to pursue her life-long dream of starting her pie shop business. As a home-based business, she sold her fare at farm markets and high-end restaurants. In 2005, the business grew into a retail café bakery in DeWitt Michigan. The entire business is based on love and nostalgia through the business’ mission, comfort food, vintage ambiance, and merchandise.. Ms. Hundt and Sweetie-licious Bakery Cafe have won numerous baking, restaurant, and business awards. Her book, SWEETIE-LICIOUS: EAT PIE, LOVE LIFE, is a 2014 Michigan Notable Book Award winner. Linda has been featured in numerous national, state, and local television segments, magazine, and newspapers including Country Living, Midwest Living, and Parade. Linda is a sought-after keynote speaker, speaking on faith, dreams, and love, as well as giving pie baking demonstrations for hundreds of people at a time. Linda resides in a century-old farmhouse with her sweet husband. Her two beautiful daughters are attending college. Linda believes that Sweetie-licious Bakery Cafe can change the world one pie at a time through good food, good pies and good deeds and if you eat pie, you will inevitably, love life.

Don Lystra
Raised in cities and small towns around Michigan, Donald Lystra received degrees in electrical engineering and sociology from the University of Michigan. He worked on electrical power plants before beginning to write fiction in the mid-1990s and his writing reflects the unique perspective of an engineer turned writer. Lystra's first book, a novel entitled Season of Water and Ice, captured both the Midwest Book Award and the Michigan Notable Book Award in 2010. His second book, released in September, 2013, is a story collection entitled Something that Feels like Truth. It has received widespread advance praise with the American Library Association's Booklist calling it "luminous" and "a stellar collection of masterfully crafted gems." Anthony Bukoski, writing in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, said of the book: "I won't forget this beautiful piece (the concluding story) and what Lystra accomplishes in it and in this wise book." It is a 2014 Michigan Notable Book Winner. Lystra has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the MacDowell Colony, where he was honored with the Gerald Freund award for emerging writers, and his short fiction has received Special Mention in the Pushcart Prizes. He and his wife divide their time between Ann Arbor and a farm in northern Michigan. He has two grown children.

Susan Elia MacNeal
New York Times-bestselling author Susan Elia MacNeal is the author of the Maggie Hope Mystery series from Bantam/Random House. She is the winner of the Barry Award, and her books have been nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, Dilys, and Left Coast Crime awards. The first novel in the series is Mr. Churchill's Secretary. It won the Barry Award and was nominated for the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award for Best First Novel and the Mystery Readers International's Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel. It was also nominated for the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association’s 2013 Dilys Award for "the mystery title of the year that booksellers have most enjoyed hand-selling," Mr. Churchill's Secretary was also declared one of Suspense Magazine's Best Debut of 2012, Deadly Pleasures' Best Paperback Original of 2012, and chosen as one of Target's "Emerging Authors" series. The sequel, Princess Elizabeth's Spy, was a New York Times bestseller and chosen by Oprah.com as "Mystery of the Week" and one of "Seven Compulsively Readable Mysteries (for the Crazy-Smart Reader)," as well as Target's "Emerging Author" series. It was nominated for the Macavity Award's Sue Feder Historical Memorial Award. His Majesty's Hope made the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists and was chosen as one of Target’s "Emerging Authors" series. It was nominated for a 2013 Left Coast Crime Award for the Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award. Book #4, The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent, will be published in July 2014.

Bob Morris
Bob has spent his entire career involved with government. He started out as a teacher in the Detroit Public Schools and then worked in Lansing for the Michigan House of Representatives, Governor Blanchard, the Michigan Department of Transportation, as well as the Michigan Department of Education. As Assistant Wayne County Executive, Bob helped write the Wayne County Airport Act, and also ran the county's legislative office in Lansing. Bob currently works as a policy advisor to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) on a part time basis and has written Built in Detroit: A story of the UAW, a Company and a Gangster. For more about Bob and his book, check out www.builtindetroit.net.

Chris Raschka
"I always try to treat the book itself as the artwork," Chris Raschka says. "I don't want you to stop while you're reading one of my books and say, 'Oh! What a gorgeous illustration!' I want you to stop at the end of the book and say, 'This is a good book.' " Chris Raschka is one of those people who knew from an early age what he wanted to be when he grew up. "It was never a question in my mind," he says. "As long as I can remember, I always knew what I would do: I would become a biologist." Somewhere along the line, however, after having to kill a mouse with his bare hands, Chris Raschka began to change his mind. "I understood it intellectually," he says, "but I just wasn't cut out to do that." Fortunately, Chris Raschka's squeamishness turned into a boon for the realm of children's books. He decided to shift his focus to painting and drawing, and has since produced a range of outstanding books that has PUBLISHERS WEEKLY calling him "one of the most original illustrators at work today." Chris Raschka illustrated A POKE IN THE I: A COLLECTION OF CONCRETE POEMS, a critically acclaimed anthology that was both a NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW Best Illustrated Children's Book and a PUBLISHERS WEEKLY Best Book of the Year. "I approached it with a version of the Hippocratic oath," Chris Raschka says of the playful volume. "That was my goal: do no harm to these poems, which are all beautiful. I wanted my illustrations to be little welcoming introductions--a way in." And most recently, Chris Raschka has once again teamed up with his A POKE IN THE I partner Paul B. Janeczko to bring an equally lauded creation to poets everywhere. A KICK IN THE HEAD: AN EVERYDAY GUIDE TO POETIC FORMS teaches readers the excitement and challenge that can be found in playing by the rules of poetry. Receiving starred reviews from PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, KIRKUS REVIEWS, SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, and BOOKLIST, the title seamlessly unites text and art. Chris Raschka's whimsical torn-paper artwork lends thoughtful details to essence of the book-that poetry is fun. Previously, Chris Raschka turned his talents to Dylan Thomas's timeless prose poem A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS IN WALES, creating fluid illustrations that honor the poet's words, evoking their musical cadences and bringing a fresh appreciation for this most lyric work. Named a NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW Best Illustrated Children's Book, this beautiful edition "should bring Dylan Thomas's work to a new generation of children," says President Jimmy Carter. The illustrator was also a force behind I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE, a picture book cowritten by legendary children's book author Bill Martin Jr. and fellow literacy expert Michael Sampson. "My parents have always respectfully refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance," Chris Raschka says. "That's why I was drawn to this project--in America, we each have the freedom to choose, including the freedom to choose whether or not to say the pledge." His aim was that his quirky images, with their simple, stylized line drawings, would "bring a sense of inclusion. That is my hope, for everyone: to make the Pledge come alive." A different sort of collaboration went into the tongue-in-cheek TABLE MANNERS, a hilarious picture book that Chris Raschka wrote and illustrated together with artist Vladimir Radunsky, a long-time friend. Chris Raschka grew up in suburban Chicago, but then "fled to New York," where he now lives with his wife, son, and a variety of pets. When not working on books, the artist likes to walk around the city, knit sweaters without a pattern, go to the opera, practice yoga, and surf, a pastime that once cost him a tooth.

Theresa Schwegel
Theresa Schwegel was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She is the author of four crime novels set in and around the Chicago area. Her debut, Officer Down, was published in 2005, and subsequently won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. In 2008, she received the 21st Century Award from the Chicago Public Library Foundation in recognition for an emerging artist with ties to Chicago. Her fifth novel, The Good Boy, was released in November 2013.

Sue William Silverman
Sue is the author of three memoirs and a craft book on how to write memoir. She is also a professional speaker on such topics as sexual addiction, child abuse prevention, family dynamics, and her journey as a Jewish writer. She delivers presentations at colleges and universities, professional conferences, and social service organizations. She also speaks about the importance of writing your life story. Sue has appeared on many national radio and television programs such as The View, Anderson Cooper-360, CNN-Headline News, the Discovery Channel, a John Stossel Special on ABC-TV, the Montel Williams Show, the Ricki Lake Show, the Morning Show with Mike and Juliet. She was also featured in an episode of "The Secret Lives of Women" on WE-TV. Sue teaches writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her latest book is THE PAT BOONE FAN CLUB: MY LIFE AS A WHITE ANGLO SAXON JEW.

Simone St. James
Simone St. James is a lifelong reader of ghost stories and other spooky reads, but it wasn't until she was an adult that she discovered two wonderful genres: romances and old, classic gothics. Wishing she could read something that combined the three, with a 1920's setting thrown in as well (and having written two full novels that were rightfully rejected everywhere and will forever live under the bed), she wrote THE HAUNTING OF MADDY CLARE, which was the book she really wished to read. An agent's representation and a publishing contract soon followed, and she has been happily writing in her chosen, made-up genre ever since. THE HAUNTING OF MADDY CLARE won two of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® awards, as well as Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Book. Simone spent twenty years behind the scenes in the television business before leaving to become a full-time writer. She lives just outside Toronto with her husband and an elderly cat who is probably sleeping as we speak. When not writing, Simone can be found traveling, cooking, staying active and healthy, gardening badly, and reading, reading, reading. Among her favorite authors (besides the geeky history and research books she loves) are Mary Stewart, Daphne duMaurier, Deanna Raybourn, Susanna Kearsley, Jacqueline Winspear, Victoria Holt, Kate Morton, George R. R. Martin, and Stephen King. How’s that for a mix? And of course, along with the rest of the planet, she is eagerly awaiting the next season of Downton Abbey and Sherlock on the BBC.

Erin Stead
Erin Stead is the Caldecott Medal winning illustrator of A Sick Day for Amos McGee, also named a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2010 and a Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book of 2010 (A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, 2010). She and her husband, author and artist Philip Stead, with whom she co-created A Sick Day for Amos McGee and Bear Has a Story to Tell, live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Bear Has a Story to Tell was named a Best Children's Book of 2012 by Kirkus Reviews. Erin also illustrated And Then It's Spring written by Julie Fogliano and named a 2012 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book and a Best Children's Book of 2012 by Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly.

Philip C. Stead
Philip C. Stead is the author of the Caldecott Medal winning book A Sick Day for Amos McGee, also named a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2010 and a Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book of 2010, illustrated by his wife, Erin E. Stead. Together with Erin, he also created Bear Has a Story to Tell, an E.B. White Read-Aloud Award honor book. Philip, also an artist, has written and illustrated several of his own books including Hello, My Name is Ruby, Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat, A Home for Bird, and his debut Creamed Tuna Fish and Peas on Toast, which was applauded by School Library Journal for "its wry humor and illustrations worthy of a Roald Dahl creation." Philip lives with Erin and their dog, Wednesday, in a 100-year-old barn in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Lauren Willig
Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of eleven works of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association's annual list of the best genre fiction. After graduating from Yale University, she embarked on a PhD in English History at Harvard before leaving academia to acquire a JD at Harvard Law while authoring her "Pink Carnation" series of Napoleonic-set novels. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.