NOVEMBER 17, 2018 | 140 7th Avenue South, St. Petersburg | FREE ADMISSION
NOVEMBER 17, 2018

140 7th Avenue South
St. Petersburg


2017 Authors

David Abrams

David Abrams served in the U.S. Army for twenty years and was deployed to Iraq in 2005 as part of a public affairs team. He is the author of the novels Fobbit and, most recently, Brave Deeds. His stories have appeared in Esquire, Narrative and other literary magazines. He lives in Montana.

Ace Atkins

Ace Atkins is the New York Times bestselling author of 21 novels, including The Fallen and Robert B. Parker’s Little White Lies, both out in 2017. Atkins has been nominated for every major award in crime fiction, including the Edgar three times, twice for novels about former U.S. Army Ranger Quinn Colson. A former newspaper reporter and SEC football player, Ace also writes essays and investigative pieces for several national magazines including Outside and Garden & Gun. He lives in Oxford, Miss., with his family, where he’s friend to many dogs and several bartenders.

Jerri Bell

Jerri Bell is the managing editor for O-Dark-Thirty, the literary journal of the Veterans Writing Project. She retired from the Navy in 2008; her assignments included antisubmarine warfare in the Azores Islands, sea duty on USS Mount Whitney and HMS Sheffield, and attaché duty at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia. Her fiction has been published in a variety of journals and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize; her nonfiction has been published in journals and newspapers, and on blogs. She and former Marine Tracy Crow are the co-authors of It’s My Country Too: Women’s Military Stories from the American Revolution to Afghanistan.


Patricia Bell-Scott

Patricia Bell-Scott is professor emerita of women’s studies and human development and family science at the University of Georgia and author of The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice, which won the Lillian Smith Book Award. This biography was also named the best adult nonfiction book by Booklist and a finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, and longlisted for the National Book Award. Bell-Scott’s previous books include Life Notes: Personal Writings by Contemporary Black Women, Flat-footed Truths: Telling Black Women’s Lives and Double Stitch: Black Women Write about Mothers and Daughters, which won the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial History Book Prize.

Christian Blauvelt

Christian Blauvelt is the author of Star Wars Made Easy: A Beginner’s Guide to a Galaxy Far, Far Away. He is the deputy editor at BBC Culture. He has written extensively about Star Wars for Entertainment Weekly magazine and has discussed the saga on BBC World News TV and CBS New York, where he is a frequent pop culture commentator and film awards season expert. He grew up in St. Petersburg and is based in New York City.

Mark Bowden

Mark Bowden, author of Hue 1968, is the author of 13 books, including the No.1 New York Times bestseller Black Hawk Down, "one of the finest combat reconstructions in the annals of warfare," according to the Baltimore Sun. It has sold over 4 million copies. Bowden reported at the Philadelphia Inquirer for 20 years and now writes for the Atlantic, Vanity Fair and other magazines. He is also the writer in residence at the University of Delaware. Black Hawk Down was a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction; his book Killing Pablo won the Overseas Press Club’s 2001 Cornelius Ryan Award as the book of the year; and his Guests of the Ayatollah was listed by Newsweek as one of "The 50 Best Books for Our Times." Bowden has received the Abraham Lincoln Literary Award and the International Thriller Writers’ True Thriller Award for lifetime achievement.


Andy Boyle

Andy Boyle is a writer, web developer and speaker. He currently is helping build the modern media company Axios as its director of platform architecture. Previously, Andy has held a variety of roles at many news outlets, including NBC News, the St. Petersburg Times and the New York Times Regional Media Group, where a project of his was cited in the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News. He is a regular speaker at colleges, conferences and workshops; his writing has also appeared in Esquire, the TODAY Show, Publishers Weekly and more. His first book, Adulthood for Beginners: All the Life Secrets Nobody Bothered to Tell You, was called "a guide to being an adult in the modern age" by the Chicago Tribune. He lives in Chicago with his way-too-fluffy cat Tiberius.

Gretchen Carlson

Gretchen Carlson is one of the nation’s most successful and recognized news anchors and a tireless advocate for female empowerment, the subject of her new book, Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back. Since making the decision to speak up against sexual harassment, she has sparked an international conversation about the pervasiveness of the problem and, in doing so, discovered that every woman has a story. This past year, Carlson graced the covers of both Time and Good Housekeeping magazines and is a marquee columnist for Time’s Motto. Learn more about her foundation, Gretchen Carlson’s Gift of Courage, at

John Capouya

In Florida Soul: From Ray Charles to KC and the Sunshine Band, University of Tampa journalism and writing professor John Capouya celebrates Sunshine State artists who have produced some of the most electric, emotive soul music America has ever heard – establishing the state as one of the great soul music capitals of the United States. Through stories of Ray Charles, Hank Ballard (writer of The Twist) and legendary duo Sam & Dave, Capouya recreates the exciting atmosphere of the golden age of soul.


Roy Peter Clark

Roy Peter Clark is the recently retired senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, the school that owns the Tampa Bay Times. For 40 years, he has taught writing at every level, to schoolchildren and Pulitzer Prize-winning authors. A writer who teaches and a teacher who writes, he has written or edited 18 books, including the influential Writing Tools, The Glamour of Grammar, Help! for Writers, How to Write Short and The Art of X-Ray Reading. His mission is "to create a nation of writers," an aspiration that has earned him the nickname "America’s writing coach."

Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly was born in Philadelphia and moved to Florida with his family when he was 12 years old. He decided to become a writer after discovering the books of Raymond Chandler while attending the University of Florida. Once he decided on this direction he chose a major in journalism and a minor in creative writing – a curriculum in which one of his teachers was novelist Harry Crews. After graduating in 1980, Connelly worked at newspapers in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale, primarily specializing in the crime beat. He later became a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, one of the largest papers in the country, bringing him to the city of which his literary hero, Chandler, had written. Michael is the bestselling author of 30 novels and one work of nonfiction. With over 60 million copies of his books sold worldwide and translated into 39 foreign languages, he is one of the most successful writers working today. His very first novel, The Black Echo, won the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1992. In 2002, Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the movie adaptation of Connelly’s 1998 novel, Blood Work. In March 2011, the movie adaptation of his No. 1 bestselling novel The Lincoln Lawyer hit theaters worldwide starring Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Haller. His most recent No.1 New York Times bestsellers include The Wrong Side Of Goodbye, The Crossing, The Burning Room, The Gods of Guilt, The Black Box, and The Drop. He introduced a new series character, Renèe Ballard, in The Late Show, in July. Two Kinds of Truth, published in November, is his latest about L.A. detective Harry Bosch. Michael is the executive producer of Bosch, an Amazon Studios original drama series based on his bestselling character and starring Titus Welliver. Bosch streams on Amazon Prime Video. Connelly spends his time in California and Florida.

Tracy Crow

Tracy Crow is president and CEO of MilSpeak Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the creative arts endeavors of the military community, Crow is a former Marine Corps officer and assistant professor of journalism and creative writing at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg. She is the author or editor of five books: the award-winning memoir Eyes Right: Confessions from a Woman Marine; the breakthrough writing text On Point: A Guide to Writing the Military Story; the anthology Red, White,& True: Stories from Veterans & Families, WWII to Present; the novel An Unlawful Order under her pen name, Carver Greene; and the newly released popular history It’s My Country Too: Women’s Military Stories from the American Revolution to Afghanistan, co-authored with Jerri Bell.


Lisa Daily

Lisa Daily is the love and relationships expert on Daytime, a nationally-syndicated morning TV show, and has appeared everywhere from MTV Live to Entertainment Tonight, and been quoted by the New York Times and many other publications. She is the bestselling author of seven books, including Stop Getting Dumped!, Fifteen Minutes of Shame, How to Date Like a Grown-Up and Beauty. Her latest book is Single Minded.

Jack E. Davis

Jack E. Davis is the author of the award-winning An Everglades Providence: Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the American Environmental Century, a dual biography of America’s premier wetlands and the woman who led a movement to save it. His latest book, The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea, is a comprehensive history of the Gulf of Mexico from the Pleistocene to the present. Davis, who writes mainly for an intellectually curious audience rather than an academic one, has been teaching history at the university level for more than two decades. In 2002-2003, he taught on a Fulbright award at the University of Jordan in Amman. He is now a professor of environmental history and sustainability studies at the University of Florida.

Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo, whose newest book is La La La, is the beloved author of many books for children, including Flora & Ulysses and The Tale of Despereaux, both of which received Newbery Medals. Her most recent middle-grade novel, Raymie Nightingale, was an instant No. 1 New York Times bestseller and a National Book Award finalist. She is also the author of Because of Winn-Dixie, a Newbery Honor Book; The Tiger Rising, a National Book Award finalist; The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, a No.1 New York Times bestseller; and the Mercy Watson series, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. She is the co-author with Allison McGhee of the Bink and Gollie series, illustrated by Tony Fucile. A former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature with more than 22 million books in print worldwide, DiCamillo lives in Minneapolis, where she faithfully writes two pages a day, five days a week.


Tim Dorsey

Tim Dorsey grew up in a small town about an hour north of Miami called Riviera Beach. He graduated from Auburn University, and while he was there, he was editor of the student newspaper, the Plainsman. From 1983 to 1987, he was a police and courts reporter for the Alabama Journal, the now-defunct evening newspaper in Montgomery. He joined the Tampa Tribune in 1987 as a general assignment reporter. He also worked as a political reporter in the Tribune’s Tallahassee bureau and a copy desk editor. From 1994 to 1999, he was the Tribune’s night metro editor. He left the paper in August 1999 to write full time. Tim has since published 19 novels, most recently Clownfish Blues. He lives in Tampa. For more information, including tour updates, visit

Mark Fenster

Mark Fenster has been obsessed with secrets and mysteries since childhood. His popular academic books work through this obsession by offering broad inquiries into the center and margins of American politics, law and culture. His first book on conspiracy theories asked why the United States seems so suffused with paranoia. Studying the Bill Clinton and post-9/11 eras, he found ample reasons to worry but also something defensible in Americans’ antipathy to concentrations of power. His new book, The Transparency Fix, turns the question around and asks why government and citizens are so fixated on secrets and information. Our understandable concern about excess secrecy, he argues, often distracts from popular participation in democratic politics. He received a BA from the University of Virginia, a PhD from the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana), and a law degree from Yale. Since 2001, he has served as professor of law at the University of Florida.

Renee Garrison

Renee Garrison spent 18 years as a newspaper reporter for the Tampa Tribune. During the decade she worked as the newspaper’s architecture critic, Garrison won two communication awards from the American Institute of Architects. She discovered her love of journalism while writing for her high school newspaper and graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in mass communications. The daughter of a naval aviator, Garrison in 2011 visited her former home in the Sanford Naval Academy, which closed its doors in 1976. Memories flooded back and a book was born. Her young adult novel The Anchor Clankers won a gold medal in the 2017 Florida Authors and Publishers Association President’s Book Awards. Garrison and her husband live in DeLand, where coffee and chocolate seem to aid her creative process a lot.


Sarah Gerard

Sarah Gerard is the author of the recent essay collection Sunshine State, the novel Binary Star (a finalist for the Los Angeles Times first fiction prize) and two chapbooks, most recently BFF. Her short stories, essays, interviews and criticism have appeared in the New York Times, Granta, Vice, BOMB Magazine and other journals as well as anthologies. Sheès been supported by fellowships and residencies from Yaddo, Tin House, PlatteForum, Pocoapoco and Ucross. Gerard grew up in Pinellas County. She writes a monthly column for Hazlitt and teaches writing in New York City.

Chris Hand

Chris Hand is a Floridian with a long record of public, civic, and legal service. From 1996 to 2000, Hand served as speechwriter, campaign press secretary, and Senate press secretary for former Governor and then-U.S. Senator Bob Graham. Graham and Hand have since written two books about effective citizenship. In 2008, Hand was one of 27 Florida electors in the United States Electoral College. From 2011 to 2015, Hand served as Chief of Staff at the City of Jacksonville–the largest city by area in the contiguous United States and the 12th largest by population in the entire nation. He has practiced law at several Florida firms. In his current legal practice, Hand helps clients anticipate challenges, identify opportunities and improve their interactions with government. Hand graduated with honors from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and the Fredric G. Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.

William Heffernan

William Heffernan is the Edgar Award-winning author of `9 novels, including the international best sellers The Corsican and The Dinosaur Club, as well as The Dead Detective, When Johnny Came Marching Home and Beulah Hill. He divides his time between his 40-foot trawler in Florida and visits to his children around the country. Prior to turning to fiction 36 years ago, Heffernan was a New York City newspaper reporter who was nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize. The Scientology Murders is his latest novel.


Mark Helprin

Mark Helprin is the acclaimed, bestselling author of Winter’s Tale, In Sunlight and in Shadow, A Soldier of the Great War, Freddy and Fredericka, The Pacific, Ellis Island, Memoir from Antproof Case and numerous other works. His new novel is Paris in the Present Tense. His novels are translated into more than twenty languages and read around the world. He lives in Virginia.

Jeffery Hess

Jeffery Hess is the author of the novel Beachhead and the story collection Cold War Canoe Club, as well as the editor of the award-winning anthologies Home of the Brave: Stories in Uniform and Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand. Prior to earning a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of South Florida, he served aboard the Navy’s oldest and newest ships. He’s published numerous short stories that recall this period of his life. He has held writing positions at a daily newspaper, a Fortune 500 company, and a university-based research center. He lives in Florida, where he writes and leads the DD-214 Writers’ Workshop for military veterans.

Nathan Hill

Nathan Hill’s short stories have appeared in many literary journals, including the Iowa Review, AGNI, Gettysburg Review and Fiction, where he was awarded the annual Fiction Prize. A native Iowan, he now lives with his wife in Naples, Fla. His bestselling first novel is The Nix.


Shannon Hitchcock

The ALAN Review hailed Shannon Hitchcock as "a new voice in historical fiction." She’s the author of the Crystal Kite award-winning novel The Ballad of Jessie Pearl and a second novel, Ruby Lee & Me, a nominee for the 2017-18 Nebraska Chapter Book Golden Sower Award and the Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading Award. Shannon’s writing has also been published in numerous magazines, including Highlights for Children, Cricket and Children’s Writer. She currently divides her time between Tampa and Hendersonville, N.C.

Ernest Hooper

Ernest Hooper is the East Hillsborough Bureau chief and columnist at the Tampa Bay Times. Hooper joined the Times in 1992 and has worked as a prep sports writer and editor, TV/radio sports columnist, NFL writer, news columnist and unofficial ambassador, representing the Times as an emcee, judge or keynote speaker at hundreds of nonprofit events and civic functions. Hooper added the role of East Hillsborough Bureau chief in 2012. He oversees news content for the Times’ regional edition east of Tampa, the SouthShore & Brandon Times, and writes two columns a week. Last year he co-wrote The Best Bet with athlete Jamall Anderson. His commentaries about family, community issues and political perspectives have helped Hooper connect with readers over the years, but he’s probably best known for his signature tagline: That’s all I’m saying.

Janis Ian

Janis Ian began writing songs at age 12, performing at New York’s Village Gate just one year later. Her first record, Society’s Child, was released two years after that; her first album, Janis Ian, was nominated for a Grammy when she was 15 years old. In 1976, the seminal At Seventeen brought her five Grammy nominations; songs like Jesse and Stars have been recorded by artists as diverse as Celine Dion, John Mellencamp, Mel Torme, Nina Simone and Bette Midler. Society’s Child: My Autobiography was a starred Booklist review and Publishers Weekly pick; the autobiography garnered her the first of four Audie Award nominations for narration. Ian won both an Audie and a Grammy for the audio book. The Tiny Mouse was a starred Kirkus Review and “Best 100” children’s books. Her last audiobook project, “Patience & Sarah” (co-narrated by actor Jean Smart), brought her tenth Grammy nomination. A journalist for Performing Songwriter Magazine and The Advocate, Ian’s 2002 piece “The Internet Debacle” has been reprinted on over 5,000 websites and is used in textbooks worldwide to illustrate what one artist’s voice did for the future of digital technology. Ian is currently working on several book, television and recording projects, as well as regularly giving her “Master Class in Artistry” at institutions ranging from Rutgers University to the Swannanoa Gathering. Janis and her wife also run the Pearl Foundation, named for her mother, which has donated over $980,000 in scholarship funds for returning students at five different colleges. More information can be found at


Lee Irby

Lee Irby is the author of the novel Unreliable. He teaches history at Eckerd College and lives in St. Petersburg. He is also the author of the historical mysteries 7,000 Clams and The Up and Up

J.A. Jance

J. A. Jance is the New York Times bestselling author of the J. P. Beaumont series, the Joanna Brady series, the Ali Reynolds series and five interrelated thrillers about the Walker family, as well as a volume of poetry. Born in South Dakota and brought up in Bisbee, Ariz., Jance lives with her husband in Seattle, Wa., and Tucson, Ariz.

Herb Karl

Herb Karl is the author of The Insurrectionist, a historical novel about abolitionist John Brown, and professor emeritus at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. He is the author of a YA novel which was published as an honor book by Delacorte. Karl is also the author of A Game of War, selected for publication in From One Experience to Another, a collection of stories in which award-winning authors share real-life experiences through fiction. He is currently at work on a novel of historical fiction that takes place during Florida’s Seminole wars. He and his wife, Lucy, split their time between Burnsville, N.C., and St. Petersburg.


Bob Kealing

Elvis Ignited is five-time Emmy award–winning Orlando journalist Bob Kealing’s fourth book. His previous book, Life of the Party: The Remarkable Story of How Brownie Wise Built, and Lost, a Tupperware Party Empire, is currently optioned by Sony Pictures. Kealing’s research for his previous two books, Calling Me Home: Gram Parsons and the Roots of Country Rock and Kerouac in Florida: Where the Road Ends, was the catalyst for the establishment of two Florida historic sites: Gram Parsons Derry Down in Winter Haven and the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, now in the National Register of Historic Places. Kealing lives north of Orlando with his wife and two children.

Ibram X. Kendi

Ibram X. Kendi is a New York Times bestselling author and award-winning historian, formerly at the University of Florida and now director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. His second book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, won the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction and was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction. Stamped was also nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Nonfiction, and the Washington Post named it the most ambitious book of 2016. Kendi is also the author of the award-winning book The Black Campus Movement: Black Students and the Racial Reconstitution of Higher Education, 1965-1972. He has published pieces in a number of periodicals, including the New York Times, Salon, New York Daily News, Huffington Post and the Chronicle of Higher Education. His next book, which will be published by Random House, is titled How to Be an Antiracist.

Fred Koehler

Fred Koehler is an artist, entrepreneur and adventurer who feels most at home mucking about in the Florida scrub or along the coast. At age 7, he wrote and illustrated his first book, which won a shiny gold sticker and an iced cinnamon bun from the vending machine in the teachers’ lounge. Since then, his books have garnered numerous national recognitions including a Boston Globe Horn Book Honor, multiple Kirkus Stars, Bank Street College’s Best Books of the Year and inclusion in the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show. His latest book is Flashlight Night. When he’s not making books, Fred can be found backpacking, free diving or otherwise adventuring across Florida and around the world. Visit him online at or on social media @superfredd.


Tamara Lush

By day, Tamara Lush is a correspondent with the Associated Press. At night, she writes romance novels. In 2017, she was chosen for the Amtrak Writing Residency and rode across country and back, writing fiction. Her most recent novel, Constant Craving, was released first on Radish, a serial story app. She loves tiny dogs and Instagram, and lives with her husband in St. Petersburg.

William McKeen

William McKeen is the author of nine books and the editor of four more. His most recent books are Everybody Had an Ocean (2017), Too Old to Die Young (2015), Homegrown in Florida (2012), Mile Marker Zero (2011), Outlaw Journalist (2008), Highway 61 (2003), and Rock and Roll is Here to Stay (2000). He also has contributed chapters to books on Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin and Hunter S. Thompson. Before becoming a teacher, he worked for several newspapers and magazines and has published in the New York Times, The Saturday Evening Post, Holiday, Maxim and American History. He’s also recorded two audio courses in the Modern Scholar Series – one on literary journalism and one on rock’n’roll history. He teaches at Boston University, where he chairs the department of journalism and lives in the village of Cohasset on the rocky coast of Massachusetts Bay.

Peter Meinke

Peter Meinke is Florida’s poet laureate, but his new book, To Start With, Feel Fortunate, is a collection of his “Poet’s Notebook” columns from Tampa Bay’s alternative newspaper, Creative Loafing. Elegantly illustrated by his wife, the artist Jeanne Clark Meinke, these essays on poetry, travel, aging, family, politics and American life in general cover the tumultuous years from mid-2013 through 2016, into our country’s new dispensation. Meinke’s work has appeared in Poetry, the Atlantic, the New Republic and scores of other journals; he has received many major awards, including a Fulbright, an NEH grant, two NEA Fellowships, three prizes from the Poetry Society of America, and the Flannery O’Connor Award in Short Fiction. He retired from Eckerd College in 1993, having received its Distinguished Teacher Award in 1990. In 2014 Meinke and his wife collaborated on a children’s book, The Elf Poem; and his book about writing and reading poems, The Shape of Poetry, has been used at many colleges.


Ben Montgomery

Ben Montgomery has been an enterprise reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and is author of the New York Times bestseller Grandma Gatewood’s Walk and the new biography The Leper Spy. He is founder of the journalism website and co-founder of the Auburn Chautauqua, a Southern writers collective. Montgomery grew up in Oklahoma and studied journalism at Arkansas Tech University, where he played defensive back for the football team, the Wonder Boys. He worked for the Courier in Russellville, Ark., the Standard-Times in San Angelo, Texas, the Times Herald-Record in New York’s Hudson River Valley and the Tampa Tribune before joining the Times in 2006. In 2010, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in local reporting and won the Dart Award and Casey Medal for a series called For For Their Own Good, about abuse at Florida’s oldest reform school. He lives in Tampa.

G. Neri

*Live via Skype interview from Antarctica.
G. Neri is the Coretta Scott King honor-winning author of Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty and the recipient of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award for his free-verse novella, Chess Rumble. His books have been translated into multiple languages in over 25 countries. They include the novels Ghetto Cowboy, Knockout Games and Surf Mules, and a free-verse picture book bio, Hello, I’m Johnny Cash. His newest is Tru & Nelle: A Christmas Tale, a sequel to his middle grade mystery Tru & Nelle, about the childhood friendship between Harper Lee and Truman Capote. Prior to becoming a writer, Neri was a filmmaker, an animator/illustrator, a digital media producer and a founding member of The Truth anti-smoking campaign. Neri currently writes full time and lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida with his wife and daughter. You can find him online at

Lorin Oberweger

Lorin Oberweger is a highly sought-after independent book editor and ghostwriter with almost twenty-five years experience in publishing. Her company, Free Expressions, offers intensive, deep craft workshops nationwide. She's also known for her one-on-one story mastermind session for writers of all genres of fiction and creative nonfiction. She will be guest moderating the Children's Literature Panel at 2:00PM in PRW118.


Craig Pittman

Craig Pittman is an award-winning reporter and native Floridian. Born in Pensacola, he graduated from Troy State University in Alabama, where his muckraking work for the student paper prompted an agitated dean to label him "the most destructive force on campus." Since then he has covered a variety of newspaper beats and quite a few natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and the Florida Legislature. Since 1998, he has covered environmental issues for the Tampa Bay Times. He’s the co-author, with Matthew Waite, of Paving Paradise (2009), and the author of Manatee Insanity (2010) and The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World’s Most Beautiful Orchid (2012). His new book, Oh, Florida! How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country, is, according to the New York Times, "compulsively readable."

Ridley Pearson

Ridley Pearson is the bestselling author of more than 50 novels, including Peter and the Starcatchers (cowritten with Dave Barry) and the Kingdom Keepers and Lock and Key series. He has also written two dozen crime novels, including Probable Cause, Beyond Recognition, Killer Weekend, The Risk Agent and The Red Room. To learn more about him, visit

Steph Post

Steph Post is the author of the novels Lightwood and A Tree Born Crooked, and her short fiction has most recently appeared in Haunted Waters: From the Depths, Nonbinary Review and the anthology Stephen King’s Contemporary Classics. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award and was a semi-finalist for the Big Moose Prize. Her next novel, Walk in the Fire, will be released in January 2018. She lives in St. Petersburg.


Sharon Robinson

Sharon Robinson, daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, is the author of several works of fiction and nonfiction. She has also written several widely praised nonfiction books about her father, including Jackie’s Nine: Jackie Robinson’s Values to Live By and Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America. Her latest book, The Hero Two Doors Down: Based on the True Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend, is a SSYRA selection for 2017-2018 (grades 3-5).

Daniel Ruth

Daniel Ruth has been scribbling away for four decades as a reporter, film critic, television critic and columnist for the Tampa Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Tampa Bay Times. He also has worked as a radio talk show host as well as an adjunct professor for the University of South Florida, the University of Tampa and Columbia College in Chicago. Daniel is a Peter Lisagor Award recipient for his columns in Chicago and has been honored by the Pinellas County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union with the Irene Miller Vigilance In Journalism Award.

Cathy Salustri

Cathy Salustri is the arts and entertainment editor at Creative Loafing. Her portfolio includes USA Today, Visit Florida and regional and local press. In 2016, she published Backroads of Paradise, a travel narrative about retracing the WPA-era Florida driving tours, which was featured in the New York Times. Cathy speaks at Eckerd College’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, is president of the Gulfport Historical Society and runs a Pinellas National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) group. Her nonwriting resume includes Walt Disney World tour guide, banner plane ground crew, kayak guide, sailboat mate and stage manager. She lives in Gulfport with her husband Barry, two hounds, two cats (who may or may not have a sugar addiction) and, most likely, a frog the cats brought in as a present no one has discovered yet. Find Cathy at [email protected], or on various social media platforms as @cathysalustri.


Rob Sanders

Rob Sanders is a teacher who writes and a writer who teaches. He spends his days helping kids learn about books and words, and reading and writing. At night, he writes books for those same kids. Sanders, a native of Missouri, has worked as a director of childhood education, an editor, product designer and editorial group manager. He is now an elementary school teacher in Hillsborough County and an award-winning picture book author. Sanders’ latest titles are Rodzilla, illustrated by Caldecott-award winner Dan Santat, and Ruby Rose, Big Bravos, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi. Next up for Sanders are his first nonfiction picture books, Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag (2018) and Stonewall: The Uprising for Gay Rights (2019), both from Random House.

Augusta Scattergood

Augusta Scattergood’s books have been on numerous recommended reading lists, including Florida’s Sunshine State Young Readers list. Her debut novel, Glory Be, was named one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Year. Her second, The Way to Stay in Destiny, is narrated by a piano-playing, baseball-tossing boy. Making Friends with Billy Wong tells of a friendship between young Azalea and Billy Wong, recently moved to Arkansas to attend public school. This novel was based on the stories of Chinese American immigrants in the south during the civil rights era. Although Augusta grew up in Mississippi, the former school librarian has lived in nine states, including twice in Florida. She now feels like a native. She and her husband, Jay, live in St. Pete Beach. Visit her webpage,, or say hello on Facebook or Twitter: ARScattergood.

Laura Lee Smith

Laura Lee Smith is the author of the novel Heart of Palm. Her short fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories, New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best, New England Review and other journals. Her new novel is The Ice House. She lives in Florida.


Ann Kidd Taylor

Ann Kidd Taylor is the author of the novel The Shark Club and the New York Times bestselling memoir Traveling with Pomegranates which she wrote with her mother, Sue Monk Kidd. Taylor is a graduate of Columbia College in South Carolina. She lives in Marco Island with her husband and son.

Lisa Unger

Lisa Unger is the New York Times and internationally bestselling, award-winning author of 15 novels, including her latest psychological thriller, The Red Hunter. Her books are published in 26 languages worldwide, have sold millions of copies and have been named “Best of the Year” or top picks by the Today Show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Weekly, Amazon, Indie Booksellers, Goodreads and Sun Sentinel to name a few. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR and Travel+Leisure Magazine. Unger lives in the Tampa Bay area with her husband, daughter and labradoodle.

Norman Van Aken

Award-winning chef and restaurateur Norman Van Aken’s long-awaited cookbook, Norman Van Aken’s Florida Kitchen, embraces the history, character and flavors of the state that has inspired Van Aken’s famous fusion style for over 40 years. With its forward-thinking blend of old and new, thoughtful step-by-step instructions for wonderful meals, and plenty of friendly conversation, this book is a rare immersion in a culinary artist’s world. Van Aken is chef-owner of Norman’s in Orlando and 1921 by Norman Van Aken in Mount Dora. His cooking school, In the Kitchen with Norman Van Aken, is in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami. He is the only Floridian inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America.


Jeff VanderMeer

Jeff VanderMeer’s New York Times bestselling Southern Reach trilogy has been translated into over 30 languages. The first novel, Annihilation, won the Nebula Award and Shirley Jackson Award, was shortlisted for a half dozen more, and has been made into a movie to be released by Paramount Pictures in 2018. His new novel, Borne, is the first release from Farrar, Straus and Giroux’s MCD imprint. The novel has also been optioned by Paramount and it continues to explore themes related to the environment, animals, and our future. The New Yorker called Jeff “the weird Thoreau” and he frequently speaks about issues related to climate change and storytelling, including at DePaul, MIT, and Vanderbilt. His nonfiction appears in the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere. With his wife, Ann VanderMeer, he has edited many fiction anthologies, including The Big Book of Science Fiction. He lives in Tallahassee.

Doris Weatherford

Doris Weatherford’s first book was Foreign and Female: Immigrant Women in America (1986). Her second, American Women and World War II (1990) has been reissued four times and translated into Japanese. Weatherford was the chief author of a four-volume History of Women in the United States: A State-by-State Reference (2004). Congressional Quarterly Press published her Women in American Politics: History and Milestones (2012); with an introduction by Debbie Wasserman Schultz; it won an award from the American Library Association. Her focus at the festival will be on They Dared to Dream: Florida Women Who Shaped History (2015). She also writes a column for Tampa’s La Gaceta, the nation’s only trilingual newspaper.

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