The 22nd annual Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading, coming Oct. 25 to the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, will give readers a chance to meet more than 40 authors, and there will be books for just about every taste.
Bestselling authors of several kinds will be on hand. Florida's own Carl Hiaasen, known for his outrageously weird crime novels, will present his first YA book, Skink: No Surrender. Debbie Macomber, who has sold more than 170 million copies of her romance and women's fiction books, will talk about Mr. Miracle: A Christmas Novel. And the prolific and ever-spooky R.L. Stine returns with his latest in the YA Fear Street series, Party Games.
Celebrity authors are a hit at the festival, and Aasif Mandvi has built quite a show business career since graduating from Tampa's Chamberlain High and the University of South Florida. He's a correspondent on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, an actor on Broadway as well as screens large and small, a playwright, a writer and cast member of upcoming HBO series The Brink - and now the author of a hilarious, engaging memoir, No Land's Man.
Readers who prefer nonfiction ripped from the headlines will have several choices. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hector Tobar will present Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free. Joan Biskupic's latest book about the U.S. Supreme Court is Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice. And Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy is a timely memoir by Christopher Hill, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq.
Literary writers from Florida colleges and universities will be on the bill. Janet Burroway, now retired from Florida State University, will present her poignant memoir, Losing Tim. Robert Olen Butler of FSU will talk about his latest spy novel, The Empire of Night, and University of South Florida professor John Henry Fleming will discuss his short story collection Songs for the Deaf. Retired Eckerd College professor and St. Petersburg poet laureate Peter Meinke has a new collection of poems, Lucky Bones.
Crime fiction fans will have a full schedule of authors to catch: Ace Atkins with The Forsaken (Atkins also now writes the Spenser series created by the late Robert B. Parker), Tim Dorsey with Tiger Shrimp Tango, Michael Koryta with Those Who Wish Me Dead, Lisa Unger with In the Blood and more.
If women's fiction is your passion, two authors offer different takes. Suzanne Brockmann's latest military-themed romance is Do or Die. Cassandra King, a Southern writer who is the wife of author Pat Conroy, will talk about The Same Sweet Girl's Guide to Life: Advice From a Failed Southern Belle.
Several books focus on the flavors of Florida. Former Times staffer Jim Webster has co-written a cookbook with celebrity chef Mario Batali, America Farm to Table: Simple, Delicious Recipes Celebrating Local Farmers. Webster will appear with Tampa chef Greg Baker of the Refinery and Rebecca Krassnoski of Nature Delivered Farms. Also, Pam Brandon will present Good Catch: Recipes and Stories Celebrating the Best of Florida's Waters, and Mark DeNote brings The Great Florida Craft Beer Guide.
For young readers, in addition to Hiaasen and Stine, the roster will include Eliot Schrefer, a Countryside High graduate, whose new novel is Threatened. It's second in a series begun with his book Endangered, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and is a current Sunshine State book.
Other YA authors include mother-daughter team Suzanne and Melanie Brockmann with Night Sky, Amy Christine Parker with Astray, Tammar Stein with Spoils and Jeff Strand with I Have a Bad Feeling About This. Also on hand will be award-winning children's author Sara Pennypacker to talk about her Clementine books.
Several Times staffers will appear at the festival. Will Hobson and Michael LaForgia will talk about their 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning series. Ben Montgomery will present his nonfiction book Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail, and Craig Pittman returns with The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid. Stephanie Hayes, whose novel, Obitchuary, has sold more than 10,000 copies, will talk about self-publishing. Times columnists, including Ernest Hooper, Janet Keeler and Daniel Ruth, also will appear.