1. Books

Dave Barry, Meg Cabot, Edwidge Danticat and R.L. Stine headline Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading

It’s a power-packed lineup for the area’s signature book event.
Humorist Dave Barry's new book, "Lessons From Lucy." is about what he's learned from his dog. [Jeffrey Salter]
Published Sep. 6

Bring the kids to the 2019 Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading for an all-star lineup of authors who write for young readers. And there will be plenty to interest adults as well.

For the grownups — although he seems forever young himself — the festival will bring back Dave Barry, beloved humor writer and Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist. He’ll talk about his new book, Lessons From Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog, and the real-life twist that led him to revise it.

RELATED: Dave Barry talks about his new book, ‘Lessons From Lucy,’ and his daughter’s frightening illness

Princess Diaries fans, get ready: Meg Cabot will be holding court. The author of scads of bestselling books for readers of all ages will present her new novel, No Judgments.

Meg Cabot's latest novel is "No Judgments." [Courtesy of Lisa DeTullio Russell]

The festival will welcome back the acclaimed fiction writer and memoirist Edwidge Danticat with her lyrical new short story collection, Everything Inside.

Also returning to the festival stage: R.L. Stine, whose Goosebumps books are one of the bestselling children’s series on the planet, with his latest, Revenge of the Invisible Boy.

For kids of all ages

Irish author Eoin Colfer, creator of the popular Artemis Fowl series (look for the movie based on it in 2020) and many other books, will introduce a new spinoff series with The Fowl Twins. Cuban-American author Meg Medina will present her 2019 Newbery Medal-winning novel, Merci Suárez Changes Gears.

Tampa author Greg Neri, a festival favorite, will talk about what it was like seeing his 2009 book Ghetto Cowboys made into a movie starring Idris Elba (on screens in 2020). Sharon Robinson also returns to the festival, with Child of the Dream: A Memoir of 1963, about growing up as the daughter of baseball and civil rights icon Jackie Robinson. Eliot Schrefer, who grew up in Clearwater and is a two-time finalist for the National Book Award for young people’s literature, will talk about his latest, The Lost Rainforest #2: Gogi’s Gambit.

Brandon author Rob Sanders will talk about his two 2019 picture books, Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution and Ball & Balloon.

RELATED: Brandon author Rob Sanders talks about ‘Stonewall,’ his picture-book history for children

Monique Fields, a former Tampa Bay Times reporter, will present her picture book, Honeysmoke.

Author Edwidge Danticat will be at the 2019 Times Festival of Reading to talk about her latest book, Everything Inside. [LYNN SAVARESE | ]

Fine fiction

In addition to Danticat, the lineup of authors of fiction for adults includes Jill Ciment, a professor at the University of Florida whose novel The Body in Question explores a secret affair between two jurors on a sensational trial.

RELATED: Edwidge Danticat’s ‘Everything Inside’ gathers moving stories about the Haitian diaspora

Former St. Petersburg resident Kristin Harmel returns to the festival with The Winemaker’s Wife, her historical novel set in the Champagne region during World War II. Navy veteran Jeffery Hess sets his novel, No Salvation, during another war, recounting a story of racial tensions aboard a Navy ship in the closing days of the Vietnam War.

The wickedly funny novelist Susan Isaacs writes about a woman whose happily married life hides a big secret in Takes One to Know One. Leigh Camacho Rourks offers imaginative takes on Southern gothic in her debut short story collection, Moon Trees and Other Orphans.

Poetry always has a place at the festival. This year St. Petersburg College professor Gregory Byrd will present his new collection of poems, The Name For the God Who Speaks, and Saint Leo College professor Gianna Russo joins us with her book One House Down.

Criminal minds

Crime fiction fans will find familiar faces, and some new ones, at the festival. Tampa author Tim Dorsey will talk about the latest in the bestselling Serge Storms series, No Sunscreen for the Dead. Michael Koryta returns with his latest thriller, If She Wakes, and some stories about seeing his novel Those Who Wish Me Dead filmed, with Angelina Jolie starring (another 2020 release).

Two-time Edgar Award winner and St. Petersburg resident Lori Roy will talk about her latest historical mystery, Gone Too Long. And bestselling author Lisa Unger will join us from the Pinellas beaches to talk about her new psychological thriller, The Stranger Inside Me.

Odessa writer James Swain will be on hand with No Good Deed, a dark story of a missing persons case set in the Tampa Bay area. St. Petersburg writer Cheryl Hollon brings the latest in her Glass Shop series, Down in Flames.

New mystery writers to the festival this year are Ellen LaCorte, with her widely praised debut thriller The Perfect Fraud, and Con Lehane, with Murder Off the Page, the third book in his 42nd Street Library mysteries.

Facts of the matter

Fans of nonfiction will have plenty of authors to choose from. University of South Florida St. Petersburg professor Raymond Arsenault returns with his acclaimed biography, Arthur Ashe: A Life. Journalist Beth Macy will be at the festival to talk about her all-too-timely bestseller, Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America.

Two writers with books about American history that have connections to the Tampa Bay area will be at the festival. Thomas Maier’s Mafia Spies: The Inside Story of the CIA, Gangsters, JFK, and Castro includes tales of Tampa crime boss Santo Trafficante Jr.

RELATED: Tampa crime boss Santo Trafficante Jr. plays a central role in thriller ‘Mafia Spies’

Clay Risen’s The Crowded Hour: Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Riders, and the Dawn of the American Century relates the regiment’s time in Tampa in 1898.

Jaquira Diaz, a graduate of the USF creative writing MFA program, will present her buzzed-about memoir of growing up in Puerto Rico and Miami, Ordinary Girls. Saint Leo College professor Brooke King will talk about War Flower: My Life After Iraq, her memoir about her military experiences and their aftermath.

Tom Clavin and Phil Keith will present their biography of the first African-American military pilot, All Blood Runs Red: The Legendary Life of Eugene Bullard — Boxer, Pilot, Soldier, Spy. Sportswriter Kevin Robbins will talk about his biography The Last Stand of Payne Stewart: The Year Golf Changed Forever.

St. Petersburg native and Indiewire managing editor Christian Blauvelt returns to the festival with Turner Classic Movies Cinematic Cities: The Big Apple on the Big Screen.

Festival perennial Roy Peter Clark will return to talk (and probably sing) about his books, including the bestselling Writing Tools and the upcoming Murder Your Darlings.

Florida focus

As always, Florida-themed books will be featured at the festival. Journalist Julie Hauserman’s Drawn to the Deep: The Remarkable Underwater Explorations of Wes Skiles is a biography of the photographer and environmentalist.

Florida Trend associate editor Art Levy talked to a wide range of Floridians for his engaging book, Made in Florida: Artists, Celebrities, Activists, Educators and Other Icons in the Sunshine State.

Tampa native Paul Wilborn brings a distinctive era in Ybor City to life in his debut short story collection, Cigar City: Tales From a 1980s Creative Ghetto. Les Standiford writes about a Florida landmark much in the news of late in Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, and the Rise of America’s Xanadu.

Former Tampa Bay Times Real Florida columnist Jeff Klinkenberg will be back to talk about books every Floridian should read. And there might be a few surprises in store.

If you go

The 2019 Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading is a free community event. It will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 9 at the campus of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, 140 Seventh Ave. S, St. Petersburg.


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