Mark your calendars, book lovers: On Nov. 11, the 31st annual Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading brings a blockbuster lineup of authors to St. Petersburg for live talks and book signings.
The festival will take place from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at The Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N in downtown St. Petersburg. The authors will be on stage in the theater’s Hough Hall, with book signings and sales by local independent bookstore Tombolo Books in the Side Door space downstairs.
The exciting roster includes past festival favorites like Dave Barry, Michael Connelly and Lisa Unger as well as first-time in-person authors such as Martin Baron, Lauren Groff and Vanessa Riley. Times staffers Lane DeGregory and Stephanie Hayes will talk about their new books, as will Times contributing writer Roy Peter Clark.
General admission tickets, which include all author talks, are $25. VIP tickets are $75 and include reserved seating, a coffee hour, a box lunch, book discounts and a tote bag. Tickets are on sale at festivalofreading.com.
Legendary journalist Martin Baron is no stranger to the Tampa Bay area — he was born in Tampa, attended Berkeley Preparatory School and was an intern at the Tampa Tribune. He went on to serve as executive editor of The Miami Herald, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post, overseeing multiple Pulitzer Prize-winning teams. If you saw the Oscar-winning 2015 movie “Spotlight,” you saw Liev Schreiber play Baron as he led a Pulitzer-winning Globe investigation of sexual abuses by Catholic priests. Baron retired from the Post in 2021. His timely new book is “Collision of Power: Trump, Bezos, and The Washington Post.” He’ll be in conversation with Times editor Mark Katches at the festival.
Dave Barry is required reading for Floridians — he always finds the funny in the wildest manifestations of the Sunshine State. A longtime (now semiretired) columnist for The Miami Herald, he won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1988. He has published 40 bestselling books, including fiction, nonfiction and young adult. He’ll be at the festival to talk about his latest book, “Swamp Story,” a rollicking novel about a young Florida woman trying to survive pythons, treasure hunters, an Everglades monster and an almost useless boyfriend.
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Roy Peter Clark is a senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, the school for journalists that owns the Tampa Bay Times. Readers of the Times will be familiar with Clark’s frequent columns for the Floridian section. He has authored or edited 20 books on writing and journalism, including “Writing Tools,” “Murder Your Darlings” and “The Art of X-Ray Reading.” He’ll be talking about his latest book, “Tell It Like It Is: A Guide to Clear and Honest Writing.” If encouraged even slightly, he is likely to play the piano.
A master of crime fiction whose books have sold more than 85 million copies worldwide, Michael Connelly is a creative powerhouse. His series of novels about Los Angeles detective Harry Bosch has become the basis of two hit streaming series, “Bosch” and “Bosch: Legacy,” and his books about Bosch’s half brother, Mickey Haller, are the source for another successful series, “The Lincoln Lawyer.” Connelly is involved in the TV series, but he says he is first and foremost a novelist. He’ll be talking about his upcoming book, “Resurrection Walk,” in which Bosch and Haller join forces to help a woman wrongly convicted of killing her husband.
In her more than 20 years on the staff of the Tampa Bay Times, Lane DeGregory has moved readers with her compelling stories of people who are not often in the news, recounting the lives of everyone from a boy buying a first valentine to a 99-year-old who still reports for work. In 2009, she won the Pulitzer Prize for her series about a feral child and what became of her. She teaches around the world and hosts WriteLane, a podcast about nonfiction storytelling. “The Girl in the Window and Other True Tales,” her first book, is an anthology of her stories with writing advice.
Lauren Groff is a three-time National Book Award finalist and the author of such bestselling and brilliant novels as “The Monsters of Templeton,” “Arcadia,” “Fates and Furies” and “Matrix.” Her haunting short story collection “Florida” won the Story Prize. All of her books boast dazzling prose, but each one is an original invention that takes the reader on an unexpected journey. Her new novel, “The Vaster Wilds,” is just such a journey, a thrilling and insightful tale about a servant girl who escapes a colonial settlement in the early 17th century and plunges into the wilderness alone.
Stephanie Hayes is another familiar voice for Times readers. In more than 20 years as a journalist, she has written everything from obituaries to humor columns with signature wit, heart and perception. In her recent columns for the Times, she has translated Shakespeare for students, ranked hurricane snacks and rounded up Tampa Bay Barbies — and also written movingly about her own approach to motherhood. Hayes is the author of the novel “Obitchuary,” inspired by her time on the death beat, and her new book, “Be Serious,” is a collection of her syndicated columns.
Vanessa Riley is an award-winning author of more than 20 books of historical fiction, historical romance and historical mystery. Riley holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, but found her passion writing novels that showcase the hidden histories of Black women and women of color, emphasizing strong sisterhoods and dazzling multicultural communities. Riley’s latest novels are “Queen of Exiles,” based on the remarkable life of Haiti’s Queen Marie-Louise Coidavid, who escaped a coup to set up her own royal court in Italy, and “Murder in Drury Lane,” a mystery set amid the theater world in London during the Regency era.
Don’t let Lisa Unger’s sunny disposition fool you. She’s one of the best psychological thriller writers in the business, and her more than 20 bestselling novels take readers to some very dark places — into the cruel twists of cyberstalking, the torture of identity theft, even, in her recent book “Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six,” the terrors of a vacation beyond the reach of Wi-Fi and cell service. Unger, who is co-president of the Internatoinal Thriller Writers, goes beyond the easy scare to dive deep into the minds of her characters and why they act as they do. In her newest book, “Christmas Presents,” a true crime podcaster digs into a young woman’s past — a past she’d rather forget.