Presenters

WALLY LAMB

Wally Lamb’s first two novels, She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True were #1 New York Times bestsellers, New York Times Notable Books of the Year, and featured titles of Oprah’s Book Club.  I Know This Much Is True was a Book of the Month Club main selection and the June 1999 featured selection of the Bertelsman Book Club, the national book club of Germany. Between them, these two titles have been translated into 18 languages.

Lamb is also the editor of the nonfiction anthologies Couldn’t Keep It to Myself: Testimonies from Our Imprisoned Sisters and I’ll Fly Away, collections of autobiographical essays which evolved from a writing workshop Lamb facilitates at Connecticut’s York Correctional Institute, a maximum-security prison for women. He has served as a Connecticut Department of Corrections volunteer from 1999 to the present.  Wally Lamb’s third novel, The Hour I First Believed, explores chaos theory by interfacing several generations of a fictional Connecticut family with such nonfictional American events as the Civil War, the Columbine High School shootings of 1999, the Iraq War, and Hurricane Katrina.  He received the Connecticut Book Award for Lifetime Achievement in Service to the Literary Community in 2004 and I’ll Fly Away garnered the Connecticut Book Award for Memoir in 2008.  His most recent novel, Wishin’ and Hopin’, was published in 2009. Saturday, 3 p.m.

TONY ABBOTT

Has written 75 books, with over eight million copies sold worldwide. His novel Firegirl won the Golden Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. While The Postcard is his most recent book for teens, his The Secrets of Droon series continues to draw their interest.  Marked & Purged: Writing the Truth for Teens through Realistic Fiction and Fantasy Panel, Sunday, 3:30 p.m.

Amistad Center for Art and Culture

Will offer Just Write! — a journal-making activity for young readers and writers.

DICK ALLEN

Connecticut’s Poet Laureate for 2010 through 2015.  He has published seven poetry collections and won numerous awards, including a Pushcart Prize and the Robert Frost prize.  Allen’s most recent collection, Present Vanishing: Poems, received the 2009 Connecticut Book Award for Poetry. Why, How and When We Write Panel, Sunday, 2 p.m.

GINA BARRECA

Has written seven books, including her most recent, It’s Not That I’m Bitter, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Visible Panty Lines and Conquered the World. She is a columnist for the Hartford Courant and a blogger for the Chronicle of Higher Education and Psychology TodaySaturday, noon

Photo by Erin Bell

SANDRA RODRIGUEZ BARRON

Author of the novels Stay With Me, which won the Connecticut Press Club Annual Award, and The Heiress of Water, winner of the  International Latino Book Award for debut fiction.  Bridges Between Two Cultures: Latino Writers in Connecticut Panel, Sunday, 10 a.m.

JAMES R. BENN

Writes a mystery series featuring World War II, featuring Lt. Billy Boyle. The first title, Billy Boyle, was one of Booksense‘s 2006 top five mysteries and a Dilys Award nominee. The fifth and current title is Rag and Bone. The sixth, A Mortal Terror, is due out in September.  Masters of Mysteries Panel, Saturday, 10 a.m.

LARY BLOOM

Author of eight books, including The Writer Within, Lary Bloom’s Connecticut Notebook, Letters from Nuremberg (with Christopher J. Dodd) and The Test of Our Times (with Tom Ridge). Also a playwright and lyricist (Wild Black Yonder and A Woman of a Certain Age).  Longtime Sunday magazine editor who mentored Wally Lamb, Edna Buchanan, Dave Barry and many others while editor of the Hartford Courant’s Northeast magazine.  Moderator of Why, How and When We Write Panel. Sunday, 2 p.m.

Matthew Dicks

Author of Something Missing and Unexpectedly Milo. BookPage lauds his ability to provide “insight into broader truths on human nature and the things that make us tick,” through his characters.   He was named West Hartford’s Teacher of the Year in 2005.
Sunday, 10 a.m.

SYDNEY EDDISON

Author of seven books on gardening, including Gardening for a Lifetime: How To Garden Wiser as You Grow Older and Gardens to Go: Creating and Designing a Container Garden. She is a frequent contributor to Fine Gardening magazine and received the Award of Excellence  from the National Garden Clubs Inc. in 2010. Sunday, noon.

Tagan Engel

Chef, food activist, and creator of CitySeed’s bilingual English/Spanish community cookbook, New Haven Cooks/Cocina New Haven, Engel chairs the New Haven Food Policy Council and blogs about food and sustainability issues at tagan’skitchen.blogspot.com. Locally Grown: From Farm to Table Panel. Saturday, 2 p.m.

John Marinelli photo

LUCY FERRISS

Author of six novels — including Nerves of the Heart — a memoir, literary criticism of Robert Penn Warren, literary journal articles, and a book of short stories, Leaving the Neighborhood and Other Stories. She is currently writer-in-residence at Trinity College, Hartford.
Why, How and When We Write Panel. Sunday, 2 p.m.

Nancy Freeborn

Co-authored New Haven Chef’s Table: Restaurants, Recipes, and Local Food Connections with The Hartford Courant’s former food editor, Linda Giuca.   She is an award-winning book designer and manager of the Chester Farmers’ Market. Locally Grown: From Farm to Table Panel, Saturday, 2 p.m.

JOSE B. GONZALEZ

Co-editor of Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature and founder of LatinoStories.com. A regular contributor to National Public Radio, Dr. Gonzalez is also a poet and professor of English at U.S. Coast Guard Academy.  Bridges Between Two Cultures: Latino Writers in Connecticut Panel, Sunday, 10 a.m.

rosemary harris

Author of the Dirty Business mystery series, featuring Paula Holliday. The first title in the series, Pushing Up Daisies, was nominated for the Agatha and Anthony awards. It was followed by The Big Dirt Nap, Dead Head and Slugfest.  Masters of Mysteries Panel. Saturday, 10 a.m.

Hartford Symphony Orchestra

Musicians will present an “Instrument Petting Zoo” on Saturday.

TOM HAZUKA

Author of Last Chance for First and two other novels; he has also published short stories and co-authored other works. Dr. Hazuka is a professor of English, Central Connecticut State University. Why, How and When We Write Panel. Sunday, 2 p.m.

chris knopf

Has been a Connecticut Book Award finalist for three of the four titles in his Long Island-based Sam Acquillo mystery series: The Last Refuge, Two Time, and Hard Stop. He’s now embarked on a spin-off series featuring real estate attorney Jackie Swaitkowski.
Masters of Mysteries Panel. Saturday, 10 a.m.

Sarah Darer Littman

Author of two novels for teens, Life, After and Purge. Her first novel, Confessions of a Closet Catholic, won the 2006 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Older Readers.

Marked & Purged: Writing the Truth for Teens through Realistic Fiction and Fantasy Panel. Sunday, 3:30 p.m.

RONald l. MALLETT

Professor of physics at the University of Connecticut.  Director Spike Lee has bought the film rights to his memoir, Time Traveler, a book that reflects his primary research interests: black holes, general relativity and gravitation, quantum cosmology, relativistic astrophysics, and time travel.
Saturday, 2 p.m.

Priscilla Martel

Co-author of On Baking: A Textbook of Baking and Culinary Fundamentals and has written for Cooking Light Magazine, Fine Cooking, and Food and Wine Magazine. She operates a consulting business, All About Food™, which services the food, baking, and restaurant industries.  Locally Grown: From Farm to Table Panel. Saturday, 2 p.m.

TOVAH MARTIN

Most recently author of The New Terrarium. She has written more than a dozen other books, including Tasha Tudor’s Garden, as well as numerous articles for Country Gardens, Garden Design, Connecticut Magazine, Horticulture, The Heirloom Gardener and Connecticut Gardener, and she lectures extensively. Saturday, noon.

ALICE MATTISON

Paul Beckman photo

Won the 2006 Connecticut Book Award for Fiction for her collection of connected stories, In Case We’re Separated.  Her novel Nothing Is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn was a finalist for the same award in 2009, and a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice.  Mattison is the author of three other story collections and five other novels.  Saturday, 10 a.m.

MARIANELA MEDRANO

A licensed professional counselor (LPC) with a Ph.D. in Psychology, an M.S. in Counseling, and certification in Poetry Therapy.  She also writes fiction and nonfiction and has contributed to such journals as Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology.   Bridges between Two Cultures: Latino Writers in Connecticut Panel, Sunday, 10 a.m.

WENDELL MINOR

Past president of the Society of Illustrators, he has created cover art for thousands of books, including those by Mary Higgins Clark, Pat Conroy, and David McCullough.  He has also illustrated and/or authored more than 40 books for younger readers—most recently, My Farm Friends and Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic. Saturday, 2 p.m.

NIKKI MUTCH

Serves on the Connecticut Children’s Book Fair Committee. She is a District Sales Manager, Scholastic, Inc. and formerly served as the Children’s Buyer at the UConn Co-op.  Moderator, Marked & Purged: Writing the Truth for Teens through Realistic Fiction and Fantasy Panel. Sunday, 3:30 p.m.

New Haven Symphony Orchestra

Musicians  will present an “Instrument Petting Zoo” on Sunday.

Photo by Tomy O'Brien

Caragh M. O’Brien

Birthmarked, the first title in a trilogy set in a dystopian future, was described by Publishers Weekly as “a brisk and sometimes provocative read, thanks to solid pacing, a resourceful heroine, and a few surprise twists.” The sequel, Prized, is due out in November.
Marked & Purged: Writing the Truth for Teens through Realistic Fiction and Fantasy Panel, Sunday, 3:30 p.m.

RAFAEL OSES

a winner of the Literary Award for Poetry from the Black Warrior Review; his poems have also been published in Fugue, the Cincinnati Review, and the Portland Review.  He wrote the radio play “Violet Enlightens”, and co-wrote “Necessary Monsters”, a performance piece/song cycle.  Bridges between Two Cultures: Latino Writers in Connecticut Panel, Sunday, 10 a.m.

SAM PICKERING

Professor of English at the University of Connecticut since 1978, he is best known as an essayist, having written numerous books in that genre, including A Tramp’s Wallet, A Comfortable Boy, and Waltzing the MagpiesLetters to a Teacher, published in 2004, reflects on more than four decades of teaching English literature.  Sunday, 3:30 p.m.

CHANDRA PRASAD

Her third novel, Breathe the Sky, based on the life of Amelia Earhart, is a finalist for ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year in Historical Fiction.
On Borrowed Wings, set in Depression-era Connecticut, was a Connecticut Book Award finalist for Fiction.
Sunday, 10:00 a.m.


Jonathan Rapp*

Chef and owner of River Tavern in Chester and one of the originators of Connecticut’s Dinners at the Farm — New England’s original farm dinner benefit series — begun in 2007 to celebrate Connecticut’s farming communities and the wholesome food they provide. Moderator of Locally Grown: From Farm to Table Panel
*Rapp has had to withdraw from the Festival

BESSY REYNA

Author of two bilingual poetry books, The Battlefield of Your Body and Memoirs of the Unfaithful Lover/ Memorias de la amante infiel  Reyna has also written a poetry chapbook, Terrarium, a short story collection, Ab Ovo, and writes on arts and culture for Identidad Latina newspaper. Moderator, Bridges between Two Cultures: Latino Writers in Connecticut Panel, Sunday, 10 a.m.

STEVE RUSHIN

A writer for Sports Illustrated for 19 years, he has written two works of nonfiction, Road Swing and The Caddie Was a Reindeer, and has been anthologized in The Best American Travel Writing, The Best American Sports Writing, and The Best American Magazine Writing.  His first novel, The Pint Man, was published in 2010.  Sunday, 2 p.m.

KIM SHERIDAN

Author of the blog “Murder, Mystery & Mayhem: a Resource for Readers”, at which she connects to author Web sites, databases, news, blogs, news releases, alerts, and reviews for readers of mystery, crime, suspense, and thrillers. Moderator, Masters of Mysteries Panel, Saturday, 10 a.m.

Diane Smith

An Emmy-award-winning TV journalist and author of Seasons of Connecticut and four previous Globe Pequot books, including Summer in Connecticut and Christmas in Connecticut.  Currently Senior Producer for CT-N, she recently launched a daily morning show, live from the Legislative Office Building, called “Capitol Report: Morning Update.”  Saturday, 10 a.m.

BILL THOMSON

Has created artwork for book, advertising and editorial clients across the United States. His recent work has focused on children’s books, illustrating Karate Hour, Building with Dad and, of course, Chalk, which he also wrote.

Robert Thorson

Professor of Geology at the University of Connecticut and an Op-Ed columnist for the Hartford Courant, Dr. Thorson has written Beyond Walden, Exploring Stone Walls, and Stone by Stone, a history of New England’s stone walls and winner of the Connecticut Book Award for Nonfiction in 2003.  He co-authored Stone Wall Secrets with Kristine Thorson. Sunday, 10 a.m.

DIANA VALENCIA

Associate professor of Spanish at St. Joseph College, Dr. Valencia was recently published in Revista de Literatura Hispánica. She translated and wrote the preface for Hiding in Other People’s Houses/Escondiéndose en Casa de Otros, written by Trinity College’s Dori Katz.  Bridges between Two Cultures: Latino Writers in Connecticut Panel, Sunday, 10 a.m.

Michael C. White

Author of six award-winning novels: Beautiful AssassinSoul Catcher, A Brother’s Blood, The Blind Side of the Heart, A Dream of Wolves, and The Garden of Martyrs.

He is the founder and director of Fairfield University’s low-residency MFA Creative Writing Program. Sunday, noon

Photo by H. John Voorhees

Karen Romano young

Writes fiction and nonfiction, including National Geographic’s The Science Fair Winners series, geared toward middle-schoolers, and Cobwebs, a 2005 finalist for Children’s Author in the Connecticut Book Awards. Her most recent book, the graphic novel Doodlebug, was named a Best Children’s Book of 2010 by Kirkus Reviews. Sunday, 2 p.m.


4 Responses to Presenters

  1. As a CT author, very interested in becoming involved!

    • For this inaugural year, the Connecticut Book Festival Planning Committee has already identified a pool of authors of books for adults and teens from which it will draw to produce the 2011 Connecticut Book Festival; many will be Connecticut Book Award finalists and winners. Our informed choices are based on diverse criteria that we hope will attract a lively audience. We also hope they will eagerly anticipate the surprises of Connecticut Book Festivals in years to come.

  2. Denise Woodward

    Your diverse criteria is sadly lacking Romance writers. I hope you can see fit to include at least one or two of Connecticut’s many successful romance writers in all future Connecticut Book Festivals. If you need contacts, you should get in touch with the Connecticut chapter of the national Romance Writers of America at http://www.ctrwa.org.
    After all, Romance novels sell far more than any other single genre.

    • Denise,
      Thanks for the suggestion. We have a great line up of authors for our first festival. Hoping that this year’s festival will be a rousing success will soon be planning the second annual festival. We hope to expand the number of author presentations in coming years.
      Sharon Brettschneider for the Connecticut Book Festival.

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