Carl Sandburg Dinner Guest Authors

Stephanie ArnoldStephanie Arnold: In her former life, Stephanie was an Emmy-Nominated TV producer who spent 27 years creating and directing TV shows, music videos and documentaries. When she gave birth to her son, Stephanie flatlined and died on the operating table for 37 seconds. Stephanie suffered a rare, but often fatal, condition called an amniotic fluid embolism (AFE). Everything she does now, in this lifetime, is a direct result of her survival.

Geoffrey BaerGeoffrey Baer: Geoffrey Baer is a multiple Emmy award-winning Public Television writer, producer and program host. For PBS, he hosts the primetime series, “10 that Changed America”. For WTTW, he is host and writer of numerous “television tours” of Chicago. He also appears weekly on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight in a segment called “Ask Geoffrey”.

Blue Balliett: Blue Balliett is a past winner of the 21st Century Award and an Edgar Award for mystery writing. Her six critically acclaimed children’s mystery novels, beginning with Chasing Vermeer, are set in or near Chicago. Her newest book, Out of the Wild Night, takes place on Nantucket Island and, yes, is alive with ghosts. Balliett’s work has been translated into 35 languages.

Elizabeth Berg: Elizabeth Berg is the author of many bestselling novels, two collections of short stories, and two works of nonfiction. Open House was an Oprah’s Book Club selection. Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year. Talk Before Sleep was short-listed for an Abby Award. Her work has been translated into 27 languages. She is the founder of Writing Matters, a reading series designed to serve author, audience, and community.

Ira BerkowIra Berkow: Ira Berkow, a Chicago native, was a long-time sports columnist for The New York Times where he shared a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. His column was included in the prestigious anthology Best American Sports Writing of the Century. He has written several best sellers, including Maxwell Street: Survival in a Bazaar. His latest book, a collection of his baseball writings is titled, It Happens Every Spring: DiMaggio, Mays, The Splendid Splinter, and a Lifetime at the Ballpark.

Carol Levin BernickCarol Lavin Bernick: Carol Lavin Bernick, author of Gather as You Go and CEO of Polished Nickel Capital Management, is the former Executive Chairman of the Alberto Culver Company. While dramatically growing the company to over $3 billion in sales, she instituted a nationally-recognized cultural overhaul profiled in the Harvard Business Review.Ursula Bielski: Ursula Bielski is the founder of Chicago Hauntings, Inc. and the host of PBS’ The Hauntings of Chicago. An historian, author, and parapsychologist, Ursula is the author of ten popular and critically acclaimed books including the Chicago Haunts series and Graveyards of Chicago.

Jeanne BishopJeanne Bishop:  Jeanne Bishop is the sister of Nancy Bishop Langert, who was murdered along with her husband and their unborn child in Winnetka in 1990. Since the murders of her family members, Bishop has been a passionate advocate for gun violence prevention, abolition of the death penalty and forgiveness. Bishop’s forthcoming book, Change of Heart, tells the story of her transformation from supporting the juvenile life without parole sentence her sister’s killer is serving to visiting him in prison and advocating for reform of the juvenile life sentences.

Daniel BorzutzkyDaniel Borzutzky: Daniel Borzutzky is the author of a recent poetry collection, Lake Michigan. He is the author of The Performance of Becoming Human, recipient of the 2016 National Book Award for Poetry. His other books include In the Murmurs of the Rotten Carcass Economy and The Book of Interfering Bodies. His translation of Galo Ghigliotto’s Valdivia won the American Literary Translator’s Association 2017 Award.

Kim BrooksKim Brooks: Kim Brooks is the author of SMALL ANIMALS: Parenthood in the Age of Fear. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a recipient of a Michener-Copernicus Fellowship, her essays and stories have appeared in The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Cut, Chicago Magazine, Salon, Lenny Letter, Glimmer Train, One Story, and elsewhere. Her novel, The Houseguest, was published in 2016.

Patrick CannonPatrick Cannon: Patrick F. Cannon is the author of five books on Chicago architects and architecture, done in collaboration with photographer James Caulfield. Their most recent book, The Space Within: Inside Great Chicago Buildings, was the Gold Medal winner for architecture books in the 2016 Independent Publishers Book Awards.

James CaulfieldJames Caulfield: James Caulfield has been a commercial photographer for more than 30 years. He has collaborated on five books with Patrick Cannon: Hometown Architect: The Complete Buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright in Oak Park and River Forest, Illinois; Prairie Metropolis: Chicago and the Birth of a New American Home; Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple; Louis Sullivan: Creating a New American Architecture; The Space Within: Inside Great Chicago Buildings.

Ilene CooperIlene Cooper: Ilene Cooper is the author of more than 30 books for young people. Her books include the critically acclaimed Eleanor Roosevelt, Fighter for Justice; The Golden Rule; and Jack: The Early Years of John F. Kennedy, which won the Midland Authors Award in the children’s non-fiction category. She was awarded the Prairie State Award for Excellence in Writing for Children in 2007 and worked for 25 years at the American Library Association’s review journal Booklist, where she is currently a contributing editor.

Matthew CordellMatthew Cordell: Matthew Cordell is the Caldecott award-winning author and illustrator of 25 children’s books including Wolf in the Snow, King Alice, Trouble Gum, Another Brother, hello! hello!, and Wish.

Elizabeth CraneElizabeth Crane: Elizabeth Crane is the author of two novels and four collections of short stories, the novel, The History of Great Things and the story collection, Turf. She is a recipient of the 21st Century Award. Her debut novel, We Only Know So Much, has been adapted for film and premiered at the Nantucket Film Festival.

Kitty CurranKitty Curran: Kitty Curran is an artist and writer from London, currently living in Ravenswood. Her art and writing have appeared in many publications and programs in the US and UK. She is the frequent creative partner of Larissa Zageris. My Lady’s Choosing, their debut interactive romance novel, was released in April. They are also co-creators of the viral hit Taylor Swift: Girl Detective.

Jocelyn Delk AdamsJocelyn Delk Adams: Jocelyn Delk Adams is the founder, author, national television personality and brand ambassador behind the award-winning cookbook Grandbaby Cakes and the food website Jocelyn is a TODAY Show Tastemaker and was a cast member of one of the Cooking Channel’s longest running most popular shows, Unique Sweets. Grandbaby Cakes won the Gourmand World Award 2016 for Best Blogger Cookbook USA and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award 2016 – Outstanding Literary Instructional Work.

Rev. Martin DeppeRev. Martin Deppe: Rev. Martin Deppe is a retired Methodist minister who served six churches in the Chicago area for over 39 years. In 1966 he was present at what became the birth meeting of Operation Breadbasket. In its six years, Breadbasket secured over 4,500 jobs, shelf space for black products, and many service contracts. Deppe’s inside account is the book, Operation Breadbasket, An Untold Story of Civil Rights in Chicago, 1966-1971.

Jim DeRogatisJim DeRogatis: Jim DeRogatis is the author of nine books about music, including Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America’s Greatest Rock Critic; Staring at Sound: The True Story of Oklahoma’s Fabulous Flaming Lips; Turn On Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock; and Milk It! Collected Musings on the Alternative Music Explosion of the ’90s. He co-hosts WBEZ radio’s weekly broadcast, Sound Opinions, with Greg Kot.

Nick Drnaso: Nick Drnaso is a graphic novelist whose first book, Beverly, was published in 2016. His new book, Sabrina, is the first graphic novel to be long listed for the prestigious Man Booker Prize.

Thomas DyjaThomas Dyja: Thomas Dyja is a third-generation Chicagoan. He has worked at ICM, Bantam Books, and book packaging company Balliett & Fitzgerald. His book, The Third Coast was a One Book, One Chicago selection. He is the author of three novels, Play for a Kingdom, Meet John Trow, and The Moon in Our Hands.

Jonathan EigJonathan Eig: Jonathan Eig is the author of five books, three of them New York Times best sellers. His most recent book, Ali: A Life, was named winner of the 2018 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports writing. He is working on a Muhammad Ali documentary for PBS with Ken Burns. His next book will be a biography of Martin Luther King Jr.

Leah EskinLeah Eskin: Leah Eskin is a nationally syndicated columnist. Her essays appear in the Chicago Tribune each Sunday. They cover everything from global warming to frozen lemon mousse; each is paired with an original recipe. She also writes feature stories, including a recent profile of a dying bagel baron. She is the author of the memoir, Slices of Life: A Food Writer Cooks Through Many a Conundrum.

Robert FieselerRobert Fieseler: Robert Fieseler is a journalist and author who is a recipient of the Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship and the Lynton Fellowship in Book Writing. His essays and feature stories have been recognized in roundups of best nonfiction by The Atlantic. He is the author of Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and, The Rise of Gay Liberation.

Jennifer FriedesJennifer Friedes: A former lawyer, Jennifer Friedes is now an award-winning screenwriter, and independent filmmaker. Friedes was the original writer of Iron Jawed Angels, produced and aired by HBO starring Hilary Swank and Angelica Huston. She holds an Emmy nomination, was named a Humanitas Prize Finalist, winner of the Silver Ace Award, and Pen USA Literary Award recipient.

Rebekah FrumkinRebekah Frumkin: Rebekah Frumkin is the author of the novel, The Comedown. Her fiction, essays, and articles have appeared or are forthcoming in Granta, Guernica, Pacific Standard, Poetry Magazine and In These Times, among other places.

Edgar GarciaEdgar Garcia: Edgar Garcia is a professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Chicago. Winner of the 2018 Fence Books Modern Poets Series Award, his collection of poems and anthropological essays—titled Skins of Columbus—will be published by Fence Books in March of 2019. His book on literary scholarship and critical theory—titled Signs of the Americas—will be published by the University of Chicago Press in Autumn of 2019.

Amina GautierAmina Gautier: Amina Gautier is the author of three short story collections: At-Risk, Now We Will Be Happy and The Loss of All Lost Things. She has been awarded the Flannery O’Connor Award, the Prairie Schooner Book Prize, and the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s 21st Century Award. She has also received the 2018 PEN/MALAMUD Award for Excellence in the Short Story.

Rebecca GilmanRebecca Gilman: Rebecca Gilman’s plays include Luna Gale, Boy Gets Girl, Spinning into Butter, Dollhouse, Blue Surge, and The Glory of Living, for which she was named a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in 2001. Gilman is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, and The Harper Lee Award. Gilman is an inductee in the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame. The Goodman Theatre will produce her newest play, Twilight Bowl, in 2019.

Ted GregoryTed Gregory: Ted Gregory is a Pulitzer-prize winning reporter at the Chicago Tribune, author of the offbeat true-crime odyssey, Mary Jane’s Ghost, and co-author of three books, The Leadership Code, To Chase A Dream, and Our Black Year.

Max GrinnellMax Grinnell: Max Grinnell is a writer and chronicler of the urban condition. He is the author of three books about Chicago and his writings on cities have appeared in The Guardian, The Boston Globe, and the Chicago Tribune. He is the author of Hyde Park, Illinois and Frommer’s 24 Great Walks in Chicago.

Julie Halpern Julie Halpern: Julie Halpern is the award-winning author of six funny and real novels for young adults, plus one book for adults and one picture book. Her novel Get Well Soon won the National Alliance on Mental Illness Ken Book Award for an outstanding contribution to better understanding of mental illness. Into the Wild Nerd Yonder was the winner of the South Carolina Young Adult Books Award, voted on by high school students throughout the state.

Clare Hartfield Claire Hartfield: Claire Hartfield is a nationally recognized author and education leader. Her most recent work, A Few Red Drops, tells the story behind the Chicago race riot of 1919. Hartfield has developed school desegregation plans for Chicago and Rockford.

Hermene HartmannHermene Hartmann: Hermene Hartmann is President and CEO of the Chicago-based Hartman Publishing Group, Inc. Her flagship publication, N’DIGO, an African-American alternative newspaper, published weekly, was founded in 1989. She is the author of N’Digo Legacies: 110 African American Icons of Contemporary History.

Sean JensenSean Jensen: Sean Jensen was born in South Korea, and raised in California, Massachusetts and Virginia. He covered 16 NFL seasons for major newspapers and websites, including 14 Super Bowls. At Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona, former Bears legend Brian Urlacher introduced Jensen’s The Middle School Rules series on ESPN Radio.

Patrick JohnsonPatrick Johnson: E. Patrick Johnson is the Professor of Performance Studies and African American Studies at Northwestern University. He is the author of many books, including Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South—An Oral History and the forthcoming Black, Queer, and Southern Women: An Oral History. The stage play version of Sweet Tea debuted in Chicago in 2010 at About Face Theatre.

Crystal Hana KimCrystal Han Kim: Crystal Hana Kim is the writer of a debut novel, If You Leave Me, published in August 2018. It is currently longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. She was a 2017 PEN America Dau Short Story Prize winner.

Barbara KipperBarbara Kipper: Barbara Kipper has been the Chairman of Chas. Levy Circulating Company, LLC and Levy Home Entertainment Inc., an operating unit of Chas. Levy Company LLC. Her book of images from her travels around the globe, Journeys Places-Journeys People, includes work which was on exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Kelley KitleyKelley Kitley: Kelley Kitley is a licensed Clinical Social Worker and international women’s mental health expert. She is also the author of, My Self: An Autobiography of Survival. Her work has appeared in numerous print media outlets and television shows including Dr. Oz, Megyn Kelly TODAY, and Access Live.

Alex KotlowitzAlex Kotlowitz: Alex Kotlowitz is the author of four books including the national bestseller, There Are No Children Here, which the New York Public Library selected as one of the 150 most important books of the twentieth century. An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago, is due out in March. His book, The Other Side of the River, received the Heartland Award. Never a City So Real will be released in paperback next spring. He is producer of The Interrupters which received an Emmy and an Independent Film Spirit Award.

Steven Krakow Steven Krakow: Steven Krakow aka Plastic Crimewave, is a Chicago-native known for being a “psychedelic guru” of sorts, and is the creator of the Galactic Zoo Dossier, a hand-drawn magazine. He also runs the Galactic Zoo Disk reissue label imprint that is manufactured and distributed by Drag City and roving label Galactic Archive. He has drawn and written the bi-weekly Secret History of Chicago Music comic strip and column for the Chicago Reader since 2004.

Tom Kuczmarski Tom Kuczmarski: Tom Kuczmarski, is co-founder of the Chicago Innovation Awards, which annually celebrates, educates, and connects innovators in the Chicago region. He has published seven books on innovation and leadership, including Innovating…Chicago-Style: How Local Innovators are Building the National Economy and his most recent title, Lifting People Up: The Power of Recognition, co-authored with Dr. Susan Smith Kuczmarski.

Susan Smith KuczmarskiSusan Kuczmarski: Dr. Susan Smith Kuczmarski currently teaches at Northwestern University. She is the author of six books, three on families and three on leadership. Becoming A Happy Family won the 2015 IPPY Book Awards. The Sacred Flight of the Teenager received an award from the National Parenting Center. She has appeared on the Today Show as a leading expert on issues devoted to the contemporary family and leadership.

Julia KuoJulia Kuo: Julia Kuo is a Taiwanese-American illustrator who has worked with The New York Times, National Public Radio, Scholastic, and Hachette Book Group. Julia has taught illustration courses at Columbia College Chicago. She was the visual arm of Chicago’s 2017 March for Science. She has illustrated numerous books for children including, The Sound of Silence by Katarina Goldsaito.

Bill KurtisBill Kurtis: Bill Kurtis is an author, television journalist, news anchor, and producer. Currently he is heard on “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me” on NPR, and as a host of, “Through the Decades” on the Decades Channel. His book, Death Penalty on Trial: Crisis in American Justice, analyzes the ethics behind the death penalty. His other books include, We Interrupt This Broadcast, The Prairie Table Cookbook, and Bill Kurtis on Assignment.

Catherine LaceyCatherine Lacey: Catherine Lacey is the author of the novels, Nobody Is Ever Missing, which won a Whiting Award, and The Answers, which was named a best of book of 2017 by The New York Times. Certain American States, her debut story collection, came out this year. She and her partner, Jesse Ball, were both named Best Young American Novelists by Granta Magazine.

Ling MaLing Ma: Ling Ma was born in Sanming, China and grew up in Utah, Nebraska, and Kansas. She has worked as a journalist and editor. Her writing has appeared in Granta, Vice, Playboy, Chicago Reader, Ninth Letter, and other publications. A chapter of her debut novel, Severance, received the 2015 Graywolf SLS Prize.

Kate MasurKate Masur: Kate Masur is a historian who has written extensively on race and politics in the nineteenth-century United States. They Know Lincoln, the first book-length treatment of Lincoln’s relationship with African Americans, was originally published in 1942 and is now reprinted for the first time. At Northwestern, Kate teaches classes on the Civil War and Reconstruction, Abraham Lincoln in History and Memory, women’s history, and many other topics. She’s on leave this year, thanks to a faculty fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Yvonne MaffeiYvonne Maffei: Yvonne Maffei is a food and travel writer, cookbook author, e-commerce entrepreneur and the Founder of, a cooking website. Her book titles include, Clean Your Kitchen Green, Summer Ramadan Cooking and My Halal Kitchen: Global Recipes, Cooking Tips, Lifestyle Inspiration.

Rebecca MakkaiRebecca Makkai: Rebecca Makkai is the author of the novels, The Great Believers, The Borrower, and The Hundred-Year House, and the collection Music for Wartime – from which four stories appeared in the annual anthology The Best American Short Stories. She is the artistic director of StoryStudio Chicago.

Robert MurovichRobert Marovich: Robert Marovich is the author of A City Called Heaven: Chicago and The Birth of Gospel Music. He is also the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Gospel Music, the host of Gospel Memories on WLUW-FM Chicago, and the host of “Conversations with the Gospel Legends” on the PCC Network.

Nate Marshall Nate Marshall: Nate Marshall is the author of Wild Hundreds and an editor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. Wild Hundreds has been honored with the Black Caucus of the American Library Association’s Poetry prize. His rap album, Grown came out in 2015. He is the Director of National Programs for Louder Than A Bomb Youth Poetry Festival.

Claudia Guadalupe MartinClaudia Guadalupe Martinez: Claudia Guadalupe Martinez is the author of debut novel, The Smell of Old Lady Perfume, which received the 2009 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People, and the 2008 Texas Institute of Letters Best Young Adult Book Award. Her second novel, Pig Park, won the 2015 Texas Institute of Letters Best Young Adult Book and the 2015 NACCS Tejas Foco Young Adult Fiction Award.

Martin MartyMartin Marty: Martin Marty is Emeritus Professor at the University of Chicago and the author of over 60 books, mainly in the field of religious history, with specialties in American history and comparative studies of militant fundamentalisms around the world. He also writes regularly on religious themes in contemporary culture. He has won the National Book Award. In addition to over 80 honorary doctorates, he has been awarded the National Humanities Medal, and the medal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Eric Charles MayEric Charles May: Eric Charles May is author of the novel, Bedrock Faith, and the 2015 recipient of the Chicago Public Library and Foundation’s 21st Century Award. A former reporter for The Washington Post, his short fiction has appeared in Fish Stories, F, and We Speak Chicagoese. His nonfiction work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, one of which is the essay anthology, Briefly Knocked Unconscious By A Low-Flying Duck.

Todd Mayfield Todd Mayfield: Todd Mayfield is music legend Curtis Mayfield’s second-oldest son. He is an entrepreneur and former financial services executive in Chicago and promotes his father’s music and legacy. He is the author of Traveling Soul, The Life of Curtis Mayfield.

Cheryl Mayberry McKissackCheryl Mayberry McKissack: Cheryl Mayberry McKissack is a nationally known expert on entrepreneurship and business innovation. The four-time author, speaker, board member, CEO and Entrepreneur heads up her own digital consultancy firm, Nia Enterprises. Mayberry McKissack, who started her technology career with the IBM Corporation, has held several high profile executive and entrepreneurial roles. As a former adjunct professor, she spent a decade sharing her industry insider techniques, selling skills and motivation with aspiring entrepreneurs in the MBA program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business.

H MeltH. Melt: H. Melt is a poet, artist, and educator whose work proudly celebrates Chicago’s queer and trans communities. They are the author of On My Way to Liberation, The Plural and, The Blurring. They edited Subject to Change: Trans Poetry & Conversation. Lambda Literary awarded them the Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging LGBTQ Writers. H. Melt co-leads Queeriosity at Young Chicago Authors.

Mary Ann MohanrajMary Anne Mohanraj: Mary Anne Mohanraj is a poet and novelist born in Sri Lanka. She is author of over ten books, including Bodies in Motion and The Poet’s Journey. She is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Mohanraj founded the World Fantasy Award-winning and Hugo-nominated magazine, Strange Horizons. She received a Breaking Barriers Award from the Chicago Foundation for Women for her work in Asian American arts organizing.

James MontgomeryJames Montgomery: James Montgomery was born in Mississippi. In 1983, Mr. Montgomery was appointed Corporation Counsel of the City of Chicago, under Mayor Harold Washington and was named a fellow of the prestigious International Academy of Trial Lawyers. Mr. Montgomery currently serves as a trustee to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. He is the author of Full Circle: Race Law & Justice.

Natalie MooreNatalie Moore: Natalie Moore is the author of The South Side, a Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation. She is the South Side bureau reporter for WBEZ, the NPR-member station in Chicago. Winner of Chicago Public Library Foundation’s 2017 21st Century Award, her work has been published in Essence, Black Enterprise, The Chicago Reporter, In These Times, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune.

Ann Elizabeth MooreAnne Elizabeth Moore: Anne Elizabeth Moore is the former editor of Punk Planet, the founding editor of the Best American Comics series from Houghton Mifflin, and the author of several books including Lambda Literary Award finalist, Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes.

Gary Saul MorsonGary Saul Morson: Gary Saul Morson, a professor at Northwestern University is often considered America’s foremost scholar on Russian literature. In addition to books on Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Russian thought, he authored an award-winning study of the human experience of time; two widely reviewed books on our love for and use of quotations; and, with Morton Schapiro, Cents and Sensibility: What Economics Can Learn from the Humanities.

Nami MunNami Mun: Nami Mun won a Whiting Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Chicago Public Foundation’s 21st Century Award and was a finalist for the Orange Prize for New Writers and the Asian American Literary Award for her first book Miles from Nowhere. She has been published in The New York Times, Granta, Tin House, The Iowa Review, and The Pushcart Prize Anthology.

Dominic PacygaDominic Pacyga: Dominic Pacyga has authored, or co-authored, six books concerning Chicago’s history including Slaughterhouse: Chicago’s Union Stock Yard and The World It Made and Chicago: A Biography. He has lectured widely on topics ranging from urban development, residential architecture, and labor history, and was a member of the Humanities, History and Social Sciences Department at Columbia College from 1984 until his retirement in 2017.

Sara ParetskySara Paretsky: Sara Paretsky revolutionized the mystery world in 1982 when she introduced V. I. Warshawski in Indemnity Only. By creating a believable investigator with the grit and smarts to tackle problems on the mean streets, Paretsky challenged a genre in which women typically were either vamps or victims. Hailed by critics and readers, Indemnity Only was followed by fifteen best-selling Warshawski novels. Paretsky has also written a number of short story collections and non-fiction pieces

Celia PerezCelia Perez: Celia Perez is a community college librarian and maker of zines, inspired by punk and her love of writing. The First Rule of Punk is her first book for young readers and is a 2018 Pure Belpré Award Honor Book, a winner of the 2018 Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, and a Junior Library Guild selection.

David PickettDavid Pickett: David Pickett runs the YouTube channel, BRICK 101, where he shares his custom LEGO creations with an audience of 500,000 subscribers. Dave is co-author of The LEGO Animation Book, which teaches budding filmmakers of all ages how to make their own movies using nothing more than a few LEGO bricks, a smartphone, and their imagination.

Marilynn PrestonMarilynn Preston: Marilynn Preston–journalist, healthy lifestyle expert, Emmy-winning TV producer— is the author of America’s longest-running wellness column, started in the Chicago Tribune in 1976, and still in syndication. Her newest book, All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being, is an Amazon best-seller.

Marilyn PriceMarilyn Price: Marilyn Price is an international storyteller, puppeteer, educator, and author. A specialist in creativity training, she heads a not-for-profit foundation, TriBraining, Inc. Her latest book, with Rabbi David A. Teutsch, is From Gratitude to Blessings and Back. She is a popular puppeteer for Chicago Public Library and winner of the Mayor’s Award for the Arts in Evanston.

Christina PughChristina Pugh: Christina Pugh is the author of four books of poems, including, Perception and Grains of the Voice. She received a 2015-2016 Guggenheim fellowship in poetry, as well as fellowships and awards from the Poetry Society of America, the Illinois Arts Council, and the Bogliasco Foundation. She is consulting editor for Poetry.

Lori Rader DayLori Rader-Day: Lori Rader-Day, author of Under a Dark Sky, The Day I Died, Little Pretty Things, and The Black Hour, is a two-time Anthony Award winner and a three-time Mary Higgins Clark Award nominee, winning the award in 2016. Lori’s short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Good Housekeeping. Lori lives in Chicago, where she co-chairs the mystery conference Murder and Mayhem in Chicago and is national vice president of Sisters in Crime.

Rachel RuizRachel Ruiz: Rachel Ruiz is the author of eight children’s books, including, When Penny Met POTUS. Rachel was inspired to write her first book after working as a video producer for Barack Obama in 2012, Rachel also penned non-fiction picture books, When Hillary Rodham Clinton Played Ice Hockey and When Rosa Parks Went Fishing, and the Superhero Harry chapter book series. Her first graphic novel, Great Lives: Martin Luther King will be released in 2019.

Peter Sagal Peter Sagal: Peter Sagal is the author of numerous plays that have been performed around the country and abroad. He is also the author of The Book of Vice: Naughty Things and How to Do Them, a series of essays about bad behavior. Since 1997 he has been the host of “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!”—which has become one of the most popular shows on public radio. His latest book is The Incomplete Book of Running.

Terry SavageTerry Savage: Terry Savage is a nationally recognized expert on personal finance, the economy and the markets. She writes a weekly syndicated personal finance column. She is the author of four best-selling books on personal finance. The Savage Truth on Money was named one of the top ten money books of the year by in its first edition. Her recent book is: The Savage Number: How Much Money do You Really Need to Retire?

Morton SchapiroMorton Schapiro: Morton Schapiro is the 16th president of Northwestern University and among the nation’s leading authorities on the economics of higher education, with expertise in college financing, affordability, and trends. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Education and, with Gary Saul Morson, co-authored Cents and Sensibility: What Economics Can Learn from the Humanities.

Mary SchmichMary Schmich: Mary Schmich is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune who won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Her column, which she has written since 1992, appears Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. A Georgia native, she was previously a Tribune national correspondent based in Atlanta. She also teaches yoga, plays mandolin and piano, and with fellow columnist Eric Zorn hosts an annual holiday singalong at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

Donna SeamanDonna Seaman: Donna Seaman is Editor, Adult Books, for Booklist; a member of the Content Leadership Team and National Advisory Council for the American Writers Museum, and a recipient of the James Friend Memorial Award for Literary Criticism and the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award. Her current book is Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists.

Scott Simon Scott Simon: Scott Simon is one of American’s most admired writers and broadcasters. He has reported from all 50 states, five continents, and 10 wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. He is the host of NPR’s “Weekend Edition with Scott Simon”, and Special Contributor for “CBS Sunday Morning”. He is the author of nine acclaimed works of fiction and non-fiction including Pretty Birds, about the siege of Sarajevo, and Windy City, set in the Chicago City Council, and the New York Times bestseller Unforgettable, a book about his last week with his mother in the Intensive Care Unit of Northwestern Hospital. His latest book is, My Cubs: A Love Story. Simon has also contributed articles to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Peabody, the Emmy, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Studs Terkel Award, and the Charles Osgood Lifetime Achievement Award. He has written his first novel for young readers, the forthcoming SUNNYSIDE PLAZA, set in a home for mentally-challenged adults in Chicago’s Uptown.

Peter SlevinPeter Slevin: Peter Sleter Slevin spent a decade on the national staff of The Washington Post before moving to Northwestern University, where he is on the faculty at the Medill School of Journalism. He has written extensively about Barack and Michelle Obama, as well as political campaigns and policy debates from one end of the country to the other. His portrait of Michelle Obama, which delves deeply into her Chicago life, was a finalist for the PEN America biography prize in 2016

Bryan SmithBryan Smith: Bryan Smith is the senior staff writer at Chicago magazine, as well as a contributor to numerous national and city magazines. Mr. Smith has twice been named national Writer of the Year by the City and Regional Magazine Association. Mr. Smith has won nearly two-dozen Peter Lisagor awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, in categories ranging from feature writing to in-depth reporting to sports to arts and entertainment. Most recently, his writing was chosen to appear in the most esteemed annual anthology collecting the best sports writing in the country: Best American Sports Writing.

Elizabeth TaylorElizabeth Taylor: Elizabeth Taylor is Literary Editor at Large of the Chicago Tribune. Past President of the National Book Critics Circle, she now serves on its Board. She chaired four Pulitzer Prize juries, and recently worked to plan the Pulitzer Centennial. Co-founder of The National Book Review, Liz is co-author of American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley, His Battle for Chicago and the Nation, named by The New York Times to its best of year list.

Vu TranVu Tran: Vu Tran was born in Saigon, Vietnam. He is the winner of a Whiting Award, and his short stories have appeared in many publications, including the O. Henry Prize Stories and the Best American Mystery Stories. His first novel, Dragonfish, was a New York Times Notable Book.

Bruce VilanchBruce Vilanch: Bruce Vilanch returns to where he was a feature writer at Chicago Today and Chicago Tribune. He subsequently went to Hollywood and won six Emmys for writing various award shows and variety specials, served six years as a celebrity participant on Hollywood Squares and co-wrote 23 Oscar telecasts. He has a performing career, both as a comedian and, for two years, as the star of HAIRSPRAY on Broadway and on tour, and is the subject of the documentary feature Get Bruce.

John WasikJohn Wasik: John F. Wasik is the award-winning journalist, speaker and author of 17 books, including Lightning Strikes: Timeless Lessons in Creativity from the Life and Work of Nikola Tesla.

Mary WisniewskiMary Wisniewski: Mary Wisniewski is a reporter and columnist at the Chicago Tribune, who also teaches creative writing at the Newberry Library. Her book Algren: A Life, was the winner of the 2017 Society of Midland Authors’ award for best biography and the Chicago Writers Association award for best non-fiction. Wisniewski also has won numerous reporting awards and appears frequently on local television and radio.

Larissa ZagerisLarissa Zageris: Larissa Zageris is a writer and filmmaker. Her work has been featured in a variety of publications in the US and UK. She is the frequent creative partner of Kitty Curran. My Lady’s Choosing, their debut interactive romance novel, was released in April. They are also co-creators of the viral hit Taylor Swift: Girl Detective.

BIll Zehme Bill Zehme: Bill Zehme is the author of the New York Times bestselling homage to Frank Sinatra, The Way You Wear Your Hat, and Lost in the Funhouse: The Life and Mind of Andy Kaufman. A recipient of the prestigious ASME Award for Profile Writing, he has written for Esquire, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Vanity Fair, as well as the collection Intimate Strangers: Comic Profiles and Indiscretions of the Very Famous.