Tuesday 20 February 2024

An Interview with Christopher D. Schmitz

February’s FTRS featured reader is Christopher D. Schmitz, the author of several Science Fiction and Fantasy series, including 50 Shades of Worf, Wolves of the Tesseract, and Curse of the Fey Duelist, which includes his most recent work, The Crow and the Troll (TreeShaker), a dark fantasy about “a contract killer, a gorgeous victim, and a mystic garden hidden beyond the Winter Court.” He is also the author of The Indie Writer’s Bible Workbook

The Final Thursday Reading Series takes place on February 29 at the Hearst Center for the Arts in Cedar Falls, Iowa. There will be an open mic at 7:00 p.m. (bring your best five minutes of original creative writing). Christopher D. Schmitz takes the stage at 7:30. The featured reading will also be simulcast on Zoom. Click HERE to register for a link. 

Interview conducted by Jim O’Loughlin. 

JIM O’LOUGHLIN: Though you write in a range of genres, a lot of your books have been Science Fiction. Can you talk about what drew you (and continues to draw you) to Sci-Fi?
CHRISTOPHER D. SCHMITZ: I’ve always loved Science Fiction. I was watching a YouTube channel just this morning run by a guy roughly my age. He claimed the 90s were not some golden age of anything except for Science Fiction television. He’s definitely wrong, except for Sci-Fi being great TV programming in that decade. Not only was I watching it, but I was also reading it. I read lots of Golden Age and Silver Age stuff and more modern books. And not just Sci-Fi but also Fantasy, which are often lumped together in the same larger genre category. I picked up a library discard when I was in the third grade and I was hooked. Around that same time, I discovered some post-apocalyptic fantasy stuff that also really spoke to me and I started reading a lot of space opera as well. 

JO: You’ve also carved out a writing career in which you are heavily involved in publishing and promoting your books. Can you talk about how you think of your work as a writer/publisher?
CDS: I have really thrown in on the independent side of the industry. I’ve been published traditionally as well as independently and really prefer the latter. Some of my author friends are big names in the SFF writing world (like guys with major movies and TV deals), and they are doing both based on their needs. I really like being in control and being able to shift when the market says shift. I travel to a lot of events every year and get on the ground level with my readers, meeting new people almost every week at comic book conventions as well as meeting return readers who have come to buy something else for me. (Although I am not entirely opposed to traditional publishing house deals, and I am in talks with one major Science Fiction publisher right now about one of my unpublished series.) Being an independent means you are also taking on the roles a publisher should (although what those expectations are has largely shifted in the last two decades.) That means I’m always promoting something, and I’m always looking for new ways to get in front of people. It started out of necessity, but I discovered I enjoy certain aspects of it. 

JO: One of the things you do is produce an author newsletter. What has that experience been like, and when is it something you would recommend for other writers?
CDS: I provide author coaching, teach at panels and workshops, and I’m currently developing some new author courses drawn out of my forthcoming expanded Indie Author’s Bible… but this is a piece of information I will always give away for free. Having a newsletter is one of the most fundamental things you can do. Not only do people follow you because they want to stay in touch with your particular brand or stories, but they want to be connected to you as an author. Giving access to ourselves as authors is something that the big traditional publishers cannot do. It’s what sets us apart qualitatively from the major publishers. Not only does that provide an element of access and quality, but it is effective and mostly irrevocable. What if your favorite social media site shuts down or deplatforms/shadowbans you or loses favor with your audience. All of those things have happened within the last couple of years. But even when things aren’t so drastic, your newsletter is still better. Email has higher open rates and if you want to switch from one email provider to another, you can take your list with you. You can also use it for other marketing things like creating custom advertising algorithms. Also, it costs you nothing to send an email. Do you want your Facebook followers to see your latest update? That’s going to cost you if you want more than a small percent to know you just did something neat. I have resources I recommend and highly endorse the book Newsletter Ninja. It’s written for authors, but I recommend it for anybody wanting to learn how to effectively use newsletters for your industry. 

JO: Are there any other tips you have for emerging writers?
CDS: I’ve gotten ahead of the curve on a few things including using Kickstarter and crowdfunding to launch books. Part of it is that it’s helped me find my people who love my kinds of books, and another part of it is that in researching how to harness that side of the business well I have joined several online groups to both learn and share, and it’s helped me find more and more like-minded people. It’s important as an author to surround yourself with voices you’ve allowed to be critical of your own work and methods and also to build a peer group. I really enjoyed watching interviews between Stephen King and George RR Martin. Those two used to travel around to shows to autograph books and meet people just like I do along with several other friends I have met on the author circuit. They value each other as peers even if the stuff is pretty radically different in many ways. That’s how a lot of author friendships are. I have friends who write radically different genres, but at the end of the day a lot of the challenges are the same and it’s important to have outside voices to challenge and grow you as a writer and also as a business owner …because that’s what being an author is in today’s day and age: it’s a melding of business and creativity. 

JO: You and your wife also run a business, Waterloo’s Weis Mansion Bed & Breakfast. How do you manage the balance between finding time to write and having another job that demands your time?
CDS: With great difficulty. I try to manage my schedule well. Luckily Kelly does most of the operational side on the bed-and-breakfast. I often split time between writing and marketing endeavors and break up my day with painting or property repairs and that sort of thing. I live and die by my calendar alerts.

Sunday 21 January 2024

An Interview with Catherine DeSoto

2024’s first Final Thursday Reading Series featured reader is Catherine DeSoto. DeSoto is the author of Lies of Omission: Algorithms versus Democracy (Skyhorse), a study of the impact of algorithmic curation of social media on divisions within the United States. Dan Kovalik writes of Lies of Omission, “this book will make you question what is true and factual in the world, and whether you have a viable path for discerning such things.” DeSoto is a professor of Psychology at the University of Northern Iowa. 

The Final Thursday Reading Series takes place on January 25 at the Hearst Center for the Arts in Cedar Falls, Iowa. There will be an open mic at 7:00 p.m. (bring your best five minutes of original creative writing). Catherine DeSoto takes the stage at 7:30. The featured reading will also be simulcast on Zoom. Click HERE to register for a link. 

Interview conducted by Jim O’Loughlin 

JIM O’LOUGHLIN: While there has been a lot of media attention focused on the impact of social media on individual behavior, you approach this issue as a psychologist. How has that allowed you to view this issue differently?

My background in neuroscience and psychology allows me to characterize what is happening in the brain when one receives certain kinds of information, and then link this to social psychology research on preferring agreement over disagreement. In all, this makes our little pocket gadgets, and the way they work with the background algorithm, the perfect storm for increasing polarization. There is actually a lot of relevant research and knowledge that explains why society is splitting. Basically, human beings have a powerful innate love to be right; it is hardwired in the brain, and this allows us to understand the addictive nature of modern social media. 

JO: Lies of Omission details some of the information gaps that exist in how social media presents information on controversial topics. Can you give an example of how algorithms feed people with different views different versions of the world?
CD: The divergent media feeding really began 15-20 years ago. By 2016 all major feeds were changing content based on what articles the user had been clicking and pausing upon. The book goes into detail, but for example, Neighbor A will opens her phone and see an article vividly describing the details of immigrant who committed a horrible crime, while Neighbor B opens her phone and is provided articles depicting a mother fleeing violence along with pictures of her young child with braids and a doll in her hand, stuck camping on the US border for nine months. Views on immigration problems will further diverge. Specific research on the algorithms' effects will be overviewed in my talk, and is well detailed in the book. 

JO: While you are concerned about the effect of social media on individuals, the subtitle of this book—"Algorithms versus Democracy"— also points to your concerns of the political impact of these developments. What can be done to stop the corrosive impact on our politics?
CD: I wish I had a good answer. I like to hope that increased insight and awareness might help in some small way. 

JO: In writing this book, what were the pleasures and challenges in taking scientific data and presenting it for an audience that may include specialists as well as general readers?
CD: Very hard to do; and I am sure I failed to strike the right balance at times. For the second part, I earnestly sought to give a strong and accurate overview of what a person who holds the opposing view might say and focus on. I hope that it is hard to tell my true view after reading the pros and cons of a topic. If that happens, I feel I succeeded. That is what I was going for. 

JO: How, if at all, has writing this book affected your own use of social media? Do you do anything differently after spending so much time on this subject?
CD: Yes, actually. Like everyone I do not want to have holes in my knowledge about issues I care about. Often, I try to look for specific content by name, and not let the media feeds (Facebook, Youtube, my News feed) select articles for me. I am aware that what is served to me is algorithm driven and will automatically work to keep some information from me, as well as buffer me from opposing information. I don't want to let that happen, or at least I wish to try to limit it. Another thing I do: I try to click on and pause on articles I do not agree with, even if I don't read them.... I do this to try and keep my feed from being too catered to my own viewpoints.

Wednesday 15 November 2023

An Interview with Monica Leo

November’s featured reader for the Final Thursday Reading Series is Monica Leo, author of Hand, Shadow, Rod: The Story of Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre (Ice Cube Press). She is the founder of Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre, which is based in West Liberty, Iowa and whose members have performed throughout the country and globe. Next year marks fifty years of Eulenspiegel, which was founded in 1974. Hand, Shadow, Rod chronicles Leo’s journey from a young girl born to first-generation German immigrants, to a woman finding herself in the world of art and self-expression, to a seasoned performer and the head puppeteer of a well-established puppet troupe. 

The Final Thursdays Reading Series takes place on November 30 at the Hearst Center for the Arts in Cedar Falls, Iowa. There will be an open mic at 7:00 p.m. (bring your best five minutes of original creative writing). Monica Leo will begin her reading at 7:30. The featured reading will also be simulcast on Zoom. Click HERE to register for a link. 

Interview by Bennett Birkner. 

Bennett Birkner: What inspired you to write Hand, Shadow, Rod?
Monica Leo: Two things came together, and that’s that the pandemic came along, and so we all had a little more time on our hands, and Mary Swander decided to teach a Zoom class on writing a memoir and she’s one of my oldest friends and I thought, “sure, I’ll take that class, why not?” I had a lot of fun writing it but I had never thought of publishing particularly until I got to the point where Mary said “I think you’re ready to submit this for publication!” I probably wouldn’t have done it without the pandemic, honestly. A lot of good things came out of it, a lot of interesting things. 

BB: What made you decide to arrange your book in a non-linear way?
ML: I never made that conscious decision, it just kind of happened that way, because I would start writing about something and that would make me think of something else or something else that might have happened later or earlier. So, I ended up being organized more by subject matter than by a linear approach. But it wasn’t something that I started out with the intention of doing; it just happened. 

BB: Beyond giving you your first set of Kasperle hand puppets, how did your parents support and inspire you as you began making puppets of your own?
ML: My mother was a freelance artist and my grandmother on my father’s side was an artist; there have been artists in every generation of my family, so it was natural for them to support whatever I wanted to do artistically. And, you know, the puppets were something I enjoyed playing with, I had a lot of fun with them. I needed another character, so I decided to just make it. 

BB: Did you start doing that (puppets) as a kid or was that more in adulthood?
ML: I was probably about 11 or 12 when I made my first puppet. I was a girl scout all through high school and our girl scout troop decided to cater birthday parties to make some money, and the birthday party I was involved in was the one with a puppet show so I did the puppet show, of course. I knew I wanted to study art and that I wanted to do some kind of art, but I didn’t really focus in on puppets until, you know, it really came down to it and I thought, “what am I actually going to do to support myself?” My mother, who was a freelance metal sculptor said, “if you are going to be a freelance artist, you have to find something that you enjoy doing that other people enjoy paying money for.” I’d always played with dolls and puppets a lot, so I started making puppets and dolls and selling them. And gradually, you know, started performing with them. The puppet theater turns 50 next year! 

BB: What is the oldest puppet you have? Do you have any puppets from way back?
ML: Well, you know, most of the ones I made when I started out I sold. I do have one, come to think of it. When my mother died, we were cleaning out her house and I took it with me, and it was actually a self-portrait that I made of myself making a puppet, painting a puppet head. And that predates the puppet troupe, I made that before we were ever performing with them; I’m not exactly sure how old it is but it’s over fifty years old now! Of the performing puppets, Schulz is the oldest one of the performing puppets 

BB: How did you develop the personality of Schulz?
ML: I didn’t, he did. And that happens with puppets, that really happens with puppets. You make a puppet, sometimes you have a completely different intention for it than it ends up being, but you make the puppet and you put it on and start playing with it, and it just kinda develops its own personality. I’m not the only one that will tell you that. I mean, puppeteers often have that experience. It has something to do with you because you’re the one that’s manipulating it, but it goes way beyond that; it’s not that simple. The definition of a puppet is any inanimate object that’s brought to life by a manipulator. And really it covers dolls, obviously, if you work them that way, if that’s how you play with them, but it can also cover a kitchen whisk if you use it as a character. 

BB: What puppet are you most proud of creating and why?
ML: What I’d like to say instead is what are the shows I’m most proud of. The first one is one that I actually have had for quite awhile that I made in the early 2000s; it’s called Finding Home, and it’s a trilogy about my parents’ immigration experience. So it’s a memoir, a puppet show memoir. And the reason that I’m proud of that is that I ended up really developing techniques that I had never worked with before and that I’d never really thought of working with before; it broke new ground for me. So that’s one of them, and the other one I’m really proud of is the drive-in show that we developed during the pandemic, it’s called Shenanigans: Animals In Charge. And we knew, you know we were really tired of not being able to perform live, we’d done some live outdoor shows, but everything else had been canceled, everything we had scheduled to do was canceled. And so, some puppeteer friends in Arizona were doing some drive-in shows, and I thought we could do that. Then the next day, Stephanie, my co-puppeteer, thought it was a great idea too. She said “what’s our subject?” and the next day I was listening to public radio, and they were talking about an alligator that was cruising around a deserted shopping mall in Myrtle Beach! And I thought oh that has puppet show written all over it. So Stephanie and I started checking the internet and researching as many things as we could find about what animals were up to during the pandemic. There were some amazing stories, you know, like penguins roaming the art museum, and city monkeys and temple monkeys that both left the places that they usually were and traveled to the other place because they thought they might find more tourists there and the tourists always fed them, and they got into a brawl on the street over a yogurt cup, you know, and goats all over the place that were stampeding city streets; there were so many stories of different things animals were doing that they were doing specifically because there weren’t any humans out and about. 

I feel really happy about the way we developed the story around that and the way it kept us going during the pandemic. It’s actually kind of a history show, in a way; there’s obviously a whole lot of fantasy wrapped in, for instance the penguins in our story ride a bus. And the goat and the monkeys, the temple monkey and the city monkey, have a bake-off in Las Vegas. And those things of course are all just fantasy, but everything in it is based on something that really happened during the pandemic. And then we went around, we performed that in 15 different locations in Iowa during the fall of 2020, and we would have done more except it got too cold. We got a transmitter so that people could listen to it over their car radios. People loved it, they were so excited about having live theater to attend, and so I feel pretty proud of that, too, not only of how we developed the story but also how we adapted to the pandemic.

Tuesday 10 October 2023

An Interview with Cherie Dargan

This month's FTRS featured reader is Cherie Dargan, the author of The Gift, a novel from the Grandmother’s Treasures series. The Gift, set both during WWII and the contemporary period, tells the story of three sisters who leave Iowa to work in California during WWII and the lasting impact of those years on their family. Dargan is a retired instructor of English at Hawkeye Community College, and you can follow her on Substack

Cherie Dargan will be the featured reader at the Final Thursday Reading Series on October 26 at the Hearst Center for the Arts in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The open mic takes place at 7:00 p.m., and Cherie Dargan takes the stage at 7:30. Dargan’s reading will also be simulcast on Zoom. Click HERE to register for a Zoom link. 

Interview by Patrick Markovich.

Patrick Markovich: How did you manage the voice of each person you write about?
Cherie Dargan: While I based characters on my mother, Charlotte, and my aunt Jeanne, I didn’t tell their life stories. I created a fictional family, a family tree, and a cast of characters for the 2012 story and the one set during WWII. However, I read through my mother’s big notebook about WWII. She wrote a chapter about each year from 1939 through 1946. She wrote about teaching in a one-room schoolhouse for two years, teaching her small town about food rationing, and wiring up the schoolhouse and farm. So those things are true to life. My mother died 25 years ago, but her hard work documenting her life helped me write the book. Aunt Jeanne was 96 in 2020 and read the first draft and loved it. I put the published book in her hands a week before she died at age 98 and told her that Aunt Violet lives on in three more books! 

PM: Where did you get the idea for the series?
I inherited a dozen antique quilts stored in a big antique chest built by my grandfather. In addition, Mom left notebooks filled with family genealogy. I got the idea for Gracie’s grandmother to say, “Every quilt has a story.” So, I took little bits and pieces of family history and created a series of novels that each included a mystery or puzzle about an old quilt. Quilts and making quilts were more than something to keep warm. They represented women gathered at churches or in people’s living rooms around a large quilting frame. Friends, family, and neighbors worked side by side and as they did, they told stories, shared gossip, and listened to their friends and loved ones. 

PM: How did you go about approaching the symbol of the quilt? I like to think it’s a really significant part of the story since it’s related to documenting family history and preserving it.
Thank you! Yes, I was trying to create a story with a quilt at the heart of it, but the quilt was only a symbol of the problem. It was a concrete reminder of what had happened in California. The mother and aunts thought they could reconcile the two sisters if they sat down to quilt together. But that effort failed and made things worse because they didn’t confront what had happened. Worse still, no one in the younger generation knew what had happened in California, so it was a big mystery. Gracie asks her mother why the quilt is called the California quilt, and her mother does not know. The grandmother hid the quilt away in a closet and didn’t want to talk about it. So, as parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles died, only the twins and their big sister, Grandma Grace, knew what had happened in California. She told the story through the tapes and trusted her granddaughter to take the next step. I have several faded old quilts that could be the California quilt. I pondered what it would take to betray a twin sister and create chaos and heartbreak throughout the family. And then I found my story. 

PM: Was it always intended to be a dual timeline story?
Yes, I’m fascinated with the idea of the dual timeline/dual narrator novel where the reader is getting two perspectives, and the storylines weave together. Since the main character, Gracie, works at a county museum, has deep roots in Jubilee Junction, and has two elderly aunts on her mother’s side and three on her father’s, there are all kinds of possibilities for discovering an old quilt, photo, diary, telegram, or other artifact. I used a series of cassette tapes instead of letters in The Gift. I wanted to introduce the concept of oral history as part of the novel. Gracie realizes the power of hearing her grandmother’s voice and incorporates that into her exhibits. In my family, cassette tapes were a big deal in the 1970s and 80s. I went off to college in 1972 and my grandma would send me a cassette tape instead of a letter. So, I’d sit on my bed or at my desk and hit “play.” My grandma Nellie would walk around the farm and carry the little tape recorder with her. She was around 4’ 11” and 100 pounds, walking around the farm or sitting in her swing from the willow tree, talking to me in her soft little voice. “Well, Art’s going to take me into Garwin, and we’re going to get some groceries after I get my hair done.” All the while, I hear the birds, chickens, cows, pigs, horses, Shep the farm dog, and my Grandpa Art. And she doesn’t mean to be funny, but she is, somehow. My hallmates looked into the doorway of my room as if they expected to see farm animals. 

PM: You’ve said that The Gift is part of a projected series. Without giving away any spoilers, can you say anything about where the series is headed?

The series sees Gracie make some important relationship decisions in the first book. She also makes a new friend of David MacNeill, the new history teacher at Jubilee Junction Community College. As each book reveals a new quilt—coming from a different grandmother—she gains confidence in her abilities to find answers, and we get to know her family and friends. And her relationship with David turns romantic. I hope to get at least Books Three and Four out next year, and perhaps Book Five. Then, I have ideas for three more books at least.

Tuesday 19 September 2023

An Interview with Darcie Little Badger

Darcie Little Badger is a Lipan Apache writer with a PhD in oceanography. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, Elatsoe, was featured in Time Magazine as one of the best 100 fantasy books of all time. Elatsoe also won the Locus award for Best First Novel and is a Nebula, Ignyte, and Lodestar finalist. Her second fantasy novel, A Snake Falls to Earth, received a Nebula Award, an Ignyte Award, and a Newbery Honor and is on the National Book Awards longlist. She is married to a veterinarian named Taran. 

Little Badger will be the featured reader at the Final Thursday Reading Series on September 28 at the Hearst Center for the Arts in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The open mic takes place at 7:00 p.m. and Darcie Little Badger takes the stage at 7:30. This in-person only event is made possible by the Ila M. Hemm Visiting Author Program. 

Interview conducted by Sheila Benson. 

SHEILA BENSON: Can you describe your Iowa connections?
I was four years old when my family moved to Coralville, so named for its abundance of marine fossils, gorgeous and enigmatic remnants from a prehistoric ocean. Mom and Dad were students at the University of Iowa, and I attended Coralville Central Elementary School kindergarten through fifth grade. So during very formative years, I grew up among corn, yeah, but also among fossilized crinoids, coral, and brachiopods, alien wonders underfoot, everywhere. I remember visiting the natural history museum at U of I, seeing the Dunkleosteus exhibit and imagining life in the Devonian ocean, which was older than the dinosaurs. I was in awe. 

Needless to say, my time in Iowa sparked my curiosity about the world. And the Dunkleosteus exhibit might’ve influenced my decision to become an oceanographer. I wonder if it’s still there. [Ed.: yes, it is!

SB: Who would you say are major influences on your writing—style, subject matter, or both? Or maybe "influences" isn't the right word; are there particular authors or styles that you are responding to in your work?
DLB: This is a good question, one I revisit often. As we grow as artists, our craft evolves, and sometimes our predominant influences shift. But when I first developed my voice, took those all-important first steps of the writing journey, I was just a kid. Therefore, I give a lot of credit to the science fiction, fantasy, and horror books I read during elementary and middle school. Things like Goosebumps, Animorphs, the Redwall series, and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Those series were a joy to read; I was on tenterhooks for every new release. During this time, I developed a deep appreciation for “genre” fiction and decided that I wanted to write fantasy, sci-fi, and horror books, too. 

SB: Can you describe a typical writing day for you (a productive one, perhaps a less productive one, maybe a little of both—your choice)?
In 2020, after the publication of Elatsoe, I became a full-time writer, which is a privilege and dream; many writers work multiple jobs, and I’m beyond fortunate to now have extra time to focus on my art. 

Typically, I wake up at 11 AM, exercise for an hour, clean up, and then write/do other work (including emails) for about 4 hours at a nearby cafĂ© or bookstore. My drink of choice is an iced Americano, and I’ll sip it as I work. Afterwards, I return home, make supper, and goof around until my spouse comes home (I’ve started streaming games and writing sprints on Twitch–it’s fun). If I have a looming deadline, I’ll work in the evening through night and early morning, sometimes finishing at 3 a.m. (bedtime). That’s usually not the case, though. 

I once tried to write eight hours a day, on a 9-to-5 schedule, but it didn’t work out. My creative process is more chaotic, I guess. 

SB: Why speculative fiction? What's the draw? What are some of your challenges in writing speculative fiction, and how do you work through those challenges?
I love the freedom of spec fic, the ability to create worlds that vary from ours (in big or small ways). That said, there are challenges to writing fantasy. Just because a world has magic doesn’t mean it lacks rules, and writers have to decide what those limits are. How does the fantastic affect our characters? What are the physics of our imaginary concepts? And so on. For me, the editing process is very important because it gives me the chance to review the book and ensure that its speculative elements (and non spec elements) are consistent. 

SB: Finally, a fun question: Elatsoe is filled with dogs and their joy. Can you tell us a little about your love of dogs? Do you have dogs in your life right now? Any details about them that you'd like to share?
I’m married to a veterinarian, so we get a stream of animals moving through our house, mostly foster cases that need a little extra care before they go to their forever home. Bunnies, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, kittens. I’m very fond of animals, as a rule. But dogs definitely have a special place in my heart. 

My family’s first dog was an English Springer Spaniel, a shelter dog with sweet brown eyes. My brother and I named him Kirby, after the round, pink video game character who can eat anything (it turned out to be a prophetic name, considering Dog Kirby’s appetite; he once grabbed a birthday cheesecake off the kitchen counter and dragged it under the bed to devour it alone). Overall, Kirby was an intelligent, calm, and gentle dog, and I loved teaching him tricks like “be a seal” (he’d sit on his hind legs and put his front paws in the air) and rewarding him with training treats. 

The ghost dog in Elatsoe, Kirby, is absolutely based on the real Kirby. He was a good boy <3

These days, I have a chihuahua mix named Rosie and a German shepherd named Valeria; every dog I’ve known and loved has been a unique and special soul.

Thursday 3 August 2023

Fall 2023 FTRS Slate

The Final Thursday Reading Series returns for its 23rd season with another eclectic slate of authors on the last Thursday of the month at the Hearst Center for the Arts. As always, you can share your own creative writing at the open mic at 7:00 p.m. before the featured reading at 7:30.  If you are unable to attend in person, you can stream three of the four featured readings on Zoom. Sign up once for the semester to stream. 

August 31: DJ Savarese, author of the poetry collection Swoon and co-producer of the Emmy-nominated documentary Deej: Inclusion Shouldn’t be a Lottery. **Deej will be screened at the Hearst Center on Tuesday, August 29 at 7 p.m.

September 28: Darcie Little Badger, author of the novels A Snake Falls to Earth and Elatsoe (a Time magazine best 100 fantasy books of all time selection).  **This event, made possible by the Ila M. Hemm Visiting Author Program, will be in-person only.

October 26: Cherie Dargan, author of the novel The Gift and the forthcoming sequel, The Legacy.

November 30: Monica Leo, author of Hand, Shadow, Rod: the Story of Eulenspiegal Puppet Theatre. Since 1975, she has been creating and performing as founder and principal puppeteer of Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre.