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2018 Presenters

Harbor Springs Festival of the Book brings renowned, nationally-published authors to Northern Michigan.

We are continually confirming presenters for the 2018 Festival. Sign up here for our newsletter for updates.





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Edward Lee is the author of Buttermilk Graffiti and Smoke & Pickles; chef/owner of 610 Magnolia, MilkWood, and Whiskey Dry in Louisville, Kentucky; and culinary director of Succotash in National Harbor, Maryland, and Penn Quarter, Washington, DC. He appears frequently in print and on television, including earning an Emmy nomination for his role in the Emmy Award–winning series The Mind of a Chef. Most recently, he wrote and hosted the feature documentary Fermented. He lives in Louisville and Washington, DC, and you can find him on Instagram and Twitter @chefedwardlee.

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joshua  Mcfadden

Joshua McFadden is executive chef/owner of Ava Gene’s and co-owner of Tusk in Portland, Oregon. Before moving to Portland, McFadden helped define the burgeoning Brooklyn food scene when he was chef de cuisine at Franny’s; he has also cooked at Momofuku, Blue Hill, and Lupa in New York; North Pond in Chicago; and Lark Creek Inn and Roxanne’s in the Bay Area. McFadden also spent time in Rome, cooking at Alice Waters’s project in sustainable dining at the American Academy. He kindled his love of soil, seeds, and seasons during two years as farm manager at Maine’s Four Season Farm, founded by sustainability pioneers Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch. Follow him on Instagram at @jj__mc and on Twitter at @joshua_mcfadden.


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rene denfeld

Rene Denfeld is an internationally bestselling author, journalist, and licensed investigator specializing in death penalty work. She has written for the New York Times Magazine, the Oregonian, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. She is also the author of the award-winning novel The Enchanted and The Child Finder, as well as three works of nonfiction. For more visit

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Janet Fitch is the author of the novels White Oleander, an Oprah Book Club selection translated into 28 languages, and Paint It Black, set in the 1980s punk world in Los Angeles. Both books have been adapted into motion pictures. Her current novel is The Revolution of Marina M., the coming of age of a young poet in the firestorm of the Russian Revolution. She lives in Los Angeles. For more visit,

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brandon hobson

Brandon Hobson is a recipient of the 2016 Pushcart Prize, and his writing has appeared in such places as Conjunctions, NOON, The Paris Review Daily, and The Believer. He is the author of Desolation of Avenues Untold, Deep Ellum, and The Levitationist. He teaches writing in Oklahoma, where he lives with his wife and two children. He is a member of the Cherokee Nation Tribe. For more, visit

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Debra Jo Immergut

Debra Jo Immergut is the author of the literary thriller The Captives (June, 2018, Ecco) as well as the short fiction collection Private Property. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she worked as an editor and journalist, and has taught writing in various settings, including libraries, military bases, and prisons. Immergut lives in western Massachusetts.



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mark sarvas

Mark Sarvas is the author of the novels Memento Park and Harry, Revised, which was published in more than a dozen countries around the world. His book reviews and criticism have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Threepenny Review, Bookforum, and many others. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle, PEN/America, and PEN Center USA, and teaches novel writing at the UCLA Extension Writers Program. For more, visit

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tess sharpe

Born in a mountain cabin to a punk rocker mother, author Tess Sharpe grew up in rural Northern California. She lives deep in the backwoods with a lot of dogs and a growing colony of slightly feral cats. She is the author of the critically-acclaimed young adult novel Far from You and the co-editor of Toil & Trouble, a feminist YA anthology. Barbed Wire Heart is her adult fiction debut. For more, visit

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jessica shattuck

Jessica Shattuck is the award-winning author of The Women in the Castle, The Hazards of Good Breeding, a New York Times Notable Book and finalist for the PEN/Winship Award, and of Perfect Life. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Glamour, Mother Jones, Wired, and The Believer, among others. A graduate of Harvard University, she received her MFA from Columbia University. Shattuck now lives with her husband and three children in Brookline, Massachusetts. For more, visit

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Marisa Silver is the author of six works of fiction including the novels Little Nothing and Mary Coin. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship for the Creative Arts in 2017 and is currently The Mary Ellen von der Heyden Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. For more, visit

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Laura van den Berg is the author of The Third Hotel (August, 2018, FSG), two story collections, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us and The Isle of Youth, and the novel Find Me. She is the recipient of a Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Bard Fiction Prize, an O. Henry Award, and a MacDowell Colony fellowship. Born and raised in Florida, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and dog. For more, visit

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Steve Yarbrough is the author of eleven books, most recently the novel The Unmade World. His other books are the nonfiction title Bookmarked: Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show, the novels The Realm of Last Chances, Safe from the Neighbors, The End of California, Prisoners of War, Visible Spirits and The Oxygen Man, and the short story collections Veneer, Mississippi History and Family Men. His work has been published in several foreign languages, including Dutch, Japanese and Polish, and it has also appeared in Ireland, Canada, and the U.K. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction, the California Book Award, the Richard Wright Award and the Robert Penn Warren Award. He has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. For more, visit



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Karen Dionne is the cofounder of the online writers community Backspace, the organizer of the Salt Cay Writers Retreat, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, where she served on the board of directors. She has been honored by the Michigan Humanities Council as a humanities scholar, and lives with her husband in Detroit’s northern suburbs. For more, visit



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Deborah blum

Deborah Blum is director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT, and editor of Undark magazine, ( In 1992, she won the Pulitzer Prize for a series on primate research, which she turned into a book, The Monkey Wars. Her other books include The Poisoner's Handbook, Ghost Hunters, Love at Goon Park, and Sex on the Brain. She has written for publications including the New York Times, Wired, Time, Discover, Mother Jones, the Guardian and the Boston Globe. Blum is a past president of the National Association of Science Writers, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a lifetime associate of the National Academy of Sciences. For more, visit



Michael Gustafson is the co-editor of Notes from a Public Typewriter, published by Grand Central Publishing. He is also the co-owner of Literati Bookstore in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan. He lives in Ann Arbor with his wife, Hilary. 

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Ewa Hryniewicz-Yarbrough is an essayist and translator. A native of Poland, she arrived in the United States in 1984. The essays in her debut collection Objects of Affection were published in journals such as Agni, Ploughshares, the American Scholar, the Threepenny Review, and TriQuarterly. The title piece, “Objects of Affection,” was selected for inclusion in The Best American Essays 2012; five others were listed among Notable Essays for 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017. Hryniewicz-Yarbrough’s translations of Polish poetry have appeared in numerous publications, including the New Yorker, Poetry, TriQuarterly, the Paris Review, and Image. She has also translated a collection of Philip Levine’s poetry into Polish. She divides her time between Boston and Krakow.

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howard markel

Howard Markel, M.D., Ph.D., is the George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine, and director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan. His books include Quarantine!, When Germs Travel, and An Anatomy of Addiction, and his articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the New England Journal of Medicine. Markel is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Picture Book

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Heather Ross is an illustrator and fabric designer. She lives in New York City and the Catskill Mountains with her husband, daughter, and dog. For more, visit

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gary d. schmidt

Gary D. Schmidt is the author of more than fifteen books for children and young adults including Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, which received both a Newbery Honor and a Printz Honor, and The Wednesday Wars, which received a Newbery Honor. He lives in Alto, Michigan.

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Matt Tavares is the author-illustrator of Crossing Niagara, Henry Aaron’s Dream, There Goes Ted Williams, Becoming Babe Ruth, and Growing Up Pedro, as well as Zachary’s Ball, Oliver’s Game, and Mudball. He is the illustrator of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas; Over the River and Through the Wood; Lady Liberty, by Doreen Rappaport; The Gingerbread Pirates, by Kristin Kladstrup; and Jubilee!, by Alicia Potter. Matt Tavares lives in Ogunquit, Maine. For more, visit

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Chris Van Dusen is the creator of many outstanding books for children, including The Circus Ship and Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit. He is also the illustrator of President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath, by Mac Barnett and the best-selling Mercy Watson series, by Kate DiCamillo. He lives in Maine.  For more, visit

Middle Grade

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lindsay eagar

Lindsay Eagar is the author of the novel Hour of the Bees, Race to the Bottom of the Sea, and the forthcoming The Bigfoot Files (October, 2018, Candlewick). She lives in the mountains of Utah with her husband and daughters. For more, visit

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jo watson hackl

Jo Watson Hackl is the author of Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe (July, 2018, Random House)She is also founder of and a lawyer with Wyche, PA. She received her B.A. from Millsaps College and her J.D. from Yale Law School. Jo lives in Greenville, South Carolina  with her husband and three children. They all take to the woods whenever they can. For more, visit

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Colby Sharp is a fifth grade teacher in Parma, Michigan. He is the co-founder of the Nerdy Book Club, and the literacy conference Nerd Camp Michigan. His debut book, The Creativity Project, is a celebration of reading, writing and creating. For more, visit

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Kat Yeh

Kat Yeh is the author of the critically acclaimed middle grade novels The Truth About Twinkie Pie and The Way to Bea. She grew up reading, writing, and dreaming in Westtown, Pennsylvania. She currently lives with her family on Long Island. Learn more about Kat at


Young Adult

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Leah Thomas frequently loses battles of wits against her students and her stories. When she's not huddled in cafés, she's usually at home pricking her fingers in service of cosplay. Leah lives in San Diego, California and is the author of the William C. Morris YA Debut Award finalist, Because You'll Never Meet Me, its sequel, Nowhere Near You, and her latest novel, When Light Left Us.

Book Reviews

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Reviewed by Judy Cummings, Between the Covers bookstore

The Enchanted, also written by Denfeld, was original in theme and voice and I loved it! The Child Finder is a variation on a theme but original in its presentation. Grief-stricken parents turn to Naomi. She is a child finder. She is their last hope. Their daughter Madison has been missing for three years and there is little hope that she will be found–and found alive. Naomi is fierce and relentless, but has her own demons to confront. A page-turner, perfect for late summer reading.

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Reviewed by Maggie Kane, Between the Covers bookstore

I read the store's advanced copy of this title last year (one of the many benefits of working at Between the Covers), and I'm positive that readers of historical fiction, and readers who don't shy away from conflicted characters, will want this book in their  "To Read" stack.  

The Women in the Castle explores the guilt and the delusion of German civilians in the aftermath of WWII. Shattuck's characters are actively resistant to passively complicit; for every person that spoke out against the Third Reich, hundreds remained silent, out of fear, indifference, or support of the regime. As seen at a lavish dinner party in the first chapter, Marianne von Lingenfels knows Adolf Hitler will bring devastation to Germany. Under his explosive and enticing rhetoric, he is a bully, with an increasingly powerful arsenal of weapons and deluded followers at his disposal. Marianne's personal loathing of the Fuhrer intensifies when her resister husband is executed for a failed assassination attempt. It becomes Marianne's mission to traverse her devastated  country to rescue fellow resistance widows. But the women she encounters, Benita and Ania, are not at all the Nazi-hating compatriots she expected. Among the three women, there are plenty of skeletons in the closet.  

After the war ends, and the monstrosities of the Holocaust are made known, the international community demanded answers from Germany. How could this sophisticated country so dutifully follow a madman? How could they not know what was happening to the Jewish people of Europe, or Hitler's outspoken opponents? If they did know (and how could they not?) shouldn't they be punished too? There are rarely easy answers in The Women in the Castle, and that grey area makes for a unique and discussion-worthy read.

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Reviewed by Katie Boeckl, Between the Covers bookstore

What most of us know of stories of alien encounters are when people share what the aliens stole from their--months of their lives, their insides, their brains. It's the stuff of science fiction legend. But what if an alien visited and first, he gave things to you. Friendship, hope, comfort. How much worse would it be when he left? For the three Vasquez siblings, it seems that nothing can replace their father's absence. Their extraterrestrial friend, Luz, comes pretty darn close, but then he leaves. And now they have even greater holes in their lives. Everything feels different and there is no going back. Only onward. And only with each other.

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Reviewed by Karen Ford, Between the Covers bookstore

Brilliant storytelling, this is the story of Helena, raised in captivity with her mother, on the wild marsh land in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The story skillfully alternates between Helena's past and present, interweaving the complicated tale between father and daughter, hunter and prey. Each chapter begins with a selection from Hans Christian Anderson's The Marsh King, setting the scene for the coming tale.

 Helena, as an adult, is happily married to Stephen, with two young daughters. Her past remains her past—until the notorious child abductor, known as the Marsh King, escapes from a maximum security prison. Helena knows what she must do to protect the lives closest to her. The story is chilling and suspenseful, and guaranteed to keep you reading long into the wee hours of the night.

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Lindsay Eagar, Race to the Bottom of the Sea

Reviewed by Michelle Boyer, School Visit Committee Member

Race to the Bottom of the Sea is a page-turning mystery infused with science fiction, a hint of the past, an inventive spirit, and characters so well-developed we can see into their hearts and minds. Fall in love with eleven-year-old Fidelia Quail, a strong-minded inventor and young oceanographer who must find her way after her world is turned upside down by the tragic accidental death of her marine scientist parents. Fidelia is guilt-ridden by thoughts that she could have prevented the accident and by her lack of appreciation for her aunt’s efforts to give her a new life. To add to her troubles, Fidelia is kidnapped by pirates!  The side mystery in the book has enough predictability to let middle grade readers feel like proper sleuths.  But to learn the full details of how all of the characters fit together and what becomes of Fidelia, the author keeps her readers glued to the pages until the very end. Younger middle grade readers may need some help with attention to the time period flashbacks, but the 400+ page length won’t be an issue in this captivating story.


Past Presenters

Maureen Abood ‘16 
Ruth McNally Barshaw ‘17 
Kate Bassett ‘16 
Julie Berry ‘17 
Bryan Bliss ‘16 
Terry Border ‘17 
Martha Brockenbrough ‘16 
Fleda Brown ‘17 
Nickolas Butler ‘17 
Julie Buntin ‘17 
Caroline Carlson ‘17 
Jessie Chaffee ‘17 
Jack Cheng ‘17 
Diane Cook ‘16 
Kia Corthron ‘17 
Elle Cosimano ‘16 
Luke Davies ‘16 
Alison DeCamp ‘16 
Michael Delp ‘16 
Jerry Dennis ‘16 
Toi Derricotte ‘16 
Deborah Diesen ‘16 
Alan Drew ‘17 
Kim Edwards ‘16 
Ashley Elston ‘16 
Kathleen Flynn ‘16 
David Francis ‘17 
Gina Frangello ‘16 
Dan Gemeinhart ‘16 
Peter Geye ‘16 
Nicole Gulotta ‘17 
Gabe Habash ‘17 
Ken Haedrich ‘17 
Corey Ann Haydu ‘17 
Leslie Helakoski ‘17

Donovan Hohn ‘17 
Meg Howrey ‘17 
Ladee Hubbard ‘17 
Joshilyn Jackson ‘17 
Craig Johnson ‘16 
Julia Claiborne Johnson ‘16 
Tim Johnston ‘17 
Dan Jones ‘17 
Zilka Joseph ‘16 
Laurie Keller ‘16 
Erin Entrada Kelly ‘17 
Brendan Kiely ‘17 
Denise Kiernan ‘17 
Mackenzi Lee ‘17 
Elizabeth Letts ‘16 
Mardi Jo Link ‘16 
Ben Loory ‘17 
Jim Lynch ‘16 
Thomas Lynch ‘16 
Josh MacIver-Andersen ‘17 
Carmen Maria Machado ‘17 
Dawn MacKeen ‘17 
Naomi Long Madgett ‘16 
Lauren Magaziner ‘17 
Rebecca Makkai ‘16 
David Maraniss ‘16 
Domenica Marchetti ‘16 
Herbert Woodward Martin ‘16 
Keith McCafferty ‘16 
Mindy McGinnis ‘17 
Maryse Meijer ‘17 
Megan Miranda ’16 & ‘17 
Cindy Hunter Morgan ‘17 
Travis Mulhauser ‘16 


Sarvinder Naberhaus ‘17 
Idra Novey ‘17 
Stewart O’Nan ‘16 
Anne-Maria Oomen ‘16 
Benjamin Percy ‘17 
Drew Philp ‘17 
Deb Pilutti ‘16 
Dan Poppick ‘16 
Victoria Redel ‘17 
Skip Renker ‘17 
Augustus Rose ‘17 
Rene Rosen ‘16 
Wade Rouse ‘16 
Lance Rubin ‘16 
Jim Shepard ‘16 
Maggie Shipstead ‘16 
Laura Shovan ‘17 
Adam Silvera ‘17 
Robin Sloan ‘17 
Ronald L. Smith ‘17 
Christine Sneed ‘16 
Tricia Springstubb ‘16 
J. Ryan Stradal ‘16 
Matthew Sweeney ‘16 
Amy Thielen ‘16 
Julie Lawson Timmer ‘16 
Amor Towles ‘16 
Simon Van Booy ‘17 
Lisa Wheeler ‘17 
Marcus Wicker ‘17 
Kenneth L. Woodward ‘16 
Molly Yeh ‘17 
Salina Yoon ‘17 
Brenna Yovanoff ‘16 
Sara Zarr ‘16 
Jeff Zentner ‘17