Numerous authors, storytellers with Lawrence ties to participate in Kansas Book Festival

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Several Lawrence authors, storytellers, librarians and more will be present for the 12th annual Kansas Book Festival, coming up Saturday in Topeka.

The annual event celebrates all things books and writing, featuring Kansas-connected authors from across the United States.


The Kansas Book Festival also now carries on the legacy of the Paper Plains Literary Festival, which disbanded after facing challenges from the beginning. Paper Plains transferred more than $11,700 in remaining assets to the Kansas Book Festival, the organization announced in November.

The festival is set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16 at Washburn University’s Mabee Library, 1800 SW 19th St. in Topeka. It will feature presentations by dozens of authors, live music, a book-art exhibit, food trucks, exhibitor tents, children’s activities and more.

All events are free to attend.

Here are some, though certainly not all, of the Lawrence folks who will be there, and the events in which they’ll participate, plus articles we’ve written about some of them:

• Maryemma Graham, author of “The House Where My Soul Lives: The Life of Margaret Walker,” will speak on a 2 p.m. panel on Black Leadership and Influences, to be moderated by Darren Canady, of the University of Kansas English department.

Margie Carr, also of Lawrence, is author of “Kansas City’s Montgall Avenue: Black Leaders and the Street They Called Home.” She will participate on the panel with Graham. She also has a talk coming up Sept. 28 at the Watkins Museum of History.

• Sarah Henning, author of “Monster Camp,” will speak during a 1 p.m. panel, Girl Go-Getters in Middle Grade Novels. The moderator is award-winning Lawrence storyteller Priscilla Howe.

Storyteller Priscilla Howe

Henning, also author of “It’s All in How You Fall,” will participate in a 3 p.m. panel called Literary Gymnastics for YA Book Lovers with Nancy McCabe, author of “Vaulting Through Time.” That will be moderated by Margo Moore, teen librarian at the Lawrence Public Library.

• Stephen T. Johnson, local artist and author of “My Big Silver Rocketship,” among numerous other children’s books, will speak on a kid-friendly 10 a.m. panel called First Books for First Readers.

• Megan Kaminski, a University of Kansas professor, is editor of “Wild Words,” a chapbook that aims to reconnect Kansans to the prairie through poetry.

Kaminski will be in conversation with poets Canese Jarboe, Aubrey Streit Krug, Huascar Medina, Janice Northerns, and Wyatt Townley during a 9 a.m. panel, Poets in Praise of Prairie. The conversation will be moderated by Leslie VonHolten, director of grants and outreach for Humanities Kansas.


• Susan Kraus, author of “When We Lost Touch,” will participate in a 9 a.m. panel, Literature of Crisis, alongside K.L. Barron and Catherine Browder, to be moderated by K-State professor Michele Janette.

• Bill James, baseball sage, will join former Kansas City Star columnist Joe Posnanski for the 1 p.m. panel Why We Love Baseball, to be moderated by Brad Allen, director of the Lawrence Public Library.

• Amanda Sellet, author of “Belittled Women,” will speak on a panel called New Takes on YA Classics with Julie Sellers, moderated by Roderick Townley. That’s set for 2 p.m.

• Charles Forrest Jones, former director of KU’s Public Management Center, will speak on his novel “The Illusion of Simple,” which “starts with the discovery of a human hand on a dried-out Kansas riverbed but shows how life in rural Kansas is anything but the simple stereotype some outsiders attach to it,” according to a news release from festival organizers.

That will be during a 2 p.m. panel, Small-Town Kansas Re-Imagined.

The headliner of the event will be Ling Ma, author of “Bliss Montage,” a new collection of short stories. Her keynote address, “Imagination Set Loose,” is set for noon. Radio host Kaye McIntyre, of KPR, will moderate.

Also featured are Candice Millard, author of “River of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile”; poet B. H. Fairchild; and speculative fiction writers Kenan Orhan, author of “I am My Country: And Other Stories,” and John Elizabeth Stinzi, author of “My Volcano.”

See a full lineup of programs and activities at this link. Learn more about the festival on its website,

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