We would be different were it not for Authors! Authors!
For nearly 20 years, the delightful speakers’ series has brought 117 creative, articulate thought leaders to town: historians, mystery writers, and Washington-watchers; cooks, cartoonists, and journalists. They’ve informed, entertained, provoked, and illuminated at these affordable ($10/$8 students) talks, and left us culturally richer.
The very first, in February, 1994, was Doris Kearns Goodwin, who had written biographies of Lyndon Johnson and the Fitzgerald-Kennedy clans and in 2005 published Team of Rivals, the tome on which Steven Spielberg’s movie Lincoln was based. The most recent speaker was liberal social commentator Anna Quindlen in May.
Averaging six speakers a year, many have been Pulitzer Prize awardees: John Updike (who said, “To make something exciting and glamorous out of this trade has never seemed feasible to me”); historians David McCullough, Robert Massie, Jon Meacham, and David Halberstam; journalists Mike Sallah, Mitch Weiss, and Bob Woodward, and novelists Edward P. Jones and Jane Smiley.
Travel writers have proven popular: Arthur Frommer, Rudy Maxa, and the series’ biggest draw (who is, interestingly, an advocate for the legalization of marijuana) Rick Steves. So have mystery/suspense writers, including the very funny Alexander McCall Smith, Sara Paretsky, Scott Turow, Mary Higgins Clark, and on another occasion, her daughter Carol Higgins Clark.
1. Rick Steves, 2008, European travel expert, 1,600
2. Jack Hanna, 2010, animal expert/TV host, 1,500
3. Khaled Hosseini, 2006, novelist, 1,400
4. Nicholas Sparks, 2004, novelist, 1,400
5. Donna Brazile, 2008, political analyst, 1,200
6. Robert Ballard, 1998, discovered Titanic, 1,100
7. Sue Grafton, 2002, mystery writer, 1,000
8. Jodi Picoult, 2007, novelist, 960
9. Bob Woodward, 2002, journalist, 950
10. (tie) Sue Monk Kidd, 2005, novelist, 900
10. (tie) Mary Higgins Clark, 1994, mystery writer, 900
Best-selling novelists have included Geraldine Brooks, Joyce Carol Oates, Walter Mosley, Khaled Hosseini, Lisa See, Nicholas Sparks, Nikki Giovanni, Isabel Allende, Jodi Picoult, Eric Jerome Dickey, and Faye and Jonathan Kellerman.
Talks are at 7 p.m. in the McMaster Center of the Main Library or the Stranahan Theater.
They last about an hour and are followed by a Q&A and usually by a book signing. Authors also agree to an advance interview with a Blade reporter who writes a profile of the subject for the Sunday preceding the talk. Author fees, often well into the five figures, are paid from several library trust funds.
“We try to put together a season that will have something for everyone,” said Meg Delaney, who oversaw the series for five years and is manager of the Main Library.
“The aim is to bring a wide range of popular political, literary, and other voices to a wide variety of audiences. Every season, we try to have a balance, meeting interests ranging from fiction and nonfiction, history and cooking, male and female,” she said.
Indeed, there’s been a professional wrestler (Mick Foley), cartoonists (the late Bil Keane and Lynn Johnston), graphic novelists (Neil Gaiman and Jeff Smith); Latina chef Daisy Martinez, war correspondent Sebastian Junger, animal advocate Jack Hanna, and songstress Judy Colllins (who enchanted 350 attendees by crooning snippets of two dozen songs on an April evening in 2012). All have written books.
The series has its roots in a twice-a-year authors’ luncheon downtown in the 1970s that was organized by the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library and The Blade. In the early 1990s, Clyde Scoles, library director, worked with The Blade to set up a series similar to one in Pittsburgh.
“It is amazing to see the excitement when our authors come and the diversity of people who attend,” Mr. Scoles said.
“Our authors inspire imagination and hope. They bring the community together. The power of the written and spoken word at our programs can be life-changing,” he said.
“For right now we want to keep Authors! Authors! as it is with authors appearing in the fall and spring seasons. It’s been a successful series.”
Contact Tahree Lane at: email@example.com and 419-724-6075.