The National Writers Series has announced its Virtual Author Summer Series, featuring bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, whose books range from history to a spy chase to poignant childhood adventures to sexual identity.
Most events are free and will be broadcast via Zoom. Participants only need to register once—use this link.
The National Writers Series was co-founded 10 years ago by people who had a dream of inviting renowned authors to Traverse City to talk about their books and what makes their writing hearts tick. NWS has hosted 160 authors in all, including Margaret Atwood, Lee Child, Colum McCann, Alice Walker, Alice Waters, Sebastian Junger, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, David Grann and Temple Grandin.
NWS has become such a draw for authors and book lovers, Traverse City has become known as Michigan’s “Book City.” Proceeds from these events support college scholarships and Raising Writers programs that hone the skills of budding young writers.
After hosting author Peter Heller in March 2020 (who wrote, ironically, a pandemic novel), it soon became clear that it would be the Writers Series’ last live event for a long time. But because storytelling has never been more important, the National Writers Series has shifted. The Life in the Time of Virus website is collecting people’s stories from around the globe, from kindergartners on up. And the author conversations have moved online, making them available to people all over the world. These conversations are guest-hosted by journalists, educators and writers, including NWS co-founder Doug Stanton, an author himself.
Now, here’s this summer’s lineup.
June 11: Elaine Weiss, author of The Woman’s Hour
Elaine Weiss has worked as a Washington correspondent, congressional aide and speechwriter, magazine editor and university journalism instructor. “The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote” is about the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. The guest host for the event is Susan Odgers.
June 25: William Kent Krueger, author of This Tender Land
William Kent Krueger grew up in Oregon, briefly attended Stanford University and eventually ended up researching child development at the University of Minnesota. He is now a full-time author with 18 Cork O’Connor mysteries and three standalone books, including the Edgar-winning “Ordinary Grace” and his latest, “This Tender Land,” which follows four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression.
July 5: David Blight, author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom
David W. Blight is Sterling Professor of American History at Yale University and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale. His book, “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom,” won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for history. Blight drew on new information held in a private collection that few other historians have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass’s newspapers.
July 14: Miles Harvey, author of The King of Confidence
Miles Harvey’s “The King of Confidence” is the riveting story of James Strang, the self-proclaimed divine king of earth, heaven—and Beaver Island. At one point, Strang controlled a quarter of the state of Michigan. He was assassinated in 1856. Harvey is the author of the national and international bestseller “The Island of Lost Maps” and the recipient of a Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan. He teaches creative writing at DePaul University.
July 23: Brad Thor, author of Near Dark
Brad Thor, the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of 20 thrillers, is back with “Near Dark,” coming out July 21. The world’s largest bounty has just been placed upon America’s top spy. His only hope for survival is to outwit, outrun and outlast his enemies long enough to get to the truth. Thor’s books include “Backlash,” “Spymaster,” “The Last Patriot” and “Blowback.”
August 9: Karen Dionne, author of The Wicked Sister
Michigan writer Karen Dionne is the USA Today and international bestselling author of “The Marsh King’s Daughter” and, now, “The Wicked Sister,” another psychological thriller set in the Upper Peninsula. Dionne has been a longtime member of the writing community, has organized writers conferences and is on the board of directors of the International Thriller Writers.
August 16: Molly Wizenberg, author of The Fixed Stars
New York Times bestselling and James Beard Award-winning author Molly Wizenberg’s new memoir, “The Fixed Stars,” will be published August 4. The book explores timely—and timeless—questions about desire, identity and the limits and possibilities of family.
August 23: Celebrate 10 Years of Great Conversations!
The National Writers Series is hosting an online Birthday Bash to celebrate its 10th year of bringing world-class authors to readers and supporting students through the Raising Writers programs. The event will feature Susan Goldberg, editor-in-chief of National Geographic. Goldberg is the first woman to edit the magazine since it began publishing in 1888. Before joining National Geographic, Goldberg worked at Bloomberg and USA Today. She also worked for the Detroit Free Press and played a key role in the San Jose Mercury News’ coverage of the Loma Prieta earthquake, which went on to win a Pulitzer Prize. She grew up in Ann Arbor but is a proud Spartan. (This is a paid event—details to follow on nationalwritersseries.org.)