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Sheila O’Connor

Sheila O’Connor is the author of Where No Gods Came, Tokens of Grace, and Evidence of V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts, and Fictions. Her novels for readers (10+) include Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth, Sparrow Road, and Keeping Safe the Stars. Awards for her books include the Michigan Prize for Literary Fiction, Minnesota Book Award, International Reading Award, and Midwest Booksellers Award among others. Her books have been included in Best Books of the Year by Booklist, VOYA, Book Page, Bank Street, Chicago Public Library, and Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers.

A multi-genre writer, O’Connor’s stories, poems, and essays have been published in magazines and anthologies including Bellingham Review, Minnesota Monthly, Alaska Quarterly Review, Baltimore Review, and others. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she has been awarded two Bush Fellowships, Minnesota State Arts Board grants, and a McKnight Artist Fellowship in poetry. She is a professor at Hamline University in the Creative Writing Program and Fiction Editor for Water~Stone Review. O’Connor welcomes the opportunity to partner with schools, libraries, and community organizations throughout Minnesota.

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Marlon James

Marlon James was born in Jamaica in 1970. His novel A Brief History of Seven Killings won the 2015 Man Booker Prize. It was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for fiction, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for fiction, and the Minnesota Book Award. James also wrote The Book of Night Women, which won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Minnesota Book Award, and was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction and an NAACP Image Award. His first novel, John Crow’s Devil, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for first fiction and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. James lives in Minneapolis and has taught English and creative writing at Macalester College, Saint Paul, since 2007.

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William Kent Krueger

William Kent Krueger is the author of the New York Times bestselling Cork O’Connor mystery series, set in the great Northwoods of Minnesota. He is a five-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award. Among his many other accolades is the Edgar Award for Best Novel for his 2013 release Ordinary Grace. He lives in Saint Paul, a city he dearly loves, and does all his creative writing in local, author-friendly coffee shops.

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Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich is the author of 16 novels as well as volumes of poetry, children’s books, short stories, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel The Round House won the National Book Award for Fiction. The Plague of Doves won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and her debut novel, Love Medicine, was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Erdrich has received the Library of Congress Prize in American Fiction, the prestigious PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books.

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Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo is the author of many books for young readers. Her books have been awarded the Newbery Medal (Flora & Ulysses in 2014 and The Tale of Despereaux in 2004); the Newbery Honor (Because of Winn-Dixie, 2001), the Boston Globe Horn Book Award (The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, 2006), and the Theodor Geisel Medal and Honor (Bink and Gollie, co-author Alison McGhee, 2011; Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride, 2007). She is a National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Emerita, appointed by the Library of Congress. A native of Florida, she now lives in Minneapolis.

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Karen Babine

Karen Babine is the author of All the Wild Hungers: A Season of Cooking and Cancer and Water and What We Know: Following the Roots of a Northern Life, winner of the 2016 Minnesota Book Award for Memoir/Creative Nonfiction, and finalist for the Midwest Book Award and the Northeastern Minnesota Book Award. She also edits Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from Eastern Washington University and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She lives in Minneapolis.
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Ryan Berg

Ryan Berg is a writer, activist, and program manager for the ConneQT Host Home Program of Avenues for Homeless Youth. His debut book, No House to Call My Home: Love, Family and Other Transgressions, won the 2016 Minnesota Book Award for General Nonfiction, the 2016 NCCD Media for a Just Society Award, and was listed as a Top 10 LGBTQ Book of 2016 by the American Library Association. Berg received the New York Foundation of the Arts Fellowship in Nonfiction Literature and the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant. His work has appeared in Ploughshares, Slate, The Chronicle for Social Change, The Advocate, Salon, Local Knowledge, The Rumpus, and The Sun.

Berg has been awarded residencies from The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. For his youth work he has received the True Community Award from the True Colors Fund, the PFund Foundation James T. Lerold Memorial Award, and the Lavender Community Award (LGBTQ Advocacy) from Lavender Magazine. He lives in Minneapolis.

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Allen Eskens

Allen Eskens is the bestselling author of The Life We Bury, The Guise of Another, The Heavens May Fall, The Deep Dark Descending, and The Shadows We Hide. He is the recipient of the Barry Award, Minnesota Book Award, Rosebud Award (Left Coast Crime), and Silver Falchion Award and has been a finalist for the Edgar Award, Thriller Award, and Anthony Award. His books have been translated into 21 languages and his novel, The Life We Bury, is in development for a feature film.

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Atina Diffley

Atina Diffley is an organic farmer-educator and author of the 2012 award-winning memoir, Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works. From 1985 to 2008, she and her husband Martin ran the Gardens of Eagan, an urban-edge, organic vegetable farm, which he started in 1973 as one of the first certified organic produce farms in the Midwest.

Land use issues have been a central point of entry for the Diffley’s organic advocacy. In 1989, the 5th-generation Diffley family land was lost to suburban development. Atina and Martin collaborated with filmmakers to make the video documentary “Turn Here Sweet Corn” for PBS broadcasting. The Diffleys started over on new land, but faced eminent domain again in 2006 when threatened by a crude oil pipeline owned by notorious polluters, Koch Industries. The Diffleys intervened as legal parties in the route proceeding and with the help of over 4,500 letter writing customers, attorney Paula Maccabee, expert witnesses, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, succeeded in creating an Organic Mitigation Plan that provides protections for the soil and certification of threatened organic farms in Minnesota.

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Jack El-Hai

Jack El-Hai is a writer of literary nonfiction and creative nonfiction who covers long-lost history — frequently the history of science, medicine, and crime. He often leads workshops and gives presentations on research and writing techniques, the craft of creative nonfiction, and freelance writing as a career. A winner of two Minnesota Book Awards, El-Hai holds an MFA in creative writing/literature from Bennington College. His articles and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, GQ, Wired, Scientific American Mind, Discover, and many other publications. He is a flexible and skilled presenter who has taught in the MFA/creative writing program of Augsburg University, as well as in the creative writing program of the University of Minnesota, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication of the University of Minnesota, and the Loft Literary Center. He currently chairs the board of the Loft and is active in many writers’ organizations.

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