Traverse City Record-Eagle

February 8, 2013

Writers series authors include Flynn, Grandin

Authors include Flynn, Grandin, Bissinger, Harden, Philbrick, McCann and Matthews


TRAVERSE CITY — The National Writers Series lineup for the 2013 Winter/Spring season includes a Pulitzer winner, two National Book Award authors, a foreign correspondent, an autism activist and a CIA officer.

The names of the seven nationally known authors who will speak at the City Opera House through June were scheduled to be unveiled Thursday night during the season opener, "An Evening with Chip Johannessen."

"We're excited about this season lineup and think there is something on this list that will appeal to everybody," said Jill Tewsley, executive director of the National Writers Series. "There will be some incredible engaging conversations."

The series, which has become a book world phenomenon, was founded in 2009 by Traverse City's best-selling author Doug Stanton, wife Anne and local attorney Grant Parsons.

Here's the lineup:

- March 5: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Buzz Bissinger wrote the 1997 highly acclaimed nonfiction book, "Friday Night Lights," a story about a small-town Texas football team's impact on a town that was turned into a film and a TV series. His most recent book is "Father's Day: A Journey in the Mind & Heart of my Extraordinary Son," his 2012 memoir of a cross-country ride with his son, Zach, a savant who suffered brain damage for lack of oxygen when he was born three minutes later than his healthy twin brother.

Bissinger will be joined on stage by special guest host Neal Rubin, a Detroit News columnist who has worked for newspapers in Las Vegas and the Detroit Free Press. He was three times voted Nevada Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. He currently writes the nationally syndicated comic strip, "Gil Thorp."

- April 9: Foreign correspondent Blaine Harden, known for his reporting from the world's most dangerous places, will discuss his international bestseller "Escape from Camp 14." The 2008 biography tells the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, who was born in a North Korean forced-labor camp and in 2005 became the only person known to have escaped. Guest host for the event is Lucas Wittmann, the literary editor for Newsweek/Daily Beast.

- April 25: Gillian Flynn is the author of the 2012 breakout "Gone Girl" and Stanton is the guest host. Her psychological thriller and murder mystery spent eight weeks on The New York Times hardcover fiction best-seller list. By year's end, it had sold more than 2 million copies in print and digital formats. Stanton is New York times best-selling author of "In Harm's Way" and "Horse Soldiers."

- May 14: Scholar, historian and National Book Award winner Nathaniel Philbrick will take the writer's chair opposite guest host Rich Fahle. Philbrick's "In the Heart of the Sea" won the 2000 National Book Award for nonfiction. His "Mayflower" was a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in History. "The Last Stand" focused on Sitting Bull and George Armstrong Custer. It was a New York Times "notable book" and the basis for the two-hour PBS American Experience film, "Custer's Last Stand." His upcoming book, "Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution," tackles the Boston battle that ignited the American Revolution. Fahle is founder of Astral Road Media, a marketing agency for writers, and, which shoots, produces, publishes and publicizes video of authors being interviewed and walking through bookstores talking about their favorite books.

- May 22: Jason Matthews, a former 33-year CIA officer, is the newest author on the list. His debut thriller, "Red Sparrow," is a fast-paced, espionage novel. The United States and Putin's Russia still are very much at deadly odds. Fans of Stieg Larsson, Daniel Silva and John LeCarre will love "Red Sparrow," Tewsley said. Stanton will share the stage as guest host.

- June 6: Irish-born novelist Colum McCann, who lives in New York, will talk about his newest book, "Transatlantic," with Leigh Haber, book editor for "O, The Oprah Magazine." The new novel spans a historical period of 150 years by using the narratives of Frederick Douglass, British aviators Alcock and Brown, and Sen. George Mitchell. McCann's fiction has been published in more than 30 languages and has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, Paris Review, Granta, The Atlantic Monthly and GQ. He won the 2009 Book Award for Fiction for his novel, "Let the Great World Spin," which centered on the Twin Tower tightrope walk by Philippe Petit in 1974.

- June 24: The final author of the Winter/Spring series is Temple Grandin, author, lecturer and advocate for animal welfare and autism. Her groundbreaking book was "Emergence: Labeled Autistic." Her new book is "The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum." Guest host is Laura Hohnhold, editor for, a San Francisco digital publisher specializing in original long-form nonfiction (journalism) as well as short-form fiction for e-readers — in a single read.

For ticket information, visit