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Local Author

An Evening at Watkins Museum with Author Thomas Fox Averill

Although Nell Doerr seems real enough to reach out and touch, Thomas Fox Averill’s protagonist is a fictional character whose life unfolds entirely through Doerr’s journals, letters, photos, drawings, notes, and clippings.

On Friday, MAR 2 from 6-7 PM at Watkins Museum of History, Averill will discuss his new novel, Found Documents from the Life of Nell Johnson Doerr, and Nell’s life in Lawrence, Kansas between 1854 and 1889.

Averill’s novel tells the story of Doerr’s two stillborn babies, her move to Kansas, the loss of her husband in Quantrill’s Raid, and her discovery — while hiding in her basement — of the fossils of ancient creatures in the foundation rock. “In finding these specimens this unforgettable heroine finds herself a woman unconventional and strong, a mother without children, a wife without a husband, a scientist without educational pedigree, and someone who nurtures her passion for nature and contributes to the scientific knowledge of her time.” (1)

Thomas Fox Averill is the author of rode, Secrets of the Tsil Café: A Novel with Recipes, and A Carol Dickens Christmas: A Novel. He lives in Topeka, Kansas. Books will be available for purchase from the Raven Bookstore and a signing will follow Averill’s presentation.

Watkins Museum of History is located at 1047 Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence, Kansas.

(1)  SOURCE:
IMAGE CREDIT: Peggy Clark / Washburn University

American Heart, The Latest from Laura Moriarty

I’ve been a long-time fan of Laura Moriarty’s writing since I first heard her talk about The Center of Everything in the tiny cafe of the now defunct Borders bookstore in 2004. Her fully-fleshed characters and well-developed plots often have me reading into the wee hours of the morning. Her latest book, American Heart, is no different.

Labeled as a young adult dystopia novel, the story is so grounded in realism that it feels like many of her other books which revolve around characters contending with the choice to stand by the social and legal expectations of their worlds or strike out on paths they feel are right and humane. In this vision of the United States, Muslim-Americans must submit themselves to registries and are forced into detainment camps. Read More..

One Place, Many Voices: Local Authors Share Connections to Place

Cover image: downstream view of Kansas River; photo courtesy of Kansas Geological Survey.

Writing by our local authors is rich and diverse in both mood and voice. My current focus is on such writing that provides a sense of place. This is an invitation to explore outside spaces with local authors in a series of events aptly titled Local Authors Outside.

I also want to encourage you to check out their books and hopefully be inspired to deepen your connection to this place—from the lush woodlands of Douglas County State Fishing Lake to Delaware Indian landmarks in North Lawrence, the fertile prairie at Prairie Park, and the wide expanse of diverse flora and fauna throughout our area— I hope you’ll join us! Read More..

Hope for Social Justice

I am hopeful that this 4th of July will inspire more than just a feeling of patriotism or nationalism. I am hopeful that it will instead encourage hope for social justice and move away from a nationalism that leans dangerously toward prejudice and injustices—especially during this national holiday.

I offer the books highlighted here as powerful tools for instilling hope to energize us towards social justice work and unify our differences.

Local author Diane Silver is writing a series of books using hope as daily meditations. Her first, Your Daily Shot of Hope, is a positive way to counter aggression and prejudice expressed by politicians. Meditating on hope becomes energizing fuel—energizing us to stand up to injustices and allowing us to trust that we can make a positive change if we take action. Read More..

The Chaperone Keeps Rolling with PBS Adaption

When the news was announced last month that Masterpiece would be adapting The Chaperone by Lawrence author Laura Moriarty and that it would be scripted by Julian Fellowes and starring Elizabeth McGovern (both of Downton Abbey fame, left), I was so emotionally overcome, I nearly got the vapors.

The news was announced smack-dab in the middle of my Moriarty Read Fest. I had recently plowed through The Rest of her Life and The Center of Everything and had become an instant fan. The Chaperone was already next on my to-read list… and, of course, I’ve been building and sculpting my obsession with Downton Abbey for years now. I mean, what isn’t there to love? The drama! The fashion! The villains! And the fact that every over-the-top scenario takes place before a beautiful background (in Downton’s case the rolling, English countryside) just makes the show all that more enjoyable. Read More..

Local Author Reimagines a Classic with New Novel

While taking literature classes through high school, many of us had to read canon staples from the likes of Dickens and Steinbeck, despite how jarring it can seem to approach something like Great Expectations when you’re fourteen years old. Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights— a title which my friends keep telling me to pronounce differently, for some reason— is one such classic. Read More..

Five More Questions with Eric McHenry, Poet Laureate of Kansas

Lawrence Public Library has been a steadfast supporter of our local writing talent, so much so that we’re curating a local author section. Given this, and April being National Poetry Month, it felt synergistic to check in with Eric McHenry, Poet Laureate of Kansas. In 2015, we asked McHenry five questions, and with the release of his new collection,Odd Evening, it felt time to ask him five more. Read More..

Writing Where You Live: Diverse & Literary Lawrence, Kansas

(Painting of Lawrence by Brian Timmer)

Lawrence has a vibrant, diverse literary heritage. Read on to discover notable writers connected to Lawrence and learn about local author events. If you aspire to write and share your own writing, local opportunities are included as well.  Whether you’re a reader or writer, there’s useful information for everyone.   Read More..

The New Kansas Cookbook: Rural Roots, Modern Table with Frank & Jayni Carey

TUE | Nov 1 | 7-8:30 PM | Auditorium

Just in time for Thanksgiving! Learn about the recipes and the stories behind them. Nearly thirty years ago, cooking team Frank and Jayni Carey (of Jayni’s Kitchen) gave us The Kansas Cookbook: Recipes from the Heartland, a classic, much-loved volume chronicling the state’s favorite recipes and food traditions. Now they’re back with The New Kansas Cookbook: Rural Roots, Modern Table, a look at modern and innovative foodways straight from their kitchen in the heart of the Midwest. Sourced from the publisher, University Press of Kansas.

The Raven Bookstore will be on hand to sell copies of their book, and artist Louis Copt, the illustrator, will be selling prints of his work (they will make excellent holiday gifts for the prairie foodie in your life!).

There’s No Place Like Lawrence

Last weekend, my in-laws visited from Iowa. Don’t worry– this isn’t a horror story. Or a rant. I actually enjoy it when they’re in town, because I get to show them around Lawrence and brag about all the great locally-owned businesses and the neat events that happen in the community. It reminds me how much I love Lawrence and how glad I am to live here. Read More..