Authors announced for 20th annual Southwest Florida Reading Festival
Nearly 20 acclaimed and best-selling authors are coming to Lee County to meet fans and talk about their books at the 20th annual Southwest Florida Reading Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at the downtown Fort Myers Regional Library campus, 2450 First St.
The Southwest Florida Reading Festival features a diverse line-up of nationally acclaimed, best-selling authors for adults, teens and children. This free, fun event welcomes many attendees who come back year after year, and it draws about 10,000 people to downtown Fort Myers for the day. The fans attend to hear and meet best-selling authors, participate in contests and activities and find the latest and greatest in books, technology and accessories. In addition to author appearances and autograph sessions, there are storytelling programs, arts, crafts, youth writing and coloring contests and a free book for every child and teen.
“The festival invites popular authors to participate by sharing their real life experiences, thought processes and the evolution of their characters,” said Lee County Library System Director Mindi Simon. “It is fascinating to hear the story behind the story.”
In addition to the daylong community event, Lee County Library System hosts several preview events at library branches leading up to the festival. Among the activities at branch sites this year are author visits around Lee County, including international best-selling author Alyson Richman, visiting the Lakes Regional Library Tuesday, Feb. 26.
The highlight of the preview events will be An Evening with the Authors fundraiser 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 1, which will allow attendees to have the opportunity to meet and mingle with the full line-up of festival authors aboard a sunset dinner cruise along the Caloosahatchee River. Among the award-winning authors scheduled to attend the festival this year are Lauren Willig and Karen White, B.A. Shapiro, Thomas Mullen, youth author Jackson Pearce and teen author Maureen Johnson, as well as award-winning audiobook narrator Johnny Heller. The complete list of authors can be found at .
“This year for our 20th annual reading festival, we wanted to make the event extra special with some new offerings,” states Melissa Baker, Library Manager of Programming and Community Outreach. “New this year will be a variety of food trucks stationed on First Street, and of course the sunset cruise aboard the Capt. JP will be a treat for our guests and library supporters at the Evening with the Authors event too.”
The Southwest Florida Reading Festival is free and community-supported through donations, sponsorships and grants. To help ensure the continuation of this free community event, visit to make a secure online donation. More information is available at or by calling 239-533-4832.
Saturday, March 2, 2019
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Fort Myers Regional Library Campus
2450 First St, Fort Myers, FL
Tara Conklin is a writer and former lawyer whose first novel, “The House Girl,” was a New York Times bestseller, #1 IndieNext pick, Target book club pick and has been translated into 8 languages. Her second novel, “The Last Romantics,” published February 2019 by William Morrow/Harper Collins. Before turning to fiction, Tara worked for an international human rights organization and as a litigator at a corporate law firm in London and New York. Her writing has appeared in “This is the Place: Women Writing About Home,” “The Bristol Prize Anthology and Pangea: An Anthology of Stories from Around the Globe.” Tara was born in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands and grew up in western Massachusetts. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University, a J.D. from NYU School of Law and a master’s degree in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. She lives in Seattle with her family.
Thomas Mullen is the author of five novels, including “Darktown,” an NPR Best Book of 2016; “Lightning Men,” named a Top Ten Crime Novel of 2017 by The New York Times; and “The Last Town on Earth,” named Best Debut Novel of 2006 by USA Today. Visit.
Lisa Patton is a Memphis, Tennessee, native who spent time as a Vermont innkeeper until three subzero winters sent her speeding back down South. She worked 25 years in the music and entertainment industry before discovering her passion for novel writing and is now the bestselling author of what Library Journal calls, “the beloved Dixie series: “,” “ ” and “ .” Her latest novel, “Rush,” a summer 2018 Okra Pick from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance and a SIBA bestseller, has been praised by the Atlanta Journal Constitution as “a story about right versus wrong, old traditions pitted against modern ideas and changing times.” Visit .
Lori Roy was born and raised in the Midwest where she attended and graduated from Kansas State University. She is the author of the Edgar Award-Winning “Bent Road.” Her most recent novel, “Let Me Die in His Footsteps,” received the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best Novel of 2015, making Lori the first woman to win Best First and Best Novel and the third person to do so. Visit.
B.A. Shapiro is the New York Times bestselling author of “The Muralist,” “The Art Forger,” “The Safe Room,” “Blind Spot,” “See No Evil,” “Blameless” and “Shattered Echoes.” She has also written four screenplays and the nonfiction book, “The Big Squeeze.” “The Art Forger” has been on many bestseller lists including the New York Times, Boston Globe, LA Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Amazon, and Kindle and has won many awards including The 2013 New England Book Award for Fiction. She lives in Boston and is working on her eighth novel. Visit.
Peter Swanson is the author of four novels: “The Girl With a Clock For a Heart,” an LA Times Book Award finalist; “The Kind Worth Killing,” winner of the New England Society Book Award; “Her Every Fear,” an NPR book of the year; and his most recent, “All the Beautiful Lies.” Visit.
Kiki Swinson is the bestselling author of over 30 novels and short stories. Swinson’s works feature resilient women making tough—and sometimes not quite legal—decisions to survive. Her novels, inspired by her experiences and a five-year stint in federal prison, have sold over 1 million copies. Visit.
General Anthony Tata has more than three decades of service in the public and private sectors. His last tour was as the Deputy Commanding General of the 10th Mountain Division and Joint Task Force in Afghanistan, commanding 25,000 troops. He is author of national bestselling thrillers “Foreign and Domestic,” “Three Minutes to Midnight,” and “Besieged.”“Direct Fire” published in fall 2018. Visit.
Wendy Wax’s contemporary women’s fiction revolves around journeys of self-discovery and explores the bonds of friendship that get us through the toughest times. Her works include “A Week at the Lake,” “While We Were Watching Downton Abbey” and her Florida-set “Ten Beach Road” novels: “Best Beach Ever,” “One Good Thing,” “Sunshine Beach,” “The House On Mermaid Point,” “Ocean Beach” and “Ten Beach Road” and have been featured in national media including USA Today, Ladies’ Home Journal and Woman’s World.
Her other works include “Magnolia Wednesdays,” “The Accidental Bestseller,” “Hostile Makeover,” “Leave it to Cleavage,” “Single in Suburbia,” and “7 Days and 7 Nights.” Many of her novels have been published internationally.
A former broadcaster and the mother of two grown sons, Wendy has left the suburbs of Atlanta for an in-town high-rise where she and her husband are happily downsized. Her newest novel “My Ex-Best Friend’s Wedding” will be released in May 2019. Visit
Karen White is the New York Times bestselling author of over twenty books, including “The Night the Lights Went Out,” “Flight Patterns,” “The Sound of Glass,” “A Long Time Gone” and “The Time Between” and a coauthor, with Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig, of “The Forgotten Room.” Visit.
Lauren Willig is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several works of historical fiction, including “The English Wife,” the RITA-winning Pink Carnation series, and two novels co-written with Karen White and Beatriz Williams. An alumna of Yale, she has a graduate degree in history from Harvard and a J.D. from Harvard Law. She lives in New York City with her husband, preschooler, baby and lots of coffee. Visit
Johnny Heller has narrated over 700 audiobooks in every genre. He is a 2005 and 2009 Audie Award Winner, a double nominee in 2015, a 2014 Nominee for Best Male Narrator, a double nominee in 2012 and was named a Best Voice of 2008 – 2011, 2014, 2015 and a Publishers Weekly Listen Up Award Winner 2008-2013. A winner of over 25 Earphone Awards, Audiofile Magazine named Heller one of the top 50 voices of the 20th Century. Johnny coaches actors in audiobook narration and commercial VO locally, nationally and internationally. Visit.
Drew Brockington has flown a space shuttle, repaired the space station, and worked in Mission Control, all while attending Space Camp. He is the author and illustrator of the Indiebound bestselling graphic novel series “CatStronauts!” He lives with his family in Minneapolis. Visit www.drewbrockington.com.
Jessica Day George is The New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen fantasy books for middle grade and young adult readers. Born in Idaho, she has a degree in Humanities and Scandinavian Studies from BYU and lived in Delaware and New Jersey before settling near Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, three kids and fluffy dog. She likes books, dark chocolate, knitting, movies, Disney vacations and very small dogs. Visit
Joan Holub is a New York Times bestselling children’s book author of “Mighty Dads,” “Little Red Writing,” “Zero the Hero,” “This Little Trailblazer,” “Who Was Babe Ruth,” and “Hello Ninjas.” She co-writes the series “Goddess Girls,” “Heroes in Training,” and “Grimmtastic Girls.” Visit.
Hilde Lysiak is the 11-year-old publisher of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania’s newspaper, the Orange Street News. The paper has 700+ paid subscribers and is read by thousands more online. Hilde’s journalism efforts have been profiled by The New York Times, Columbia Journalism Review, NBC Today and hundreds of other newspapers and television stations around the world. Hilde is co-writing the Scholastic Branches series “Hilde Cracks the Case” with her dad, Matthew Lysiak. Visit.
Jackson Pearce is the author of many titles for young readers, including the “Ellie Engineer” series, the “Doublecross” series, the “Pip Bartlett” series and the “Sisters Red” series. Her books, “The Doublecross” and “Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures” have both appeared on the Sunshine State Young Readers Award list. Visit.
Maureen Johnson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several young adult novels, including “13 Little Blue Envelopes,” “Suite Scarlett,” “The Name of the Star,” and “Truly Devious.” She has also done collaborative works, such as “Let It Snow” (with John Green and Lauren Myracle) and “The Bane Chronicles” (with Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan). Her work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Buzzfeed and The Guardian and she has served as a scriptwriter for EA Games. She has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and lives in New York City. Visit.
Ashley Poston is the author of “Geekerella” and “Heart of Iron.” Her fangirl heart has taken her everywhere from the houses of Hollywood screenwriters to the stages of music festivals to geeked-out conventions (in cosplay, of course). When she is not inventing new recipes with peanut butter, having passionate dance-offs with her cat or geeking out all over the internet, she writes books. She lives in small-town South Carolina, where you can see the stars impossibly well. Visit