Indiana Authors Award weekend

new IAA logoToday is the next-to-last big prep day before all the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award/Indy Author Fair festivities taking place on Saturday.

I’ve blogged a little bit about the award before, back in the nominations period. I don’t get to pick the winners, but I really consider myself lucky to get to be part of staffing the award. I’m not saying this because this work accounts for part of my paycheck. This award is really amazing for highlighting great, living writers.

Saturday, I’ll be live tweeting the event from the @INAuthorsAward handle (look, my secret identity isn’t secret anymore!) with the hashtag #IAA2013. If you’re in Indiana, I’d encourage you to head to the Library for the free Indy Author Fair events. It’s going to be a great day. (And help a girl out, would you, by following on Twitter or liking our FB page?)

Most of us on the Library Foundation staff have made a concerted effort to read at least one book by all of the year’s winners and finalists. I haven’t been doing reviews of each of the titles as I go, but I’m wrapping them up here. Any of these books is a good read and I’m glad I challenged myself to read at least one. These are definitely titles I wouldn’t pick up on my own, but I’ve enjoyed reading.

National Author winner Michael Martone

I read Martone’s short story collection Fort Wayne is Seventh on Hitler’s List because the title is so great. I read the old version, not a new expanded collection with the same title more recently released. The whole collection was great, but I particularly liked “Whistler’s Father” about a teenager working as a historical interpreter as a summer job and “The Letters in the Bed” about a house mother at a TKE house at Wabash College (which if I hadn’t worked for TKE for 18 months, I wouldn’t have appreciated at all.) I’m hoping to read more of his work because he has such a unique voice and I like the way he puts “wordy words” together

Regional Author winner James H. Madison

I’m reading (gasp, I might not quite finish it on time), Madison’s The Indiana Way, an impressive history of Indiana. This is a book I’d never have picked up without the award, but it’s actually fascinating. I didn’t grow up in Indiana, so I missed learning any of this history in school. Indiana’s a really unique state, which I knew from living here, but this book is rounding out why.

Emerging Author finalist Tricia Fields

I read Fields’ debut mystery novel, The Territory, about sheriff Josie Gray and her seemingly one-woman border war in SW Texas. Full of drug smugglers, Mexican cartels, chases-escapes, shoot-outs, and a colorful cast of characters, it’s a solid mystery/cop novel. This is another one I’d never have picked up. SW mysteries (ala Tony Hillerman) aren’t what I turn to instinctively as a mystery reader, but I enjoyed Josie’s adventure.

Emerging Author finalist Mike Mullin

Mullin’s got a great entry into the YA post-apocalyptic fiction world with his Ashfall, the first book in a forthcoming trilogy. In it, the supervolcano under Yellowstone (go look it up, I did) erupts, blanketing the Middle West in ash, disturbing global climate, food production and more. Teenage main character Alex sets out to find his family (he’d be grateful, he thought, to be allowed to stay home alone that weekend) and his trip along the way is harrowing.

Emerging Author finalist Kelsey Timmerman

Timmerman’s got an interesting premise for his works – visiting the countries where our clothing and food are produced to understand how workers there live. I read his Where am I Wearing? about the garment industry. It was a great travelogue and raised interesting questions about American consumerism and how that leads to jobs in other countries, but delves into the human costs and benefit of these buying habits.

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