WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17 | A Conversation with Sarah Vowell

Sarah Vowell
Sarah Vowell is the New York Times’ bestselling author of seven nonfiction books on American history and culture. By examining the connections between the American past and present, she offers personal, often humorous accounts of American history as well as current events and politics. Her book Assassination Vacation is a haunting and surprisingly hilarious road trip to tourist sites devoted to the murders of presidents Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley. Vowell examines what these acts of political violence reveal about our national character and our contemporary society.

Vowell was a contributing editor for the public radio show This American Life from 1996-2008, where she produced numerous commentaries and documentaries and toured the country in many of the program’s live shows. She was one of the original contributors to McSweeney’s, also participating in many of the quarterly’s readings and shows. She has been a columnist for, Time, San Francisco Weekly, and is a contributing op-ed writer for the New York Times, where she writes about American history and politics, education and life in Montana. 


Nigel Poor
Nigel Poor is a visual artist whose work explores the various ways people make a mark and leave behind evidence of their existence. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and can be found in various museum collections including the SFMOMA, the M.H. deYoung Museum, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. She is also a professor of photography at California State University, Sacramento. In 2011, Nigel got involved with San Quentin State Prison as a volunteer professor for the Prison University Project. In 2013 she started working with a group of incarcerated men producing a radio project called The San Quentin Prison Report. She is the co-creator, co-producer and co-host of the podcast Ear Hustle.


Felton Thomas, Jr.
Felton Thomas, Jr. was appointed Director of the Cleveland Public Library (CPL) in January 2009. During Felton’s tenure, CPL has maintained its “Five Star” status and been named a “Top Innovator” by the Urban Libraries Council for its use of technology and data to inform decision making. Felton’s vision for the Library is that of a strong leader in defining a more prosperous future for Cleveland by battling the digital divide, illiteracy, unemployment, and other community deficits with innovative programming and action at all branches. He has also launched a “Downtown Destination” campaign to reposition the Main Library for the 21st century and market its status as a major downtown attraction.





NOTE: WLA members and members of the Wisconsin library community-at-large, who are conference presenters, are not included in this listing. Nevertheless, their participation is critical to the success of our conference and we are grateful for their participation! For contact information, members may consult the online directory at For non-member contact information, please refer to the printed Conference Booklet, which will be available at the conference and posted on the website as soon as it's available.


Cathy Camper

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Cathy Camper is the author of the Lowriders in Space series, Bugs Before Time: Prehistoric Insects and Their Relatives, and Ten Ways to Hear Snow. She is also the author of two zines, Sugar Needle and The Lou Reeder, and is a founding member of the Portland Women of Color Zine collection and a graduate of VONA/VOICES workshops for writers of color.

She has also written articles, reviews, and stories for the magazines Cricket, Wired, and Giant Robot, the LAMBDA Literary website, and was on the board of the Arab Literary magazine Mizna. A huge believer of diversity and authenticity, Camper advocates for representation for all in books, magazines, and other media.

She currently lives in Portland, Oregon working as an outreach librarian for kids in grades K-12. In her spare time, Camper likes to make art out of seeds and is a huge proponent for daydreaming.

Cathy is the recipient of the 2021 Burr/Worzalla Award.



Robyn Gigl

Robyn Gigl is an author, attorney, speaker and activist who has been honored by the ACLU-NJ and the NJ Pride Network for her work on behalf of the LGBTQ community. Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court to the Committee on Diversity Inclusion and Community Engagement, she is active in the New Jersey State Bar Association where she is a member of the Diversity Committee, the Women in the Profession Section and a Past Chair of the Bar's LGBT Rights Section. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s largest LGBTQ+ Civil Rights Organization and a frequent lecturer on diversity issues. She lives in New Jersey.

Photo Credit – Wendy Tumminello



Steven Wright

Steven Wright teaches both law and creative writing at UW-Madison. Professor Wright is a clinical associate professor and co-director of the Wisconsin Innocence Project. The Wisconsin Innocence Project seeks to exonerate the innocent and to train the next generation of legal leaders. Professor Wright has also taught first-year criminal law and appellate advocacy.

During his time with the Wisconsin Innocence Project, Professor Wright has participated in several exonerations including the exoneration of Daniel Scheidell and Sam Hadaway. He's also won cases in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.
Professor Wright is also a lecturer in the creative writing program. His debut novel, the Coyotes of Carthage (Ecco, 2020) received strong praise from USA Today, Publisher's Weekly, Salon, and the Washington Post, which called the novel, “riveting…. Those who pick up the book get a view of how the sausage of today’s politics gets made…. And [Wright] does so with a ticktock pace and knockout prose.”



Charlie Donlea is the critically acclaimed, USA Today, Indiebound and #1 internationally bestselling author of Summit Lake, The Girl Who Was Taken, Don't Believe It, Some Choose Darkness, The Suicide House, and Twenty Years Later. Published in nearly 30 countries and translated into more than a dozen languages, Donlea has been praised for his "soaring pace, teasing plot twists" (BookPage) and talent for writing an ending that "makes your jaw drop" (The New York Times Book Review). He was born and raised in Chicago, where he continues to live with his wife and two children. Visit Charlie Donlea online at

  • Most Recent Release: THE SUICIDE HOUSE (Hardcover / July 28, 2020 / 978-1-4967-2715-2)
  • Upcoming Release: TWENTY YEARS LATER (Hardcover / December 28, 2021 / 978-1-4967-2716-9)



Brian Malloy
 is the activist and award-winning author of After Francesco, The Year of Ice, Brendan Wolf, and Twelve Long Months. The recipient of an ALA Alex Award and the Minnesota Book Award, his novels have been shortlisted for The Violet Quill Award and the Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT fiction. His latest novel, After Francesco, was named a Great Group Reads selection of the Women’s National Book Association and National Reading Group Month, as well as an Oprah Daily Best LGBTQ Books of the Year, LAMBDA Literary Most Anticipated Books, Apple Best Books of the Month, and a BookBub Books to read for PRIDE. As an early employee of the Minnesota AIDS Project, Malloy helped organize the state's first AIDS Walk in 1988 and has remained an engaged member of the community. He received his MFA from the University of Minnesota and currently teaches creative writing in Minneapolis. Visit him at

  • Most Recent Release: AFTER FRANCESCO (Hardcover / May 25, 2021 / 978-1-4967-3351-1
  • Upcoming Release: AFTER FRANCESCO (Trade Paperback / April 26, 2022 /  78-1-4967-3353-5


Erica Ruth Neubauer is the Agatha Award-winning author of the Jane Wunderly Mysteries, as well as an Anthony Award and Lefty Award finalist. She spent eleven years in the military, nearly two as a Maryland police officer, and one as a high school English teacher, before finding her way as a writer. She has been a reviewer of mysteries and crime fiction for publications such as Publishers Weekly and Mystery Scene Magazine for several years, and she’s a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Erica Ruth lives in Milwaukee, WI. Visit her at

  • Most Recent Release: MURDER AT WEDGEFIELD MANOR(Hardcover / March 31, 2021 / 978-1-4967-2588-2)
  • Upcoming Release: DANGER ON THE ATLANTIC (Hardcover / March 29, 2022 / 978-1-4967-2591-2





Norman Gilliland is a longtime host-producer at Wisconsin Public Radio. In addition to hosting weekday classical music broadcasts, he reads for Chapter A Day. He does interviews for WPR’s University of the Air and PBS Wisconsin’s University Place Presents. He’s the author of three novels—Sand Mansions, Midnight Catch, and Downeast Ledgeand two books about classical music—Grace Notes for a Year and Scores to Settle. His audio productions include Beowulf: The Complete Story—a Drama and Oedipus Rex. Since 1990 he’s been the emcee of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra’s popular Concerts on the Square. He lives in Middleton with his wife Amanda. 



Mary Boone has ridden an elephant, skydived, and eaten dozens of cricket cookies – all in the interest of research for her books and articles. She has written 60-plus nonfiction books for young readers. Mary grew up in Iowa and spent the early part of her career writing and editing for newspapers in the Midwest. She now lives in Tacoma, WA, where she shares an office with an Airedale Terrier named Ruthie Bader. 







Jeffrey Russell