One of the best things about American Library Association conferences is the presentation of author panels by United for Libraries—and I should know, because I’ve been lucky enough to introduce them for more than 15 years, starting back with Friends of the Libraries USA before it joined up with ALA. The authors are always sharp, interesting, and eager to communicate with librarians, and the rooms are always packed.
Way back when, the panels were launched with a first books presentation, and First Author, First Book remains my favorite. This year’s panel boast seven authors, ranging from Jessica Soffer, whose Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots explores one young woman’s painful coming of age within the context of Iraqi Jewish American culture, to Kent Wascom, who offers an urgent, over-the-top tale of America’s Southern frontier in The Blood of Heaven.
Other panels include Crossing Over: Teen Books for Everyone!, which features Anton DiSclafani, already in the news with The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, plus sf star Richard Kadrey and Darynda Jones, who has helped define paranormal romance. Quirky Books for Quirkier Librarians will introduce you to John Scalzi, Josh Hanagarne (the world’s strongest librarian), and more. Shoot Between the Lines: Mystery Writers Reveal All offers stars like Jeff Abbott, John Dufresne in witty crime fiction mode, and the high-profile husband-and-wife Swedish team publishing as Lars Kepler, whose books truly aren’t for chickens. Join us for them all.