Kauai Writers Conference Online
A co-production with Poets & Writers.
Most sessions to be moderated by Kevin Larimer,
A co-production with Poets & Writers.
Most sessions to be moderated by Kevin Larimer, its Editor-in-Chief
KAUAI BOOK CLUB
One Sunday each month | 4pm PT, 7pm ET
Each month our distinguished faculty will choose a book, drawing from members’ suggestions. Some will be bestsellers and winners of major prizes. Some will be less famous works the faculty think you will love. Each will be discussed in an hour-and-a-half interactive session led by the book’s author.
SESSIONS FOR WRITERS
Most Sundays | 4pm PT, 7pm ET
These interactive online Zoom sessions include talks, workshops, and master classes by renowned authors. Most of them have said they want to focus on how the current crises are influencing their work. This will include fascinating glimpses into their individual writing process in these unique times, and discussions of whether and how they are choosing to portray the present-day drama.
All events at 4:00pm PT, 7:00pm ET | • Kauai Book Club • Sessions for Writers
22nd Christina Baker Kline
6th Richard Russo
13th Meg Wolitzer
20th Lauren Groff
27th Laura Lentz
10th Adrienne Brodeur
17th Nicholas Delbanco
24nd Christina Baker Kline
31st Joshua Mohr
7th Joshua Mohr
14th Joshua Mohr
21st Book Club TBD
28th Joshua Mohr
7th Joshua Mohr
14th Joshua Mohr
21st Book Club TBD
28th Writer’s Event TBD
4th Writer’s Event TBD
11th Writer’s Event TBD
18th Book Club TBD
25th Writer’s Event TBD
3rd Writer’s Event TBD
10th Writer’s Event TBD
17th Writer’s Event TBD
24th Book Club TBD
31st Writer’s Event TBD
6th Writer’s Event TBD
13th Writer’s Event TBD
20th Book Club TBD
27th Writer’s Event TBD
All Programs $49/mo.
Join both the Kauai Book Club and Sessions for Writers.
Live sessions most Sundays
Kauai Book Club $29/mo.
Join the Kauai Book Club only.
One Sunday each month
All sessions will be recorded and available for you to view at your convenience.
You can cancel at any time.
Choose your program:
- Sessions for Writers + Kauai Book Club — $49.00 / month
- Kauai Book Club — $29.00 / month
Christina Baker Kline
Christina Baker Kline’s brilliant new novel, The Exiles, was an instant New York Times bestseller. It tells the stories of three women among the earliest settlers of Australia. It has been universally praised as a unique and penetrating look into these challenging times.
It’s one thing to write accurately about real people and real events of the past. It’s another thing to pull a character from one’s imagination. Christina Baker Kline has shown with her best-selling books A Piece of the World (2017) and Orphan Train (2013) that she can do both at the same time.
Christina Olson, the subject of Andrew Wyeth’s best-known painting, Christina’s World, rented a studio to the artist, and was his friend and confidant for 30 years. Kline breathes life into Olson by blending deep historical research, her own knowledge of Maine, and even aspects of her own grandmother, also born in 1893.
Kline worked a similar magic in Orphan Train, which shed light on the 1854-1929 practice of relocating orphaned children from East Coast slums to the rural Midwest – where some were integrated into loving families and others harshly treated as indentured servants.
Orphan Train spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list, including five weeks at No. 1, has 3.5 million copies in print, and is under consideration for a movie.
Kline enraptured a capacity crowd at the 2018 Kauai Writers Festival leading a class with Alice Hoffman and Kristin Hannah. Her class for 2019 will be announced soon.
In addition to five other novels – including Bird in Hand, Desire Lines and Sweet Water – Kline has written or edited five works of nonfiction on the topics of parenting, grief, and women’s studies. She has taught at Yale, New York University, and the University of Virginia, and served as Writer-in-Residence at Fordham University. She lives with her husband and sons in New Jersey and Maine.
Lauren Groff is the author of the novels The Monsters of Templeton, shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers, Delicate Edible Birds, a collection of stories, and Arcadia, a New York Times Notable Book, winner of the Medici Book Club Prize, and finalist for the L.A. Times Book Award.
Her third novel, Fates and Furies, was a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Kirkus Award. It won the 2015 American Booksellers’ Association Indies’ Choice Award for Fiction, was a New York Times Notable book and Bestseller, Amazon.com’s #1 book of 2015, and on over two dozen best-of 2015 lists. It also received the 2016 American Bookseller Association’s Indies’ Choice Award for Adult Fiction and, in France, the Madame Figaro Grand Prix de l’Héroïne. Rights have been sold in thirty countries.
Her most recent collection of stories, Florida, was released in June 2018. It won the Story Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Award, Kirkus Prize, and the Southern Book Prize.
Her work has appeared in journals including the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Tin House, One Story, and Ploughshares, and in the anthologies 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, and five editions of the Best American Short Stories.
In 2017, she was named by Granta Magazine as one of the Best of Young American Novelists of her generation.
In 2018, she received a Guggenheim fellowship in Fiction and a Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
She lives in Gainesville, Florida with her husband, two sons, and dog.
In her thrilling new book, Lauren Groff brings the reader into a physical world that is at once domestic and wild — a place where the hazards of the natural world lie waiting to pounce, yet the greatest threats and mysteries are still of an emotional, psychological nature. A family retreat can be derailed by a prowling panther, or by a sexual secret. Among those navigating this place are a resourceful pair of abandoned sisters; a lonely boy, grown up; a restless, childless couple, a searching, homeless woman; and an unforgettable, recurring character — a steely and conflicted wife and mother.
“Lauren Groff is a great storyteller . . . Florida is restorative fiction for these urgent times. Its final gestures, even the most ominous . . . lean toward love and the promise of good people, in not just this state but the world.”
— New York Times
“Something untameable lurks restlessly beneath the surface of this book. Groff’s incomparable prose pulsates with peril; its beauty, like that of the titular state itself, lies in a certain wild lushness.”
— Financial Times
“These new stories are tight and contained, and they pulse with menace and feral energy.”
— Wall Street Journal
“Florida is a gift to writers. . . . There is more than a little of David Lynch in Ms Groff’s Floridian landscape: exotic and bright, yet pulsing with hidden malevolence . . . Ms Groff’s writing is marvelous, her insights keen, each story a glittering, encrusted treasure hauled from the deep.”
— The Economist
“As fine and beautifully crafted as any fiction she has written . . . . . [Groff] is one of the best writers in the United States, and her prize-winning stories reverberate long after they are read. In past years, the rare short story collection . . . has won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Florida should be in the running next year.”
— LA Review of Books
Well-loved Kauai Writers Conference faculty member Christina Baker Kline, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Orphan Train, will discuss her brilliant new work The Exiles.
Christina Baker Kline has established herself as a novelist who plumbs noteworthy but little-known facets of the past, and The Exiles marks her third foray into the genre. While Orphan Train and A Piece of the World were grounded in American history, The Exiles makes a bold geographic and cultural leap, and confirms Christina’s place among the finest talents writing today.
While most English convicts transported to Australia were men, 25,000 were women. Christina explores the development of Australia from a fresh perspective, telling the story of this fascinating, blood-soaked land and its legacy with the grace, beauty, empathy, and insight—and the rich, full-bodied characters—that are the hallmarks of her work.
The Exiles centers on three women whose lives are bound together in nineteenth-century Australia and the hardships they weather together as they fight for redemption and freedom in a new society.
Seduced by her employer’s son, Evangeline, a naïve young governess in early nineteenth-century London, is discharged when her pregnancy is discovered and sent to the notorious Newgate Prison. After months in the fetid, overcrowded jail, she learns she is sentenced to “the land beyond the seas,” Van Diemen’s Land, a penal colony in Australia. Though uncertain of what awaits, Evangeline knows one thing: the child she carries will be born on the months-long voyage to this distant land.
During the journey on a repurposed slave ship, the Medea, Evangeline strikes up a friendship with Hazel, a girl little older than her former pupils who was sentenced to seven years transport for stealing a silver spoon. Canny where Evangeline is guileless, Hazel—a skilled midwife and herbalist—is soon offering home remedies to both prisoners and sailors in return for a variety of favors.
Though Australia has been home to Aboriginal people for more than 50,000 years, the British government in the 1840s considers its fledgling colony uninhabited and unsettled, and views the natives as an unpleasant nuisance. By the time the Medea arrives, many of them have been forcibly relocated, their land seized by white colonists. One of these relocated people is Mathinna, the orphaned daughter of the Chief of the Lowreenne tribe, who has been adopted by the new governor of Van Diemen’s Land.
In this gorgeous novel, Christina Baker Kline brilliantly recreates the beginnings of a new society in a beautiful and challenging land, telling the story of Australia from a fresh perspective, through the experiences of Evangeline, Hazel, and Mathinna. While life in Australia is punishing and often brutally unfair, it is also, for some, an opportunity: for redemption, for a new way of life, for unimagined freedom. Told in exquisite detail and incisive prose, The Exiles is a story of grace born from hardship, the unbreakable bonds of female friendships, and the unfettering of legacy.
“Master storyteller Christina Baker Kline is at her best in this epic tale of Australia’s complex history—a vivid and rewarding feat of both empathy and imagination. I loved this book.”
— Paula McLain, New York Times Bestselling author of The Paris Wife
“A tour de force of original thought, imagination and promise … Kline takes full advantage of fiction — its freedom to create compelling characters who fully illuminate monumental events to make history accessible and forever etched in our minds.”
— Houston Chronicle, 8/3/20
“In the gripping latest from Kline (Orphan Train), three women try to carve out lives in mid-19th-century colonial Australia…. The women, all brought to their new lives against their wills, become a lens through which to see the development of colonial Australia. Filled with surprising twists, empathetic prose, and revealing historical details, Kline’s resonant, powerful story will please any historical fiction fan.”
— Publishers Weekly, 7/1/20
“As in Orphan Train, Kline deftly balances tragedy and pathos, making happy endings hard-earned and satisfying … Book groups will find much to discuss, such as the uses of education, both formal and informal, in this moving work.”
— Booklist, 6/30/20
Meg Wolitzer is the New York Times bestselling author of The Interestings, The Uncoupling, The Ten-Year Nap, The Position, and The Wife. Her new novel, The Female Persuasion, was named to various Notable and Best Books of 2018 lists, including in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, People, Glamour, and Kirkus Reviews. She was the guest editor of The Best American Short Stories 2017, and has also published books for young readers, including, most recently, To Night Owl From Dogfish, co-written with Holly Goldberg Sloan. Wolitzer has taught at the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, Skidmore College, Columbia University, and elsewhere, and is currently a faculty member in the Stony Brook Southampton MFA program, where she co-directs BookEnds, a one-year, non-credit intensive in the novel. A critically-acclaimed film based on her novel The Wife was released last year, starring Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce.
To learn more about Lauren
visit her website:
Three films have been based on her work; This Is My Life, scripted and directed by Nora Ephron, the 2006 made-for-television movie, Surrender, Dorothy, and the 2017 drama The Wife, starring Glenn Close.
The Uncoupling was the subject of the first coast-to-coast virtual book club discussion, via Skype.
Reviews for The Female Persuasion:
“Uncannily timely, a prescient marriage of subject and moment that addresses a great question of the day.”
–The New York Times
“Ultra-readable. . . illuminates the oceanic complexity of growing up female and ambitious.”
“The perfect feminist blockbuster for our times.”
–Kirkus, starred review
Adrienne Brodeur is the author of the memoir, Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover and Me, which was described by The New York Times Book Review as:
“Exquisite and harrowing. . . . The book is so gorgeously written and deeply insightful, and with a line of narrative tension that never slacks, from the first page to the last, that it’s one you’ll likely read in a single, delicious sitting.”
Published in October 2019 by HMH Books, Wild Game’s film rights were bought by Chernin Entertainment with Kelly Fremon Craig, the director of Edge of Seventeen, attached to adapt and direct.
Adrienne has spent the past two decades of her professional life in the literary world, discovering voices, cultivating talent, and working to amplify underrepresented writers. Her publishing career began with founding the fiction magazine, Zoetrope: All-Story, with filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, where she served as editor in chief from 1996-2002. The magazine has won the prestigious National Magazine Award for best fiction four times. In 2005, she became an editor at Harcourt (later, HMH Books), where she acquired and edited literary fiction and memoir. Adrienne left publishing in 2013 to become Creative Director — and later Executive Director — of Aspen Words , a literary arts nonprofit and program of the Aspen Institute.
Dr. Charles Johnson, University of Washington (Seattle) professor emeritus and the author of 23 books, is a novelist, philosopher, essayist, literary scholar, short-story writer, cartoonist and illustrator, an author of children’s literature, and a screen-and-teleplay writer.
A MacArthur fellow, Johnson has received a 2002 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature, a 1990 National Book Award for his novel Middle Passage, a 1985 Writers Guild award for his PBS teleplay “Booker“, the 2016 W.E.B. Du Bois Award at the National Black Writers Conference, and many other awards.
The Charles Johnson Society at the American Literature Association was founded in 2003. In 2020, Lifeline Theater in Chicago will debut its play adaptation of Middle Passage, titled “Rutherford’s Travels.” Dr. Johnson’s most recent publications are The Way of the Writer: Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling, and his fourth short story collection, Night Hawks.
Learn more about Charles here.
Nicholas Delbanco, making his fourth appearance at the KWF, has had a storied career as a writer, editor, teacher and literary judge. He has written 29 books of fiction and non-fiction (plus essays, short stories and reviews). He founded and led Bennington College’s writing program and is Robert Frost Distinguished University Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan, where he headed its renowned MFA and Hopwood Awards programs.
Delbanco has chaired the Fiction Panel for the National Book Awards, and served as judge for the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner award in fiction. He wrote the well-loved books on the craft of writing, The Sincerest Form: Writing Fiction by Imitation, and, with Alan Cheuse, the college text Literature, Craft and Voice.
Author Valerie Laken wrote of Delbanco’s role as a mentor: “He’s made a career of bringing together, supporting, and celebrating writers, and in doing that he made them all believe—not just in themselves, but in the value of literature itself.”
About his recent work The Count of Concord , Russell Banks wrote that Delbanco “brought his entire array of amazing gifts into play and has written a wonderfully sad, funny, bawdy, and intellectually adventurous novel.”
In the introduction to his non-fiction work about older artists, Lastingness: The Art of Old Age (2011), Delbanco wrote:
“This book is about tribal elders in the world of art. What interests me is lastingness: how it may be attained. For obvious reasons, this has become a personal matter; I published my first novel in 1966 and very much hope to continue.”
Joshua Mohr is the author of five novels, including Damascus, which The New York Times called “Beat-poet cool.” He’s also written Fight Song and Some Things that Meant the World to Me, one of O Magazine’s Top 10 reads of 2009 and a San Francisco Chronicle best-seller, as well as Termite Parade, an Editors’ Choice in The New York Times. His novel All This Life won the Northern California Book Award. His first book of nonfiction, a memoir called Sirens, was recently published.
To learn more about Joshua visit his website www.joshuamohr.net
Joshua Mohr’s master class was the surprise hit of the Kauai Writers Conference for the past two years. Each time, by the second day, word spread about how good it was, and people were dropping out of classes given by more famous authors to sit in. Josh captivated his audience with his wit and unassuming wisdom. Students said it transformed their whole approach to writing.
We asked Josh if he would create an online version for us during this pandemic year. He has put together a six lesson course uniquely for KWC. We are delighted to offer it—at no additional cost for subscribers– as the first master class in this ongoing series of online programs. Here is his synopsis of the course:
Building Your Protagonist: The dignity of character-complexity
We all know that one of our chief aims as authors is to construct a convincing protagonist. Someone who feels as though they are vibrantly alive, blood in their hearts, even as they’re simple scribbles on the page. In this course, we’ll talk about how to inhabit a consciousness, all the while keeping the plot chugging ahead in a believable and enthralling way.
During our six sessions, we’ll divide up our workload like this:
Session 1 – Conflict:
How to use emotional and external conflict to reveal character.
Session 2 – Character psychology:
How do we take advantage of the fact that a reader is incarcerated in the mind of the protagonist? How do we use that as an asset instead of liability?
Session 3 – Plaracterization:
The kiss between plot and characterization.
Session 4 – Dialogue:
How do we construct cadence and word choice in our dialogue so that the character sounds unique, nuanced, convincingly alive.
Session 5 – Scene Size:
How do I know if my scenes are the right length? How do I know that subsequent scenes are speaking to authentically creating a memorable main character.
Session 6 – Revision:
How do we continue to learn about our characters and build on the discoveries we’ve made in previous iterations?
Through in-class writing prompts and homework exercises, students will have the opportunity to practice these new principles and techniques in real-time. When we’ve completed our work, students will leave this course with a new bag of tricks to help them manufacture characters that stay alive in the reader’s mind’s eye long after the words THE END…
Richard Russo is the author of seven novels, a memoir, and one short story collection. His fifth book, Empire Falls, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2002 and was later adapted for television by HBO based on Russo’s teleplay, earning him an Emmy nomination.
He also wrote the novel, Nobody’s Fool, which was adapted into a critically acclaimed film featuring Paul Newman. Known for his insightful, often humorous depictions of gritty northeastern towns and the characters that inhabit them, Russo has said that he wants,
“that which is hilarious and that which is heartbreaking to occupy the same territory in books,” because he thinks, “they very often occupy the same territory in life, much as we try to separate them.”
In 2016 he was given the Indie Champion Award by the American Booksellers Association; and in 2017 he received France’s Grand Prix de Littérature Américaine He taught English at Colby College for many years and lives with his wife in Maine.
Kevin Larimer is the editor in chief of Poets & Writers, where he edits Poets & Writers Magazine; oversees editorial content on the organization’s website, pw.org; and directs the events series Poets & Writers Live.
He has given presentations and appeared on a number of panels on publishing at events such as the Library of Congress National Book Festival, the Sozopol Fiction Seminars, the Anguilla Lit Fest, the Slice Literary Writer’s Conference, the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference, Poets Forum, the Bronx Book Fair, and the Writer’s Hotel.
His poems have appeared in Poetry International, Fence, Pleiades, Verse, and a dozen other literary magazines. He has written book reviews for American Letters & Commentary, American Book Review, Chelsea, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He holds a degree in journalism and received his MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was the poetry editor of the Iowa Review. He is currently writing The Poets & Writers Guide to the Writing Life (Simon & Schuster, 2020) with his wife, Mary Gannon, executive director of the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses.