Children's Author Salina Yoon!

A very important part of Unbound's programming involves presenting nationally-renowned children's authors for the edification of our younger festival goers. Every year we have brought award-winning writers, illustrators, and entertainers to Columbia, and this year is no exception. (We're also expanding our "Authors in the Schools" project which takes place on the day before the festival, Friday April 20. More on that at a later date.)

We're very pleased to announce our first children's author for 2018, Salina Yoon. Salina will be appearing at local schools on Friday and then charming audiences on Saturday at the festival itself. Parents with younger kiddos will not want to miss her presentation!


Salina is the award-winning author and illustrator of over 160 (yes, you read that right) books for children. As the Kohl’s Cares featured author for summer 2016, seven of her books (nearly 1 million units), and four plush animals based on her characters, were sold nationwide in Kohl’s stores that year. She is the author and illustrator of the six-book Penguin picture book series that begins with PENGUIN AND PINECONE, the creator of the the picture book series featuring Bear, that includes FOUND, STORMY NIGHT, and BEAR’S BIG DAY (Bloomsbury), and the early reader series beginning with DUCK DUCK PORCUPINE (Bloomsbury). You can read more about Salina and her projects at

Posted on October 16, 2017 .

New frontiers

True to our name, we at Unbound are always trying to expand the scope of the festival and the kinds of literature represented there. As part of that ongoing quest, this year we're thrilled to welcome John Kessel, the acclaimed author of multiple award-winning books of science fiction and speculative fiction - a new area for the festival. 

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John's speculative fiction includes the recently published novel The Moon and the Other, the novels Good News from Outer Space, Corrupting Dr. Nice, and Freedom Beach (with James Patrick Kelly), and the collections Meeting in Infinity, The Pure Product, and The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories. His fiction has received the Nebula Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, the Locus Award, the James Tiptree Jr. Award, and the Shirley Jackson Award. February 2018 will see the publication of his new novel, Pride and Prometheus, by Simon & Schuster.

Kessel teaches American literature and fiction writing at North Carolina State University where he helped found the MFA program in creative writing and served twice as its director. He lives with his wife, the novelist (and fellow Unbound guest) Therese Anne Fowler, in Raleigh.

Posted on October 9, 2017 .

Calling All Writers! Submit Your Work to the "Boundless" Anthology!

Every year we at Unbound look for new and different ways to involve members of the wider writing community in the festival. In past years we've run contests for a spot on the program and held an Independent Author Fair. For 2018, in collaboration with Compass Flower Press, we'll be producing an anthology to celebrate our third year of operation, which we'll launch at the festival. And we'd like you to contribute.

We're calling the anthology Boundless, and that's also the prompt for entries. Any piece on this theme - whatever you choose to make of it - is admissible, either fiction or nonfiction. There's a 3,000 word limit on entries. There's no fee to enter, and all entries chosen for inclusion will receive a free copy of the anthology - and of course we hope you'll come to the festival to help us celebrate its launch into the world!

And, oh yes, we're also offering a prize of $1,000 for the best entry.

The submission deadline is November 30, 2017. For more details and the online entry form, click on this link.

Good luck!

Posted on October 8, 2017 .

Kathleen Rooney, Literary Citizen Extraordinaire

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We're very excited to announce another author for next year's Unbound Book Festival. Kathleen Rooney is a very busy person. She is the author of eight books of poetry, fiction and nonfiction, as well as a founding editor of Rose Metal Press and a founding member of Poems While You Wait (which will be making an appearance at the festival - more on that at a later date.) 

Kathleen is the co-editor, most recently, of Rene Magritte: Selected Writings, and her second novel, the wonderful and charming, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, was published by St. Martin's Press in January 2017 to rapturous reviews.

Her reviews and essays have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The New York Times Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, Allure and The Nation. If that wasn't enough, she also teaches creative writing at DePaul University.She lives in Chicago with her spouse, the writer Martin Seay. 

Posted on October 3, 2017 .

Steve Yarbrough!

It's Monday, which means we have another author announcement for you. Today we're delighted to announce that acclaimed author Steve Yarborugh will be joining us in Columbia on April 21, 2018.

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Steve is the widely-acclaimed author of ten books for which he’s received numerous awards, including the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction, the California Book Award, the Richard Wright and the Robert Penn Warren Awards. He has also been a PEN/Faulkner finalist. His work has been published in several foreign languages, including Dutch, Japanese and Polish, and in a number of other countries. Yarbrough currently teaches at Emerson College and lives in Stoneham, MA with his wife Ewa.

Steve will be joining us to discuss his electrifying new novel, THE UNMADE WORLD, which will be published in January 2018. Here's what Richard Ford had to say about it: "The Unmade World is tone perfect, skillfully constructed and consummately realized. It's the work of an extraordinary novelist. I'm fortunate to have read it."

The son of Mississippi Delta cotton farmers, Steve is an aficionado of jazz and bluegrass music, which he plays on guitar, mandolin and banjo, often after midnight.

Posted on September 25, 2017 .

Bill McKibben, Environmentalist Extraordinaire, will be here on October 4!

It's not just Unbound.

Columbia is a destination for wonderful writers, thinkers, and speakers all year round, not just in April. There are some spectacular events coming in the months ahead, and we will be sharing details of all of them here as they approach.

First of all, though, we wanted to tell you about a fantastic and very important event that is happening on Wednesday, October 4. 

As part of the Lloyd B. Thomas Lecture and Performance Series, the MU College of Arts and Science is bringing Bill McKibben, one of our most celebrated environmentalists, to speak at the Missouri Theatre about climate change. McKibben's 1989 book, The End of Nature, was perhaps the first book on environmental matters that really captured the public's imagination on this most crucial of topics. Since then he has written more than a dozen other books on the topic.

The event starts at 7.00 and is open to the public and free of charge. It promises to be a fascinating, compelling, and important talk. Arrive early - you won't want to miss this!

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Posted on September 22, 2017 .

Will Schwalbe is coming back to mid-Missouri! Like, NEXT WEEK, PEOPLE.

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Do you see all those lovely people? This is a photo I took minutes before one of the last events of this year's Unbound Book Festival got under way - Vivien Jennings of Rainy Day Books in conversation with Will Schwalbe. The place was absolutely packed - you can see some of our wonderful volunteers bringing in more chairs on the right.

This was actually Will's THIRD event that day, although you would never have known it from his irrepressible enthusiasm and wit. (Not only is he charming and super-smart, the man is also indefatigable.) He and Vivien talked about his wonderful book, BOOKS FOR LIVING, which is a love letter to reading and the joy of books. It was a perfect way to end the festival and one that will live on long in the hearts and minds of everyone who was crammed into that beautiful room at the end of that beautiful day. 

I am posting about this today because next Thursday, September 28, Will is returning to mid-Missouri. He'll be speaking in Jefferson City about his first book, THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB, which has been chosen as this year's Jeff City Capital Read. The event starts at 7.00 p.m. at the Missouri River Regional Library, 214 Adams Street, Jefferson City. Those of you who saw Will at Unbound will need no further prompting to mark your calendars. If you missed him in April, please - do yourself a favor and attend this free event next week. THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB is a delicious meditation on the magic of books, and it's a deeply moving tribute to his mother, Mary Anne Schwalbe. It's a beautiful, inspiring book. 

See you there next Thursday?

Posted on September 19, 2017 .

Our newest author announcement? Wait, wait, don't tell me...

Each year at Unbound we try and invite a broad range of writers and poets from a variety of backgrounds. All enjoy varying degrees of fame (or notoriety) but our next author is the first person we've invited who is regularly read by upwards of 20 million people and who is also a stalwart on one of radio's most popular weekly comedy shows.    

It's Amy Dickinson.

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Amy writes the “Ask Amy” advice column which is widely syndicated throughout North America. She is also a regular panelist on the popular NPR comedy quiz show, “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me…!”  She grew up on a dairy farm in Upstate NY, and has lived in New York City, Washington DC, London, and Chicago.

Amy’s 2009 memoir, “The Mighty Queens of Freeville,” became a NYT bestseller. Her new memoir, “Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things” (Hachette) covers her decision to move back to her hometown, and her mid-life marriage to a local builder who she first met in 7th grade. She is the mother and stepmother to five daughters.

We can't wait to welcome Amy to Columbia!


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Posted on September 18, 2017 .

New Author Announcement: Therese Anne Fowler

We're very excited to announce that New York Times bestselling author Therese Anne Fowler will be attending Unbound next April. If you've ever wondered what it's like to watch your novel be adapted for the screen - well, Therese would be the person to ask. Her novel, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, has been adapted as an original television series for Amazon Studios, starring Christina Ricci. The second season is currently in production.  And if you enjoyed last year's conversation between Nancy Horan and Melanie Benjamin on writing fiction about real-life personalities, you won't want to miss this.

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Therese, a native of Milan, IL, is the author of the New York Times bestseller Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. Her essays have been published internationally in newspapers and magazines such as The Week, the London Telegraph and Harper's Bazaar, and her fiction is available in numerous languages worldwide. Her upcoming novel about Alva Vanderbilt Belmont is forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press.

Therese earned a BA in sociology/cultural anthropology and an MFA in creative writing, both from NC State. A proud member of Phi Beta Kappa and PEN America, she lives in Raleigh, NC, with author and professor John Kessel and their three endearing but incorrigible cats.

Posted on September 11, 2017 .

First Author Announcement for 2018... Christina Baker Kline!

The time has come to start telling you about all the wonderful authors we are lining up for our third annual festival, which takes place on April 19-21, 2018. First up, we're thrilled to announce that we'll be welcoming gazillion-selling author Christina Baker Kline to Columbia!

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Christina is the author of six novels. Her most recent novel, A Piece of the World, is based on the iconic painting Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth, and was an instant New York Times bestseller when it was published in February this year. Christina will be talking about this book as part of an Unbound panel about Andrew Wyeth.


Christina's previous book, Orphan Train, spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list, including five weeks at # 1, and has been published in 38 countries. More than 100 communities and colleges have chosen it as a “One Book, One Read” selection. Her other novels include The Way Life Should Be, Sweet Water, Bird in Hand, and Desire Lines.


In addition to her fiction, Kline is co-author, with her mother, Christina Looper Baker, of a book on feminist mothers and daughters, The Conversation Begins, and the editor of four nonfiction anthologies. Her essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Money, More, and Psychology Today, among other places. She is a member of the Advisory Board for Roots & Wings, a nonprofit that provides support for at-risk adolescent and aged-out foster care youth. 

Posted on September 7, 2017 .