Here we are again...

Well, hello.

Did you miss us?

We've been taking a short break from the online world, but that's not to say that we haven't been very busy getting ready for next year's festival. We have already lined up an amazing list of wonderful authors for 2018, and can't wait to start telling you all about them. 

The third edition of Unbound will be bigger and better than ever, with new events in new venues, stretched over a longer period of time. We are growing in all sorts of interesting ways.

We'll be announcing one of our most exciting new developments in the next couple of days - a great collaboration with one of the other marvelous nonprofits in town. Watch this space. 

And just in case you haven't already done so, be sure to sign up for our newsletter by filling in the form at the bottom of every page of the website - that's the best way of making sure you don't miss a thing.

More soon!

Posted on August 21, 2017 .


What an amazing weekend! The readings, the talks, the panels, the performances... and then there was Salman Rushdie.

Thank you to absolutely everyone who came to Chapter Two of the Unbound Book Festival. It was all we could have hoped for, and more. We'll be posting many more pictures in due course, but for now here's a good one of the crowd in Jesse Auditorium taken by our photographer-in-chief, Shane Epping, a few minutes before Salman Rushdie was due to take the stage.

We'd like to thank all the authors and poets who came from across the country to Columbia for the weekend, for their brilliance and wit and generosity; the staff of Jesse Hall and Stephens College who welcomed us with such warmth and professionalism; and, of course our incredible team of volunteers who gave up their weekend to make sure things went smoothly.

Also, may we ask you a favor?

If you attended Unbound this year, we'd be very grateful if you would take about 45 seconds to complete our online questionnaire, which you can find by clicking here. Please give us your feedback and thoughts. It will help us as we start to plan for 2018 (there's no rest for the wicked, you know.) We're still learning about a lot about what works and what doesn't, and we would appreciate your input.

Many thanks! And mark your calendars for April 20 and 21, 2018!

Posted on April 25, 2017 .

Elephant Poems

Remember this?

This is Penelope, who made her first appearance at last year's festival. She is a rare breed of elephant, from the genus Elephas Maximus Poetica, whose principal purpose is to bring joy to the world via the magic of magnetic poetry. 

This year, look out for Penelope on the campus of Stephens College on Saturday, and bring your Poetry A-Game. We're asking people to make up poems using the magnetic words provided, take a photo of the poem, and then post it to twitter using the hashtag #unboundelephantpoems. We'll re-post the best of them and the one we judge the winner will receive a book signed by one of our festival guests.

Posted on April 17, 2017 .

Exciting News! C-SPAN is coming to Unbound!

Well, maybe we're doing something right.

If we may be permitted to blow our own horn for just a moment, we're very pleased to announce that we've just received confirmation that some of the panels on Saturday will be filmed and broadcast by C-SPAN, as part of their "Book TV" coverage.

We're thrilled by this news, and proud to have achieved this in only our second year. Onwards and upwards!

Posted on April 13, 2017 .

In Dog We Trust

Oh, this will be fun! In honor of our host Stephens College's enlightened policy on student pets - it's one of the most animal-friendly campuses in the country - we thought it would be a good idea to feature a panel on writing about man's best friend.

Dogs have always featured heavily in literature of all kinds. Bettyville author George Hodgman (proud owner of Raj) will moderate this lively panel that will discuss the challenges and rewards of writing about dogs across a variety of genres. Joining him will be:

Julie Barton is the New York Times bestselling author of DOG MEDICINE, HOW MY DOG SAVED ME FROM MYSELF (Penguin, 2016). She lives in Northern California with her husband Greg, two children, and small menagerie of pets. 

Meg Kearney is author of two books of poems for adults and three novels in verse for teens. Her award-winning picture book, Trouper, is illustrated by E.B. Lewis (Scholastic, 2013.) 

Cleopatra Mathis has published seven collections of poetry. Most recent is Book of Dog, which won the Sheila Motten Book Prize. Her work has won her two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, two Pushcart Prizes, and the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.

Posted on April 10, 2017 .

Writing on Disability

One of the most fascinating panels this year will take place in the Recital Hall at 2.30.

Notions of ability and disability often rest in the eye (ear, mind, limb) of the individual, and as a culture we have been slow to find shared language to communicate about this continuum. Dr. Julie Elman, co-founder of MU’s Disability Studies program, leads a discussion with four dynamic, prize-winning authors about the considerations of writing disability (developmental, neurological, anatomical, auditory) into their novels, poetry, plays, and essays.

Molly McCully Brown is the author of The Virginia State Colony For Epileptics and Feebleminded (Persea Books, 2017),  which won the 2016 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize.

Willy Conley is an award-winning playwright whose work has been produced both nationally and internationally. He is professor of Theatre and Dance at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC.

Susannah Nevison also won the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry for her collection, Teratology (Persea Books, 2015.)

Anand Prahlad is the head of the creative writing program at the University of Missouri. His memoir, The Secret Life of a Black Aspie, won the Permafrost Nonfiction Book Prize and was released in February. It is the first personal account to offer glimpses inside the world of an autistic African American.

Posted on April 9, 2017 .

War Stories.

You might want to arrive early for this one.

Four acclaimed writers – a memoirist, a military historian, a biographer, and a novelist – discuss the art of writing about war from four very different perspectives and approaches. How have their own experiences of war informed their writing? How do they gather and process material? How do they render both the personal stories of combatants and the larger historical context? This panel full of literary heavyweights will deliver fascinating insights into their craft.

Ishmael Beah is the New York Times bestselling author of A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, which  has been published in over 40 languages and was named by Time Magazine as one of the Top 10 Nonfiction books of 2007, ranking at number 3.

Colonel Gregory Fontenot served in the US Army for over thirty years. His book, The First Infantry Division and the US Army Transformed, will be published next month by the University of Missouri Press.

Candice Millard, an alumna of last year's inaugural Unbound Book Festival, is the author of three bestselling books, most recently Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, A Daring Escape, and the making of Winston Churchill.

Whitney Terrell, who also appeared at Unbound last year interviewing John Freeman, is the author of (among other titles) the nationally-acclaimed The Good Lieutenant. He was an embedded reporter in Iraq during 2006 and 2010 and covered the war for the Washington Post Magazine, Slate, and NPR.  

Saturday, April 22, Macklanburg Playhouse, 11.30 - 12.45

Posted on April 4, 2017 .

Everything You Wanted to Know about Publishing But Were Afraid to Ask

One of the very exciting panels that we have put together for this year is called Inside Publishing, and it features some of the industry's foremost players in a variety of different fields. Moderated by Vivien Jennings, owner and founder of one of the nation's most beloved independent bookstores, Rainy Day Books of Kansas City, we've put together a dazzling team of experts to answer your questions about the often murky world of books - the writing of them, the publishing of them, and the selling of them. Joining Vivien will be:

Will Schwalbe has seen the publishing business from just about every perspective possible. Not only is he the author of several bestselling books, including The End of Your Life Book Club and Books for Living, he is also an editor at Macmillan, and has worked as a journalist and in new media.

Melanie Benjamin is the author of several massive selling novels, including, most recently, The Swans of Fifth Avenue

In addition to having written three highly-acclaimed novels, Julia Dahl  is a journalist for CBS News. So yes, that would be two highly successful parallel writing careers you can ask her about.

Finally, we're delighted to welcome Emi Battaglia, one of the publishing industry's most experienced public relations experts.

Emi Battaglia

Emi Battaglia

Emi is the founder and president of EBPR, a publicity, marketing and literary consultation firm. Prior to that, Battaglia served as Director of Marketing and Publicity for Regan Arts, where she worked with a host of successful authors including Mariel Hemingway, UFC Fighter Ronda Rousey, and Khloe Kardashian, as well as on bestselling campaigns including ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan. Prior to her tenure with Regan Arts, Emi held a number of senior positions within the publishing world, including her role as Vice President, Associate Publisher and Marketing Director at Grand Central Publishing (formerly Warner Books), and earlier roles with Goldberg McDuffie Communications, St. Martin’s Press, Simon & Schuster and New American Library. She has worked with an array of accomplished authors and modern day icons, including Martha Stewart, Nicholas Sparks, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, the estate of Martin Luther King Jr., Jack Welch, Kitty Kelley, Michael D. Eisner, Maria Shriver, Bill Gates, Michael Moore, David Baldacci, Brad Meltzer, Nelson Demille, Ellen DeGeneres, Carole King, Rocco DiSpirito, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jane Goodall.

Come with your questions, or sit back and listen to gain new insights into how books get published. You won't want to miss this unique event.

Saturday, April 22, 11.30 - 12.45, Stamper Commons - Stephens College campus. 

Posted on April 3, 2017 .

Telling the Story... THE GRAPES OF WRATH

One of the new elements to this year's festival that we're most excited about is the appearance of Carol Birch, one of the world's foremost storytellers. Carol will be appearing in the Chapel at Stephens College on Saturday, April 22, at 11.45, to perform her celebrated retelling of John Steinbeck's seminal novel, The Grapes of Wrath.

We asked Carol to write something to introduce her upcoming performance to Unbound guests. It's a fascinating insight to the work that gets done when "translating" the written word into the oral tradition. Here's Carol:

"An UNBOUND BOOK  is a glorious image for what I hope listeners experience as they listen to me tell two chapters from John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. I seek material that can be interpreted conversationally—material suitable to the directness, confidentiality, and simplicity experienced when we gather to tell one another important stories in semidarkness. Telling a literary piece is not the same as reading or reciting it, though the story remains mostly as Steinbeck wrote it. While I edit lines, I rarely add words. My goals are to build a bridge into the story with an introduction and then communicate his text, language, and style.

Adaptations occur when I:

·       differentiate characters more easily by placing taglines like “He said,” at the beginning of a quote, instead of halfway through or at the end of it;

·       indicate characters vocally, which allows me to communicate “she said” and/or “he said sadly” effectively without actually saying those words;

·       replace words like “she pointed” with a simple gesture;

·       utilize a range of facial and physical cues to communicate more complex emotions like “disappointment overwhelmed him”;

·       repeat a word or line for emphasis, as people naturally do in conversation;

·       edit because of time or audience constraints; and finally,

·       interact with listeners during a performance.

Experience tells me listeners seek out books from which they’ve heard sections. Eyes and ears “read” differently; ears and eyes “hear” differently. When audiences hear language lifted off the page, it can enhance their experience of that literature.

Posted on April 2, 2017 .

And our final author is...

Alex George is the author of the national and international bestseller, A GOOD AMERICAN, and, most recently, of SETTING FREE THE KITES, which has also hit the bestseller lists. Both novels were "Indie Next" picks, chosen by independent booksellers across the nation as favorite titles. A native of England, he has lived in the Midwest for the last fourteen years. In addition to writing books, he is a practicing attorney and is also the founder and director of the Unbound Book Festival. He'll be in conversation with Caroline Leavitt.

Posted on March 25, 2017 .