Thursday, August 27, 2020 - 5:15pm

Northbrook Writes

The library's Northbrook Writes series returns in September and October, featuring five acclaimed authors who will help aspiring writers improve their craft with topics ranging from character development to world-building, and many topics in between. Fiction & Media librarian, Mike Hominick, has been organizing the Northbrook Writes series since its inception in 2016. He says one benefit of going virtual is the ability to open up attendance to more participants than was possible in the traditional classroom format held at the library.

"Going virtual also allows us to bring back popular writer-instructors previous attendees have been excited about, like Hugo-Award winning author Mary Robinette Kowal, who has since moved out of state. We would not have been able to have her back had it not been for this virtual format," he said.

Author Patricia Skalka will kick off the series with a workshop titled "How to Be a Better Writer," on September 10 that will help aspiring writers learn how to challenge themselves and examine their work with a more critical eye. Skalka is the author of the five-book Dave Cubiak Door County mysteries. In addition, her credits also include Staff Writer for Reader’s Digest, freelancer, ghostwriter, writing instructor, and book reviewer. Skalka is president of the Sisters in Crime Chicagoland Chapter and a member of several professional organizations, including The Authors Guild of America, Mystery Writers of America, and Society of Midland Authors. 

On September 24, we welcome back author Mary Robinette Kowal, acclaimed for her Hugo and Nebula award-winning Lady Astronaut series. In her workshop, "Methods of World-Building," Kowal will explain what writers should include—and what they can skip—when constructing a world, to avoid becoming overwhelmed with the sheer number of choices that need to be made. In addition to her Lady Astronaut series, Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of Ghost Talkers and The Glamourist Histories series. She is the President of SFWA, part of the award-winning podcast Writing Excuses and a four-time Hugo Award winner. Her short fiction appears in, and Asimov’s.

Writer Juan Martinez will explain how to develop the start and finish of a story, to successfully craft them as two halves of the same whole and mirror images of one another in his October 17 workshop titled "Beginnings & Endings." Martinez is the author of a collection of stories called Best Worst American, which was awarded the Neukom Institute Literary Prize for debut fiction in 2018. He is also an Assistant Professor at Northwestern University. 

On October 19, Chicago-based author Emily Gray Tedrowe will help writers learn how to develop convincing, memorable characters at her workshop, titled "Developing Character." Tedrowe wrote the novels The Talented Miss Farwell, Blue Stars, and Commuters. She has received an Illinois Arts Council award as well as fellowships from the Ragdale Foundation, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Sewanee Writers Conference. Tedrowe also writes essays, interviews, and short stories, as well as writing book reviews for USA Today as well as other publications.

Rounding out the series is author Julia fine, who will present "Genre as Metaphor" on October 24. Examining the elements of genre fiction—crime, fantasy, romance, science fiction, etc., Fine will explain how writers use it to subvert expectations and lead readers to larger truths. Julia Fine is the author of What Should Be Wild, which was shortlisted for the Bram Stoker Superior First Novel Award and the Chicago Review of Books Award. Her second novel, The Upstairs House is forthcoming from Harper in 2021. She also teaches writing in Chicago.

The workshops will be held online using an online meeting platform, and advance registration is required. For more information or to sign up for any of these workshops, visit