01 Oct

2020 Kentucky Book Festival Goes Virtual

Although the traditional week of in-person gatherings will not take place this year, the Kentucky Book Festival will carry on the celebration of reading, writing, and all things bookish in the Bluegrass with a fantastic virtual lineup of discussions with authors including John Grisham, J. R. Ward, Nikky Finney, Terry Brooks, Martha S. Jones, and many, many more.

“We spent several months in consultation with our Board of Directors, staff, and public health officials evaluating the landscape with regard to COVID-19,” said Kentucky Humanities Executive Director Bill Goodman. “These discussions all led to the same conclusion—having in-person events this year is not in the best interest of our authors, patrons, volunteers, and staff. While we will greatly miss not being able to gather together this year, we look forward to a fantastic online event with a tremendous lineup of authors.”

Author Happy Hours Lineup:

Join us each Thursday at 7 p.m. for our virtual “Author Happy Hour.” Grab your beverage of choice, and enjoy sessions about reading with your kids, writing the perfect crime, and more. From Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn to award-winning children’s author Will Hillenbrand, you will find these Author Happy Hours informative and enjoyable.

Thursday, October 1 at 7 p.m.

Poets Leatha Kendrick, Jeremy Paden, and Caroline Randall Williams will discuss their latest collections with Nana Lampton, whose most recent book was released by Larkspur Press.

Thursday, October 8 at 7 p.m.

Listen and learn how to read with your kids as authors Will Hillenbrand, Carmen Oliver, Rita Lorraine Hubbard, and Jessica Young discuss how to get kids of all ages excited about reading.

Thursday, October 15 at 7 p.m.

Join Greg Howard, Jason Lady, Mariama Lockington, and Ismée Williams in conversation with author Molly McCaffrey, as they discuss Writing for “Tweens” and Teens. Writing books for middle and high schoolers takes empathy, insight, relatable characters, humor, a dash of drama, and a whole lot more. Learn from these authors of fiction for tweens and teens as they discuss the full recipe for writing with this age group in mind.

Thursday, October 22 at 7 p.m.

Join Pulitzer Prize winners and co-authors of Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn in conversation with Deidra Dennie, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at Transylvania University. Sponsored by Transylvania University.

Thursday, October 29 at 7 p.m.

Join mystery/thriller authors David Bell, Rea Frey, Dana Ridenour, and Andrew Welsh-Huggins as they discuss what it takes to write the perfect crime. Whether writing a thrilling, plot-twisting mystery or an agent-on-the-case, these authors truly know how to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Kentucky Book Festival Lineup:

November 9-14

Throughout the week, you’ll hear from novelists, journalists, and historians from Kentucky and across the U.S. On Saturday, November 14, join us for a full day’s worth of virtual programs. Register in advance for each Zoom Webinar or view them at the appointed time via Facebook Live (find us @KyHumanities).

Monday, November 9 at 7 p.m.

John Grisham will discuss his latest book, A Time for Mercy, with best-selling author Kim Edwards.

Tuesday, November 10 at noon

Shawn Pryor, author of Nat Turner's Rebellion and creator and co-author of the graphic novel mystery series Cash and Carrie, will discuss writing for kids with authors George Ella Lyon, S. G. Wilson, and Kristin O'Donnell Tubb.

Tuesday, November 10 at 7 p.m.

“Writing Historical Fiction” will feature Margaret Verble in conversation with Roxana Robinson, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle. Learn how these authors look to the past while writing poignant content for the present.

Wednesday, November 11 at 7 p.m.

“The Path to Publishing” will feature literary agent Alice Speilburg in conversation with Courtney Maum, Clint Edwards, Beverly Bell, and Casey Cep. Tune in to this lively discussion, where agent and authors share behind-the-scenes knowledge about getting published.

Thursday, November 12 at 7 p.m.

Authors Amy Murrell Taylor and David Blight will discuss his book, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, in a session titled, “‘A Radical Patriot’: Frederick Douglass and His Legacy.” Sponsored by the University of Kentucky Department of History.

Friday, November 13 at 8 a.m.

Commerce Lexington’s Spotlight Breakfast will feature Jim Host and Eric Moyen, co-authors of Host’s Changing The Game: My Career in Collegiate Sports Marketing.

Friday, November 13 at 7 p.m.

National Book Award-winner for her book Head Off and Split, Nikky Finney will discuss her latest book, Love Child's Hotbed of Occasional Poetry: Poems & Artifacts, with poets Frank X Walker and Reginald Dwayne Betts. Sponsored by the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning.

Saturday, November 14 at 11 a.m.

In “‘Healthy at Home’: Appalachia Then & Now,” hear Michele Morrone in conversation with Chris Hamby, Eric Eyre, and Ben Westhoff. Learn how these investigative journalists and educators are fighting for justice, advocating for positive change, and informing the American public about the issues affecting its people at the intersection of economy and environment. Sponsored by the University of Pikeville.

Saturday, November 14 at noon

In celebration of Women’s Suffrage, Dr. Martha S. Jones, author of Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All will join journalist Elaine Weiss and Dr. Melanie Beals Goan in conversation with Dr. Kathy Bullock. The featured books work to depict a fuller view of the impact of the women’s suffrage movement, including its longer history in search of “equality for all.” Sponsored by the Kentucky Historical Society.

Saturday, November 14 at 1 p.m.

“Understanding Appalachia: Journalistic Perceptions of a Region” will include Matthew Algeo, Jeff Young, and Samantha NeCamp in conversation with Sydney Boles of the Ohio Valley Resource. From NeCamp’s scrutiny of stereotypes and misrepresentations about literacy in the region; to Algeo’s study of Robert Kennedy’s 1968 visit to the “heart of eastern Kentucky;” to Young examining the “heart of coal country,” hear about how and why Kentucky and the surrounding regions have changed over the past few decades, and why it matters for America today. Sponsored by Hindman Settlement School.

Saturday, November 14 at 2 p.m.

“Fantastic Realms and How to Write Them” seeks to answer the question: How on earth can an author have an imagination big enough to encompass another universe? Listen in as authors Terry Brooks—New York Times best-selling author of more than 30 books, including the Shannara series—and Alix E. Harrow—author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January and The Once and Future Witches—“talk shop” about how (and why) they write what they do, in worlds both real and imaginary.

Saturday, November 14 at 5 p.m.

In, “Writing Romance” enjoy a lively conversation as J. R. Ward talks about her new book, A Warm Heart in Winter, with author Christine Feehan. Tickets to register and pre-order the book will be available in October. Sponsored by Wildcat Moving.

Saturday, November 14 at 7 p.m.

In “Views of a Place: Writing in Kentucky, Then & Now,” hear Silas House, Ashley Blooms, Karen Salyer McElmurray, and Robert Gipe in conversation. What have these authors learned about the places they live and work while writing about them? How does “place” impact the stories they tell? Tune in to this live session, as the authors discuss these questions and more with Silas House (and a special, drop-in guest). Sponsored by Berea College.

Virtual programming for the Kentucky Book Festival will be broadcast on Zoom webinar and Facebook Live. Unless otherwise noted, sessions are free and open to the public.

Visit for the full schedule as well as information on how to register and join each session and follow Kentucky Humanities on social media—@KYHumanities on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—for event updates.

The Kentucky Book Festival is made possible in part by generous donations from: Kim Edwards Charitable Foundation; Elsa Heisel Sule Charitable Foundation; Tallgrass Foundation; Hardscuffle, Inc.; Delta Dental; Snowy Owl Foundation, Inc.; Berea College; Campbellsville University; University of Kentucky Department of History; the Kentucky Historical Society; the University of Pikeville; Transylvania University; the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning; Hindman Settlement School; Wildcat Moving; Paducah Life magazine; Commerce Lexington, and individual contributions. And our partners: Studio46 Media and Joseph-Beth Booksellers.