Please note, the list of participants is constantly being updated. Check back often for additions, changes and cancellations.
Shelley Sackier, author of Dear Opl, is a musician and pens a weekly humor blog at PeakPerspective.com with illustrator Robin Gott. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
Natasha Sajé, author of Vivarium, is the author of three books of poems, and a book of poetry criticism, Windows and Doors: A Poet Reads Literary Theory. Sajé is a professor of English at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, and a member of poetry faculty at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Barbara D. Savage, co-editor of Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women, is Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought in the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. A UVa alum, she teaches African American history, religion, and media.
Donna Drew Sawyer, author of Provenance, is a former advertising executive, Sesame Street PR manager and senior administrator for the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum. Writing to attract audiences for others led her to start writing for an audience of her own.
Granville M. Sawyer, Jr., author of College in Four Years, is a professor of finance and director of the MBA program at Bowie State University. He is an authority on helping minority students achieve success in higher education.
Bill Schlesinger writes the blog Citizen Scientist and is co-author of the widely adopted textbook Biogeochemistry: An Analysis of Global Change. He is former dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and president emeritus of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.
Susan Schmidt, author of Song of Moving Water and Salt Runs in My Blood, is sailboat captain, gardener, Quaker naturalist, retired professor, and science-policy analyst. She currently works as a developmental editor. Her environmental novel is set in Virginia; in poems, she plays in boats and walks long trails.
Kimberly K. Schmidt, author of Listen, is a graduate of the University of Georgia and a retired nurse. She and her husband live on a farm near Charlottesville, Va., where she spends her time breeding and training horses and writing children’s stories.
Robert Schultz, author of Ancestral Altars, is the John P. Fishwick Professor of English at Roanoke College. His previous titles include We Were Pirates: A Torpedoman’s Pacific War (nonfiction), The Madhouse Nudes (a novel), and Winter in Eden (poems).
V.E. Schwab, author of A Gathering of Shadows and many other books for children and teens, spends her time wandering Scottish hills or curled in a Nashville coffee shop, drinking tea and dreaming up monsters.
Molly Schwartzburg is curator at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at UVa.
Jon Scieszka is the author of The New York Times bestselling Frank Einstein series. His books include Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor, Frank Einstein and the Electro-Finger, Frank Einstein and the BrainTurbo, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, the Time Warp Trio and Spaceheadz series, and Battle Bunny with Mac Barnett. In 2008 Scieszka was named the inaugural National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Librarian of Congress, and he is the founder of Guys Read, a web-based literacy program for boys. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Christopher Scotton, author of The Secret Wisdom of the Earth, has been a bouncer, carpenter, kite flyer, amusement park ride operator, and CEO of several technology companies. He began writing in London at age 38. He is currently president and CEO of a software company and lives near Washington, D.C.
Alexandria Searls, author and photographer of Underwater, is executive director of the Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center in Charlottesville, Va. Her photographs and films have been shown in festivals and galleries in the United States and abroad.
Paula Marie Seniors is the author of Beyond “Lift Every Voice and Sing:” The Culture of Uplift, Identity, and Politics in Black Musical Theater, which received the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Prize from The Association of Black Women Historians.
Vijay Seshadri is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 3 Sections. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, the Paris Review, the New York Times Book Review, and in many anthologies, including Best American Poetry.
Sara Sgarlat, a book publicist with over sixteen years’ experience, works with authors and publishers creating innovative and effective campaigns. Sara founded Sgarlat Publicity in 2009. She was formerly Director of Publicity at Hampton Roads Publishing Company.
Sonia Shah, author of Pandemic, is a science journalist and prizewinning author. Her writing on science, politics, and human rights has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Scientific American, and elsewhere.
Wendy Shang, author of The Way Home Looks Now, lives in northern Virginia. Her first book, The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, received the Asian-Pacific American Librarians Award for Children’s Literature and was placed on several state reading lists.
Joanne Shenandoah has had to cancel her participation in 2016.
Ms. Shenandoah is a Grammy Award-winning musician who has produced 17 recordings and received multiple music awards, including a record 14 Native American Music awards. She has performed world-wide and garnered praise for her advocacy of universal peace and the rights of women and children.
Kevin Sherry is an author and illustrator of children’s books, including The Yeti Files series. His work has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews and he has won an award from the Society of Illustrators.
Colleen J. Shogan, author of Stabbing in the Senate, is the deputy director of the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress. She writes the Washington Whodunit mystery series and lives in Arlington, Va.
Jeanne Nicholson Siler has been involved with the Festival of the Book for most of its 22 years, alternately as moderator, driver, author and a variety of volunteer roles. Currently a staff member at VFH, she works with the Grants and Fellowship programs.
Ann Cary Simpson, photographer of Little Rivers and Waterway Tales, is a consultant with Moss + Ross of Durham and interim director of NC Catch, a nonprofit supporting fishermen and local seafood. She has worked for The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense, and Ducks Unlimited, and she is now president of the NC Coastal Land Trust.
Bland Simpson is Kenan Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and pianist for the Red Clay Ramblers.
Matthew Slaats is executive director of The Bridge PAI, a Charlottesville-based nonprofit that places art at the forefront of community conversations to engage, energize, and empower local residents.
Kay Slaughter is a retired attorney who worked at Southern Environmental Law Center for 24 years and served eight years on Charlottesville City Council with one term as Mayor. She spends her retirement in travel and writing both fiction and nonfiction.
Fran Cannon Slayton, a many-time participant in the Festival, has had to cancel her participation in 2016 due to a diagnosis of brain cancer. You may read about her unexpected journey, including how you can help, at her website.
Author of When the Whistle Blows, Slayton floated around Europe last summer teaching academic writing and working with college students as director of Semester at Sea’s Writing Center. She also recently received a Virginia Foundation for the Humanities fellowship and taught a children’s publishing course at UVa.
Ron Smith is the author of Its Ghostly Workshop as well as Running Again in Hollywood Cemetery (runner-up for the National Poetry Series Open Competition), Moon Road, and the forthcoming The Humility of the Brutes. He is the Poet Laureate of Virginia.
Lee Smith, author of Dimestore: A Writer’s Life, was born in the small coal-mining town of Grundy, Va., and began writing stories at the age of nine. Since then, she has written seventeen works of fiction, including Fair and Tender Ladies, Oral History, and, most recently, Guests on Earth. She lives in Hillsborough, N.C.
Jared Smith, co-publisher of Retrofit Comics, is also co-owner of the Washington DC area comic book stores Big Planet Comics. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1998 and currently lives in Washington, DC.
Gregory Smithers is the author of The Cherokee Diaspora: An Indigenous History of Migration, Resettlement, and Identity. He is an associate professor of American Indian history at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he teaches courses on indigenous history.
Lisa Russ Spaar, editor of Monticello in Mind: 50 Contemporary Poems on Jefferson, has published ten books of poetry and essays. Her awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry. She is a professor at UVa.
Daphne Spain, author of Constructive Feminism, is James M. Page Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning in the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia. Her previous books include How Women Saved the City and Gendered Spaces.
Kat Spears, author of Breakaway, has worked as a bartender, museum director, housekeeper, park ranger, business manager, and painter. She holds an MA in anthropology. She lives in Richmond, Va., with her three freeloading kids.
Vickie Spray, co-author of Crooked Letter i, has a spiritual counseling practice in Florida and provides a video website for people who want to transform their world by sharing the positive knowledge they have discovered in their process of living.
Martha Hester Stafford is the founder of the Charlottesville Cooking School. She graduated from Peter Kump’s Cooking School and was awarded the Blue Ribbon. Her school provides professional and amateur cooks with high quality cooking instruction and promotes the use of local, seasonal ingredients.
Due to unforeseen circumstances Bella Stander has had to cancel her participation in 2016.
She is the publisher of Bella Terra Maps and proprietor of Book Promotion 101. Stander has reviewed books for Publishers Weekly, the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and Wall St. Journal; and written eight lighthouse guides.
B.K. Stevens, author of Fighting Chance and Interpretation of Murder, has also published over fifty short stories. She’s won a Derringer and has been nominated for Agatha and Macavity awards. Fighting Chance, a young adult mystery novel, is set in Virginia.
Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, is executive director of Equal Justice Initiative and a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated, and the condemned. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government, and has been awarded 21 honorary doctorate degrees.
Stevenson’s work fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system has won him numerous awards, including the ABA Wisdom Award for Public Service, the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Award Prize, the Olaf Palme International Prize, the ACLU National Medal Of Liberty, the National Public Interest Lawyer of the Year Award, the Gruber Prize for International Justice, and the Ford Foundation Visionaries Award.
Mary Stockwell, author of The Other Trail of Tears, holds a PhD in American history. She has been a writer in the business world, a history professor and department chair, and a research fellow. Her history books for young people includes Massachusetts, Our Home, 2005 winner of the Golden Lamp Award for Best Book.
Andy Straka is the author of A Witness Above and the Shamus Award-winning Frank Pavlicek mystery series. Among his other novels are the thriller series Dragonflies, Record of Wrongs, and the critically-acclaimed The Blue Hallelujah.
Lynn Steger Strong, author of Hold Still, has an MFA from Columbia University where she taught freshman writing. She currently teaches at Pratt and Columbia and lives in Brooklyn with her family.
Michael F. Suarez is Director of the Rare Book School, University Professor, Professor of English, and Honorary Curator of Special Collections at UVa. A Jesuit priest, he holds four masters degrees and a DPhil in English from Oxford. President Obama nominated him to the National Council on the Humanities, the advisory board for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Bill Sublette is senior development communications manager for the Southern Environmental Law Center and administrator of the Reed Environmental Writing Award.
Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., author of Breaking Ground: My Life in Medicine, is former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. His autobiography has won an NAACP Image Award and was a finalist for the Phillis Wheatley Award.
Barry Svrluga, author of The Grind, has worked at The Washington Post since 2003 and is currently the national baseball writer. He previously reported on the Washington Nationals and is the author of National Pastime, about the franchise’s relocation from Montreal and first season in Washington.
Earl Swift is the author of five books of narrative nonfiction, including 2014’s Auto Biography: A Classic Car, an Outlaw Motorhead, and 57 Years of the American Dream. The longtime journalist reported for The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk for 22 years, has written for Outside, Parade and Popular Mechanics, and has been a resident fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities since 2012.