Virtual Events

Conversations with Authors - John Shea (Virtual Event)

Saturday, August 15, 2020 - 4:00pm

Saturday, August 15th, 2020

Online • Live • 4:00pm PT/7:00pm ET

In conversation with Phil Cousineau

Conversations with Authors is our free online event series! Join us throughout the week for new chats between different authors.


John Shea is the co-writer of the instant New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle bestseller 24: Life Stories and Lessons from the Say Hey Kid in which the legendary Willie Mays shares the inspirations and influences responsible for guiding him on and off the field. John is the San Francisco Chronicle’s national baseball writer and columnist. He is in his 33rd year covering baseball, including 28 in the Bay Area. He has written three baseball books, including Rickey Henderson’s biography (Off Base: Confessions of a Thief) and Magic by the Bay, an account of the 1989 World Series. He has also won several Associated Press Sports Editors awards, including first place in the nation for a World Series game story. He’s a two-time Bay Area chairman of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and created the Bill Rigney Good Guy Award, given each year to a Giant and Athletic who is most accommodating to the media.

Phil Cousineau is an award-winning writer and filmmaker, teacher and editor, lecturer and travel leader, and storyteller and TV host. His fascination with the art, literature, and history of culture has taken him from Michigan to Marrakesh, Iceland to the Amazon, in a worldwide search for what the ancients called the “soul of the world.” With more than 35 books and 15 scriptwriting credits to his name, the “omnipresent influence of myth in modern life” is a thread that runs through all of his work. His books include Stoking the Creative Fires, Once and Future Myths, The Art of Pilgrimage, The Hero’s Journey, Wordcatcher, The Painted Word, The Oldest Story in the World, The Book of Roads, and The Accidental Aphorist.


Below, please find links to purchase their books.



Virtual Class: Julia McNeal - Way One of the Five Ways In to Character (via Zoom)

Saturday, August 29, 2020 - 2:00pm

Saturday, August 29 • 2:00-4:00pm PT • $60 • Hosted via Zoom
Format: Presentation, short interactive exercise, writing time, question & answer

Please note: This class is currently at capacity. If you would like to be added to the waitlist, please email

Five Ways In to Character is a unique, five-part technique for creating characters on the page and in performance. Synthesized by Julia McNeal, and honed over the last 15 years, this technique has never failed to deepen, clarify, and improve the character creation of all who apply it.

The first of the Five Ways, “Way One,” is one of the “Outside-In” approaches of the technique. It’s the most fun to use and easiest to apply, with clear and immediate results. Even as it focuses on externally visible character details, by using this approach, deeper motivations and priorities are revealed.

If you need something to shake up your writing routine, or would like to invite some fun, energy and a new way of seeing the character(s) you are writing (even if that character is You), come play and learn on Saturday, August 29th.  You’ll come away with a whole new way of looking at characters and a concrete method of approach that you can use going forward.

What Students Are Saying about Julia McNeal

“Julia’s Ways In is a brilliant and original set of techniques for exploring and deepening characters which go way beyond what writers usually learn and practice. A wonderful opportunity to learn from an accomplished actress how to access the often elusive essence of characters and what makes them tick."

"Julia is a passionate and stimulating teacher and her classes crack open new insights and perspectives for writers committed to creating characters that are fully alive.”

"Julia's techniques help keep me excited about my writing projects rather than overwhelmed. Her classes offer a useful conceptual framework, actionable practices, and compassionate support."

“Thank you Julia. This was exactly what I needed to reconnect with my writing project after losing focus amid this whole pandemic situation.”

Virtual Class: Don George - Fine-Tune Your Travel Tale: Advanced Writing Workshop (via Zoom)

Friday, August 28, 2020 - 12:00pm

Friday, Saturday & Sunday: August 28-30 • 12:00-3:00pm PT • $395 • Hosted via Zoom • Class limited to 9 attendees.

This workshop is designed for writers who have an already finished travel story of up to 3,000 words that they would like to workshop and refine. Participants will be asked to send their story to Don George and all the workshop participants before the first class. In each workshop, we will closely discuss and critique three pieces. In addition to individual critiques, we will also discuss the art of great travel writing — how to lead into a piece, how to structure a story arc, how to bring a place and scene to life, and how to create a compelling close.

Don George is the author of The Way of Wanderlust: The Best Travel Writing of Don George and of Lonely Planet's Guide to Travel Writing and the editor of ten anthologies, including A Moveable Feast, The Kindness of Strangers, Better Than Fiction, and An Innocent Abroad. George is Editor at Large for National Geographic Traveler, where he writes feature articles and the monthly Trip Lit column. He is also Editor of BBC Travel's literary travel column, Chance Encounters.

Conversations with Authors - Michelle Bowdler (Virtual Event)

Sunday, August 9, 2020 - 4:00pm

Sunday, August 9th, 2020

Online • Live • 4:00pm PT/7:00pm ET

In conversation with Ayelet Waldman

Conversations with Authors is our free online event series! Join us throughout the week for new chats between different authors.


Michelle Bowdler’s debut blend of memoir and cultural investigation, Is Rape a Crime?, tells the story of her rape and recovery while interrogating why one of society’s most serious crimes goes largely uninvestigated.

Michelle is a recipient of a 2017 Barbara Deming Memorial Award for non-fiction and has been a Fellow at Ragdale and MacDowell Colony. She has been published in the New York Times and in the anthologies The Anatomy of Silence and We Rise to Resist: Voices from a New Era in Women’s Political Action. Her essays Eventually You Tell Your Kids and Babelogue were both nominated for Pushcart Prizes.

Ayelet Waldman is the author of A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life, the novels Love & Treasure, Red Hook Road, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, and Daughter’s Keeper, as well as of the essay collection Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace, and the Mommy-Track Mystery series. She is the editor of Inside This Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women’s Prisons and of Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation.


Below, please find links to purchase their books.



Conversations with Authors - Yiyun Li (Virtual Event)

Saturday, August 8, 2020 - 4:00pm

Conversations with Authors

Sat., August 8th, 2020 • 4:00pm PT• Live • Online

In conversation with Elizabeth McCracken

Conversations with Authors is our free online event series produced with Extended Session. Sign up once with your email address and gain access to all future conversations as well as all video archives.


Yiyun Li's new novel, Must I Go, tells the story of a woman reflecting on her uncompromising life and on the life of a former lover, navigating the twin poles of grief and resilience with great candor and insight. She is the author of the novels Where Reasons End, Kinder Than Solitude, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, The Vagrants, and Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, as well as the memoir Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life. She is also the recipient of many awards, including a PEN/Hemingway Award, a PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, and a Windham-Campbell Prize, and was featured in The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 fiction issue. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space, The Best American Short Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories, among other publications. She teaches at Princeton University and lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Elizabeth McCracken is the author of six books: Bowlaway, Here’s Your Hat What’s Your HurryThe Giant’s House, Niagara Falls All Over AgainAn Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, and Thunderstruck & Other Stories, which won the 2015 story prize. She’s received grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Liguria Study Center, the American Academy in Berlin, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She has taught creative writing at Western Michigan University, the University of Oregon, the University of Houston, and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.  She holds the James A. Michener Chair in Fiction at the University of Texas, Austin, and boy are her arms tired.


Below, please find links to purchase their books.



Conversations with Authors - Jordan Blashek & Christopher Haugh (Virtual Event)

Wednesday, August 5, 2020 - 4:00pm

Conversations with Authors

Wed., August 5, 2020• 4:30pm PT• Live • Online

Conversations with Authors is our free online event series produced with Extended Session. Sign up once with your email address and gain access to all future conversations as well as all video archives.


A note from Jordan and Chris:

Dear Book Passage Readers,

Thank you so much for joining us for last week's conversation! We were so honored to share Union and our message of hope with you during these hard times.

On the road, we found over and over again a spirit of renewal. Despite the challenges our country faces—both during the pandemic and more systemically—the two of us believe that our best days can still be found ahead of us. The people we met on the road reinforced that belief through their words and deeds. Even now, we are united in our care for our friends, neighbors, and community, and our desire to come together to build a better future. We might have different ideas about how to get there, and what needs to be prioritized, but ultimately a vast majority of us want the same things. That brought the two of us together, and we hope it does for you as well.

If you enjoy our book, we have a few others to recommend. Chris loves Joan Didion's South and West, Barbarian Days by William Finnegan, and Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. Jordan is a big fan of Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Sacks' Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times, and William Zinsser's American Places.

Once again, thank you so much for joining us. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on Union!

All the best,
—Chris and Jordan


Jordan Blashek and Christopher Haugh’s just-released book, Union: A Democrat, a Republican, and a Search for Common Ground, is the story of the two friends’ three-year journey across America. One a Republican and one a Democrat, they traveled together through 44 states and along 20,000 miles of road to find out exactly where the American experiment stands at the close of the second decade of the 21st Century.

Jordan is a military veteran and businessman from Los Angeles. After college, he spent five years in the US Marine Corps as an infantry officer, serving two combat tours overseas, in Afghanistan and the Middle East. He holds degrees from Yale Law School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Princeton University. He is based in New York, where he invests in entrepreneurial efforts to grow the American middle class as part of Schmidt Futures, a new philanthropic venture created by Eric and Wendy Schmidt.

Christopher is a speechwriter and journalist from the Bay Area. He attended UC Berkeley and Oxford University and started speechwriting as an intern in the Obama White House. He went on to join the U.S. Department of State’s Policy Planning Staff where he served as a speechwriter to the Secretary. In 2018, he graduated from Yale Law School where he was a Yale Journalism Scholar. Chris is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York.


Below, please find the link to purchase their book.


Geri Spieler & Rick Kaplowitz - San Francisco Values (Virtual Event)

Tuesday, August 11, 2020 - 7:00pm

Tuesday, August 11, 7:00pm PT • Virtual Event

As Americans are one step from deciding who will be our next president, Geri Spieler and Rick Kaplowitz, the authors of San Francisco Values: Common Ground for Getting America Back on Track shed light on major issues today and how San Francisco’s value system can help us vote for the right candidate. Tracing the evolution of the country by using their city’s progressive culture as a baseline, the authors’ research uncovers real laws and undisputed facts, as well as dispel the vitriolic conservative view of San Francisco as “un-American.” Spieler and Kaplowitz reveal how the Bay Area is family-friendly, equality-based, and patriotic—values in common with cities and towns across the USA.  Viewed from national, regional, and San Franciscan perspectives, San Francisco Values includes insights on racial inequities, health care, homelessness, and immigration.

Spieler, an investigative journalist, and Kaplowitz, a former college dean with a degree from Harvard, live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Conversations with Authors - Laurie R. King (Virtual Event)

Sunday, August 2, 2020 - 4:00pm

Conversations with Authors

Sun., August 2nd, 2020 • 4:00pm PT• Live • Online

In conversation with Cara Black

Conversations with Authors is our free online event series produced with Extended Session. Sign up once with your email address and gain access to all future conversations as well as all video archives.


Laurie R. King‘s Riviera Gold brings back Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes—this time to the Riviera, where they’re challenged to crack their most captivating case yet.

In her Russell & Holmes stories, Laurie explores ideas—the roots of conflict in the Middle East and Afghanistan; feminism and early Christianity; patriotism and individual responsibility—while also having a rousing good time. Five of Laurie’s novels concern San Francisco homicide inspector Kate Martinelli, Kate’s SFPD partner Al Hawkin, and her life partner Lee Cooper. Her stand-alone suspense novels include A Darker Place, Folly, and Keeping Watch. She has also collaborated on nonfiction works including Crime & Thriller Writing and The Grand Game, and on several short story anthologies.  

Laurie is the third generation in her family native to the San Francisco area. She spent her childhood reading her way through libraries up and down the West Coast; her middle years raising children, renovating houses, traveling the world, and doing a BA and MA in theology. (Her long autobiography goes into detail about how she uses these interests.) She now lives a genteel life of crime, on California’s central coast.

Cara Black is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 19 books in the Private Investigator Aimée Leduc series, which is set in Paris. Cara has received multiple nominations for the Anthony and Macavity Awards, a Washington Post Book World Book of the Year citation, the Médaille de la Ville de Paris—the Paris City Medal, which is awarded in recognition of contribution to international culture—and invitations to be the Guest of Honor at conferences such as the Paris Polar Crime Festival and Left Coast Crime. With more than 400,000 books in print, the Aimée Leduc series has been translated into German, Norwegian, Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian, and Hebrew.


Below, please find links to purchase their books.


Conversations with Authors - Sara Paretsky (Virtual Event)

Saturday, August 1, 2020 - 4:00pm

Conversations with Authors

Sat., August 1, 2020 • 4:00pm PT• Live • Online

In conversation with Emily Krump

Conversations with Authors is our free online event series produced with Extended Session. Sign up once with your email address and gain access to all future conversations as well as all video archives.


Sara Paretsky’s latest release, Love & Other Crimes, is a collection of 14 stories about Chicago shamus V.I. Warshawski, her friends and family, and a remarkably diverse group of other people.

Sara revolutionized the mystery world in 1982 when she introduced V.I. Warshawski in Indemnity Only. By creating a believable investigator with the grit and the smarts to tackle problems on the mean streets, Paretsky challenged a genre in which women typically were either vamps or victims. Hailed by critics and readers, Indemnity Only was followed by nineteen more best-selling Warshawski novels. Publishers Weekly says, “Among today’s PIs, nobody comes close to Warshawski.”

Called “passionate” and “electrifying,” V.I. reflects her creator’s own passion for social justice. As a contributor to the New York Times and the Guardian newspapers, and a speaker at such venues as the Library of Congress and Oxford University, Paretsky is an impassioned advocate for those on society’s margins. She has mentored teens in Chicago’s most troubled schools and works closely with literacy and reproductive rights groups. Not only has Paretsky’s own work broken barriers, she has helped open doors for other women. In 1986 she created Sisters in Crime, a worldwide organization to support women crime writers, which earned her Ms. Magazine’s 1987 Woman of the Year award. Other awards include the British Crime Writers Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement; the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master; and a number of honorary doctorates. Paretsky’s work is celebrated in Pamela Beere Briggs’s documentary, Women of Mystery. Her books are published in 30 countries.

Executive Editor Emily Krump has been with William Morrow since 2006. She works on a wide range of projects with award-winning and bestselling authors, but is most passionate about smart, commercial fiction and suspense. Recent and upcoming titles include November Road by Lou Berney; You, Me, and the Sea by Meg Donohue; The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves; Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson; The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons; To Tell You the Truth by Gilly Macmillan; Dead Lands by Sara Paretsky; The Lucky One by Lori Rader-Day; The Book of M by Peng Shepherd; The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter; and A Divided Loyalty by Charles Todd among others.


Below, please find links to purchase Sara's books.


Conversations with Authors - James McBride (Virtual Event)

Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - 4:00pm

Conversations with Authors

Wed., July 29, 2020 • 4:00pm PT• Live • Online

In conversation with Susan Orlean

Conversations with Authors is our free online event series produced with Extended Session. Sign up once with your email address and gain access to all future conversations as well as all video archives.


James McBride’s Deacon King Kong was already one of the most celebrated novels of the year when it was selected by Oprah Winfrey as her Oprah Book Club Pick. “In a moment when our country roils with righteous anger and grief,” Oprah says, “Deacon King Kong reminds us that when we come together as a community in compassion and empathy, our love triumphs.”

James is an award-winning author, musician, and screenwriter. His landmark memoir, The Color of Water, published in 1996, has sold millions of copies and spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list. Considered an American classic, it is read in schools and universities across the United States. His debut novel, Miracle at St. Anna, was turned into a 2008 film by Oscar-winning writer and director Spike Lee, with a script written by James. His 2013 novel, The Good Lord Bird, about American abolitionist John Brown, won the National Book Award for Fiction and will be a Showtime limited series in fall 2020 starring Ethan Hawke.

Susan Orlean has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1992. She is the author of seven books, including The Library Book, Rin Tin Tin, Saturday Night, and The Orchid Thief, which inspired the Academy Award-winning film Adaptation. She lives with her family and her animals in upstate New York.


Below, please find links to purchase their books.



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