Past Events

TUE., APR 11: Panel on Children’s Literature with Keir Graff at The Cliff Dwellers

Join us for our April panel on children’s literature!

Four award-winning authors discuss children’s literature, new books, and writing for young readers—from picture books to middle-grade to young adult.

WHAT: What’s new in children’s literature

WHO: Zetta Elliott, James Klise, Natasha Tarpley, and Keir Graff

WHEN: Tuesday, April 11, 2023; cocktails 6-7 p.m. and program 7-8 p.m.

WHERE: The Cliff Dwellers, 200 S Michigan Ave., 22nd floor penthouse

COST: Free & open to all; $5 donation suggested

Bookish Chicago will be on-site selling books. Authors are available to sign.


Zetta Elliott is a Black feminist poet, playwright, and author of forty books for young readers, including the award-winning picture books Bird and A Place Inside of Me and the bestselling middle-grade fantasy series Dragons in a Bag. Her essays have appeared in Blavity, The Huffington Post, and Publishers Weekly. Her own imprint, Rosetta Press, generates culturally relevant stories that center youth who have been marginalized, misrepresented, and/or rendered invisible in traditional children’s literature. She lives in Chicago.

James Klise’s new YA novel, I’ll Take Everything You Have (Algonquin), is a queer coming-of-age crime story set in 1934 Chicago. In a starred review, Kirkus promises “passionate, cinematic scenes” and “a thrillingly queer adventure.” Publishers Weekly calls the book “an arresting narrative… and a mesmerizing snapshot of 1930s Chicago.” James’s previous novels for teens include the Edgar Award-winning The Art of Secrets and the ALA Stonewall Honor-winning Love Drugged. He lives with his husband in Chicago, where for the past two decades, he has overseen a very busy high school library.

As an acclaimed and bestselling children’s book author, who has been writing for over 20 years, Natasha Tarpley is the author of the classic picture book, I Love My Hair!, an ode to Black childhood and natural beauty, as well as Keyana Loves Her Family, which is book one of a new picture book series featuring Keyana McGee, a little girl with BIG ideas. Other titles include the award-winning picture book, The Me I Choose To Be; the social justice-themed middle grade mystery, The Harlem Charade; and a forthcoming supernatural middle-grade series, Finders & Seekers. Natasha is also the writer and co-creator of the award-winning children’s narrative podcast, Opal Watson: Private Eye (, and is currently developing new children’s podcast and television projects with major media outlets.

IN CONVERSATION WITH KEIR GRAFF: Keir is the author of funny and fantastical middle-grade adventure novels including The Tiny Mansion, The Phantom Tower (a Chicago Tribune Best Children’s Book), The Matchstick Castle (an official Illinois Reads selection), and the forthcoming Minerva Keen’s Detective Club with James Patterson. He also writes books for grown-ups—some of them under fake names! A longtime resident of Chicago, he lives near the shore of Lake Michigan with his wife Marya, sons Felix and Cosmo, and cats Toothless and Totoro.

TUE., MAR 14: Distilled in Chicago with David Witter at The Cliff Dwellers

Join us for March’s’s Society of Midland Authors event at The Cliff Dwellers.

David Witter explores how liquor has influenced nearly two centuries of Chicago’s existence.

WHATDistilled in Chicago: A History
WHO: David Witter in conversation with Gerry Plecki
WHEN: Tuesday, March 14, 2023; cocktails 6-7 p.m., and program 7-8 p.m.
WHERE: The Cliff Dwellers, 200 S Michigan Ave., 22nd floor penthouse

COST: Free & open to all; $5 donation suggested

ABOUT THE BOOK: From the mash in pioneer stills to the Malört in a hipster’s shot glass, David Witter explores how liquor has influenced nearly two centuries of Chicago’s existence. Follow the trickle of alcohol through Chicago’s history, starting with the town’s first three permanent businesses: The Wolf, Green Tree, and Eagle Exchange Taverns. Stir together stories from the Peoria Whiskey Trust and the Temperance Movement. The cocktails that lubricated the Levee District may have set up Chicago’s first gangsters, but Prohibition-era bootleggers would change the city’s identity forever. Post-Prohibition alcohol helped to create vast fortunes for Chicago based families and corporations, and the new Millennium saw KOVAL usher in a new era small and craft distilleries throughout Chicagoland. Sample a spirited history of the Windy City.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Witter is a Chicago-based author who has written four books on Chicago history: Oldest Chicago I, Oldest Chicago II, Chicago Magic: A History of Stagecraft and Spectacle, and his latest, Distilled Chicago: A History (The History Press, 2022). His writing on Chicago has appeared in many publications, including New City, the Chicago Reader, and the Washington Post.

IN CONVERSATION WITH GERRY PLECKI: Gerry Plecki currently serves as SMA president. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1979 and was awarded an NEH Post-Doctoral Fellowship at New York University. He has written articles on music and film criticism. His previous books were Robert Altman, which was an authoritative analysis of the director’s films, and Singing in the Rain: The Definitive Story of Woodstock at Fifty, which was published in July 2019. His latest book, Test Positive: Surviving COVID-19 in the Reign of Trump, was published on October 17, 2020.

More information at


SAT, APR 22: Enjoy a night of “Tea & Cookies & Murder” at Volumes

Enjoy a night of “Tea & Cookies & Murder” at Volumes
Join fellow book lovers in welcoming world-renowned mystery writer Ann Cleeves to the U.S.!

WHAT: A night of Tea and Cookies and Murder

WHO: Mystery writer Ann Cleeves with Lori Rader-Day and Sara Paretsky

WHEN: Saturday, April 22, 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Volumes Bookcafe; 1373 N Milwaukee Ave; Chicago, IL 60622

COST: Free; books available for purchase

Tickets are FREE, and books will be available on-site at the time of the event. If there is a specific Cleeves, Rader-Day, or Paretsky book you’d like to reserve, you can do so by ordering on the Volumes website.

ANN CLEEVES is the multi-million-copy bestselling author behind three hit television series—Shetland, starring Douglas Henshall; Vera, starring Academy Award Nominee Brenda Blethyn; and The Long Call, starring Ben Aldridge—all of which are watched and loved in the United States. All three are available on BritBox. The first Shetland novel, Raven Black, won the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for best crime novel, and Ann was awarded the CWA Diamond Dagger in 2017. She was awarded the OBE in 2022 for services to reading and libraries. Ann lives in the United Kingdom.

LORI RADER-DAY is the Edgar® Award-nominated and Agatha, Anthony, and Mary Higgins Clark award-winning author of Death at Greenway, The Lucky One, Under a Dark Sky, The Day I Died, Little Pretty Things, and The Black Hour. She lives in Chicago, where she is co-chair of the mystery readers’ festival Midwest Mystery Conference (fka Murder and Mayhem in Chicago) and served as 2019-2020 national president of Sisters in Crime. She teaches creative writing for Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies.

SARA PARETSKY revolutionized the mystery world in 1982 when she introduced V.I. Warshawski in Indemnity Only. By creating a detective with the grit and smarts to take on the mean streets, Paretsky challenged a genre in which women historically were vamps or victims. V.I. struck a chord with readers and critics; Indemnity Only was followed by twenty more V.I. novels. While Paretsky’s fiction changed the narrative about women, her work also opened doors for other writers. In 1986 she created Sisters in Crime, a worldwide organization to advocate for women crime writers, which earned her Ms. Magazine’s 1987 Woman of the Year award. More accolades followed: the British Crime Writers awarded her the Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement; Blacklist won the Gold Dagger from the British Crime Writers for best novel of 2004, and she has received the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from a number of universities.

TUE., FEB 14: Valentine’s Day Author Event with Chicago Novelist Joseph G. Peterson

Join us for February’s Society of Midland Authors event featuring books + wine.

Come out and mark the Valentine’s Day holiday with Chicago author Joseph G. Peterson and his latest novel, Memorandum from the Iowa Cloud Appreciation Society, an exploration of love. Enjoy a glass of wine + a reading + booksigning.

WHAT: SMA ventures into Lincoln Square, to one of the best neighborhood bookstores in the city

WHERE: Book Cellar, 4736 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago

WHEN: Tuesday, February 14, 2023, 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m.

ABOUT THE BOOK: When his girlfriend, Rosemary, asks about his life, Jim Moore, a successful salesman whose territory covers the entire continental United States and parts of Canada, doesn’t think there is anything to say and so he tells her “nothing happened,” or maybe he doesn’t know how to put it all into words or maybe he doesn’t want to.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joseph G. Peterson is the author of several books of fiction and poetry, including most recently, The Rumphulus and Ninety-Nine Bottles. He grew up in Wheeling, Illinois, and received his B.A. from the University of Chicago. He works at The University of Chicago Press and is a longtime resident of Hyde Park.

IN CONVERSATION WITH: Carol Saller. Carol is a contributing editor to The Chicago Manual of Style and, before her retirement, a longtime colleague of Joseph G Peterson at the University of Chicago Press. The New York Times called her book The Subversive Copy Editor “the book Oprah would write if her vocation were saving writers from embarrassment.” Saller’s young-adult novel Eddie’s War was named a Best Book of the Year at Kirkus Reviews, a Horn Book Recommended Verse Narrative, and a Chicago Public Library Best Fiction for Teens. Carol currently writes the “Writer, Editor, Helper” newsletter for aspiring writers and self-publishers. Visit Carol at

COST: Free and open to the  public. Books available for purchase and signing after the event.


February 2023 SMA Event

TUE., JAN 10: Join us for our Mystery Panel event with authors Tracy Clark, Michelle Cox, Mia Manansala, and Lori Rader-Day


WHAT: Midland Authors invites you to join us for our January Mystery Panel event! Kick off the new year with four exciting & award-winning authors: Tracy Clark, Michelle Cox, Mia Manansala, and Lori Rader-Day

WHEN: 6-7 p.m. Tuesday, January 10, 2023
WHERE: Harold Washington Library’s Pritzker Auditorium, 400 S State St, Chicago, IL 60605
COST: Free and open to the public

Join us after for book signing! Learn more at

Our four authors are award winners and best sellers:

Tracy Clark, a native Chicagoan, is the author of the Cass Raines Chicago Mystery series, featuring ex-cop turned PI Cassandra Raines. A multi-nominated Anthony, Lefty, Edgar, Macavity, and Shamus Award finalist, Tracy is also the 2020 and 2022 winner of the G.P. Putnam’s Sons Sue Grafton Memorial Award and the 2022 Sara Paretsky Award, which honors crime writers from the Midwest. Tracy was also nominated for the 2022 Edgar for Best Short Story for “Lucky Thirteen,” which was included in the crime fiction anthology Midnight Hour. She is a proud member of Crime Writers of Color, Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and serves on the boards of Bouchercon National and the Midwest Mystery Conference. HIDE, her new, police procedural, featuring Det. Harriet Foster of the Chicago Police Department, released in January 2023. The second entry in that series, FALL, releases in 2024. Visit her online at

Michelle Cox is the author of the Henrietta and Inspector Howard series as well as “Novel Notes of Local Lore,” a weekly blog dedicated to Chicago’s forgotten residents. Her books have won over 60 international awards and have been praised by Kirkus, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Foreword, Elle, Redbook, Brit&Co., POPSUGAR, Buzzfeed, and many others. Unbeknownst to most, Michelle hoards board games she doesn’t have time to play and is, not surprisingly, addicted to period dramas and big band music. Also marmalade. She lives in Chicago with her husband, three children, and one naughty Goldendoodle and is hard at work on her latest novel. Visit her at

Mia P. Manansala (she/her) is a writer and certified book coach from Chicago who loves books, baking, and bad-ass women. She is the author of the multi-award-winning Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery series, and uses humor (and murder) to explore aspects of the Filipino diaspora, queerness, and her millennial love for pop culture. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @MPMtheWriter, or check out her website at

Lori Rader-Day is the Edgar Award-nominated and Agatha, Anthony, and Mary Higgins Clark award-winning author of Death at Greenway, The Lucky One, Under a Dark Sky, and others. She lives in Chicago, where she co-chairs the Midwest Mystery Conference and teaches creative writing at Northwestern University. Visit her at


Questions? Visit
or contact Claire Hartfield:
[email protected]

TUE., NOV 15: In this virtual program, Deborah Cohen (Last Call at the Hotel Imperial) and Kim Todd (Sensational) talk about their books exploring legendary reporters of World War II & the Gilded Age. In conversation with Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Mary Schmich.

What: In this virtual program, Deborah Cohen (Last Call at the Hotel Imperial) and Kim Todd (Sensational) talk about their books exploring legendary reporters of World War II & the Gilded Age. In conversation with Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Mary Schmich.
When: 7-8 p.m., Tuesday November 15
Where: Online via Zoom. Here’s the meeting link.

Free and Open to the Public. Use code SMA15 for 15% off at

Deborah Cohen‘s Last Call at the Hotel Imperial: The Reporters Who Took on a World at War (Random House 2022) is an account of a close-knit band of famous American reporters who took on dictators and rewrote the rules of modern journalism. She is the Richard W. Leopold Professor of History and Chair of the History Department at Northwestern.

Kim Todd‘s Sensational, the Hidden History of America’s “Girl Stunt Reporters” (Harper 2021) was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, Richard Frisbee Adult Nonfiction Award, and the American Journalism Historians Association Book of the Year Award. She is on the creative writing MFA faculty at University of Minnesota, where she teaches literary nonfiction.

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Mary Schmich was a longtime columnist for the Chicago Tribune, as well as author of the comic strip Brenda Starr, Reporter for nearly 30 years.

Questions? Visit
or contact Claire Hartfield:
[email protected]

TUE., OCT 11: Dipika Mukherjee discusses her new book of poetry, Dialect of Distant Harbors

What: Dipika Mukerjee discusses her new book of poetry, Dialect of Distant Harbors, in conversation with poet Marty McConnell and accompanied by Ishti Collective, a Chicago-area fusion dance troupe.
When: 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, October 11th
Where: Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan Ave., 22nd floor penthouse

Free, open to the public; Suggested donation $5

Join us for a night with the award- winning poet as she discusses her themes of home, grieving, and kinship. As the world recovers from a global pandemic and the failure of modern government, these poems are incantations to our connections to the human family.

“Mukherjee’s latest poetry collection is a penetrating, intercontinental, and reflective sheaf of poems on aging, illness, faith, and family written in a keen diasporic music.”
— Maya Marshall, author of All the Blood Involved in Love

Questions? Visit
or contact Claire Hartfield:
[email protected]

Ray Long discusses his new book, The House That Madigan Built

What: Ray Long discusses his new book, The House That Madigan Built
When: 6-7 p.m. Tuesday, September 13
Where: Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, Harold Washington Library, 400 S.State St., Chicago, IL
Free, open to the public; no need to register

CAN TV will be videoing the event.

Questions? Visit
or contact Claire Hartfield:
[email protected]

Rick Kogan in conversation with Peter Nolan on Mayor Harold Washington’s Legacy

Rick Kogan in conversation with Peter Nolan as they discuss Mayor Harold Washington’s Legacy on the 100th anniversary of his birth

Wednesday, April 20, 2022;   Cocktail hour: 6-7 pm;  Presentation: 7-8 pm

Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan Ave., 22nd floor Penthouse

Free and open to the public  ~  Free appetizers, cash bar  ~  No advance registration required

Parking: $16 for 24 hours at the southwest corner of Adams & Wabash.

Get a validated ticket at the Cliff Dwellers bar.

Join us as acclaimed Chicago Tribune columnist and After Hours WGN Radio host Rick Kogan chats with retired veteran NBC5 political reporter Peter Nolan, author of Campaign! The Election that Rocked Chicago. Peter covered Washington extensively over the course of his long television journalism career. Campaign! transports you to that tumultuous, historic mayoral election. Join us as Rick and Peter trade memories and share their insights.         

Dick Simpson and Mayor Lori Lightfoot on “Democracy’s Rebirth: The View from Chicago”

Author Dick Simpson and Mayor Lori Lightfoot

will discuss his new book, “Democracy’s Rebirth: The View from Chicago”


What:       Midland Authors monthly program

When:      Thursday, April 21, 2022, 6-7 p.m.

Where:     Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State St.

Free, open to the public; no need to register

What are the challenges confronting Americans in their struggle to build the United States as a multiracial, multiethnic nation? Dick Simpson, a long-time political activist and former Chicago alderman, uses the Windy City to examine how the political, racial, economic and social inequalities dividing us play out in our neighborhoods and cities. His new book “Democracy’s Rebirth: The View from Chicago” is a blueprint for repairing democracy in America.

Now a professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a former president of Midland Authors, Simpson is an expert on Chicago politics, political reform and elections. He has published widely and affected public policy. He has built a 50-year career as a legislator, campaign strategist, government advisor and challenger of the status quo.

Democracy’s Rebirth: The View from Chicago helps illuminate both our past and our way forward toward a government and society that are more fair, equitable and effective for all its residents, and a successful future that we can all equally engage and benefit from.” – Lori Lightfoot, from her Foreword to the book.

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For more information, contact Greg Borzo: (312) 636-8968; [email protected]