2018 Notable Authors

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James Campbell (1967-)

James Campbell is a non-fiction writer and journalist and Wisconsin native. He received his B.A. from Yale University and M.A. from the University of Colorado. He now lives in Lodi, Wisconsin. He has written adventure travel, environmental and military history pieces for many magazines and newspapers. For his first book, The Final Frontiersman, which won a 2006 Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, he logged hundreds of miles on foot and snowshoe across Arctic Alaska. His fascination with New Guinea (which he has visited five times) and the war in the South Pacific led him to the story of the 32nd Division and the Ghost Mountain Boys. In 2006, he followed the footsteps of the Ghost Mountain Boys across New Guinea -- a journey that historians describe as "one of the cruelest in military history" -- and shot a documentary film in the process. His book Ghost Mountain Boys was honored in 2008 with the Wisconsin Library Association RR Donnelley Literary Award. Campbell is also the co-executive producer of the hit Discovery Channel series, The Last Alaskans, which was inspired by The Final Frontiersman.

His latest book Braving It covers the summer adventure he had with his daughter in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The New York Times had this to say about Braving It:“In Campbell’s moving memoir, which doubles as a kind of extreme parenting guide, crisply detailed scenes are stacked with rural perils and pleasures, from treacherous canoeing, solitary fly-fishing and cabin building to grizzly bear threats and emotional nuance between a very loving parent and child.”

The Final Frontiersman: Heimo Korth and his family, alone in Alaska's arctic wilderness (2004)
The Ghost Mountain Boys: their epic march and the terrifying battle for New Guinea, the forgotten war of the South Pacific (2007)
The Color of War: how one battle broke Japan and another changed America (2012)
Braving It: a father, a daughter, and an unforgettable journey into the Alaskan wild (2016) 

Lesley Kagen (1950-)

Lesley Kagen grew up in Milwaukee and attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she majored in Radio and Television. She began writing her bestselling novels later in life and have been very well received. Her novels are often told from a child’s perspective because according to her, "it feels natural for me to write in a kid's voice. Maybe it's because I'm getting older and coming full circle, I don't know. Childhood seems close to me now." Her own childhood was in the 1950’s and 1960’s and this is a common setting for her novels. When not writing Lesley likes to spend time with her family, especially her grandchildren Charlie and Hadley. And as a proud Milwaukee native, she also once had a guest spot on the hit television show Laverne and Shirley. 

Whistling in the Dark (2007)
Land of a Hundred Wonders (2008)
Tomorrow River (2010)
Good Graces (2011)
Mare's Nest (2012)
The Resurrection of Tess Blessing (2014)
The Mutual Admiration Society (2017)

David Rhodes (1946-) 

Born in 1946, David Rhodes grew up outside Des Moines, Iowa. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Marlboro College in 1969. After receiving an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1971, he published three novels: The Last Fair Deal Going Down (Atlantic Little Brown, 1972), The Easter House (Harper & Row, 1974), and Rock Island Line (Harper & Row, 1975), all of which garnered critical acclaim. 

In 1976, a motorcycle accident left him partially paralyzed, and lead to a 30-plus year hiatus in his writing career. In 2008, Rhodes returned to publishing with Driftless, a novel that was hailed as "the best work of fiction to come out of the Midwest in many years" (reviewer Alan Cheuse, Chicago Tribune). Following the publication of Driftless, Rhodes was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to support the writing of his follow-on novel, Jewelweed, published in 2013. 

Both Driftless and Jewelweed are set in the fictional town of Words, Wisconsin, located in the real driftless region of the state. Some of the idiosyncratic inhabitants of Words are an invalid who loses her family's savings at a casino; a new pastor; a local musician; a single mom trying to conceal his father’s identity from her son; and a couple who blow the whistle on the milk cooperative that has been cheating them and other farmers. 

In addition to the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, Rhodes has earned a number of awards, including the Milkweed National Fiction Prize; All Iowa Reads, Official Selection; Minnesota Booksellers' Choice Award; and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Chancellor's Regional Literary Award. 

The Last Fair Deal Going Down (Atlantic Little Brown, 1972)
The Easter House (Harper & Row, 1974)
Rock Island Line (Harper & Row, 1975)
Driftless (Milkweed Editions, 2008)
Jewelweed (Milkweed Editions, 2013)