The National Writers Series announces new season today; Names Sarah Brokaw as a season highlight. |

The National Writers Series announces new season today; Names Sarah Brokaw as a season highlight.

Series starts with ‘Mad Men’ writers

Novelist Richard Ford, satirist David Sedaris and the TV writers of “Mad Men” are among the literati lining up to come to Traverse City.

The National Writers Series announced its new season today. The parade of notable names begins Feb. 3 with the appearance of Janet Leahy and Lisa Albert, writers of the AMC smash show “Mad Men.” Ford, author of “The Sportswriter” and “Independence Day,” appears on June 2, and Sedaris on Oct. 24.

“We’ve invented the book-tour event that authors dream about when they’re on the road,” said event founder Doug Stanton, a Traverse City-based, best-selling author.

Last season included heavy-hitters such as Peter Matthiessen and Tom Brokaw. This year brings about 20 authors, including some yet to be scheduled. Tickets for the first half of the season go on sale to the public Jan. 24 and to Friends of the NWS on Jan. 17.

Tickets for summer and fall events, including Sedaris, won’t go on sale until later. Most Writers Series events occur at the City Opera House in downtown Traverse City.

A diverse group of authors will descend on Traverse City in the coming months. The “Mad Men” scribes will provide an inside peek into a TV writers’ room, take the audience through the script process from “pitch to page to pixel,” and show clips, Stanton said.

Brokaw’s daughter, Sarah Brokaw, a licensed therapist, follows in March with a discussion of her book about how women can succeed in midlife. Roy Blount Jr., known in part for his work on the NPR show “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” speaks in May. Paul LaPorte, a local biographer of Father Edwin Frederick, or Father Fred, is scheduled for June.

Stanton also plans two longer “festival events”: An April “Made in Michigan Writers Series” featuring authors from Wayne State University Press and a November “Thriller and Crime Writers Event.” The Writers Series also will team up with the National Cherry Festival to bring a beach read-worthy author in July and a culinary author in conjunction with the Epicurean Classic, which returns to Traverse City in September. Packed throughout the year is an impressive roster of more writers.

The Writers Series created a buzz about books, said Amy Reynolds, who attended many of the events and is the Horizon Books sales manager.

“We’re very excited. This is really big for Traverse City, and they’re bringing big names, and the authors love it,” she said.

The Front Street book store stocks copies of the guest authors’ books and plans to dedicate a section in the store to the Writers Series. Reynolds enjoyed the authors she heard and liked how the discussions were conducted. Stanton or another author interviews the featured writer on stage during the event.

“The format they are using is casual, and it feels like they are in their living room,” Reynolds said.

Local resident and author Mardi Link scours the “New Yorker” regularly and yearns to attend some of the book events it details in New York City. The Writers Series has brought some of that here, she said.

“So I don’t feel quite as jealous,” Link said. “It has done more than just entertain people for an evening. It’s shown us that we do have a writers’ community here.”

Stanton wanted to hold the series year-round, instead of condensing the events into an action-packed few days. Bringing in authors monthly helps create a culture where writing, and talking about writing, is part of life.

“The series is, I think, having an effect in raising up the importance of reading and book-buying and great stories,” he said.

To buy tickets, or for more information, call the Opera House box office at 941-8082 or go to the website,

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Posted on: January 6, 2011