Lit Chat and Writer's Lab with NYT Bestselling Author Susan Orlean

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Susan Orlean feeding animals

#Kick Off Your Summer Reading & Writing

New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean joins us at the Main Library in June for two days of bookish excitement! Readers can check out our Lit Chat Interview with her on Friday evening, and writers can attend a Writer’s Lab workshop on Saturday morning. We’d love to see you at both!

Join the Lit Chat Interview

Lit Chat Interview with Susan OrleanNew York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean has written on a variety of topics, including one that's near and dear to our hearts! Come hear her talk about The Library Book, her other works, her writing process, and what it’s like to have your work and life adapted for the big screen! A book signing will follow the presentation. We recommend pre-ordering your book from our partner San Marco Books and More to guarantee a copy. A limited number of books will also be available for purchase on-site (or you can bring your own copy to be signed).

Join us for a Lit Chat Interview with Susan Orlean on Friday, June 2 at 6:30 p.m. 

Register to attend!

Join the Writer's Lab Workshop

Writer's Lab workshop with Susan OrleanWant to get your work noticed by readers, literary agents and publishers? Susan Orlean will share her secrets for making the beginning and end of your book sparkle! In the first half of the workshop, Susan will show you how to get started, craft a lede, and gather your thoughts. Once you've mastered that, she'll show you how to really stick the landing! How do you write an effective ending? How do you bring your story to a satisfying close? There will be lots of time for questions and answers about best writing and editing practices in this hour-long workshop.

Join us for Writer’s Lab: “To Begin… and In Conclusion…” on Saturday, June 3 at 10 a.m. 

Register to attend!

Susan Orlean is the bestselling author of The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession, The Library Book, and Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend. Her latest is On Animals, her first essay collection in nearly twenty years, which gathers a lifetime of musings, meditations, and in-depth profiles about the creatures we share our homes, lives and the world with. 

The Library Book by Susan OrleanShe is currently at work on adapting The Library Book for a forthcoming limited series with Paramount TV, as well as a memoir. The Library Book is an exploration of the history, power, and future of these endangered institutions, told through her quest to solve a mysterious act of arson that nearly destroyed the Los Angeles Public Library in 1986.

Orlean’s writing has inspired two films so far, including Adaptation (based off The Orchid Thief), the Academy Award-winning film directed by Spike Jonze and starring Meryl Streep. A staff writer at The New Yorker for over three decades, she has also written for Outside, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vogue, and The Boston Globe, and has edited both Best American Essays and Best American Travel Writing.

Find more at and @susanorlean on social media.

Interviewer Michael Wiley’s new novel is The Long Way Out, featuring Franky Dast, an exonerated ex-con who investigates a series of murders in Northeast Florida. Michael is also the author of three mystery and detective series, including the Shamus Award-winning Joe Kozmarski books, the Daniel Turner thrillers, and, most recently, the Sam Kelson PI novels, which are currently in development for television. His short stories appear often in magazines and anthologies, including Best Mystery Stories of the Year 2022. He teaches literature at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.

Books We Recommend:

Susan Recommends:

  1. When I think about Florida, I think: FAKAHATCHEE STRAND! I don’t recommend that you do what I did when writing The Orchid Thief (that is, wade right into the swamp, up to your armpits in the water) but now there is a wonderful elevated walkway in the state park that winds through it and gives you a great look at where the wild things are. You probably won’t get to see a ghost orchid in bloom (hardly anyone does!) but you’ll see plenty of other intriguing things.
  2. I have had Florida on my mind lately, it seems. I’m a big podcast fan and I recently started Murder in Miami, which is about an unsolved case from the mid-Eighties that most likely had a lot to do with drugs. (Warning: alligators are involved, too.) It was very nostalgic for me, because I spent a lot of time in Miami back then. My experience was a lot tamer than what the podcast recounts, but the mention of the old hotels on Ocean Drive—the Cardoza, the Amsterdam Palace—filled me with memories. The podcast gets a little bit lost in the weeds, but it's worth a listen.
  3. This gives me a chance to segue neatly into my recent book purchase, which is a classic: Killings, by Calvin Trillin. Published in 1984, it’s a collection of Trillin’s extraordinary portraits of people and places centered around an instance of murder. These aren’t really crime stories; they are documentary explorations of American life. The book was very important to me as a writer, demonstrating how a story can start with a very precise incident and then unfold from there. This is probably the third copy I’ve bought—I’ve loaned out my other ones or misplaced them, and I don’t like being without one.
  4. I am hopeless without a reporter’s notebook, which are those long, skinny (3-inch-by-8-inch) notebooks that are spiral-bound on top. I don’t know why, but they’re the only notebooks I like, and I buy the classic Portage ones by the dozen. But secretly I yearn for something a little prettier. I might give these a try! Field Notes Reporters Notebook Same shape and function, but a little snazzier.

Stay After the Writer's Lab & Network with Other Authors

Authors Rountable logoThe World of Writing - Saturday, June 3, at 11:15 a.m.

Want to increase your readership? Learn about the different types of professional writing with the Authors Roundtable, a local 501C3 that supports authors in reaching their highest potential. Meeting on the first Saturday of every month, authors participate in educational forums, workshops, classes, and events. All genres are welcome.