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A visitor peruses the books at a previous San Diego Union-Tribune Festival of Books, shown in an undated photo.
Courtesy of San Diego Union-Tribune
A visitor peruses the books at a previous San Diego Union-Tribune Festival of Books, shown in an undated photo.

Festival of Books blends local and national literary talent

The San Diego Union-Tribune Festival of Books is Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023 at the University of San Diego campus. Admission to the book fair and many of the panels, performances and activities is free to the public, though some panels have a small fee to reserve a spot. Advance reservations for panels is strongly recommended. Fees will support the San Diego Council on Literacy.

KPBS will also unveil the 2023 One Book, One San Diego selections at the festival, during the 10 a.m. welcome message.

To help you comb through the packed schedule of author appearances, readings and panels, we've compiled author interviews and profiles for this year's festival guests from our archives. Or if you can't attend, you can construct your own mini festival, right in your headphones.


Aisha Harris

Co-host and reporter for NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Aisha Harris recently released a pop culture memoir, "Wannabe: Reckonings with the Pop Culture That Shapes Me." The book, informed by growing up in the '90s, explores tropes and tastes in popular culture.

Listen to Harris' recent interview with KPBS Midday Edition host Jade Hindmon here:

Aisha Harris explores influence of pop culture in debut essay collection

Aisha Harris appears at 12:15 p.m. in the Manchester Auditorium, in the "Cultural Flashpoints" panel.

Adalyn Grace

Spirits abound in one local bestselling author’s young adult fantasy series. Adalyn Grace's “Belladonna,” the first book in the series, is a Gothic-infused romance set against a Victorian-era backdrop. The protagonist, Signa, is a young woman who can talk to spirits, which is how she finds out the matriarch of her late relatives has been poisoned. She sets out to find the murderer with Death, a spirit set on “making her life a living hell.” Their connection, however, grows in ways she could never have imagined. The romance and intrigue continues in the sequel “Foxglove,” which comes out Aug. 22.

Listen to Adalyn Grace's recent interview with KPBS Midday Edition host Jade Hindmon:

Adalyn Grace out with second book in YA gothic fantasy series

Adalyn Grace appears at 12 p.m. in the Peace and Justice Theatre in the "Worlds of Wonder" panel.

Jason Magabo Perez

Poet laureate Jason Magabo Perez hopes that in his new role, he can help empower communities across San Diego to tell their stories through poetry and language. Perez's book, "This is For The Mostless" pairs poetry with prose and fiction, weaving narratives and stories through the pages. Check out a recent interview with KPBS Midday Edition here.

Jason Magabo Perez appears at 11 a.m. at the Poetry Stage.

Chris Baron

Local author and educator Chris Baron has been interviewed on KPBS Midday Edition multiple times, this time, for his latest new middle grade novel, "The Gray." Sasha, the protagonist, is a middle schooler struggling with anxiety and trying to find ways to survive. Sasha nicknames his anxiety "the Gray." You can also listen to interviews about Baron's novel-in-verse about body image here, and his novel about baseball, earthquakes and the healing power of friendships here.

Listen to Baron discuss "The Gray" here:

Chris Baron appears at 10:45 a.m. at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice: Section C in the "Divergent Worlds" panel.

Tracy Badua

Another prolific author who has appeared on our airwaves several times is Tracy Badua, author of three recent books, including her latest, "The Takeout." The middle-grade book tackles food truck wars and Filipino folk magic. Other recent hits include a middle-grade book about a kid with rotten luck, and her young adult debut, "This is Not a Personal Statement," about an overachieving student who fakes getting into the college of her dreams — and then has to follow through with moving in and attending classes.

Listen to Badua discuss her new book, "The Takeout," here:

Tracy Badua appears at 10:45 a.m. at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice: Section C in the "Divergent Worlds" panel.

Marisa Crane

In debut novelist Marisa Crane's "I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself," a baby is born with two shadows. The story unfolds in a dystopian, future America where surveillance, public shaming and marking criminals have become the norm. The book is also a heartbreaking portrayal of grief and LGBTQ+ love — and a terrifying, speculative look at America's carceral state.

Listen to Crane discuss the book on KPBS Midday Edition here:

Marisa Crane appears at 1:30 p.m. at the Executive Classroom in the "Me, My Shadow & I" panel.

T. Jefferson Parker

Three-time Edgar Award winner and New York Times bestselling author T. Jefferson Parker has a new book out called, "A Thousand Steps." The new book is a stand-alone thriller, a departure from his detective series set in Fallbrook.

Parker joined Midday Edition to discuss his work. Check it out here:

T. Jefferson Parker appears at 10:45 a.m. at the Peace and Justice Theatre in the "Classic Crime Legacy Award" panel.

Jean Guerrero

Los Angeles Times columnist and former KPBS Investigative Reporter Jean Guerrero is the author of two books: a memoir, "Crux," and a non-fiction book, "Hatemonger," about Trump's "immigration czar," Stephen Miller.

Listen to her most recent appearance on Midday Edition here:

Jean Guerrero appears at 2:45 p.m. at the Manchester Auditorium in the "Unnatural Boundaries" panel; and at 12 p.m. at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice: Section C in the Spanish-language "Ruta Desconocida" panel.

Kevin Eastman

Co-creator of the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" franchise, comic book writer Kevin Eastman lives in San Diego and has spoken to KPBS several times in recent years. Check out this interview with him from Midday Edition discussing the (loose) science behind his lovable sewer-dwelling characters.

Kevin Eastman appears at 10:40 a.m. at Warren Auditorium in the "Storytelling Through Imagery" panel.

John Jennings

John Jennings appears at 10:40 a.m. at Warren Auditorium in the "Storytelling Through Imagery" panel. The UC Riverside professor of media and cultural studies is also an award-winning, bestselling author, graphic novelist and editor (among many other hats). KPBS' Beth Accomando recently interviewed Jennings for a Cinema Junkie podcast episode about his contribution to the "Shook" anthology.

John Jennings appears at 10:40 a.m. at Warren Auditorium in the "Storytelling Through Imagery" panel.

Justin Brooks

Founder of the California Innocence Project, Justin Brooks is the author of "You Might Go to Prison, Even Though You're Innocent." He was also portrayed by actor Greg Kinnear in the film "Brian Banks," about a specific case involving the NFL player.

Justin Brooks appears at 2:45 p.m. at the Executive Classroom for the "Broken Systems" panel.

Matthew Quirk

San Diego writer Matthew Quirk is the author of eight political thrillers. His latest is "Inside Threat," published earlier this summer. He was interviewed on Midday Edition after the release of his 2019 book, "The Night Agent."

Matthew Quirk appears at 11 a.m. at the Manchester Auditorium for the "Spies, Lies and Secret Cabals of Pretty Bad Guys" panel.

Sarah Federman, Ph.D

University of San Diego professor Sarah Federman is the author of "Last Train to Auschwitz: The French National Railways and the Journey to Accountability," and studies the overlap between capitalism and commerce and mass violence. For "Last Train to Auschwitz," Federman explores the culpability of the national railway service in France during the Holocaust. Federman was recently interviewed on KPBS Midday Edition, and you can listen here, at approximately the 30 minute mark.

Sarah Federman appears at 12:40 p.m. at the Nexus Theater in the "Justice and Social Transformation" panel.

Orly Lobel, SJD

Another USD professor, Orly Lobel, is the author of "The Equality Machine: Harnessing Digital Technology for a Brighter More Inclusive Future." She was recently interviewed on Midday Edition by KPBS' sci-tech reporter Thomas Fudge about the data collected on Americans by governments and industry alike.

Orly Lobel appears at 1:45 p.m. at the Nexus Theater in the "Technology and Society: The Equality Machine" panel.

You can find the full schedule here, or register for individual panels here. All events are at the University of San Diego campus at 5998 Alcala Park, Linda Vista. Parking is free during the festival.

Julia Dixon Evans writes the KPBS Arts newsletter, produces and edits the KPBS/Arts Calendar and works with the KPBS team to cover San Diego's diverse arts scene. Previously, Julia wrote the weekly Culture Report for Voice of San Diego and has reported on arts, culture, books, music, television, dining, the outdoors and more for The A.V. Club, Literary Hub and San Diego CityBeat. She studied literature at UCSD (where she was an oboist in the La Jolla Symphony), and is a published novelist and short fiction writer. She is the founder of Last Exit, a local reading series and literary journal, and she won the 2019 National Magazine Award for Fiction. Julia lives with her family in North Park and loves trail running, vegan tacos and live music.
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