Pop Top Stage

The PopTop Stage, located on the exhibitor floor, will focus on popular librarian favorites!

Featuring readings, discussions, and presentations over the course of the exhibits, 2015 topics will include: fiction, diversity, narrators, children's books, realistic tragedy, storytelling, dark fantasy, science fiction and romance to name a few.


Time Saturday, Jan. 31  Sunday, Feb. 1  Monday, Feb. 2 
10:00am-11:00am Diversity League Stories of Women Pursuing Their Destiny Renee Rosen
11:00am-12:00pm Science Fiction Panel Fiction Mystery Series Panel
12:00pm-1:00pm   Jeffrey Brown  
1:00pm-2:00pm RB Narrator Session featuring Barbara Rosenblat Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

    A Novel Approach to Tough Topics: A Discussion on
    Writing Headline-Driven, All-Too-Real Fiction

      2:00pm-3:00pm Don Tate National Storytelling Network  
      3:00pm-4:00pm Dark Fantasy & Science Fiction Romance Panel  


      Diverse Debuts: Writing Stories for Us All - Sabaa Tahir, Nicola Yoon, Francesca Zappia, Miranda Paul, Adam Silvera, Fonda Lee, Sona Charaipotra, IW Gregorio, and Danielle Paige

      Moderated by Danielle Paige, NYT-bestselling author of DOROTHY MUST DIE, this will be a panel discussion including members of We Need Diverse Books™ and authors from the Diversity League, a group of 2015 MG/YA debut authors committed to diversifying library shelves, one book at a time. After a discussion on how panelists’ books add to the diversity of children’s literature, the signing session will be an informal "meet and greet" format. Librarians are encouraged to make personal connections with authors to learn how best to introduce diverse books to library patrons in a way that emphasizes their universality. They will also be provided with an expanded list of 2015 diverse debut books.

      Science Fiction Panel - Elizabeth Blackwell, Jacqueline Carey, and Chloe Neill

      Elizabeth Blackwell



      Elizabeth Blackwell is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Ladies’ Home Journal, Parenting, and the Chicago Tribune, among other publications. She lives outside Chicago with her husband and three children.


      Chloe Neill


      Chloe Neill is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Chicagoland Vampires and Dark Elite series. She was born and raised in the South, but now makes her home in the Midwest. When not transcribing Merit’s and Lily’s adventures, she bakes, works, and scours the internet for good recipes and great graphic design. Learn more about Chloe Neill by visiting www.chloeneill.com.


      Jacqueline Carey


      Jacqueline Carey is the author of the New York Times bestselling Kushiel’s Legacy series of historical fantasy novels. The Sundering epic fantasy duology, postmodern fables Santa Olivia and Saints Astray, and the Agent of Hel contemporary fantasy series. Carey lives in west Michigan. Find her online at www.jacquelinecarey.com.



      Narrator Session featuring Barbara Rosenblat

      Barbara Rosenblat


      How books translate to audio and how the two art forms compare.  This includes readings from the book.  Readings will be from different genres and discuss the art of narrating in different styles.




      Don Tate

      Don TateTate is an illustrator  of more than 50 trade and educational books for children, with a focus on multicultural picture book biographies. His latest book is set in the nineteenth century, North Carolina featuring slave George Moses Horton. He taught himself to read and earned money to purchase his time—though not his freedom. Horton became the first African American to be published in the South, protesting slavery in the form of verse.



      Dark Fantasy and Science Fiction - Auden D. Johnson, Fonda Lee, Ken Liu, and Sabaa Tahir

      Auden D. JohnsonWith a bachelors in English: Creative Writing, and a Masters in Information and Library Science, Auden is a Dark Fantasy writer. "I can't help but be one and believe me, I've tried." It seems no matter how far you run, your passion always catches up with you. She didn't make the choice to be a writer, the stories made it for her. In fact, it started as a child when she created her own books by folding several construction papers in half and stapling them down the middle, adding her own illustrations to compliment. Dark Fantasy allows her to combine her two great loves- horror and fantasy. She has tried to write light or "normal" stories but you can't make the stories into something they don't want to be. Subtle creepy is beautiful. 

      Fonda LeeFonda Lee writes science fiction and fantasy for teens. She is a Canadian, a corporate strategist, and a black belt level martial artist now living in Portland, Oregon. Her YA science fiction novel, ZEROBOXER, will be published by Flux in April 2015. You can find Fonda online at www.fondalee.com and on Twitter @fondajlee.




      Ken LiuKen Liu’s fiction has appeared in F&SF, Asimov’s, Analog, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and Clarkesworld, among other places. He has won a Nebula, two Hugos, a World Fantasy Award, a Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Award, and been nominated for the Sturgeon and the Locus Awards. 




      Sabaa TahirSabaa Tahir was born in London but grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. After graduating from UCLA, Sabaa became an editor on the foreign desk at The Washington Post. Three summers later, she came up with the concept for her debut novel, An Ember in the Ashes. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.



      Stories of Women Pursuing Their Destiny - Nadia Hashimi and C. W. Gortner

      Nadia Hashimi


      Nadia Hashimi’s parents left Afghanistan in the 1970s, before the Soviet invasion. She was raised in the U.S. and in 2002 visited Afghanistan for the first time with her parents. Hashimi is a pediatrician and lives with her family in suburban Washington, D.C.



      C.W. Gortner


      For readers of The Paris Wife and Z comes a vivid novel full of drama, passion, tragedy, and beauty that stunningly imagines the life of iconic fashion designer Coco Chanel—the ambitious, gifted laundrywoman’s daughter who revolutionized fashion, built an international empire, and become one of the most influential and controversial figures of the twentieth century.


      Fiction - Kimberly McCreight

      Kimberly McCreight


      Kimberly McCreight is the New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia, which was nominated for the Edgar, Anthony and Alex awards. She attended Vassar College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School from which she graduated cum laude. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters.



      Jeffrey Brown

      Jeffrey Brown


      Jeffrey Brown is an Eisner Award-winning artist and author of the New York Times bestsellers Goodnight Darth Vader, Darth Vader and Son and Vader’s Little Princess, as well as and the forthcoming Darth Vader and Friends. He is also the author of Cats Are Weird, Kids Are Weird, and numerous other comics and graphic novels.  A lifelong Star Wars fan, he lives in Chicago with his wife and two sons.


      Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

      Kimberly Brubaker Bradley


      Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is the author of children’s novels, nonfiction ETRs, and several picture books. She lives in a Tennessee farmhouse with her husband and two children, Matthew and Katie.




      National Storytelling Network

      Award-winning performers from The National Storytelling Network will showcase a variety of storytelling styles and themes to delight listeners of all ages in this showcase featuring Midwestern talents.  Performers featured will include a librarian, a teacher, plus three touring professional storytellers. Attendees will be treated to a diverse group of tellers who will encourage their audience to share their family stories and explore stories in literature, history, and science.

      Romance Panel - Beth Kery and Stacey Ballis

      Beth Kery


      Beth Kery loves romance, and the more emotionally laden and sexy the romance the better. She holds a doctorate in the behavioral sciences and finds the internal world of human beings to be a constant source of fascination.



      Stacey Ballis


      Stacey Ballis is the Director of Education and Community Programs at The Goodman Theater in Chicago. The author of Sleeping Over and Inappropriate Men, she is also a home improvement junkie and a huge fan of DIY television, and has a strange compulsion to buy occasional tables. You can learn more about her at www.staceyballis.com.



      Renee Rosen

      Renee Rosen


      Renée Rosen is the author of Dollface and the young adult novel, Every Crooked Pot. She lives in Chicago where she is at work on a new novel.





      Mystery Series Panel - Kathleen Ernst, Libby Hellmann and Mark Stevens

      Kathleen Ernst


      Kathleen Ernst (Middleton, Wis.) is an award-winning author, educator and social historian. Her past work as an Interpreter and Curator of Interpretations and Collections at Old World Wisconsin inspired the Chloe Ellefson mysteries. The series won the Lovey Award for Best Traditional Mystery (The Light Keeper’s Legacy) and the Anne Powers Fiction Book Award (The Heirloom Murders). Visit her online at KathleenErnst.com.


      Libby HellmannLibby Fischer Hellmann writes compulsively readable thrillers. With eleven novels and twenty short stories published, she has also written suspense mysteries, historicals, PI novels, amateur sleuth, police procedurals, and even a cozy mystery. Her latest release, NOBODY’S CHILD, is a dark crime thriller featuring PI Georgia Davis. Libby Fischer Hellmann writes compulsively readable thrillers. With eleven novels and twenty short stories published, she has also written suspense mysteries, historicals, PI novels, amateur sleuth, police procedurals, and even a cozy mystery. Her latest release, NOBODY’S CHILD, is a dark crime thriller featuring PI Georgia Davis.

      Mark Stevens


      Mark Stevens (Denver, Colo.) worked as a reporter for The Christian Science Monitor, The Rocky Mountain News, The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour and The Denver Post. He now owns his own public relations firm. Stevens is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and the Colorado Authors League. Visit him online at WriterMarkStevens.com.


        A Novel Approach to Tough Topics: A Discussion on Writing Headline-Driven, All-Too-Real Fiction - Nicole Baart and Cynthia Ruchti

          A panel discussion focusing on developing plots and characters for fictional books with very realistic issues such as abuse, trafficking, and marital problems. How do you research and write on these topics?

          Nicole Baart


          Nicole Baart is the mother of four children from four different countries. The co-founder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, and a world traveler, she splits her time between her home in small town Iowa, and Liberia, West Africa. She is the author of seven previous novels, including, most recently, Sleeping in Eden. Find out more at NicoleBaart.com.



          Cynthia Ruchti


          Author and speaker Cynthia Ruchti tells stories that are hemmed in hope, drawing from more than thirty years of radio broadcast experience. She’s the author of more than 10 books that have received recognition from several awards programs. Visit her online at CynthiaRuchti.com.