Join authors Jon Clinch, Stephen Mack Jones, Jacquelyn Mitchard, and Peggy Townsend along with Back Room hosts Karen Dionne and Hank Phillippi Ryan for an evening of great conversation!

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The Authors


Jon Clinch’s first novel, Finn, was named one of the year’s best novels by the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the Christian Science Monitor. His second, Kings of the Earth — a Faulknerian tale of life, death, and family in rural America — was named a best book of the year by the Washington Post and led the 2010 Summer Reading List at O, The Oprah Magazine.

His latest, The General and Julia, is an epic and intimate vision of Ulysses S. Grant at the end of his days, reflecting on the crucial moments of his life as a husband, a father, a general, and a president while writing his memoirs and reckoning with his complicated legacy.

Jon has lectured and taught widely, in settings as varied as the National Council of Teachers of English, Duke University, Williams College, and Pennsylvania State University. In 2008 he organized a benefit reading for the financially ailing Mark Twain House and Museum, an effort that saved the house from imminent bankruptcy. He believes that it’s the most important work he’s ever done.\Jon lives with his wife in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Learn more at

Stephen Mack Jones is the award-winning author of the August Snow thrillers comprised of August Snow, Lives Laid Away, Dead of Winter, and the latest, Deus X.

A published poet, an award-winning playwright, and a recipient of the prestigious Kresge Arts in Detroit Literary Fellowship, Stephen was born in Lansing, Michigan, and currently lives in Farmington Hills, outside of Detroit. He worked in advertising and marketing communications for a number of years before turning to fiction.

New York Times bestselling mystery and thriller author Ace Atkins has declared that Stephen “has fast become one of our best living detective writers.” Not bad for a guy from Lansing, Michigan, birthplace of legendary actor Burt Reynolds.

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Jacquelyn Mitchard is the New York Times bestselling author of 24 books for adults, teens, and children. She has won or been a finalist for The Novel Prize, The Shirley Jackson Award, The Bram Stoker Award, and The Heartland Prize, among others, and served on the Fiction Jury for the National Book Awards.

Her first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, was the first selection of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club and adapted for a major motion picture. There are more than 3 million copies of her books in print worldwide, in 34 languages. Learn more at

Peggy Townsend is longtime newspaper reporter who has won multiple state and national awards for her work.

She has chased a serial killer through a graveyard at midnight, panhandled with street kids, and sat on a mountaintop with woman who counted her riches in each morning’s sunrise. She has rafted rivers, come face-to-face with a grizzly bear and, twice, lived in her van for seven weeks while traveling across the country.

She divides her time between the Central Coast of California and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Learn more at

Authors’ Books


The General and Julia by Jon Clinch

Barely able to walk and rendered mute by the cancer metastasizing in his throat, Ulysses S. Grant is scratching out words, hour after hour, day after day. Desperate to complete his memoirs before his death so his family might have some financial security and he some redemption, Grant journeys back in time.

He had once been the savior of the Union, the general to whom Lee surrendered at Appomattox, a twice-elected president who fought for the civil rights of Black Americans and against the rising Ku Klux Klan, a plain farmer-turned-business magnate who lost everything to a Wall Street swindler, a devoted husband to his wife Julia and loving father to four children. In this gorgeously rendered and moving novel, Grant rises from the page in all of his contradictions and foibles, his failures and triumphs.

Moving from blood-stained battlefields to Gilded Age New York, the novel explores how Grant’s own views on race and Reconstruction changed over time. Another work of “must-read modern literature” (Charles Frazier, New York Times bestselling author) from historical fiction master Jon Clinch, this evocatively crafted novel breathes fresh life into an American icon.

Purchase online at

Deus X by Stephen Mack Jones

Father Michael Grabowski, a Franciscan priest who has tended the spiritual needs of Detroit’s Mexicantown for forty years, has suddenly retired. August Snow, who has known the priest his whole life, finds the circumstances troubling–especially in light of the recent suspicious suicide of another local priest. What dark history is Father Grabowski hiding?

The situation takes a turn for the deadly with the appearance at the Detroit diocese of a mysterious priest and combat vet calling himself Francis Dominioni Petra. The man comes from the Vatican, and as his armored guard circles closer and closer to Father Grabowski and his friends, August wants to know why. A terrible crime has been committed in the name of faith–but who is seeking justice, and who is trying to bury the truth and any of its witnesses?

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A Very Inconvenient Scandal by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Frankie Attleboro returns home to Cape Cod with thrilling news. She’s met the love of her life, they’re getting married and have a baby on the way. Her talented, charismatic father overshadows her with his own announcement: he’s also getting married. To Frankie’s best friend, Ariel, who is also pregnant, and due soon. In an instant, he upends Frankie’s life. Her father’s choices will have profound implications for her, for her family and for her unborn child.

Before Frankie and Ariel can adjust to this new reality, Ariel’s estranged mother, Carlotta, returns after a decade-long absence. Carlotta’s presence is unsettling–where has she been all these years? Why did she come back now? Frankie is suspicious. She digs into Carlotta’s past, where she finds multiple identities, unexplained illnesses and a mysterious house fire that was never solved. As her mother’s dangerous behavior intensifies, Frankie must untangle the threads of Carlotta’s past to protect Ariel’s future–and her own.

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The Beautiful and the Wild by Peggy Townsend

It’s summer in Alaska and the light surrounding the shipping-container-turned-storage shed where Liv Russo is being held prisoner is fuzzy and gray. Around her is thick forest and jagged mountains. In front of her, across a clearing, is a low-slung cabin with a single window that spills a wash of yellow light onto bare ground. Illuminated in that light is the father of her child, a man she once loved. A man who is now her jailor. Liv vows to do anything to escape.

Carrying her own secrets and a fierce need to protect her young son, Liv must navigate a new world where extreme weather, starvation, and dangerous wildlife are not the only threats she faces. With winter’s arrival imminent, she knows she must reckon with her past and the choices that brought her to the unforgiving Alaskan landscape if she is ever going to make it out alive.

Purchase online at

Your Hosts


Karen Dionne is the USA Today and #1 internationally bestselling author of two psychological suspense novels set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wilderness, The Marsh King’s Daughter and The Wicked Sister, both published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in the US and in dozens of other languages.

Praised by The New York Times Book Review as “subtle, brilliant, and mature,” The Marsh King’s Daughter is soon to be a major motion picture starring Daisy Ridley and Ben Mendelsohn.

Visit Karen at

Karen’s newest novel is The Wicked Sister. “Dionne paints a haunting portrait of a family hurtling toward the tragic destiny they can foresee but are powerless to stop.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review; best book of 2020)

Purchase The Wicked Sister online at

Hank Phillippi Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of 14 psychological thrillers, winning the genre’s most prestigious awards: five Agathas, five Anthonys, and the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. She’s also investigative reporter for Boston’s WHDH-TV, winning 37 EMMYs. National book reviewers call her “a superb and gifted storyteller.”

Hank is the co-host of The Back Room and First Chapter Fun, as well as  host of her CRIME TIME interview show on A Mighty Blaze. She lives with her husband, a criminal defense and civil rights attorney, in Boston.

Learn more at

Her newest is the page-turning standalone The House Guest – a story of psychological manipulation exploring the dark heart of marriage and friendship—it’s Gaslight meets Thelma & Louise. Publishers Weekly says, “Ryan is a master of suspense!” and the Library Journal starred review calls it “Binge-worthy.”

Purchase The House Guest online at