We have a great line up of nonfiction writers for the 2020 Fox Cities Book Festival. Read on to learn more about each author and their books and then sign up with our easy and fast pre-registration. You can find books from this year’s presenting authors at our affiliate partner BookShop.org. BookShop provides support to FCBF and indie bookstores.

Jerry Apps

Award-winning Wisconsin author Jerry Apps has authored more than 50 non-fiction and fiction books, many of them on rural history and country life, including The Land Still LivesThe Civilian Conservation Corps in Wisconsin, and Simple Things.

Born and raised on a central Wisconsin farm before electricity, indoor plumbing, and central heating, Apps grew up to become a county extension agent and professor at the UW College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in Madison, Wisconsin. Since his retirement, he has been writing full-time and has become the subject of several PBS Wisconsin documentaries, including the Emmy-Award-winning “A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps.”

On October 15, 2020 at 11 AM, Apps will discuss “When The White Pine was King: A History of Lumberjacks, Log Drivers, and Sawdust Cities in Wisconsin“.

Anne Basting

For over 20 years, Anne Basting Ph.D. has researched ways to infuse the arts into care settings with a particular focus on people with cognitive disabilities like dementia.

She is author of numerous articles and four books, Creative Care: A Revolutionary Approach to Dementia and Elder Care, The Penelope Project: An Arts-based Odyssey to Change Elder-care co-edited with Maureen Towey and Ellie Rose, Forget Memory: Creating better lives for people with dementia,  and The Stages of Age: Performing Age in Contemporary American Culture.

Named a 2016 MacArthur Fellow, Basting is also the recipient of an Ashoka Fellowship, Rockefeller Fellowship, a Brookdale National Fellowship, The Randy Martin Spirit Award, and numerous major grants across both the arts and social services.

In all her work, Basting is striving toward a moment when the arts are fully infused into care systems.

Learn from Basting at “Transforming Caregiving with Creativity” on October 12, 2020 at 1:30 PM.

Johanna Garton

Johanna Garton is a mother, author, and cross country coach who has played many roles throughout her life.

Several years of living and working in Asia, including time in China with her husband, son, and daughter, inspired her to write her first book, Awakening East. Her newest book, Edge of the Map, tells the story of Appleton native and trailblazing mountaineer Christine Boskoff.

A graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, she also has a law degree from DePaul University College of Law. As an AmeriCorps VISTA member in Chicago, Johanna worked on behalf of refugee survivors of torture at the Heartland Alliance. She has served on the Colorado Governor’s Commission on Community Service and taught advocacy and legal issues for nonprofits at Regis University.

Learn more about Edge of the Map and Christine Boskoff by attending Garton’s talk “The Mountain Life of a Fox Cities Woman” on October 12, 2020 at 9 AM.

Charles Hagner

Charles Hagner, author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin, is a writer, editor, and birdwatcher who knows the exact moment his love of birds was born.

It started the day he and his father washed out a bleach jug, filled it with seeds, and hung it on the swing set in his backyard. Soon cardinals, chickadees, and other birds started visiting, and a lifelong fascination was awakened. A career in publishing took Hagner first to the American Institute of Architects Press, in Washington, DC, and later to Time Life Books, in Alexandria, VA, where over 13 years he wrote and edited books on a dizzying array of topics but never about birds.

So in 2001, when the opportunity arose to become the editor of BirdWatching magazine, he couldn’t say no. Hagner managed the bimonthly magazine until 2017. During that time, he birded in a dozen countries, authored two books about birds, and worked with the most recognizable names in birding, including David Sibley, Pete Dunne, and Kenn Kaufman. Today he is the director of the statewide conservation program Bird City Wisconsin and the board chair of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory.

Learn from Hagner at “Wisconsin: A Great State for Birdwatching” on October 13, 2020 at 12 PM.

Steve Hannah

Steve Hannah is a former managing editor of the Milwaukee Journal and was a longtime CEO of The Onion.

His book Dairylandia profiles the lives of the seemingly ordinary yet quite extraordinary folks of Wisconsin. Author Larry W. Phillips called it, “Equal parts Garrison Keillor and E.B. White, with a heaping cup of wisdom and compassion.”

Raised on the east coast, Hannah first came to love Wisconsin on a cross-country trip and expected to stay for just a year or two. Eventually, Hannah made Wisconsin his adopted state and has lived and worked there for most of the past 43 years.

Hear from Hannah at “Dairylandia with Steve Hannah” on October 12, 2020 at 7:30 PM.

Gary Jones

Raised on a small dairy farm in the Driftless Area in the mid-twentieth century, Gary Jones gets real about his rural roots in his collection Ridge Stories. In this collection of interrelated stories, Jones writes with plainspoken warmth and irreverence about farm, family, and folks on the ridge.

Gary Jones earned a bachelor of science degree from UW-Platteville, a master’s from UW- Madison, and a PhD from UW-Milwaukee. He has written professionally as a freelancer since the 1970s, publishing in the Milwaukee JournalMilwaukee SentinelMilwaukee Magazine, and several Door County publications.

Hear from Jones at “Ridge Stories: Herding Hens, Powdering Pigs, and Other Reconciliations from a Boyhood in the Driftless” on October 12, 2020 at 12 PM.

Gavin Schmitt

Gavin Schmitt has been called the go-to expert on organized crime in Wisconsin. With books including Milwaukee Mafia and Shallow Grave, he has brought long-classified documents into public view. Interviewed in newspapers, on the radio and online, Schmitt recently appeared in the documentary Milwaukee Mob.

A lifelong resident of the Fox Cities, Schmitt has also written on historical topics involving Kaukauna, Neenah, the Menominee tribe, and beyond. He sat on the board of directors for Neenah Historical Society. When not digging through dusty archives, Schmitt spends his days drinking too much coffee at Kaukauna Coffee and Tea and watching truly awful Italian giallo films all while being the local historian at the Kaukauna Public Library.

Journey into the world of Wisconsin crime in “Dark History Lives! Murder and Mayhem” held on October 15, 2020.

Robert Silbernagel

Out this year, The Cadottes by Robert Silbernagel follows generations of the Cadottes family in the heyday of the Great Lakes fur trade.

Silbernagel’s previous books include Troubled Trails: The Meeker Affair and the Expulsion of Utes from ColoradoHistoric Adventures on the Colorado Plateau, and Dinosaur Stalkers: Tracking Dinosaur Discoveries of Western Colorado and Eastern Utah. Mr. Silbernagel has written a number of history articles for periodicals, including the Wisconsin Magazine of History and Colorado Heritage.

Silbernagel studied journalism at the University of Wisconsin and was the editorial page editor for The Daily Sentinel newspaper in Grand Junction, Colorado for nineteen years. Now retired, he continues to write a history column for the Sentinel.

Learn more at “The Cadottes: A Fur Trade Family On Lake Superior with Author Robert Silbernagel” on October 15, 2020 at 12:30 PM.

R Richard Wagner

Scholar and activist R. Richard Wagner was the first openly gay member of the Dane County Board of Supervisors, where he served for fourteen years. In 1983, he co-chaired the Wisconsin Governor’s Council on Lesbian and Gay Issues—the first such council in the nation. And in 2005, he joined the board of Fair Wisconsin to fight the constitutional amendment against marriage equality.

His previous companion volume, We’ve Been Here All Along: Wisconsin’s Early Gay History, was published in 2019 and was awarded a gold medal in the Social Science/Political Science/Culture category by the Midwest Independent Publishers Association and the gold medal in the LGBT+ nonfiction category from the Independent Publishers Book Awards. His newest ground breaking volume on gay history is titled Coming Out, Moving Forward.

Join him for “R. Richard Wagner Discusses Coming Out, Moving Forward: Wisconsin’s Recent Gay History”  on October 14, 2020 at 2 PM.