Crime, romance, nonfiction and new location coming to the Southwest Florida Reading Festival

More than a dozen acclaimed and best-selling authors are coming to Fort Myers to meet fans and talk about their books at the 19th annual Southwest Florida Reading Festival on Saturday, March 3, at the Fort Myers Regional Library2450 First St., downtown Fort Myers.

The Reading Festival attracts popular authors for adults and children from across the country. The festival this year will relocate to the Fort Myers Regional Library due to construction surrounding the Harborside Event Center. The move also will tie the event more closely to library services and the library’s mission of promoting reading and life-long learning. 

The festival is a daylong event filled with author presentations, lively activities for children, the latest library technology, book signings and a free book for every child.  

The Reading Festival is the largest one-day reading festival in Florida and has been designated a “Top 20 Event in the Southeast” for the month of March by the Southeast Tourism Society.

“The festival invites popular authors to participate by sharing their real life experiences, thought processes and the evolution of their characters,” said Lee County Library System Director Mindi Simon. “It is fascinating to hear how they craft their page-turner plots and tie all the details together.”

The festival kicks-off Friday evening, March 2, with the Evening with the Authors event at the Fort Myers Regional Library, at which authors meet and mingle with attendees. Among the award-winning authors scheduled to attend the events include adult authors Scott Turow and J.T. Ellison and children’s author Michael Hall. The complete list of authors can be found at

The Reading Festival is free and community-supported through donations, sponsorships and grants. To help ensure the continuation of this free community event to make a secure online donation.  Author information, directions to the event and more, is available at or by calling 239-479-4636


Lee County Library System produces the Southwest Florida Reading Festival to inform the community about the resources and services available at their local Lee County libraries and to remind them that these resources and services are free with a library card. The Reading Festival is free and features a variety of activities for all ages and presentations by best-selling authors. Some of the authors who have attended in the past include Sue Monk Kidd, Susan Mallery, R.L. Stine, Janet Evanovich, Nelson DeMille, Erik Larson, Jeff Lindsay and hundreds more.

The Reading Festival’s objectives are to promote reading and literacy, increase awareness of the library’s programs and resources and foster partnerships between the Lee County Library System and the community. The Reading Festival aims to build a literate community by encouraging children to develop an interest in reading independently, which fosters an increase in vocabulary and improved writing skills. For more information go to


Author list and short biographies follow; photos available on request.

Adult Authors

Janet Beard earned an MFA in creative writing from The New School. Her first novel, “Beneath the Pines,” was published in 2008 and her follow-up, “The Atomic City Girls,” will be published in 2018. Visit

Alex Berenson writes the John Wells series of novels and is a former reporter for The New York Times. His debut novel, “The Faithful Spy,” won the Edgar Award for best first novel by an American author. His latest work is the February release “The Deceivers.” Visit

J.T. Ellison is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of standalone domestic noir and psychological thriller series, the latter starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens. She also pens the thriller series “A Brit in the FBI” with Catherine Coulter. Visit

Craig Grossi was a member of an elite team of Marines. He found his dog, Fred, during his most dangerous assignment in the Sangin District in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. While not the place he was expecting to meet his first dog, Craig was able to send Fred home to his family while he completed his tour. After Afghanistan, Craig left the Marines in search of a new mission – to share his story and his adventures with Fred, and the message of “stubborn positivity” that Fred inspired. “Craig & Fred: A Marine, A Stray Dog, and How they Rescued Each Other” is his first book and is also available in a young reader’s edition. Visit

Sue Halpern is the author of seven books of fiction and nonfiction, most recently the novel “Summer Hours at the Robbers Library.” Her book “Four Wings and a Prayer: Caught In The Mystery of the Monarch Butterfly” was made into an Emmy-nominated film. Visit

Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times best-selling author whose novels include “The Bookshop at Water’s End,” “The Idea of Love” and “Driftwood Summer.” She lives with her husband and three children in Mountain Brook, Alabama. Visit

Jillian Medoff is the acclaimed author of the national best-seller “I Couldn’t Love You More” and “Good Girls Gone Bad.” Her first novel, “Hunger Point,” was adapted into an original Lifetime movie. Visit

Carla Neggers is The New York Times best-selling author of many novels of contemporary romance and romantic suspense, including “Thief’s Mark,” “Liar’s Key,” “Red Clover Inn”and “Echo Lake.” A frequent traveler to Ireland, Carla lives with her family in New England. Visit

Jessica Shattuck is the award-winning author of “The Hazards of Good Breeding,” a New York Times Notable Book and finalist for the PEN/Winship Award, and of “Perfect Life.” Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Glamour, Mother Jones, WIRED and The Believer, among others. Her latest release is “The Women in the Castle.” Visit

Scott Turow is a writer and attorney. He is the author of 11 bestselling works of fiction, including his first novel, “Presumed Innocent,” and his latest work, “Testimony.” He has written two nonfiction books about his experiences in the law and his novels have been the basis of several films including the movie “Presumed Innocent.”

Children’s Authors

Jeffrey Brown is the best-selling author and illustrator of the middle grade “Jedi Academy” series as well as the “Darth Vader and Son” series. He has written a number of autobiographical books for adults, humorous graphic novels about cats and parodies such as “Incredible Change-Bots.” His latest is the “Lucy & Andy Neanderthal” series.

Alan Gratz is the best-selling author of a number of novels for young readers including “Samurai Shortstop,” “The Brooklyn Nine,” “Prisoner B-3087,” “Code of Honor,” “Projekt 1065,” “The League of Seven” series and “Ban This Book.” His latest novel is “Refugee,” the story of three different refugee families struggling for freedom and safety in three different eras and different parts of the world. Visit

Michael Hall is the author/illustrator of “My Heart is Like a Zoo” which made The New York Times best-seller list and “Red: a Crayon’s Story which was named to the 2016 Rainbow List and received the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award. A former graphic designer, his body of work includes such titles as “Frankencrayon, It’s an Orange Aardvark” and Cat Tale.” Visit

Suzy Kline’s first “Horrible Harry” book was published in 1988. Since then, she has written more than 30 books about Harry and his friends in Room 3B. She taught elementary school for 27 years and now does scores of school visits in addition to her writing. Visit

Jennifer Ward is the award-winning author of more than 20 acclaimed books for children, including the ALA Notable “Mama Built a Little Nest, illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Steve Jenkins, and the bestselling and wildly popular “There Was a Coyote Who Swallowed a Flea,” illustrated by Steve Gray. She often uses nature and science as a muse for her rollicking, rhythmic informational books for children. Visit