Friend to mortal, beast, and undead alike, Ben Riggs is the hard-bitten yet heroic historian of the tabletop roleplaying-game industry. His first book, Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons & Dragons, which was a 2022 Goodreads Award nominee, unveiled the never-before-told story of how the first company to publish D&D nearly went bankrupt due to disastrous management decisions and was saved by its bitterest rival.
B.J. Hollars is the author of several books, most recently Wisconsin for Kennedy: The Primary That Launched a President and Changed the Course of History, the forthcoming Year of Plenty: A Family’s Season of Grief, and Go West Young Man: A Father and Son Rediscover America on the Oregon Trail. A professor and award-winning columnist, he lives and works in Eau Claire.
Carol Dunbar is the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Net Beneath Us—winner of the Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award—and A Winter’s Rime. A former actor, playwright, and coloratura soprano, she left her life in the city to live off the grid in northern Wisconsin. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the South Carolina Review, Midwestern Gothic, and on Wisconsin Public Radio.
David Shih is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Republic, the Progressive, Slate, Code Switch, Electric Literature, Literary Hub, and Inside Higher Ed, and he has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered, WPR’s The Joy Cardin Show and The Larry Meiller Show, and WNYC’s All In with Alison Stewart. He grew up in Texas and lives in Eau Claire with his family.
Eric Schlehlein is an author and freelance writer who is passionate about most things Americana. He is the author of the American Civil War novels Black Iron Mercy and The Dim White Light and makes his living as a firefighter/EMT in Hartland, Wisconsin. He is married to Brenda and has three adult children, one granddaughter, and a grandson on the way.
Teacher and writer Gary Jones published his memoir Ridge Stories: Herding Hens, Powdering Pigs, and Other Recollections from a Boyhood in the Driftless with the Wisconsin Historical Society Press in 2019. He began his teaching career in 1966 at Weston High School and ended it at his alma mater, UW-Platteville in 2014, but his writing continues. He and his wife Lu summer in Door County and winter in Platteville.
Credit: John Fisher
Kimberly Blaeser, a past Wisconsin Poet Laureate and the founding director of Indigenous Nations Poets, is the author of six poetry collections—including Ancient Light and Copper Yearning. An enrolled member of the White Earth Nation, she is an Anishinaabe activist and environmentalist. Blaeser serves as the 2024 Lois and Willard Mackey Chair in Creative Writing at Beloit College and is a Vassar College Tatlock Fellow. She is an MFA faculty member at the Institute of American Indian Arts and a professor emerita at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Larry Scheckel grew up on a family farm, attended eight years of a one-room country school, served in the military, and taught high school physics. Retired and living in Tomah, he and his wife, Ann, have published nine books and write columns for local newspapers and several magazines.
Former Wisconsin Governor Martin J. Schreiber is an award-winning crusader for Alzheimer’s caregivers and those with dementia. Reaching audiences nationwide via live events and various forms of media, Schreiber uses humor and compassion as he shares lessons from his decade-plus journey as a caregiver. Net proceeds from his book, My Two Elaines, go to caregiver support programs. He and his wife, Elaine, who died in 2022, are the parents of four children and have thirteen grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Quan Barry is the Lorraine Hansberry Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of eight books of fiction and poetry, including the recent collection Auction, which the New York Times named one of the five best poetry books of 2023. A recipient of NEA fellowships in both poetry and fiction, Barry is currently Forward Theater’s first-ever writer-in-residence. The world premiere of her play, The Mytilenean Debate, was staged in spring 2022.
Said Shaiye is an autistic + ADHD Somali author, photographer, professor, and disability advocate in Minneapolis. He is a 2024 MacDowell Colony Fellow. His debut book, Are You Borg Now?, was a 2022 Minnesota Book Award Finalist in creative nonfiction and memoir. His work has appeared in the Indiana Review, the Texas Review, Obsidian, Brittle Paper, Pithead Chapel, 580 Split, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere. He teaches writing at Twin Cities community colleges and can be reached at saidshaiye.com.
Stephen Shaskan is the author and illustrator of several picture books, including Big Choo, Toad on the Road, Max Speed, The Three Triceratops Tuff, A Dog Is a Dog, and the wildly popular graphic chapter book series starring Pizza and Taco. He also illustrated the picture book Punk Skunks and the graphic novel series featuring Q and Ray, written by his wife Trisha Speed Shaskan. They live in Minneapolis.