Second Annual Elgin Literary Festival Returns to Downtown January 29 and 30


The second annual Elgin Literary Festival (ELF) returns to downtown Elgin Friday, January 29 and 30, with a mix of panel discussions, lectures, children’s activities, and more. The two-day festival, featuring keynote speakers Renée Ahdieh, Nathan Rabin,Kate Quinn, and Bart Scott is sponsored by the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission, Hemmens Cultural Center, Palmer Foundation, and Side Street Studio Arts, and is free and open to the public.


The streamlined ELF is the initiative of Elgin High School Alumna and self-published young adult author Karly Kirkpatrick.


“In our second year, we wanted to work to create more of a community environment,” said Kirkpatrick. “To that end, most of the programming, as well as book signings and sales, lunch from Blue Box Café, and poetry readings will all be held on the lower level of the Hemmens Cultural Center. So, no matter the weather, readers and writers can park their car and stay for the duration. No need to hop from venue to venue.”


Featured activities outside of the Hemmens include ELF for kids, which will kick off the festival Friday, January 29 from 3pm to4:30pm at Gail Borden Public Library. The event will include a story corner, Lego expressions, comic creations, and a hand-puppet extravaganza. Activities are geared toward younger readers and writers, but are open to all ages.


At Hemmens, activities will run Friday from 5pm to 10pm featuring keynote speakers, Write With Others and Real World Writing Panels, and Inside Voice, Outside Voice: A Live Poetry Event led by Jeffrey Pierce of Bravo Magazine and The Elgin Review. Saturday runs from 9am to 4pm featuring presentations from Pedaling Preservation, Joseph Podlasek CEO of Trickster Art Gallery, and John LaFleur and David Metzger authors of 8 Little Zombies; more keynote speakers, panels, books sales and signings, and lunch from Blue Box Café. ELF will wrap up with a reception at Romance Premium Café located at 154 E. Chicago St., Saturday, January 30 from 4pm to 7pm.


Printed programs with full event descriptions are available around town and at Side Street Studio Arts and a downloadable PDF version is available at


Keynote speakers:

Renée Ahdieh is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In her spare time, she likes to dance salsa and collect shoes. She is passionate about all kinds of curry, rescue dogs, and college basketball. The first few years of her life were spent in a high-rise in South Korea; consequently, Renée enjoys having her head in the clouds. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and their tiny overlord of a dog. She is the author of The Wrath and the Dawn.


Nathan Rabin was the original head writer of The A.V. Club, a position he held for most of his 16 years at The Onion. He is also the author of four books, including Weird Al: The Book (with “Weird Al” Yankovic) and You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me. In 2004 and 2005 he was a panelist on AMC’s Movie Club With John Ridley, hosted by the Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slavescreenwriter John Ridley. He lives in Chicago with his wife, dog and baby.


Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages. Kate has succumbed to the blogging bug, and keeps a blog filled with trivia, pet peeves, and interesting facts about historical fiction. She and her husband now live in Maryland with a small black dog named Caesar, and her interests include opera, action movies, cooking, and the Boston Red Sox.


Bart Scott is a writer, podcaster & artist living in the Chicago area. More importantly he’s a dad and a husband and a borderline obsessive Disney fan. His first book, Balaam is a fun, exciting adventure for young readers (and those young at heart) based on the Old Testament character of the same name. Oh, and his talking ass! His latest book, Ears of Steel: The Real Man’s Guide to Walt Disney World is somewhat irreverent, somewhat satirical, and entirely hilarious! This travel guide was written with tongue planted firmly in cheek, partly to justify his own Disney addiction, but also as a tool for the ladies out there who can’t get their man to believe Disney’s not just for kids. Written with the personal mandate that it be funny first, helpful . . . well, maybe, readers of both genders love it. Whether you’ve never been to Walt Disney World or you’ve been one hundred times, you’ll laugh out loud over and over again!

Media Contact:
Elgin Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
77 Riverside Drive, Elgin, IL 60120
(800) 217-5362 or (847) 695-7540