The Minnesota Writers Directory is such a logical concept, so elegantly executed, that it’s surprising nobody has thought of the idea before.
The searchable website, newly launched (and still in its infant stage) by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, gives you authors at your fingertips. Looking for a writer to come talk to your book club? Or your classroom? Or to teach a workshop?
Looking for a quick mini-bio of Louise Erdrich, or Charles Baxter, or Lesley Nneka Arimah? Need to know what part of the state Margi Preus lives in?
It’s all here, at https://mnwriters directory.org/, which tells you at a glance much of what you need to know.
“We often hear from librarians who are looking to connect with authors in their area,” said Bailey Veesenmeyer, program coordinator for the Friends of the Library, in a prepared statement. “Without a true database, it can be challenging to make recommendations.”
And for those who live outside the metro area, “Hosts have even more difficulty finding authors who are nearby or willing to travel to their locations.”
So the site was launched and seeded with the names and professional information of Minnesota Book Award winners and finalists from the past five years. (That’s just to start.)
Authors are listed alphabetically and geographically. Listings include a photo, a brief bio, a bibliography and other information, including whether the author is available for appearances. There’s a link for e-mail — the world at large does not get to know Kate DiCamillo’s private e-mail address (nor any of the writers), but can send a message and hope for a reply.
The website lists about 100 authors and is growing quickly. Authors who are interested in being included can fill out an application form; applicants will be vetted before being added to the site.
And book clubs — book clubs can go nuts, looking for speakers.
Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune senior editor for books. On Twitter: @StribBooks. On Facebook: facebook.com/startribunebooks