Prolific writer Joyce Carol Oates will lead off the 18th season of the Pen Pals writers series. Oates, author of more than 50 novels as well as collections of stories, plays, essays and poems, will be in conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Michael Dirda on Oct. 2.

Other Pen Pals guests will be historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of “Team of Rivals” and “The Bully Pulpit,” Oct. 23 and 24; Richard Blanco, the fifth inaugural poet of the United States, March 12-13, 2015; New York Times bestselling novelist Jodi Picoult, author of “The Storyteller” and “Leaving Time,” April 16-17, 2015; and graphic designer Chip Kidd, author of “Chip Kidd: Book One,” May 7-8, 2015.

Pen Pals is the longest-running writers series in the Twin Cities and serves as a fundraiser for Friends of the Hennepin County Library. Subscription tickets will go on sale May 12 and are available at or by phone at 612-543-8112. Tickets for individual programs go on sale Aug. 11.