Crime writers S.A. Cosby, Chris Harding Thornton, David Heska Wanbli Weiden, and Heather Young discuss their highly-acclaimed books and meet with attendees in The Back Room, hosted and moderated by international bestselling authors Karen Dionne and Hank Phillippi Ryan. Each of these novels presents a complicated story of secrets and crimes that involve generations within a rural noir framework, including Virginia-based drag races, lost souls in rural Nebraska, criminal injustice on a North Dakota reservation, and the explosive effects of opioid abuse in a small town in Nevada.

The Back Room event opens with all four authors in conversation with Dionne and Ryan, followed by four sessions in break-out rooms, when the authors visit each room in turn, offering attendees the opportunity to chat with each author. For more information about how the event unfolds, see How it Works.

As part of the all-virtual 2021 Virginia Festival of the Book, this event is FREE to attend and open to the public. Given the unique structure of this event, you MUST register to attend. Capacity is limited. A video recording of the opening conversations will be available to watch after the event concludes, on

This event is now completely FULL.

“The year’s most celebrated crime novel, and with good reason. It’s a soaring, deeply felt, deeply propulsive tale written by an author coming into his full powers…Cosby writes beautifully of the sensations and memories that drive Bug through the night and down the empty roads toward his old life. Dread and excitement combine to create a unique sense of atmosphere, one that will keep readers pushing ahead toward a genuinely powerful conclusion.” ―CrimeReads The Best Novels of 2020

“[Pickard County Atlas is] an atmospheric, slow-burning beauty of a book, rich with raw-edged lyricism and achingly real characters.” ―Tana French, author of The Searcher

Winter Counts is a marvel. It’s a thriller with a beating heart and jagged teeth. This book is a brilliant meditation on power and violence, and a testament to just how much a crime novel can achieve. Weiden is a powerful new voice. I couldn’t put it down.” —Tommy Orange, author of There There

“[The Distant Dead] is at heart about the timelessness of human curiosity, the eternal possibility of forgiveness, and the everyday miracle of survival. Electrifying, ambitious, and crushingly beautiful.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Community Partners

Thanks to The Back Room for hosting this event. Thanks to James River Writers and Wisconsin Book Festival for sharing information about this event.

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