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Local author Jess Riley to present at Fox Cities Book Festival

What started out as a casual, if not strange, conversation with a coworker about cellular memory turned into Oshkosh author Jess Riley’s first novel, “Driving Sideways.”

The story follows 28-year-old Leigh Fielding as she road trips from Wisconsin to California on a mission to thank the family of her kidney donor (who she believes to be channeling) and confront her estranged mother while she’s at it.

Now in its fourth printing, “Driving Sideways” has garnered acclaim from readers and critics alike since being published in May 2008. Despite her success in traditional publishing, Riley is exploring electronic publishing options and released her second novel, “All the Lonely People,” on Amazon last November.

“Now it’s like a crazy, new, Wild West frontier with indie publishing. I wanted to try this experiment and see what happens,” Riley says.

In “All the Lonely People,” Jamie Collins is a 37-year-old woman dealing with the aftermath of losing her mother to cancer. After a Thanksgiving Day argument with her siblings, Jamie “divorces” her family and posts a Craigslist ad looking for a new one.

Book Fest book

Strained familial relationships are a reoccurring theme in Riley’s work and one to which many readers can relate.

“Even in the best of families there are challenges that can cause rifts. We all are seeking that connection, that familial unconditional love and support,” Riley says. “I think a lot of people are searching for that, so I try to hit that nerve.”

Riley will be presenting at the 2013 Fox Cities Book Festival, April 17–24. Other visiting authors include Lawrence University professor David McGlynn, Milwaukee-based gardening writer Melinda Myers and New Auburn humorist Michael Perry. In addition to standard programming, this year’s festival will highlight books about some of Wisconsin’s favorite activities and, since the festival encompasses Earth Day, there will be sessions on books about the environment, sustainability and nature.

Visit foxcitiesbookfestival.org for more information.

—By Amelia Compton Wolff

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