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2017 Honorees

Kekla Magoon, National Winner

Kekla Magoon is the author of nine novels, including The Rock and the River, How It Went Down, X: A Novel (with Ilyasah Shabazz), and the Robyn Hoodlum Adventures series. She has received an NAACP Image Award, the John Steptoe New Talent Award, two Coretta Scott King Honors, The Walter Award Honor, the In the Margins Award, and been long listed for the National Book Award. She also writes non-fiction on historical topics. Kekla conducts school and library visits nationwide and serves on the Writers’ Council for the National Writing Project. Kekla holds a B.A. from Northwestern University and an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she now serves on faculty.

Lori Rader-Day, Regional Winner

Lori Rader-Day, author of The Day I Died, The Black Hour and Little Pretty Things, is the recipient of the 2016 Mary Higgins Clark Award and the 2015 Anthony Award for Best First Novel. Originally from Thorntown, Indiana, Lori studied journalism at Ball State University. Lori now lives with her husband Greg in Chicago, where she is the current president of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter.

John David Anderson, Genre Excellence Winner (Middle Grade Fiction)

John David Anderson is the critically-acclaimed author of several books for young people, including Ms. Bixby’s Last Day (a New York Times Editors’ Choice and an ALA Notable Book), Posted, Sidekicked and Standard Hero Behavior (a Young Hoosier Book). A dedicated root beer connoisseur and chocolate fiend, he lives with his wife, two kids and whiny cat in his hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana. You can learn more at

Francesca Zappia, Emerging Winner

Francesca Zappia is the author of Made You Up, Eliza and Her Monsters, and the online serial The Children of Hypnos. She attended the University of Indianapolis on their Presidential Scholarship and graduated in 2015 with a degree in Computer Science and Mathematics. She spends most of her free time writing, drawing and playing video games.

Bryan Furuness , Emerging Finalist

Bryan Furuness is the author of The Lost Episodes of Revie Bryson, a novel. With Michael Martone, he is the co-editor of Winesburg, Indiana, an anthology. His stories have appeared in Ninth Letter, Sycamore Review, Southeast Review, Hobart and elsewhere. His essays have appeared in Brevity, Nashville Review and Barrelhouse, among other venues. His work has been anthologized in New Stories from the Midwest, An Anthology of Contemporary Indiana Writers, Best American Nonrequired Reading and elsewhere. He is a recipient of the Tennessee Williams Scholarship in fiction from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, a finalist for the Society of Midland Authors award, and a winner of the Midwest Short Fiction contest. He holds an MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers, and has edited for several literary magazines and small presses, including Engine Books and Pressgang, the small press he founded at Butler in 2012. He lives in Indianapolis, where he teaches at Butler University.

Angela Palm, Emerging finalist

Angela Palm is the author of Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here (Graywolf Press). Riverine was an Indie Next selection, winner of the 2014 Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, a Kirkus Best Book of 2016 and a Powerful Memoir by Powerful Women selected by Palm has been a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference fellow in Narrative Nonfiction, and her work has been published in Ecotone, Creative Nonfiction, At Length Magazine, Passages North, Brevity, Paper Darts and elsewhere. She grew up in the rural Midwest and attended Saint Joseph’s College. She now lives with her two children in Vermont, where she works as an editor.