Steve Berry, Honorary Chairman

Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of The Bishop's Pawn, The Lost Order, The 14th Colony, The Patriot Threat, The Lincoln Myth, The King's Deception, The Columbus Affair, The Jefferson Key, The Emperor's Tomb,  The Paris Vendetta, The Charlemagne Pursuit, The Venetian Betrayal, The Alexandria Link, The Templar Legacy, The Third Secret, The Romanov Prophecy, and The Amber Room. His books have been translated into 40 languages with over 22 million copies in 51 countries. They consistently appear in the top echelon of The New York Times, USA Today, and Indie bestseller lists. History lies at the heart of every Steve Berry novel. It’s his passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, which led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation. Since 2009 Steve and Elizabeth have crossed the country to save endangered historic treasures, raising money via lectures, receptions, galas, luncheons, dinners and their popular writers’ workshops. To date, over 3,000 students have attended those workshops and nearly a million dollars raised. Steve’s devotion to historic preservation was recognized by the American Library Association, which named Steve its spokesperson for National Preservation Week. Among his other honors are the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award; the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award given by Poets & Writers; the Anne Frank Human Writes Award; and the Silver Bullet, bestowed by International Thriller Writers for his philanthropic work. He also has been chosen both the Florida and Georgia Writer of the Year. He also currently serves on the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board. In 2010, an NPR survey named The Templar Legacy one of the top 100 thrillers ever written. In addition to his other numerous awards, the Amelia Island Book Festival named Steve its first-ever recipient of the Stellar Award in 2005, citing his outstanding contributions to literacy. He was honored again by the Festival in 2017 as the winner of the Live Oak Award, for his unending devotion and loyalty to the Amelia Island Book Festival and his commitment to literacy and history through his fascinating stories where history matters. Steve was born and raised in Georgia, graduating from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. He was a trial lawyer for 30 years and held elective office for 14 of those years. He is a founding member of International Thriller Writers—a group of nearly 4,000 thriller writers from around the world—and served three years as its co-president. Photo Credit: Kelly Campbell 

Kristen Ashley

Kristen Ashley grew up in Indiana, has lived in Colorado and the West Country of England but now she calls the Valley of the Sun home. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe.  Her posse is loopy (to say the least), but loopy is good when you want to write. Kristen has published over 60 romance novels. Her work has been translated into 13 different languages. She’s sold nearly three million books and has won or been nominated for numerous awards. She’s started the Rock Chick Nation as a way to give back to her readers. RCN has a variety of programs to promote a strong female community and has given over $125,000 to women’s charities.

David Baldacci

David Baldacci has been writing since childhood, when his mother gave him a lined notebook in which to write down his stories. (Much later, when David thanked her for being the spark that ignited his writing career, she revealed that she’d given him the notebook to keep him quiet, because “every mom needs a break now and then.”) David published his first novel, Absolute Power, in 1996. The feature film adaptation followed with Clint Eastwood as its director and star. In total, David has published 36 novels for adults; all have been national and international bestsellers, and several have been adapted for film and television. His novels are published in over 45 languages and in more than 80 countries, with over 130 million worldwide sales. David has also published six novels for younger readers. A lifelong Virginian, David received his Bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, after which he practiced law in Washington, D.C. In addition to being a prolific writer, David is a devoted philanthropist, and his greatest efforts are dedicated to his family’s Wish You Well Foundation®. Established by David and his wife, Michelle, the Wish You Well Foundation supports family and adult literacy in the United States by fostering and promoting the development and expansion of literacy and educational programs. In 2008 the Foundation partnered with Feeding America to launch Feeding Body & Mind, a program to address the connection between literacy, poverty and hunger. Through Feeding Body & Mind, more than 1 million new and gently used books have been collected and distributed through food banks to families in need. David and his family live in Virginia. 

Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon is the author of the award-winning, #1 NYT-bestselling Outlander novels, described by Salon magazine as "the smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting ‘Scrooge McDuck’ comics." The adventure began in 1991 with the classic Outlander  ("historical fiction with a Moebius twist") and has continued through seven more New York Times-bestselling novels - Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, An Echo in the Bone, and Written in My Own Heart.  With more than 28 million copies in print worldwide, the series is published in 26 countries and 23 languages, and includes The Outlandish Companion , Volumes One and Two, which are nonfiction (well, relatively) works which provide details on the settings, background, characters, research, and writing of the first eight novels in the Outlander series of novels. Diana is serving as a Co-Producer and advisor for the popular Outlander TV series, produced by the Starz network and Tall Ship Productions and distributed by Sony International, which is based on her novels. ,

Her main current writing project is the ninth major novel in the Outlander series, Go tell the Bees that I am Gone. Gabaldon holds three degrees in science: Zoology, Marine Biology, and a Ph.D. in Quantitative Behavioral Ecology, (plus an honorary degree as Doctor of Humane Letters). She spent a dozen years as a university professor with an expertise in scientific computation before beginning to write fiction. Diana and her husband, Douglas Watkins, have three adult children and live mostly in Scottsdale. Arizona.Photo Credit: Barbara Schnell  

Tess Gerritsen

Trained as a medical doctor, Tess Gerritsen built a second career as a thriller writer. Her 27 novels include the Rizzoli and Isles crime series, on which the TV show "Rizzoli & Isles" is based.  Among her titles are  Harvest, Gravity, The Surgeon, Playing with Fire, and I Know A Secret.  Her books are translated into 40 languages, and more than 30 million copies have been sold. She lives in Maine.

John Grisham

For ten years John Grisham practiced law in a small town in Mississippi, much like Jake Brigance in A Time To Kill. He also served two terms in the State House of Representatives. In 1990, he gave up both the law and politics to write full-time, and since then has published at least one book a year.

He has written one collection of short stories, one work of non-fiction, three books about sports, one comic novel, six editions of his Theodore Boone series for children, a childhood memoir, and, at last count, more than twenty legal thrillers. Nine of his books have been adapted to film. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Innocence Project in New York, and the Focused Ultrasound Foundation in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

John and his wife, Renee, live on a farm in rural Albemarle County, Virginia. Photo Credit: Fred R. Conway/The New York Times/Redux 

Ridley Pearson

Edgar-nominee, Ridley Pearson is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of (more than 50) award-winning suspense and young adult adventure novels. His novels have been published in two-dozen languages and have been adapted for network television and the Broadway stage. Ridley’s crime novels have earned a reputation for writing fiction that "grips the imagination." Ridley’s middle-grade-reader series include The Kingdom Keepers, Steel Trapp, and Lock & Key. The Peter and the Starcatchers series, co-written with Pulitzer Prize winner (and bandmate), Dave Barry, (adapted to the stage by Rick Elice) was awarded 5 Tony Awards. Ridley’s research has spanned the globe and has included a prison for the criminally insane in the U.K., exploring the engine room of a cruise liner, and multiple after-hour tours of Walt Disney World and Disneyland.  Currently, Ridley is writing a new series—The Kingdom Kids—for Disney Books and a trilogy of graphic novels—The Super-Sons—for DC Comics. Ridley plays bass guitar in an all-author rock band comprised of other bestselling writers (Dave Barry, Amy Tan, Mitch Album, Scott Turow, Greg Iles, and occasionally, Stephen King). The Rockbottom Remainders has raised over 2.5 million dollars for various non-profits. He lives--and writes--in the Northern Rockies along with his wife, Marcelle.