Looking back on the inaugural season of the Ledding Cultural Forum, which just ended earlier this month, co-chairwomen Laura Gamble and Kathy Gannett declared the event a success.

In fact, it was “an outstanding season,” with audiences that were too large for the Pond House venue in some cases.

Because of that, future presentations will take place at the 130-capacity Black Box Theater at Milwaukie High School, starting in February.

“We had standing-room-only houses for Brian Doyle and Mike Richardson, with a huge audience, spilling onto the porch and many people turning away when they saw the crowd, and also for Matt Love and Kim Stafford,” she said.

People don’t have to drive to Portland to hear authors speak, these talks “are free and just down the street, and they offer a variety of genres and topics to appeal to a broad audience,” Gamble said.

Gamble and Gannett have announced the writers and dates for the next series of forums. All of the authors are local, with most hailing from Portland. They are: Phillip Margolin, Feb. 6; Peter Ames Carlin, March 6; Sallie Tisdale, April 3; Shawn Levy, May 1; Nancy Rommelman, June 5; Whitney Otto, Sept. 4; Jennifer Lauck, Oct. 2; and Larry Colton, Nov. 6.

Phillip Margolin

Starting out the series will be Margolin, who from 1972 until 1996 was an attorney in private practice in Portland. Since 1996 he has been writing full time, and all of his novels have been New York Times bestsellers. 

His first novel, “Heartstone,” was nominated for an Edgar for best original paperback mystery of 1978 by the Mystery Writers of America, and his second novel, “The Last Innocent Man,” was made into an HBO movie. 

At the Ledding Cultural Forum, Margolin will speak about his most recent work, “Worthy Brown’s Daughter.”

He said there are several reasons he wanted to speak at the forum.

“First, I love to talk about writing, and I am especially excited to talk about my new book, ‘Worthy Brown’s Daughter,’ inspired by a real heartbreaking case that was the only Oregon case to deal with slavery, and it took me 30 years to complete.”

“Also author events are important because they give readers a chance to ask writers questions about the craft of writing, the background for a book, and other things they can’t get by simply reading a novel, and it also brings readers into local libraries,” he said.

One thing that surprised him while researching for “Worthy Brown’s Daughter,” was the difference between the way law is practiced now and the way it was practiced in the Wild West of the 1800s, Margolin said.

“I was a criminal defense attorney for 25 years. Lawyers in the 1800s had to know not only the law, but how to shoot a gun. They had to ride the circuit, which meant sleeping in the wilds, dealing with bad weather and wild animals,” he said.

Margolin will speak from 7 to 8 p.m. at Milwaukie’s Black Box Theater on Thursday, Feb. 6. Learn more about him and his books at

Featured authors

Peter Ames Carlin, who will speak on March 6, is the author of several books, and also has been a freelance journalist, a senior writer at People magazine in New York City, and a television columnist and features writer at The Oregonian in Portland. A regular speaker on music, art and popular culture, Carlin lives in Portland with his wife and three children.

Carlin will speak about his current book, “Bruce,” which a Barnes & Noble review calls a “sweeping biography of Bruce Springsteen, featuring in-depth interviews with family, band members, childhood friends, ex-girlfriends and a poignant retrospective from the Boss himself. It’s Bruce as his many fans haven’t before seen him — the man behind the myth, describing his life and work in intimate, vivid detail.” More information available at

On April 3, Sallie Tisdale will discuss her book “Talk Dirty to Me,” an expansion of her controversial 1992 Harper’s magazine essay of the same title. Visit for more information.

Shawn Levy, a well-known journalist, film critic and pop culture historian in Portland, will talk about “Paul Newman: A Life,” a portrait of an actor who was one of the most celebrated movie stars of the 20th century. Levy’s presentation will take place on May 1. For more information, visit

On June 5, Nancy Rommelman, a Portland writer by way of Brooklyn and Los Angeles, will speak at the forum. Her website says “The Queens of Montague Street” is a memoir of growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970s. It was digitally released in 2012, excerpted as a New York Times magazine Longreads Top 10 of 2012. Visit her website at

Whitney Otto’s website,, describes her book “Eight Girls Taking Pictures,” as a “deeply affecting meditation on the lives of women artists.” She will discuss this book at the forum on Sept. 4.

On Oct. 2, the presenter will be Jennifer Lauck, an award-winning journalist and the author of The New York Times bestseller “Blackbird.” Her website notes that the memoir is unusual, in that it is written from the viewpoint of a child, recounting Lauck’s own “childhood troubled by an unending string of upheavals and heartbreaks.” The book also is used at The Dougy Center in Portland, helping children who are grieving the loss of a parent. Visit

Larry Colton, who will speak on Nov. 6, was a professional baseball player and will discuss his most current book, “Southern League: A True Story of Baseball, Civil Rights, and the Deep South’s Most Compelling Pennant Race.”

Colton is well known locally as one of the founders of Wordstock in 2006; visit for more info.

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