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A Comedic Conversation: Lorna Landvik and Julie Schumacher

A Comedic Conversation: Lorna Landvik and Julie Schumacher

Minnesota Book Award winner Julie Schumacher and multiple-time Book Award finalist Lorna Landvik have each made careers out of telling great stories. On September 21, these two acclaimed authors will come together for a conversation about humor, inspiration, and their writing life at the Rochester Public Library. We sat down with the duo in advance of their conversation to learn a bit more about these prolific writers. 

When did you realize you were funny?

Lorna: Marilyn was the older sister of my friend Debbie and the sophisticated master-mind behind many of our childhood hijinks. To get her to laugh was a real coup and made me realize the power of humor.   

Julie: Answering "when did you realize you were funny" when going up against Lorna Landvik, who actually is funny: that's not easy.  I need a lot of time to try to be funny; Lorna is funny all the time.

What is the first thing you ever wrote?

Lorna: I remember writing on the chalk board in 1st grade a story (or at least a sentence or two) about my friends and I running around a golf course . . . or maybe a parking lot.  Either way, it was riveting.

Julie: I wrote a lot of poetry as a kid – not that I bothered to read much poetry.  But I liked rhyme and sound and emotion, and I believe my first full-length work was a lament for the death of a rabbit.

Who are your favorite comedic writers? 

Lorna: Mark Twain, Tina Fey, David Sedaris, Flannery O’Conner,Nora McInerny, Glennon Doyle Melton, Joan Rivers, Erma Bombeck

Julie: My favorite comedic writers would have to include Betty MacDonald, who wrote the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books, because those are the first books that made me laugh out loud, hysterically.

Personally, I find Jane Austen very funny – I never get tired of witty dialogue.  More recently, Trevor Noah's new book, Born a Crime, is both funny and painful.  Comedy, as the saying goes, is tragedy plus time.  

Lorna Landvik is the author of many novels including the bestselling Patty Jane's House of Curl. She has performed stand-up and improvisational comedy and is also a public speaker, playwright, and actor who gets much pleasure from mixing up margaritas on stage in her one-woman all-improvised show, “Party in the Rec Room.” Her work includes the newly released Once in a Blue Moon Lodge, Best to Laugh, and Mayor of the Universe.

Julie Schumacher’s first published story, “Reunion,” was reprinted in The Best American Short Stories 1983. Subsequent stories were published in The Atlantic, MS, Minnesota Monthly, and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards 1990 and 1996.  Her first novel, The Body Is Water, was an ALA Notable Book of the Year and a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her other books include the national best-seller, Dear Committee Members, winner of the Thurber Prize, and five novels for younger readers.  Ms. Schumacher is a faculty member in the Creative Writing Program and the Department of English at the University of Minnesota, where she has been recognized as a “Scholar of the College.

The authors will be in conversation on Thursday, September 21, 6:30 p.m. at the Rochester Public Library. This event is free and open to the public. It is presented by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library with the Rochester Public Library, made possible in part by the State of Minnesota through a grant to the Minnesota Department of Education. Other funding was made possible through grants from Minnesota State Arts Board and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Minnesota Book Awards is sponsored this year by Education Minnesota. 

About the Minnesota Book Awards

Now in its 30th season, the Minnesota Book Awards is a year-long program, produced by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, that fosters our statewide literary arts community. The process begins in the fall with book submissions and continues through winter with two rounds of judging. Winners are announced at the Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony. Woven throughout the season are various engagement activities and events that promote the authors and connect the world of Minnesota books – writers, artists, illustrators, publishers, editors, and more – to readers throughout the state. In recognition of this and its other statewide programs and services, the Library of Congress has recognized The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library as the state’s designated Center for the Book. For more information visit  

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