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Date and time
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Writers Karen Essex, Sheila Weller, and Katie Hickman discuss their new titles and explore what women really want to read during their summer vacations.

Karen Essex is an award-winning novelist and journalist and a screenwriter. She is the author of the national and international best-selling novel, *Leonardos Swans* (Doubleday 2006), about the rivalries among the powerful women painted by the great master when he was employed by the Duke of Milan. Continuing in the theme of womens influence upon culture and art, her latest novel, *Stealing Athena*, chronicles the story of the controversial Elgin Marbles from the points of view of two fascinating women, Mary Nisbet, Countess of Elgin, and Aspasia, mistress to Pericles. Essex was born and raised in New Orleans. She was graduated from Tulane University, attended graduate school at Vanderbilt University, and received an MFA in writing from Goddard College in Vermont. Shes appeared on *The Today Show* and *A Word on Words* hosted by John Seigenthaler, as well as other PBS and NPR programs. Shes lectured at the Chicago Museum of Art, and extensively at universities. Her books are taught in many college courses from creative writing to history to womens studies.
Hickman's first book, *Dreams of the Peaceful Dragon*, an account of a journey on horseback across the forbidden Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, was followed by *The Quetzal Summer*, a novel about love and death in the Andes, for which she was shortlisted for the *Sunday Times *Young British Writer of the Year. In 1993 she published a second travel book , *A Trip to the Light Fantastic* (later re-issued as *Travels with a Circus*), an account of a year spend living and working with a Mexican circus, for which she was short-listed for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, and which later became one of the Independent's Books of the Year. After the birth of her first child she turned to writing history books. The first of these *Daughters of Britannia: the Lives and Times of Diplomatic Wives* rose to number two in the *Sunday Times* Bestseller lists, and remained in the top ten for five consecutive months. It was adapted into a highly successful twenty part series for BBC Radio 4's *Women's Hour*, and has sold nearly 200,000 copies to date.