Giving Voice to Women Writers and Chefs | Midwest Living

Giving Voice to Women Writers and Chefs

Pop-up dinner or book reading? Detroit journalist Amy Haimerl finds a novel way to focus on female empowerment.

Party Like A Bookworm Business journalist and teacher Amy Haimerl wrote about fixing up an old house in her book, Detroit Hustle. Then a new hustle began. “I was calling bookstores trying to book my own events,” she says. “Like the birthday girl trying to throw her own party. It was awkward.” Plus, she acknowledges, even well-intended book-lovers like herself struggle to find time to attend readings by unfamiliar writers. So she dreamed up an alternative: Pair emerging authors with food, drinks and an irresistible venue. Pump up female empowerment by featuring only women writers and chefs. And give it all a cheeky name. Shady Ladies Literary Society emerged, inspired by the awning at a shuttered beauty salon.

Belle Isle Boat House

The Shady Ladies Literary Society hosts author Elaine Castillo at the 117-year-old Belle Isle Boat House. Photo: Heather Saunders.

Pop-Up Book Clubs For the first event in 2017, Amy invited Cristina Moracho and Julie Buntin, both authors of a thriller, to a bourbon picnic in a cemetery along a creek named, aptly, Bloody Run. Rain loomed. Guests huddled under a tent in sundresses. But the storm passed, along with Amy’s anxiety: “How do we keep supporting women authors and figure out ways to support chefs?” Since then, she’s taken Shady Ladies to Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre, Detroit Foundation Hotel and back to the cemetery this summer for the second anniversary.

The Next Chapter Each event attracts new attendees (including men), and many regulars have become friends. People are requesting Shady Ladies events in other cities, and Amy’s dreamed of opening a space to further the vision. “This is an opportunity for us to be able to see what women are doing,” she says. “If you can see it, you can emulate it.”

Amy Haimerl

Amy Haimerl. Photo: Heather Saunders.

Book it Amy says she's determined to find a way to float an event down the Detroit River on a barge or tugboat. And she's love to host authors Rebecca Traister and Soroya Chemaly. Find tickets for upcoming readings at



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