Argenta Reading Series hosted award-winning Michael Kardos as their featured author for May.

At the reading on May 10, he read the first chapter of his newest novel, Bluff, a story about a young woman who won a big magic trick competition nearly 10 years ago, but is now considered a has-been. In need of money, she falls into the field of poker, which takes her down an interesting and dangerous path. We get a detailed look into the worlds of magic and poker, both of which are male-dominated and unkind towards women, even for a very talented female magician.

    Kardos grew up with an interest in magic, and he wrote a draft of a story about a magician early in his writing career, but said that he did not look at it for 10 years, until he was working on Bluff.

    “I started doing magic when I thought girls would like me because of it, but I stopped when I realized it was the opposite,” he joked.

    Although Kardos now works as a novelist and a professor of English and co-director of creative writing at Mississippi State University, he used to be a professional drummer. He got a degree in music from Princeton, but went on to get his master’s in fiction from Ohio State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri.

    In his 20s, realizing that being a professional musician was a difficult career, he decided to give writing a try because he always liked to read growing up. He has young children, so it is easier to just write during his days off teaching than it would be to play drums, which required staying out late.

    “I realized when I write stories I don’t need a soundman, and I don’t need a stage… I just need a notebook or computer,” Kardos said. “And it was so nice to just do it alone.”

    Besides having the monthly reading with different authors, the Argenta Reading Series has a book club called After Hours which meets at The Bookstore at Library Square to discuss the featured authors’ work a day before the reading. For more information on the readings and the book club, visit