* = Moderator
** = Keynote
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Alex Aster (she/her) is an author of Lightlark as well as award-winning middle grade fiction, including the Emblem Island series, which was published to critical acclaim. Alex graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied creative writing.
Ashley Audrain’s* debut novel The Push was a New York Times, Sunday Times and #1 international bestseller, and a Good Morning America book club pick. It has sold in 40 territories, and a limited television series is currently in development. She previously worked as the publicity director of Penguin Books Canada, and prior to that, worked in public relations. She lives in Toronto, where she and her partner are raising their two young children. She is working on her second novel.
Jennifer Lynn Barnes (she/her) is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty acclaimed young adult novels, including The Inheritance Games series, Little White Lies, Deadly Little Scandals, The Lovely and the Lost, and The Naturals series: The Naturals, Killer Instinct, All In, Bad Blood, and the e-novella, Twelve. Jen is also a Fulbright Scholar with advanced degrees in psychology, psychiatry, and cognitive science. She received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 2012 and is a professor of psychology and professional writing.
Tanvi Berwah (she/her) is a South Asian writer with a deep love of the stars, the ocean, and the weird. She graduated from the University of Delhi with a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Literature of English, and always found ways to fit in The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones in her academic life. A history and space enthusiast, she would’ve loved to be an astronomer, had her lack of mathematical skills allowed it. Monsters Born and Made is her debut YA novel. Website: tanviberwah.com.
James Bird is a screenwriter and director at the independent film company, Zombot Pictures; his films include We Are Boats and Honeyglue. A California native of Ojibwe descent, he now lives in Swampscott, MA with his wife, the author and actor Adriana Mather, and their son. He is the author of The Brave and The Second Chance of Benjamin Waterfalls.
Olivie Blake is the New York Times bestselling author of The Atlas Six and The Atlas Paradox. As Alexene Farol Follmuth, she is also the author of the young adult rom-com My Mechanical Romance. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, new baby, and rescue pit bull.
Ann Braden writes books about kids learning to stand up for themselves even when it’s hard. Her middle grade novels The Benefits of Being an Octopus and Flight of the Puffin have earned widespread recognition, including NPR’s Best Books, Cybil Award finalist, and being named to over a dozen state lists. Ann founded the Local Love Brigade, which sends love postcards to those facing hate. She also founded GunSenseVT, a grassroots group focused on championing common ground on the issue of guns in Vermont, which helped pass landmark gun violence prevention legislation. Previously a middle school teacher, Ann lives in southern Vermont with her husband, two kids, and two insatiable cats. Her next middle grade book, Opinions and Opossums, will be published by Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House in May 2023.
Kira Jane Buxton’s debut novel, Hollow Kingdom, was a finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor, the Audie Awards, and the Washington State Book Awards, and was named a best book of 2019 by NPR, Book Riot, and Good Housekeeping. She spends her time with three cats, a dog, two crows, a charm of hummingbirds, five Steller’s jays, two dark-eyed juncos and a husband.
Kacen Callender is the bestselling and award-winning author of multiple novels for children, teens, and adults, including the Stonewall Honor Book Felix Ever After and the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature King and the Dragonflies. Callender enjoys playing RPG video games, practicing their art, and focusing on healing and growth in their free time.
Jessamine Chan’s short stories have appeared in Tin House and Epoch. A former reviews editor at Publishers Weekly, she holds an MFA from Columbia University and a BA from Brown University. Her work has received support from the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Wurlitzer Foundation, Jentel, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, the Anderson Center, VCCA, and Ragdale. She lives in Chicago with her husband and daughter.
Sheela Chari is the author of several critically acclaimed novels, including her recent book, Karthik Delivers, and The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel series, based on the Peabody Award-winning mystery podcast. Her other titles include Finding Mighty, a Children’s Choice Award finalist; and Vanished, an APALA Children’s Literature Honor Book, Edgar Award finalist, and Al’s Book Club Pick on the Today Show. Sheela holds an MFA from New York University and is a faculty member of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She lives in New York.
Traci Chee (she/her) is the New York Times bestselling author of The Reader series and a National Book Award finalist. Her previous novel, We Are Not Free, was met with a Printz Honor and Walter Honor in addition to the NBA nomination and received four-starred reviews.
Facebook & Instagram: @TraciCheeAuthor
Walter Dixon is a winner of Audible’s “#1 Editor’s Choice and Customer Favorites” award. He has narrated more than 250 audiobooks, performed in musical theatre, drama and opera productions and professional stand-up comedy. He has voiced commercials, corporate videos, animated features, audio tours for the Guggenheim and other museums and directed/starred in live readings of vintage radio dramas.
Kristin Dwyer (she/her), author of Some Mistakes Were Made, grew up under the California sun and prayed every day for a cloudy sky. Now Kristin and her spouse are currently raising their mischief makers in the hills of North Carolina, where there is just the right amount of clouds. When she’s not writing books about people kissing Kristin is a part-time hair model and full-time TSA PRECHECK. One time a credible news outlet asked for her opinion on K-pop (it was the best day of her life). Please do not talk to her about your fandom, she will try to join.
Deborah Falaye (she/her) is a Nigerian-Canadian young adult author of Blood Scion. She grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, where she spent her time devouring African literature, pestering her grandma for folktales, and tricking her grandfather into watching Passions every night. When she’s not writing about fierce Black girls with badass magic, she can be found obsessing over all things reality TV.
Award-winning novelist Erica Ferencik* has received critical praise for her literary thrillers featuring women who face extreme physical challenges in nature, even as they grapple with internal struggles. Devoted to authenticity, Erica spent weeks in the wilderness of northern Maine as research for her debut novel, The River at Night, which Ruth Ware called “raw, relentless, and heart-poundingly real.” For her “hair-raisingly vivid” (Kirkus) follow-up, Into the Jungle, Ferencik journeyed a hundred miles up the Amazon to experience the Peruvian jungle. Now, inspired and informed by a month-long trip to Greenland, Ferencik sets the New York Times, Oprah Daily, Los Angeles Times, and Wall Street Journal’s editors’ pick, Girl in Ice, in one of the most unforgiving, unforgettable landscapes imaginable.
Amanda Foody (she/her) is a New York Times and indie bestselling author of YA and children’s fantasy novels, including the All of Us Villains duology, the Wilderlore series, the Shadow Game series, and more.
Jessie Greengrass‘ collection of short stories, An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It won the Edge Hill Prize, a Somerset Maugham Award and was shortlisted for the Sunday Times PFD Young Writer of the Year Award. Her first novel, Sight, was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize. Her most recent novel, The High House, has been nominated for the Costa Novel Award and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction. She lives in Northumberland with her partner and children.
A former academic and adjunct, Alix E. Harrow is a NYT-bestselling and Hugo-award winning writer living in Virginia with her husband and their two semi-feral kids. She is the author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January, The Once and Future Witches, and various short fiction.
Veronica G. Henry is the author of Bacchanal, The Quarter Storm, and The Foreign Exchange (Feb 2023). Bacchanal was chosen as an Amazon Editor’s Pick for Best African American Fantasy and The Quarter Storm is a finalist for the Manly Wade Wellman Award. She is a Viable Paradise alum, and a member of SFWA. Her stories have appeared in FIYAH Literary Magazine.
Christine Lynn Herman (she/they) is the New York Times and indie bestselling author of novels about magic, monsters, and growing up, including All of Us Villains, the Devouring Gray duology, and The Drowning Summer. Christine resides in Somerville, MA with her partner and cat.
Allegra Hyde is the author of Eleutheria, as well as the short story collection, Of This New World, which won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award. A recipient of three Pushcart Prizes, Hyde’s writing has also been anthologized in Best American Travel Writing, Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions. Hyde has received fellowships and grants from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, The Elizabeth George Foundation, the Lucas Artist Residency Program, the U.S. Fulbright Commission, and elsewhere. She currently teaches at Oberlin College.
Liz Lawson (she/her) is the New York Times bestselling author of The Agathas (co-written with NYT Bestselling author Kathleen Glasgow) and The Lucky Ones, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2020. She lives outside of Washington DC with her family and two bratty cats.
Ken Liu is an American author of speculative fiction. A winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards, he wrote the Dandelion Dynasty, a silkpunk epic fantasy series (starting with The Grace of Kings), as well as short story collections The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories and The Hidden Girl and Other Stories. He also penned the Star Wars novel The Legends of Luke Skywalker. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Liu worked as a software engineer, corporate lawyer, and litigation consultant. Liu frequently speaks at conferences and universities on a variety of topics, including futurism, cryptocurrency, history of technology, bookmaking, narrative futures, and the mathematics of origami.
Nick McDonell is author of four novels, most recently The Council of Animals; his nonfiction works include The Civilization of Perpetual Movement: Nomads in the Modern World, The End of Major Combat Operations and The Bodies In Person: An Account of Civilian Casualties in American Wars.
Liz Michalski is the author of Darling Girl and Evenfall. A former reporter and editor, Liz now crafts articles on human interest, living, and health as a freelance writer. She lives with her family in Massachusetts, where she loves reading fairy tales and sometimes, writing them.
Matthew Phillion (he/him) is the author of the Indestructibles, a YA superhero novel series, its spinoff Echo and the Sea, and the Dungeon Crawlers novella series. He is a member of the Salem Athenaeum’s writers committee and was the lead writer for the opioid awareness education stage play Stories of Substance. A former filmmaker, Matthew wrote and directed the feature film Certainly Never, an indie romantic dramedy, and is a journalist and writer with a background in healthcare quality and cybersecurity.
Misha Popp (she/her) is the author of the Pies Before Guys mystery series. She enjoys writing about murdery women and over-the-top baked goods, but not so much about herself. She lives in rural Massachusetts where she bakes entirely too many pies and sculpts things out of chocolate. An unrepentant school nerd, she has a collection of degrees that have nothing to do with the jobs that pay her.
Ben Rawlence is a former researcher for Human Rights Watch in the horn of Africa. He is the author of City of Thorns and Radio Congo and has written for a wide range of publications, including The Guardian, the London Review of Books, and Prospect. He is the founder and director of Black Mountains College and lives with his family in Wales. @BenRawlence
Edward Renehan is a consultant who has ghosted dozens of books for professionals and organizations in tech, financial, and non-profit sectors. His specialties are digital technology, banking, business, Wall Street, innovation, leadership, and biography/memoir related to these fields. When not writing or sailing, Ed serves as the Managing Director of a very small, family-held digital-native publishing initiative, New Street Communications. Critically acclaimed books published under his own name include Deliberate Evil: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Daniel Webster, and the 1830 Murder of a Salem Slave Trader; Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould; and King of the Robber Barons. He has appeared on PBS’s The American Experience and NPR. A fifth-generation New Yorker, Ed now lives near Newport, RI.
Lev Rosen writes books for people of all ages, most recently Camp, which was a best book of the year from Forbes, Elle, and The Today Show, amongst others and is a Lambda finalist, an ALA Rainbow List Top Ten and is being adapted into a film directed by and starring Billy Porter. His next book, Lavender House, will be released October 18th. He lives in NYC with his husband and a very small cat.
Lynda Rutledge, a lifelong animal lover, has had the joy of petting baby rhinos, snorkeling with endangered turtles, and strolling with a tower of giraffes in her eclectic freelance career writing nonfiction for well-known publications and organizations while winning awards and residencies for her fiction. Her debut novel, Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale, won the 2013 Writers League of Texas Book Award for Fiction and was adapted into a major 2019 French film starring Catherine Deneuve. She, her husband, and resident dog, live outside Austin, Texas.
Due to a lifelong fascination with Ancient Greek mythology, Jennifer Saint read Classical Studies at King’s College, London. She spent the next thirteen years as an English teacher, sharing a love of literature and creative writing with her students. She is the internationally bestselling author of Elektra and Ariadne.
Alexis Schaitkin is the author of Saint X and her short stories and essays have appeared in Ecotone, Southwest Review, The Southern Review, The New York Times, and elsewhere. Her fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She lives in Williamstown, MA, with her husband and their two children.
A graduate with distinction of UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, Gina Sorell is the author of The Wise Women, a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, and a Good Morning America Buzz Pick, People Magazine Best New Book, Today Show Read With Jenna and Parade Magazine Most Anticipated Book of 2022. Her debut novel Mothers and Other Strangers, was a Great Group Reads Selection, and a 2017 best book of Refinery 29 and Self Magazine. Originally from Johannesburg, Gina has lived in New York and Los Angeles, and now lives in Toronto with her husband and son. Gina balances the solitary hours of fiction writing with work as a creative director and brand storyteller under the banner of her own agency, Words Make The Brand.
Mark Wacome Stevick is a professor of English at Gordon College, where he directs the creative writing program and the Five Ponds Writers Festival. He writes poetry, fiction, essays, and plays, which include Cry Innocent, The Scarlet Letter, and The Fish Mysteries, a riff on The Second Shepherds Play set on a Gloucester wharf. His Goodnight, Captain White is an interactive murder mystery based on the Captain White murder. Mark leads writing workshop on ekphrasis in Italy, theatre seminars to the UK, and student storytelling sojourns to The Moth. (He’s a StorySlam winner.) Before professing, he made radio commercials, taught high school theatre, and wrote grants for Gloucester Stage. He earned his master’s degree in creative writing from Boston University.
Adrian Tchaikovsky is an award-winning and highly acclaimed science fiction and fantasy author with works published at home in the UK and internationally. He primarily explores deep themes, such as artificial intelligence and alien awareness within epic galactic and fantastical settings. He has a deep interest in the animal world, specifically insects from his studies in Zoology and has a particular penchant for spiders.
Young Vo learned to draw before he could write. He drew a lot of characters, then began to write stories for them. There were not many job choices that he could make, so he decided to be an animator, illustrator, and author. Now he writes and draws his stories before the sun rises, then during the day, he animates. His debut picture book, Gibberish, inspired in-part by his personal experience emigrating to a new country as a kid, was published this spring by Levine Querido. Young lives outside of Baltimore, MD.
Weike Wang is the author of Chemistry (Knopf 2017) and Joan Is Okay (Random House 2022). She is the recipient of the 2018 Pen Hemingway, a Whiting award and a National Book Foundation 5 under 35. Her work has appeared in Ploughshares and The New Yorker, among other publications. She is in the 2019 Best American Short Stories and O. Henry Prizes. She earned her MFA from Boston University and her other degrees (a bachelors in Chemistry and a doctorate in epidemiology) from Harvard. She currently lives in New York City and teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, Barnard College and Columbia University.
Jenna Evans Welch (she/her) was the kind of insatiable child reader who had no choice but to grow up to become a writer. She is the New York Times bestselling author of Love & Gelato, Love & Luck, and Love & Olives. When she isn’t writing girl abroad stories, Jenna can be found chasing her children or making elaborate messes in the kitchen. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and two young children.
Karen Winn received her MFA from Fairleigh Dickinson University. She also holds a doctoral degree in nursing. Born and raised in New Jersey, Karen now lives in Boston with her husband and two children. Our Little World is her first novel.
Xiran Jay Zhao (they/them) is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Widow series and Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor. A first-gen Hui Chinese immigrant from small-town China to Vancouver, Canada, they were raised by the Internet and made the inexplicable decision to leave their biochem degree in the dust to write books and make educational content instead. You can find them on Twitter for memes, Instagram for cosplays and fancy outfits, TikTok for fun short videos, and YouTube for long videos about Chinese history and culture.