Max Byrd

Max Byrd is the author of a number of detective novels including California Thriller, which won the Shamus Award, as well as the historical novels Jefferson, Jackson, Grant, Shooting the Sun and The Paris Deadline, which was named by Kirkus Reviews as one of the ten best crime novels of 2013. He reviews regularly for The New York Times Book Review and is a Contributing Editor for The Wilson Quarterly. He attended the Community of Writers in 1983, and returns to teach on a regular basis. For many years he served on the Board of Directors, including more than a decade as the President of the Board.


Mo Gawdat

Mo Gawdat is the Chief Business Officer for Google [X], a serial entrepreneur and author of Solve for Happy: Engineering Your Path to Joy (2017). Through his 12-year research on the topic of happiness, he created an algorithm and a repeatable, well-engineered model to reach a state of uninterrupted happiness regardless of the circumstances of life. He works in Google’s innovation arm, Google [X] where he leads the business strategy, planning, sales, business development and partnerships. Alongside his career, he remains a serial entrepreneur who has cofounded more than 20 businesses in fields such as health and fitness, food and beverage, and real estate.

Michelle Latiolais

Michelle Latiolais is a Professor of English at the University of California at Irvine. She is the author of the novel Even Now which received the Gold Medal for Fiction from the Commonwealth Club of California. Her second novel, A Proper Knowledge, was published in 2008 by Bellevue Literary Press. She has published writing in three anthologies, Absolute Disaster, Women On The Edge: Writing From Los Angeles and Woof! Writers on Dogs. Her stories and essays have appeared in Zyzzyva, The Antioch Review, Western Humanities Review, Santa Monica Review, Iowa Review and the Northwest Review. Widow, a collection of stories, involutions and essays, was published in 2011 by Bellevue Literary Press. Recent work has appeared in Zyzzyva, Santa Monica Review, Juked and The Kenyon Review. Her last book, She was published in 2016 by W.W. Norton & Company.

Photo Credit: Brett Hall Jones


Gabriel Tallent

Gabriel Tallent is the author of the novel, My Absolute Darling, a New York Times bestseller, published in August 2017 by Riverhead Books. He was born in New Mexico and raised on the Mendocino coast by two mothers. He received his BA from Willamette University with a focus on eighteenth-century literature. After graduation he spent two seasons leading youth trail crews in the backcountry of the Pacific Northwest. His stories have been published in Narrative and in the St. Petersburg Review. He lives in Salt Lake City. Instagram @gabriel_tallent.

Photo credit: Alex Adams Photography

Amy Tan

Born in the U.S to immigrant parents from China, Amy Tan rejected her mother’s expectations that she become a doctor and concert pianist. She chose to write fiction instead. Her novels are The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Saving Fish from Drowning, and The Valley of Amazement, all New York Times bestsellers. She is the author of two memoirs, The Opposite of Fate and Where the Past Begins, and two children’s books, The Moon Lady and Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat. Tan served as co-producer and co-screenwriter for the film adaptation of The Joy Luck Club and was creative consultant for Sagwa, the Emmy-nominated PBS television series for children. She wrote the libretto for the opera based on her novel, The Bonesetter’s Daughter. With music composed by Stewart Wallace, the opera had its world premiere in 2008 at the San Francisco Opera. The 30th edition of The Joy Luck Club with a new forward by Amy Tan is expected to be released in Spring of 2019.

Photo Credit: Julian Johnson