Amanda Uhle is the executive director and publisher of McSweeney’s, known for its daily humor website, award-winning quarterly literary journal, and intrepid list of books. Uhle is the occasional host of the Living Writers podcast. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Newsweek, Electric Literature, LitHub, Think Progress, and elsewhere. She is an enthusiastic supporter of youth writing programs in the 826 Valencia family and beyond.
David Kipen is an author, critic, broadcaster, arts administrator and founder of Libros Schmibros, a non-profit lending library in Boyle Heights, California. He is the former literature director of the National Endowment for the Arts. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared widely, and he is most recently author of the collection, Dear Los Angeles: The City in Diaries and Letters 1542 to 2018. His advocacy on behalf of a Federal Writers’ Project has led to its introduction as proposed legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Tom Barbash is the author of four books as well as reviews, essays, and articles for publications such as McSweeney’s, Tin House, the Believer, Narrative Magazine, ZYZZYVA, and the New York Times. His short story collection Stay Up With Me was nominated for the Folio Prize and picked as a Best Book of the Year by the Independent of London, NPR, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the San Jose Mercury News. His novel The Last Good Chance was awarded The California Book Award and was a Publishers Weekly and Anniston Star Best Book of the Year. His nonfiction book On Top of the World, about the fate of the bond firm Cantor Fitzgerald on 9/11, was a New York Times Bestseller. A well-regarded speaker, panelist, and interviewer, Barbash teaches the novel, short fiction, and nonfiction at California College of the Arts. His most recent book, the novel The Dakota Winters, was a National Bestseller, and named as an Editors Choice by The New York Times Book Review, Oprah Magazine, Rolling Stone and People.
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Alex Espinoza was born in Tijuana, Mexico to parents from the state of Michoacán. He graduated from the University of California-Riverside, then went on to earn an MFA from UC-Irvine’s Program in Writing. His first novel, Still Water Saints, was published by Random House in 2007. His second novel, The Five Acts of Diego León, was published by Random House in March 2013. Alex’s work has appeared in several anthologies and journals. His awards include a 2009 Margaret Bridgeman Fellowship in Fiction to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a 2014 Fellowship in Prose from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a 2014 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for The Five Acts of Diego León. His latest is Cruising: An Intimate History of a Radical Pastime (Unnamed Press 2019). Alex teaches at UC-Riverside where he serves as the Tomás Rivera Endowed Chair of Creative Writing. www.alexespinoza.com
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Sands Hall‘s recent memoir, Reclaiming My Decade Lost in Scientology, (Counterpoint), was a finalist for the Northern California Book Award, and a Publishers Weekly Best Book in Religion and Spirituality. She is also the author of the novel, Catching Heaven (Ballantine), a Willa Award Winner, Women Writing the West, and a Random House Reader’s Circle selection; as well as a volume of essays and exercises, Tools of the Writer’s Craft. Stories and essays have been published in such places as Iowa Review, New England Review, and Los Angeles Review of Books, and she has written several produced plays. Professor Emeritus at Franklin & Marshall College, Sands is a writing coach and teaches for the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and for the Community of Writers, among other conferences. She is also a theater artist and a singer/songwriter. Sands lives in Nevada City, California. Please visit https://sandshall.com/
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David Haynes is an emeritus professor of English at Southern Methodist University and 25-year member of faculty at the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. He has written seven novels for adults and five books for younger readers. His most recent is A Star in the Face of the Sky. He is the Board Chair for Kimbilio.
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Dana Johnson is the author of the short story collection In the Not Quite Dark. She is also the author of Break Any Woman Down, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction; and the novel Elsewhere, California. Both books were nominees for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, ZYZZYVA, The Paris Review, Callaloo, The Iowa Review and Huizache, among others. Born and raised in and around Los Angeles, she is a professor of English at the University of Southern California. https://danajohnsonauthor.com/
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Jared Jackson is the literary programs manager at PEN America. He received an MFA in fiction from Columbia University, where he was awarded a Chair’s Fellowship and Creative Writing Teaching Fellowship. His work has received support from the Tin House Winter Workshop and has appeared in The Yale Review and Guernica, among others. Jackson was a finalist for the 2021/22 George Bennett Fellowship, the 2021 Baltic Writing Residency in London, and the 2019 Iowa Review Award in fiction.
Krys Lee is the author of Drifting House and How I Became a North Korean, and the translator of I Hear Your Voice and Diary of a Murderer: And Other Stories by Young-ha Kim. She is the recipient of the Rome Prize and the Story Prize Spotlight Award, and a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and the BBC International Story Prize. Her fiction, journalism, and literary translations have appeared in Granta, the New York Times Book Review, Corriere della Sera, and The Guardian, among others. She is an assistant professor of creative writing and literature at Yonsei University, Underwood International College, in South Korea. www.kryslee.com
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Peter Orner is the author of six books including, Maggie Brown & Others, a New York Times Notable Book, an Oprah Magazine Top Ten book for 2019, and winner of the Edward Lewis Wallant Award for Jewish Fiction. His novel, Love and Shame and Love, won the California Book Award and his essay collection Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Reading to Live and Living to Read was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. A three-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, Orner received the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship. His work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Best American Stories. He holds the Dartmouth Professorship of English and Creative Writing, and lives with his family in Norwich, Vermont where he’s a member of the fire department.
JULIA FLYNN SILER is a nonfiction author and journalist. She began her writing life as a reporter in Los Angeles and Chicago, and then as a foreign correspondent in London for BusinessWeek and The Wall Street Journal. She is the author of The House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty and Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America’s First Imperial Venture, both New York Times bestsellers. Her most recent book is The White Devil’s Daughters: The Women Who Fought Slavery in San Francisco’s Chinatown, a finalist for a California Book Award. A graduate of Brown University, Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, and Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Ms. Siler has served on Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism’s alumni board, the board of the non-profit Litquake Foundation in San Francisco, and U.C. Berkeley’s Bancroft Library’s Friends Council. She was named a National Endowment for the Humanities “Public Scholar” in 2016-2107 and will be a Distinguished Careers Institute fellow at Stanford University in 2022-2023. She and her husband Charlie Siler have two sons and live in Northern California. Ms. Siler is a participant and longtime staff member of the Community of Writers. www.juliaflynnsiler.com
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Martin J. Smith is an award-winning journalist and author of five suspense novels, including the Edgar Award-nominated Straw Men and the thriller Combustion; and five nonfiction books, including The Wild Duck Chase, the essay collection Mr. Las Vegas Has a Bad Knee, and the forthcoming Going to Trinidad: A Doctor, a Colorado Town, and Stories from an Unlikely Gender Crossroads (Bower House, April 2021). A participant at the Community of Writers in 1992, Smith has been returning as a faculty member since 2002. https://martinjsmith.com/
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Lisa Teasley is the author of the novels Dive and Heat Signature, and the award-winning story collection, Glow in the Dark, published by Bloomsbury. Teasley is the writer and presenter of the BBC television documentary “High School Prom”; her essays, stories and poems have been much anthologized, appearing in publications and media such as National Public Radio, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Joyland, 7X7 LA and ZYZZYVA. An Editor-at-Large for Los Angeles Review of Books and a member of the LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design, Lisa is also a visual artist who has exhibited widely.
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David L. Ulin is the author or editor of more than a dozen books, including Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles, which was shortlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, and The Lost Art of Reading: Books and Resistance in a Troubled Time. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, and Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The former book editor and book critic of the Los Angeles Times, he is an associate professor of English at the University of Southern California, where he edits the literary journal Air/Light. Most recently, he has edited Didion: The 1980s and 90s, for the Library of America.