Bookfest Speakers

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Nawaaz Ahmed

Charlie Jane Anders

Ryka Aoki

Lauren Blackwood

Carly Bloom

Pauline Boss

Claire Boyles

Jennifer Marie Brissett

Amber Cabral

Cozbi A. Cabrera

P. Djèlí Clark

Michele Cobb

Jaime Cortez

Andrienne Cruz

Ash Davidson

Charlotte Nicole Davis

Robin Dellabough

Natashia Deón

Alda P. Dobbs

Keynote Speaker

Anthony Doerr

Samantha Edelson

Sandra Farag

Chloe Gong

Farah Jasmine Griffin

Sarah Hennig

Ashley Henrichs

Derek Ivie

K.M. Jackson

Michelle Cassandra Johnson

Keynote Speaker

Tayari Jones

Donna Paz Kaufman

Mark Kaufman

Rosemary Kiladitis

Juhea Kim

Kevin King

TJ Klune

Thien-Kim Lam

LaQuette

Cicely Lewis

Nesrine Malik

Ana Maria

Freya Marske

Dr. Rupa Marya

Sarah Miller

Lydia Millet

Denene Millner

Kate Moore

Alene Moroni

Bethany C. Morrow

Kamrun Nesa

Brian O’Leary

Chibundu Onuzo

Mark Oshiro

Shelley Parker-Chan

Raj Patel

Sajni Patel

Mark Pearson

Leslye Penelope

Darrell Rigby

Vanessa Riley

Farrah Rochon

Elias Rodriques

Morgan Rogers

Steven Rogers

Lucinda Roy

Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Victoria Schwab

Lauren Shippen

Clint Smith

Karelia Stetz-Waters

Maggie Stiefvater

Kaite Stover

Karina Urquhart

Rebecca Vnuk

Rebekah Weatherspoon

Tia Williams

Jamia Wilson

Jarrod Wilson

Leslie C. Youngblood

Katie Zhao

Nawaaz Ahmed

Nawaaz Ahmed was born in Tamil Nadu, India. Before becoming a novelist, he was a computer scientist, researching search algorithms for Yahoo. He holds an MFA from University of Michigan–Ann Arbor and is the winner of several Hopwood Awards. He has completed residencies at MacDowell, Yaddo, Djerassi, VCCA, and Bread Loaf. He’s also a Kundiman and Lambda Literary Fellow. His fiction has appeared in the Sonora Review and been performed at the Sterling Music Room. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

Charlie Jane Anders

Charlie Jane Anders is the former editor-in-chief of io9.com, the popular Gawker Media site devoted to science fiction and fantasy. She is the author of the highly acclaimed science fiction novel, City in the Middle of the Night. Her debut novel, All the Birds in the Sky, won the Nebula Award for Best Novel and was a Hugo Award finalist. Her story, “Six Months, Three Days” won a Hugo Award. She has also had fiction published by McSweeney’s, Lightspeed, and ZYZZYVA. Her journalism has appeared in Salon, the Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones, and many other outlets.

Ryka Aoki

Ryka Aoki (she/her) is a poet, composer, teacher, and novelist whose books include He Mele a Hilo and two Lambda Award finalists, Seasonal Velocities and Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul. Ryka’s work has appeared or been recognized in publications including Vogue, Elle, Bustle, Autostraddle, PopSugar, and Buzzfeed. Her poetry was featured at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, and she was honored by the California State Senate for “extraordinary commitment to the visibility and well-being of Transgender people.”

Lauren Blackwood

Lauren Blackwood is a Jamaican American New Yorker living in Virginia who writes Romance-heavy Fantasy for most ages. When not writing, she’s a PTA and violinist who really doesn’t know how to settle on one career field. Within These Wicked Walls is her debut novel.

Carly Bloom

Carly Bloom began her writing career as a family humor columnist and blogger, a pursuit she abandoned when her children grew old enough to literally die from embarrassment. To save their delicate lives, Carly turned to penning steamy, contemporary romance. The kind with bare chests on the covers. Carly and her husband raise their mortified brood of offspring on a cattle ranch in South Texas.

Pauline Boss

Pauline Boss, Ph.D.; Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota; family therapist; and consultant is a Fellow in the American Psychological Association and American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and a former president of the National Council on Family Relations. With her groundbreaking work in research and practice, Dr. Boss coined the term ambiguous loss in the 1970s and since then, developed and tested the theory of ambiguous loss, a guide for working with families of the missing, physically or psychologically. She summarized this research and clinical work in her widely acclaimed book, Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief (Harvard University Press, 2000). In addition to hundreds of academic articles and book chapters, her books include Loss, Trauma, and Resilience: Therapeutic Work with Ambiguous Loss (W. W. Norton, 2006) and Loving Someone Who Has Dementia: How to Find Hope While Coping with Stress and Grief (Jossey-Bass, 2011). Her most recent book is The Myth of Closure: Ambiguous Loss in a Time of Pandemic, to be published by W. W. Norton in November 2021.

Claire Boyles

Claire Boyles is a writer, teacher, and former sustainable farmer. She received her MFA in creative writing from Colorado State University. Her fiction has appeared in Boulevard and the Kenyon Review. She lives in Loveland, Colorado.

Jennifer Marie Brissett

Jennifer Marie Brissett is the author of the forthcoming novel Destroyer of Light (Tor Books). She has been a software engineer, web developer, and the proprietor of Indigo Café & Books in Brooklyn. She teaches speculative fiction in the MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University and has a Masters in Creative Writing from the Stonecoast MFA Program. Her stories can be found in Lightspeed Magazine, Motherboard/VICE, Uncanny Magazine, and Morpheus Tales amongst other publications. Her debut novel, Elysium (Aqueduct 2014) received the Philip K. Dick Award Special Citation and has been a finalist for the Locus Award for Best First Novel and the Tiptree Award.

Amber Cabral

Amber Cabral is an inclusion strategist, certified coach, writer, and speaker who has been featured on television and in print and digital media. Formerly a Diversity Strategist at Walmart Stores, Inc., she is founder of Cabral Co., a diversity, equity, and inclusive leadership-focused consulting firm. She hosts the You Can Have Whatever You Want podcast and regularly speaks and writes about inclusion, culture, equity, and social justice topics.

Cozbi A. Cabrera

Cozbi A. Cabrera is a multimedia artist. Trained as an art director, this Parsons School of Design grad left her dream job creating music packaging in NY (art direction and design for artists such as Yo-Yo Ma and award winning platinum selling artist Ginuwine) to make handmade collectible cloth dolls (Muñecas) in honor of her Honduran heritage. Her dolls were featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Martha Stewart Living, Land Of Nod catalogue, and many US networks. Cozbi’s star reviewed illustrated titles include: Beauty Her Basket by Sandra Belton, Thanks A Million by Nikki Grimes, Stitchin’ and Pullin’ by Patricia McKissack, Most Loved in All the World by Tonya Cherie Hegamin, and Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade. Cozbi has authored/illustrated My Hair Is A Garden and Me and Mama.

P. Djèlí Clark

Born in New York and raised mostly in Houston, P. Djèlí Clark spent the formative years of his life in the homeland of his parents, Trinidad and Tobago. He is the award winning and Hugo and Sturgeon nominated author of the novellas The Black God’s Drums and The Haunting of Tram Car 015. His writings have appeared in online venues such as Tor.com, Daily Science Fiction, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Apex, Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and in print anthologies including, Griots, Hidden Youth and Clockwork Cairo. His short story “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Negro Teeth of Washington” (Fireside Fiction) has earned him both a Nebula and Locus award. He is also a founding member of FIYAH Literary Magazine and an infrequent reviewer at Strange Horizons.

Michele Cobb

Michele Cobb has served on the Audio Publishers Association board since 2001, as a director and officer, and is currently Executive Director. She is a partner at Forte Business Consulting, which provides Business Development services for the publishing industry, and she is Publisher of both AudioFile Magazine and MMB Media.

Jaime Cortez

Jaime Cortez is a graphic novelist, visual artist, writer, teacher, and occasional performer. Cortez has historically used art and humor to explore sexuality, social justice, HIV/AIDS, and Chicano identity.

Andrienne Cruz

Andrienne Cruz is a public librarian who orders ebooks and loves recommending books! Cruz is a Booklist reviewer, NoveList contributor, and LibraryReads board member. They love to read a wide variety of books to better prepare for any book requests that might come their way!

Ash Davidson

Ash Davidson was born in Arcata, California, and attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her work has been supported by the Arizona Commission on the Arts and MacDowell. She lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Charlotte Nicole Davis

Charlotte Nicole Davis (they/them) is the critically acclaimed author of The Good Luck Girls and loves comic book movies and books with maps in the front. A graduate of The New School’s Writing for Children MFA program, they currently live in Brooklyn.

Robin Dellabough

As projects director for Publishers Lunch/Publishers Marketplace, Robin produces biannual Buzz Books, organizes the Buzz Editors Panels, coordinates social media and marketing, oversees publishing forum, Discuss!, and more. Previously, Robin co-founded book packaging company Lark Productions and worked for Seth Godin’s publishing outfit. Robin has written or edited bestselling books on subjects such as parenting, communications, education, lifestyle, spirituality, the arts, and marketing.

Natashia Deón

Natashia Deón is an NAACP Image Award Nominee, practicing criminal attorney, and college professor. A Pamela Krasney Moral Courage Fellow, Deón is the author of the critically acclaimed debut novel, Grace, which was named a Best Book by The New York Times. Deón has been awarded fellowships by PEN America, Prague’s Creative Writing Program, Dickinson House in Belgium, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts.

Alda P. Dobbs

Alda P. Dobbs is the author of the upcoming novel Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna. She was born in a small town in northern Mexico but moved to San Antonio, Texas as a child. Alda studied physics and worked as an engineer before pursuing her love of storytelling. She’s as passionate about connecting children to their past, their communities, different cultures and nature as she is about writing. Alda lives with her husband and two children outside Houston, Texas.

Keynote Speaker

Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr is the author of the forthcoming Cloud Cuckoo Land and of All the Light We Cannot See, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Carnegie Medal, the Alex Award, and a #1 New York Times bestseller. He is also the author of the story collections Memory Wall and The Shell Collector, the novel About Grace, and the memoir Four Seasons in Rome. He has won five O. Henry Prizes, the Rome Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, the National Magazine Award for fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Story Prize. Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho, with his wife and two sons.

Samantha Edelson

Samantha Edelson is the Vice President of Marketing at Macmillan Audio where she has worked for the past twelve years. She oversees all of the marketing and publicity efforts there, including advertising, social media, and sales management. Sam is currently the VP of Communications for the Audio Publishers Association. Her audiobook tastes are wide ranging and include narrative nonfiction, light-hearted fiction, and anything with an Australian accent.

Sandra Farag

Sandra Farag is the Head of Youth Services for Kalamazoo Public Library, where she supervises a team to ensure high standards in collections, programming, and community partnerships—with a focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion. Prior to working at KPL, Sandra was the Manager of Youth Collection Development for Ingram Library Services, providing libraries with curated collections, and developing new and ongoing diversity resources. Sandra also worked for the New York Public Library for 17 years, and also 3 years working simultaneously with NYPL and Brooklyn Public Library as a Supervising Librarian with the Youth Collection Development team. She curated collections for both NYPL and BPL while supporting programs and initiatives. She is active in ALA (ALSC, YALSA, LLAMA, EMIERT, RRT, SRRT) and currently collaborating on projects with BCALA and GNCRT. Sandra has served on award committees such as: #WNDB Walter Award, ALSC’s Batchelder Award, and YALSA’s Excellence in Nonfiction Award.

Chloe Gong

Chloe Gong is a student at the University of Pennsylvania, studying English and international relations. During her breaks, she’s either at home in New Zealand or visiting her many relatives in Shanghai. Chloe has been known to mysteriously appear when “Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s best plays and doesn’t deserve its slander in pop culture” is chanted into a mirror three times.

Farah Jasmine Griffin

Farah Jasmine Griffin was the inaugural chair of Department of African American & African Diaspora Studies at Columbia University, where she is also William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature. The author of numerous books, she lives in New York.

Sarah Hennig

Sarah Hennig is a children’s librarian at Queens Public Library. She has worked in the Rockaways of New York since she started at QPL in 2015. Ms. Hennig has a love for library programming. She enjoys doing arts and craft programs, creating literacy STEM programs, and singing with her library kids during Storytimes. Currently Ms. Hennig has been a big part in assisting with virtual library programming ranging from Facebook Live programs, training librarians on Bitmoji Libraries, and working on the children’s online program committee. In her spare time, Ms. Hennig likes to ride her bicycle on the boardwalk and go hiking. She has two wonderful cats, Logan and Selby.

Ashley Henrichs

A graduate of Franklin and Marshall College with a BA in Anthropology and Classical Archaeology and Ancient History and of St. John’s University’s Department of Library and Information Science with her MLIS, Ashley is currently the Assistant Community Library Manager of the Hillcrest Branch of the Queens Public Library. Having worked in several public and academic libraries over the last 6 years, Ashley began her career doing adult reference on Long Island, eventually settling as the children’s librarian for the Hillcrest branch of QPL before being promoted to ACLM. Her commitment to children’s programming led her to being a founding member of the children’s online programming committee during the COVID-19 pandemic alongside fellow panel members Rosemary Kiladitis and Sarah Hennig.

Derek Ivie

Derek Ivie is the Youth Services Coordinator at the Suffolk Cooperative Library System in Bellport, NY. He is also the co-chair of the Long Island Library Pride Alliance (LILPA) whose purpose is to provide LGBTQIA+ information, services, and materials to library professionals on Long Island. Outside of the library world you can find him enjoying a cold brew, reading YA novels, and co-hosting the pop culture podcast, A Bite Of.

K.M. Jackson

USA Today bestselling author, native New Yorker, Kwana Jackson aka K.M. Jackson spent her formative years on the ‘A’ train where she had two dreams: 1) to be a fashion designer and 2) to be a writer. After spending over ten years designing women’s sportswear for various fashion houses Kwana took the leap of faith and decided to pursue her other dream of being a writer. A longtime advocate for equality and diversity in romance and #WeNeedDiverseRomance, Kwana is a mother of twins and currently lives in a suburb of New York with her husband. How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days releases in November.

Michelle Cassandra Johnson

Michelle Cassandra Johnson is a social justice warrior, author, Dismantling Racism trainer, empath, yoga teacher and practitioner, and intuitive healer. With more than twenty years of experience leading Dismantling Racism workshops and working with clients as a licensed clinical social worker, she has a deep understanding of how trauma impacts the mind, body, spirit, and heart. Her awareness of the world through her own experience as a Black woman allows her to know, firsthand, how privilege and power operate.

Keynote Speaker

Tayari Jones

Tayari Jones is the author of four titles and currently is an Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University and Professor of Creative Writing at Emory University. Her book, An American Marriage, is an Oprah’s Book Club Selection and appeared in Barack Obama’s summer reading list and year-end round up. The novel was awarded the Women’s Prize for Fiction, NAACP Image Award, and more.

Donna Paz Kaufman

After managing one of the country’s leading independent bookstore cafes and working in publishing, Donna founded The Bookstore Training Group of Paz & Associates in 1992 with the mission of helping booksellers build skills and insights so that they may lead healthy, life-driven, profitable independent bookstores. Today, Donna and her husband Mark also own Story & Song Bookstore Bistro, a 4,500 bookstore cafe and arts venue on Amelia Island, Florida and work with indie booksellers around the globe. She holds a business degree and is a certified trainer in customer service and leadership.

Mark Kaufman

Mark Kaufman applies his background in human resources, group facilitation, marketing communications, and organization transformation to his work with bookstore students and clients. He has worked with booksellers to enhance their marketing efforts and develop strategies and materials to facilitate the sale of a bookstore and owner transition. He and his partner and wife Donna Paz Kaufman also own Story & Song Bookstore Bistro, a 4,500 bookstore cafe and arts venue on Amelia Island, Florida and work with indie booksellers around the globe.

Rosemary Kiladitis

Rosemary Kiladitis is a native New Yorker (well, almost – she arrived here at 5 days old, having been born in Hollywood, Florida) and a self-confessed bibliomaniac. She has fond memories of burning out many an Itty Bitty Book Light as a child, reading under the covers well past her bedtime, and loves being able to read by Nook light when everyone else in her house is asleep. The excitement of rediscovering her childhood favorites – and discovering new favorites! – with her own kids led her to children’s librarianship after a little over a decade in book publishing. She received her Masters in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University in 2013 and is a children’s librarian in the Queens Library system. She loves connecting the right kid with the right book and watching the magic happen, and she dreams of world domination through storytime. She lives in Queens, New York, with her husband and an assortment of kids and pets.

Juhea Kim

Juhea Kim was born in Incheon, Korea, and moved to Portland, Oregon, at age nine. Her writing has been published in Granta, Catapult, Joyland, Times Literary Supplement, The Independent, Zyzzyva, and elsewhere. She is the founder and editor of Peaceful Dumpling, an online magazine at the intersection of sustainable lifestyle and ecological literature. She earned her BA in Art and Archaeology from Princeton University. After a decade in New York City, Kim now lives with her two rescue cats in Portland, Oregon.

Kevin King

Kevin King has worked at the Kalamazoo Public Library (KPL) since 1998. Currently he serves as the Head of Community Engagement, which includes working with the library branches, mobile library vehicle, outreach, programming, security and social services. Kevin has presented at conferences in workshops in over 20 states on topics like leadership, organizational healthy, innovation, and trauma-informed care. In 2020, he became the inaugural winner of the Michigan Library Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In March of this year, Kevin launched KPL’s first podcast, Five Author Questions with his co-host Sandra Farag.

TJ Klune

TJ Klune is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling, Lambda Literary Award-winning author of The Extraordinaries, The House in the Cerulean Sea, and more. Being queer himself, TJ believes it’s important—now more than ever—to have accurate, positive, queer representation in stories. The Extraordinaries was TJ Klune’s YA debut.

Thien-Kim Lam

Thien-Kim writes stories about Vietnamese characters who smash stereotypes and find their happy endings. A recovering Type-Asian, she guzzles cà phê sữa đá, makes art, and bakes her feelings to stay sane. Thien-Kim is also the founder of Bawdy Bookworms, a subscription box that pairs sexy romances with erotic toys. She’s been featured on NPR, BBC America, and NBC.

LaQuette

LaQuette writes savvy, sexy contemporary romance. She is the 2016 Author of the Year Golden Apple Award Winner, 2016 Write Touch Reader’s Choice Winner, and a 2018 Passionate Plume Finalist. She is an advocate for diverse romance in the publishing industry. LaQuette, a native of Brooklyn, lives in the mountains with her book-boyfriend husband and their two rambunctious kids.

Cicely Lewis

Named the 2020 National Librarian of the Year by School Library Journal and Scholastic, a 2019 Library Journal Mover and Shaker and the 2019 National Teacher Award for Lifelong Readers by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and Penguin Random House (PRH) , Cicely Lewis is a school librarian with a passion for creating lovers of reading. In 2017, she started the Read Woke challenge in response to the shootings of young unarmed black people, the repeal of DACA, and the lack of diversity in young adult literature. Her students were required to read books that challenge the social norm and give voice to the voiceless. Using this platform, she had inspired the nation to Read Woke with educators across the world joining in and sharing the movement with their students. A native of Mississippi, she currently resides in Georgia with her Anime loving husband, Michael and two rambunctious children, Tristan and Trinity. When she is not reading, you can find Cicely writing for her bi-monthly column in the School Library Journal where she shares her book recommendations. Her writing was recently featured in the 20th Anniversary Edition of Walter Dean Myers 145th Street Short Stories.

Nesrine Malik

Nesrine Malik is an award-winning British-Sudanese columnist and features writer for the Guardian. We Need New Stories is her first book. She lives in London.

Ana Maria

Ana Maria joined Workman Publishing in 2020 to launch Workman Audio, where she oversees production, distribution, marketing, and sales of audiobooks published simultaneously with the print editions from across the Workman imprints. Ana Maria is an audiobook industry veteran; in her last role before joining Workman she was vice president and publisher of HarperAudio at HarperCollins Publishers.

Freya Marske

Freya Marske is one of the co-hosts of Be the Serpent, a Hugo Award-nominated podcast about SFF, fandom, and literary tropes, and her work has sold to Analog and been shortlisted for Best Fantasy Short Story in the Aurealis Awards. She lives in Australia.

Dr. Rupa Marya

Dr. Rupa Marya is a physician, activist, mother and composer. She is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco where she practices and teaches Internal Medicine. Her research examines the health impacts of social systems, from agriculture to policing. She is a co-founder of the Do No Harm Coalition, a collective of health workers committed to addressing disease through structural change. At the invitation of Lakota health leaders, she is currently helping to set up the Mni Wiconi Health Clinic and Farm at Standing Rock in order to decolonize medicine and food. She has toured 29 countries with her band Rupa and the April Fishes, whose music was described by legend Gil Scott Heron as “Liberation Music.”

Sarah Miller

Sarah Miller has been the Program Coordinator at NCTE since 2020. She coordinates many awards, partnerships, and philanthropic opportunities for the organization, and is the liaison and coordinator for book-related committees and initiatives, including Build Your Stack®, the Charlotte Huck Award® for fiction, the Orbis Pictus Award® for non-fiction, and the Excellence in Poetry for Children Award. A book lover and dedicated reader, she loves children’s literature, classic literature, fiction, biography and memoir, academic works (especially on book history, culture, art, religion, and philosophy), and the occasional romance. She previously worked as a coordinator for the Honors Program and for the Speech-Language Pathology Graduate Program at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, Illinois.

Lydia Millet

Lydia Millet has won awards from PEN Center USA and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and her books have been finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She lives outside Tucson, Arizona.

Denene Millner

Denene Millner is the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of 31 books, including The Fresh Princess, co-written with Will Smith, and The Vow, the novel on which the Lifetime movie, “With This Ring,” was based. Denene also is editor of Denene Millner Books, a Simon & Schuster imprint that won Newbery and Caldecott honors and the Kirkus Prize for Children’s Literature in its debut year. Denene also is co-host of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “A Seat at the Table,” an Emmy-nominated talk show about black women, and host of “Speakeasy,” a podcast that examines blackness.

Kate Moore

Kate Moore is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Radium Girls, which won the 2017 Goodreads Choice Award for Best History, was voted U.S. librarians’ favorite nonfiction book of 2017, and was named a Notable Nonfiction Book of 2018 by the American Library Association. A British writer based in London, Kate writes across a variety of genres and has had multiple titles on the Sunday Times bestseller list. Her new book is The Woman They Could Not Silence, publishing June 22, 2021.

Alene Moroni

Alene Moroni is a Sagittarius who’s been professionally pushing books for more than a quarter century. She spent the first couple of decades at two giant library systems (one on each coast) and in 2015 settled into a small standalone library in western Massachusetts. She takes milk and sugar in her tea, likes peanut butter on most things, and does laundry to relax.

Bethany C. Morrow

Bethany C. Morrow is a recovering expat recently returning from six years in Montreal, Quebec, to live and write in north country, New York. A California native, Bethany graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a BA in Sociology. Following undergrad, she studied Clinical Psychological Research at the University of Wales, Bangor, in Great Britain before returning to North America to focus on her literary work. She is the author of the adult novel Mem, So Many Beginnings: A Little Women Remix and the national bestseller A Song Below Water, and the editor of the young adult anthology Take the Mic.

Kamrun Nesa

Kamrun Nesa is a senior book publicist and freelance writer based in New York. Her work has been featured in NPR, Glamour, The Washington Post, PopSugar, and more. She also co-hosts a romance book podcast called LITerally Us.

Brian O’Leary

Brian O’Leary is executive director of the Book Industry Study Group, a U.S.-based trade association that works to create a more informed, effective, and efficient book industry supply chain. He oversees the work BISG does to disseminate information, create and implement standards and best practices, conduct research, and grow membership from companies working throughout the supply chain.

Chibundu Onuzo

Chibundu Onuzo was born in Lagos, Nigeria and lives in London. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and regular contributor to the Guardian, she is the winner of a Betty Trask Award, has been shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Commonwealth Book Prize, and the RSL Encore Award, and has been longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and Etisalat Literature Prize. The author of Welcome to Lagos, Sankofa is her third novel.

Mark Oshiro

Mark Oshiro (They/Them) is the Hugo Award nominated writer of the online Mark Does Stuff universe (Mark Reads and Mark Watches), where they acutely scrutinize and emphatically react to a flavorful array of books and TV series. Best known for their exquisitely rendered post-apocalypic YA fantasy novel Each of Us a Desert, “an organically Spanish-studded examination of trauma,” they are a notable voice in the queer and latinx spaces.

Shelley Parker-Chan

Shelley Parker-Chan is an Australian by way of Malaysia and New Zealand. A 2017 Tiptree Fellow, she is the author of the historical fantasy novel She Who Became the Sun. Parker-Chan spent nearly a decade working as a diplomat and international development adviser in Southeast Asia, where she became addicted to epic East Asian historical TV dramas. After a failed search to find English-language book versions of these stories, she decided to write her own. Parker-Chan currently lives in Melbourne, Australia, where she is very grateful to never have to travel by leaky boat ever again.

Raj Patel

Raj Patel is a Research Professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs, a professor in the University’s department of nutrition, and a Research Associate at Rhodes University, South Africa. He is the author of Stuffed and Starved, the New York Times bestselling The Value of Nothing, and co-author of A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things. A James Beard Leadership Award winner, he is completing a film on the global food system, and is a leading thinker and organizer around the Green New Deal. He serves on the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems, and has advised governments on causes and solutions to crises of sustainability worldwide.

Sajni Patel

Sajni Patel was born in vibrant India and raised in the heart of Texas, surrounded by a lot of delicious food and plenty of diversity. She draws on her personal experiences, cultural expectations, and Southern flair to create worlds that center on strong Indian women. Her debut, The Trouble with Hating You, was named to “Best of 2020” lists by CosmopolitanPopSugar, and Insider. She’s a die-hard Marvel Comics fan, a lover of chocolates from around the world, and is always wrapped up in a story. First Love, Take Two releases in September. For more on Sajni and her books, visit SajniPatel.com.

Mark Pearson

Mark is the CEO and cofounder of Libro.fm. He enjoys running in the rain, playing tennis when the sun makes an appearance, over and undercooking food, and reading The New York Times on paper. Prior to starting Libro.fm, Mark was the publisher at Pear Press, distributed by Two Rivers Distribution/Ingram.

Leslye Penelope

L. Penelope has been writing since she could hold a pen and loves getting lost in the worlds in her head. She is an award-winning author of new adult, fantasy, and paranormal romance. She lives in Maryland with her husband and their furry dependents: an eighty-pound lap dog and an aspiring feral cat. Her Earthsinger Chronicles began with Song of Blood and Stone.

Darrell Rigby

Darrell Rigby leads Bain & Company’s Global Innovation and Agile practices, is a frequent speaker and writer on innovation, agile, and retail, has appeared on CNBC, CNN’s Moneyline, and Bloomberg, and has had his research published in Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times. His most recent book, with Steve Berez and Sarah Elk, is DOING AGILE RIGHT: Transformation Without Chaos.

Vanessa Riley

Vanessa Riley is an award-winning author of Regency and Historical Romances featuring dazzling multi-culture communities and powerful persons of color. To fuel her interest in the Regency and early-Victorian eras, she made time for attending renaissance fairs and consuming period novels and films while obtaining her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Stanford University. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Historical Novel Society, as well as a Christian Book Lovers board member. A frequent speaker at women’s events, she lives in Georgia with her military husband and teenage kid.

Farrah Rochon

USA Today bestselling author Farrah Rochon hails from a small town just west of New Orleans. When she is not writing in her favorite coffee shop, Farrah spends most of her time reading, cooking, traveling the world, visiting Walt Disney World, and catching her favorite Broadway shows. The Boyfriend Project, praised by NPR, and Entertainment Weekly, is available now. The Dating Playbook will be available in August. For more on Farrah and her books, visit FarrahRochon.com.

Elias Rodriques

Elias Rodriques’s work has been published in the Nation, Bookforum, n+1, and elsewhere. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is an assistant professor of African American literature at Sarah Lawrence College.

Morgan Rogers

Morgan Rogers is a queer black millennial. She writes books for queer girls that are looking for their place in the world. She lives in Maryland with her five dogs. HONEY GIRL is her debut novel.

Steven Rogers

Steven Rogers retired from Harvard Business School in 2019 where he was the “MBA Class of 1957 Senior Lecturer” in General Management. He taught Entrepreneurial Finance and his own course, “Black Business Leaders and Entrepreneurship.” Prior to HBS, Professor Rogers taught in the MBA and PhD programs at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, where he received the Outstanding Professor Award for the Executive MBA Program 26 times and daytime program twice. More recently, Rogers joined the Steans Family Foundation as an advisor to develop an economic plan for a poverty-stricken Black community in Chicago. In 2020, he toured 10 HBCUs where he taught a workshop titled Entrepreneurial Finance for Black Entrepreneurs. He has also served on the Board of Directors of several corporations. Named one of the top 150 influential people in America by Ebony Magazine, Rogers is the author of The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Finance and Business and multiple Harvard Business School case studies and podcasts focused on Black business and financial issues.

Lucinda Roy

Lucinda Roy is an award-winning novelist, poet, and memoirist, and a lifelong advocate for diversity and inclusion. She’s lived and taught on three continents and is recognized for her keynotes on race and gender, creative writing, and education reform. Her commentaries and poetry have been published in numerous newspapers and journals, including USA Today, the Guardian, and the New York Times. She lives with her husband in Blacksburg, Virginia, where, as a distinguished professor, she teaches creative writing at Virginia Tech. For The Freedom Race, she relocated to speculative fiction because it allows her to imagine what form hope would take inside a damaged future world.

Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Benjamin Alire Sáenz is an author of poetry and prose for adults and teens. He is the winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the American Book Award for his books for adults. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was a Printz Honor Book, the Stonewall Award winner, the Pura Belpre Award winner, the Lambda Literary Award winner, and a finalist for the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. His first novel for teens, Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood, was an ALA Top Ten Book for Young Adults and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His second book for teens, He Forgot to Say Goodbye, won the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, the Southwest Book Award, and was named a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. He teaches creative writing at the University of Texas, El Paso.

Victoria Schwab

Victoria Schwab is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels for readers of all ages, including City of Ghosts and Tunnel of Bones, Everyday Angel: Three Novels, the Shades of Magic series (which has been translated into over 15 languages), This Savage Song, and Our Dark Duet. Victoria can often be found haunting Paris streets and trudging up Scottish hillsides. Usually, she’s tucked in the corner of a coffee shop, dreaming up stories.

Lauren Shippen

Lauren Shippen, author of The Infinite Noise, is a writer best known for her work in fiction podcasts. She is the creator and sole writer of the popular audio drama, The Bright Sessions. She also wrote MARVELS, an audio adaptation of the popular comic, and co-produced the #1 podcast, Passenger List, for which she received a BBC Audio Drama Award, Webby, and British Podcast Award. Lauren was named one of Forbes’s 2018 30 Under 30 in Media and one of MovieMaker Magazine’s and Austin Film Festival’s 25 Screenwriters to Watch. She was born in New York City and grew up in Bronxville, New York. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

Clint Smith

Clint Smith is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of the poetry collection Counting Descent. The book won the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. He has received fellowships from New America, the Emerson Collective, the Art For Justice Fund, Cave Canem, and the National Science Foundation. His writing has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review and elsewhere. Born and raised in New Orleans, he received his B.A. in English from Davidson College and his Ph.D. in Education from Harvard University. 

Karelia Stetz-Waters

Karelia Stetz-Waters is passionate about providing happy endings and a vision of redemptive love for readers of all orientations. Her novels include For GoodSomething TrueThe AdmirerThe Purveyor, and Lambda Literary Award and Golden Crown Literary Society finalist Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before. She and her wife live in Oregon and have been together for twenty years. Karelia has a BA in comparative literature from Smith College and an MA in English literature from the University of Oregon, and she currently teaches English at Linn-Benton Community College. Karelia loves to hear from readers, and you can find her at KareliaStetzWaters.com.

Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the novels Shiver, Linger, Forever, and Sinner. Her novel The Scorpio Races was named a Michael L. Printz Honor Book by the American Library Association. The first book in The Raven Cycle, The Raven Boys, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and the second book, The Dream Thieves, was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. The third book, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, received five starred reviews. The final book, The Raven King, received four. She is also the author of All the Crooked Saints and Call Down the Hawk. She is also an artist and musician. She lives in Virginia with her husband and their two children.

Kaite Stover

Kaite Stover is the Director of Readers’ Services for The Kansas City Public Library. She holds Master’s degrees in Library Science and English Literature from Emporia State University. Stover is the co-editor of The Readers’ Advisory Handbook (ALA Editions 2010) with Jessica E. Moyer. From 2004-2016, Stover wrote the “He Reads, She Reads” column for Booklist with David Wright and wrote, “Under the Radar” for Public Libraries from 2012-2017. Stover is a founding member and former Steering Committee member for LibraryReads. During the pandemic, Kaite read and listened to far more books than she thought possible, failed to learn how to use an InstaPot, and walked streets in her neighborhood she never knew existed.

Karina Urquhart

Karina is the Executive Director of BIC and has held this position since February 2012. She has been instrumental in the restructure and re-invigoration of BIC which has seen the creation of an agile members organisation focused on driving and delivering meaningful change and education across all sectors of the UK book industry. In terms of experience, Karina has worked in the book industry for over 28 years including 5 years with Dorling Kindersley followed by 12 years at Penguin UK where she held several supply chain and operational roles, latterly as the Digital & Data Supply Chain Manager. She has a wealth of operational and data experience in both the physical and digital supply chains and other previous roles have included customer operations, stock management and international sales/rights.

Rebecca Vnuk

Rebecca Vnuk is the Executive Director of LibraryReads. She has an MLIS from Dominican University and worked as a public librarian for a decade before becoming the editor for Collection Management and Library Outreach at Booklist magazine. Rebecca is the author of three reference books on the topic of Women’s Fiction, as well as a best-selling book on weeding library collections. She was named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker in 2010 and was the 2010 PLA Allie Beth Martin Award Winner for distinguished Readers Advisory Service. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and two tween sons (both of whom still love to read, whew!).

Rebekah Weatherspoon

Rebekah Weatherspoon is a multi award-winning romance author and the creator of WOCinRomance.com, an online resource for discovering romances written by women and non-binary people of color. Her series, Cowboys of California, is currently being developed for TV. Raised on the campus of Phillips Exeter Academy in Southern New Hampshire, Rebekah has BA in English with a concentration in Shakespearean works. She now lives in Southern California and can be found online at RebekahWeatherspoon.com and on Twitter at @rdotspoon.

Tia Williams

Tia Williams had a fifteen-year career as a beauty editor for magazines including Elle, Glamour, and Essence. In 2004, she pioneered the beauty blog industry with Shake Your Beauty. She wrote the bestselling novel, The Accidental Diva, and penned two YA novels: It Chicks, and Sixteen Candles. Her award-winning novel, The Perfect Find, will be adapted into a Netflix film starring Gabrielle Union. Tia is currently an Editorial Director at Estee Lauder Companies, and lives with her daughter and husband in Brooklyn.

Jamia Wilson

Jamia Wilson joined Random House as an executive editor in 2021, and is the former executive director and publisher of the Feminist Press. An activist and writer, Wilson has contributed to New York Magazine, The New York Times, The Today Show, CNN, BBC, Teen Vogue, Elle, Refinery 29, Rookie, and The Guardian. She is the author of Young Gifted and Black; Baby Young, Gifted, and Black; Step Into Your Power; and Big Ideas for Young Thinkers. She is also a co-author of Road Map for Revolutionaries and wrote the introduction and oral history to Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard Around the World.

Jarrod Wilson

Jarrod Wilson, Head, Technical Services for the Kalamazoo Public Library, has more than 23 years developing innovative technology solutions for both private and public sector organizations. Working with the Kalamazoo Public Library Jarrod has brought consumer best practices in technical projects into the Library space. Working alongside other industry professionals, he is striving to make the on-line patron experience more engaging, accessible and fun. Jarrod currently lives in Kalamazoo Michigan where he enjoys spending time with his family.

Leslie C. Youngblood

Leslie C. Youngblood received an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. A former assistant professor of creative writing at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, she has lectured at Mississippi State University, UNC-Greensboro, and the University of Ghana at Legon. She’s been awarded a host of writing honors, including a 2014 Yaddo’s Elizabeth Ames Residency, the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Prize, a Hurston Wright Fellowship, and the Room of Her Own Foundation’s 2009 Orlando Short Story Prize. In 2010 she won the Go On Girl! Book Club Aspiring Writer Award. Born in Bogalusa, Louisiana, and raised in Rochester, she’s fortunate to have a family of natural storytellers and a circle of supportive family and friends. Love Like Sky was her first novel.

Katie Zhao

Katie Zhao is the author of The Dragon Warrior series. She grew up in Michigan, where there was little for her to do besides bury her nose in a good book or a writing journal. When she’s not writing, Katie enjoys reading, singing, dancing (badly), and checking out Instagram-worthy restaurants. She now lives in Brooklyn, New York.