The StoryStudio Writers Festival is back for 2019!
Where and When: Saturday, October 5th (10am-6pm) & Sunday, October 6th (10am-5pm) at Columbia College Chicago (1104 S. Wabash Ave, Chicago IL 60605).
We’re thrilled to present our 2nd annual Writers Festival hosted by Columbia College Chicago. Curated by Artistic Director Rebecca Makkai, the two-day Festival features an amazing line-up of authors led by Keynote Speaker Garth Greenwell.
Garth Greenwell is the author of What Belongs to You, which won the British Book Award for Debut of the Year, was longlisted for the National Book Award, and was a finalist for six other awards, including the PEN/Faulkner Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, it was named a Best Book of 2016 by over fifty publications in nine countries, and is being translated into a dozen languages. A new book of fiction, Cleanness, is forthcoming from FSG in early 2020. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, A Public Space, and VICE, and he has written criticism for The New Yorker, the London Review of Books, and the New York Times Book Review, among others. He lives in Iowa City.
Laura Adamczyk is the author of the short story collection Hardly Children, published by FSG Originals in 2018. Her writing has appeared in such journals as McSweeney’s, Salt Hill, and Tin House, and in 2014, her story “Girls,” published in Guernica, won the Dzanc Books/Disquiet International Literary Program Award. She lives in Chicago and oversees the books section at The A.V. Club.
Diego Báez is a recipient of fellowships from CantoMundo and the Surge Institute. In 2018, he completed a residency at Sundress Academy for the Arts, where he finished his first full-length collection of poetry. His poems, stories, and reviews and appeared at The Rumpus, The Acentos Review, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among others. He lives in Chicago and teaches at the City Colleges.
Lily Be is a 10-year storytelling vet in the Chicago storytelling scene. Lily considers herself an accidental artist, in that she never expected to be doing what she is doing in the world of live-literature and storytelling.
She is the creator and producer of The Stoop. She is the co-producer and host of Story Collider. She’s an editorial assistant for the online literary/news magazine Storynews.net. She is the host of the podcast Straight Up No Chaser – 10 Minute Tangents. She has also developed a game based on her storytelling workshops/curriculum that she is currently crowdsourcing to be able to bring to classrooms, businesses, and organizations all over the world. Lily Be is currently writing a graphic novel about her life which she will be taking with her to Ragdale to finish this Fall.
Storytelling saved Lily Be’s life. She’s only paying it back one story, student, and project at a time. You can check this all out and more at LilyBe.com
Ines Bellina is a writer, storyteller, and bon vivant. She has performed in shows all over town like The Skewer, You’re Being Ridiculous at Steppenwolf, Story Club, Miss Spoken, the Chicago Women’s Funny Festival. Her writing has also appeared in The A.V. Club, The Northwestern Law Reporter, The Billfold, Book Riot, Gapers Block and more. She is the proud graduate of StoryStudio’s Novel in a Year: Middle Grade and YA program, where she worked on a contemporary YA novel that combines her memories of Catholic school with her love of high school musicals.
Barbara Binns is an award-winning African American author of contemporary, multicultural, novels for children and young adults. She finds writing an exercise in self-discipline, and the perfect follow-up to her life as an adoptive parent and cancer survivor. She is a member of the American Library Association (ALA), the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and BCALA (Black Caucus of the ALA). Her debut young adult novel Pull won several awards, including the 2009 Golden Rose contest, and the 2010 National Readers Choice Award. Pull was also named one of YALSA’s Quick Picks For Reluctant Young Adult Readers. Her most recent book, COURAGE a middle grade novel published in 2018 by Harper Collins, deals with a Chicago youth seeking the courage to trust again after being betrayed by his older brother. Find more at her website: http://babinns.com/ | Twitter @barbarabinns and Facebook – http://facebook.com/allthecolorsoflove
Mary Ruth Clarke co-wrote and starred in the original Meet the Parents and co-adapted it into the blockbuster version, starring Robert De Niro.Her play Bonhoeffer’s Cost just finished a run at The Agape Actors Co-op in Austin, Texas and has been produced at the Beacon Theater in Philadelphia, and the Provision Theater in Chicago. Mary Ruth is a screenplay consultant for clients in LA and Chicago, and she has critiqued about a gazillion plays and screenplays. She is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists, where she heads up the screenwriting program, and also teaches screenwriting at StoryStudio.She’s a regular guest lecturer at the Chicago Screenwriter’s Network monthly meet up and recently ran workshops for the Off Campus Writer’s Group, the Chicago Independent Film Project, and Renaissance Theaterworks Milwaukee. She is a member of the Writer’s Guide of America East and the Dramatists Guild.
Someday We Will Fly, Rachel DeWoskin’s critically acclaimed fourth novel, was published by Penguin in January, 2019. Her new novel, Banshee, is forthcoming in June, 2019, and her collection of poetry, Two Menus, in April, 2020. DeWoskin’s novel Big Girl Small (FSG, 2011), received the American Library Association’s Alex Award and was named one of the top 3 books of the year by Newsday; Blind (Penguin 2014), was a Library Guild and an Illinois Reads selection. DeWoskin’s memoir, Foreign Babes in Beijing (WW Norton 2005), about the years she spent in China as the unlikely star of a Chinese soap opera, has been published in six countries, optioned by Paramount, HBO and the Sundance Channel, and is now in development at BBC America, where DeWoskin is co-writing a TV series based on the book. She is on the core fiction faculty and is an affiliated faculty member of Jewish Studies and East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago.
Amina Lolita Gautier, Ph.D., is the author of three short story collections: At-Risk, Now We Will Be Happy and The Loss of All Lost Things. At-Risk was awarded the Flannery O’Connor Award and the Eric Hoffer Legacy Award. Now We Will Be Happy was awarded the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, and the International Latino Book Award. The Loss of All Lost Things was awarded the Elixir Press Award in Fiction, the International Latino Book Award, the Phillis Wheatley Award, and the Chicago Public Library’s 21st Century Award. Gautier has been the recipient of fellowships and grants from the American Antiquarian Society, the Camargo Foundation, the Chateau de Lavigny, Dora Maar House/Brown Foundation, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, MacDowell Colony, Ragdale, Vermont Studio Center, and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. More than one hundred of her stories have been published, appearing in Agni, Best African American Fiction, Blackbird, Glimmer Train, Latino Book Review, Mississippi Review, Prairie Schooner, Quarterly West, and Southern Review among other places. For her body of work she has received the PEN/MALAMUD Award for Excellence in the Short Story.
Margaret Davis Ghielmetti is a writer, Live Lit story teller, solo show artist, and photographer who lives in Chicago. She and her Swiss hotelier husband have lived on four continents, have visited almost fifty countries, and never tire of exploring the world. Her Instagram user name is margaretghielmetti. Her upcoming memoir BRAVEish will be published by She Writes Press on September 15, 2020.
Kate Harding is author of Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and the forthcoming Victim Complex: On Snowflakes, Witch Hunts and the Cult of Personal Responsibility (St. Martin’s, 2021.) She holds an M.F.A. in Fiction from Vermont College of Fine Art and a Ph.D. in Creative Nonfiction from Bath Spa University, and she’s taught classes in both genres at StoryStudio Chicago since 2010. She lives in Rogers Park.
For over eight years, Sally Schwartz Higginson has worked as an opinion writer/humor columnist (under her married name, Sally Higginson) for the Chicago Tribune. In addition to her bi-weekly column, she has been published in the Chicago Sun Times, The Highland Park Patch, and in 650: Where Writers Read. Between 2000 – 2008, she and her sister Betsy Brint co-hosted a radio show called Walking on Air with Betsy and Sal, culminating in a year hosting The Betsy and Sal Show on the Chicago Tribune’s WGN radio station.
Lindsay Hunter is the author of, most recently, Eat Only When You’re Hungry (FSG 2017), a finalist for the 2017 Chicago Review of Books Fiction Award and a 2017 NPR Great Read.
Jac Jemc’s story collection False Bingo will be released in later in October and her novel Total Work of Art will be published in 2021, both from FSG. She is also the author of The Grip of It, My Only Wife and A Different Bed Every Time. Her stories have appeared or are forthcoming from Guernica, LA Review of Books, Crazyhorse, The Southwest Review, Paper Darts, Puerto Del Sol, and Storyquarterly, among others. She’s taught creative writing at the University of Notre Dame, Northeastern Illinois University, Illinois Wesleyan University, St. Lawrence University, Catapult, The Center for Fiction StoryStudio Chicago and The Loft.
Nadine Kenney Johnstone is the author of the memoir, Of This Much I’m Sure, which was named Book of the Year by the Chicago Writers Association. Her infertility story has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Today’s Parent, MindBodyGreen, Metro, and Chicago Health Magazine, among others. She teaches at Loyola University and received her MFA from Columbia College in Chicago. Her other work has been featured in various magazines and anthologies, including Chicago Magazine, PANK, and The Magic of Memoir. Nadine is a writing coach who presents at conferences internationally. She lives near Chicago with her family. Follow her at nadinekenneyjohnstone.com.
James Klise is the Edgar Award-winning author of The Art of Secrets, Loved Drugged, and a new YA novel coming from Algonquin Young Readers in late 2020. James is a core fiction faculty at StoryStudio where he teaches the “Novel in a Year: YA and Middle Grade” course. By day he oversees a very busy high school library.
Rebecca Makkai is the Chicago-based author of the novel The Great Believers, a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, one of the New York Times’ top ten books for 2018, winner of the LA Times Book Prize, the ALA Carnegie Medal, the Stonewall Award, the Heartland Prize, and the Chicago Review of Books Award, and a pick for the New York Public Library’s 2018 Best Books. Her other books are the novels The Borrower and The Hundred-Year House, and the collection Music for Wartime — four stories from which appeared in The Best American Short Stories. Rebecca is on the MFA faculties of Sierra Nevada College and Northwestern University, and she is Artistic Director of StoryStudio Chicago. Visit her at RebeccaMakkai.com or on Twitter @rebeccamakkai.
Juan Martinez is the author of Best Worst American. He lives in Chicago and is an assistant professor at Northwestern University. His work has appeared in many literary journals and anthologies, including Glimmer Train, McSweeney’s, Huizache, Ecotone, NPR’s Selected Shorts, Mississippi Review and elsewhere. Say hi at https://fulmerford.com
H. Melt is a poet, artist, and educator whose work proudly celebrates Chicago’s queer and trans communities. They are the author of The Plural, The Blurring and On My Way to Liberation. They edited the anthology Subject to Change: Trans Poetry & Conversation. Lambda Literary awarded them the Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging LGBTQ Writers. They’ve also been named to Newcity’s Lit 50 list and Windy City Times’ 30 Under 30. H. Melt works at Women & Children First, Chicago’s feminist bookstore.
Dipika Mukherjee is an internationally touring writer and sociolinguist. She is the author of the novels Shambala Junction, which won the UK Virginia Prize for Fiction, and Ode to Broken Things, which was longlisted for the Man Asia Literary Prize. She is Core Faculty at StoryStudio Chicago and affiliated to the Buffett Institute for Global Affairs at Northwestern University.
Nami Mun grew up in Seoul, South Korea and Bronx, New York. For her first book, Miles from Nowhere, she received several awards, including the Whiting Award, the Pushcart Prize, and the Chicago Public Library’s 21st Century Award, and was a finalist for the Orange Prize for New Writers and the Asian American Literary Award. Miles from Nowhere was on several “best of” lists, including Amazon, Indie Next, and Booklist. Chicago Magazine named her Best New Novelist of 2009. Her work can be found in publications such as The New York Times, Granta, Tin House, The Iowa Review, and Tales of Two Americas, an anthology of essays, poems, and stories about inequality in America. She currently lives in Chicago.
Joseph Scapellato is the author of the novel, The Made-Up Man (2019), and the story collection, Big Lonesome (2017). He was born in the suburbs of Chicago and earned his MFA in Fiction at New Mexico State University. Joseph is an assistant professor in the creative writing program at Bucknell University, and lives in Lewisburg, PA, with his wife, daughter, and dog.
Megan Stielstra is the author of three collections, most recently The Wrong Way To Save Your Life. Her work appears in the Best American Essays, New York Times, Poets & Writers, The Believer, Longreads, Tin House, Guernica, and elsewhere. A longtime company member with 2nd Story, she has told stories for National Public Radio, Museum of Contemporary Art, Goodman Theatre, and regularly with the Paper Machete live news magazine at The Green Mill. She teaches creative nonfiction at Northwestern University.
Todd Summar writes fiction and essays, and serves as an editor for publishers and individuals. His work has appeared in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Literary Hub, and PANK, among others. He is the founding editor of Goreyesque and has an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago. You can learn more about him on toddsummar.com or ToddSumma
Vu Tran was born in Vietnam and raised in Oklahoma. His first novel, Dragonfish, was a NY Times Notable Book and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Books of the Year. He is the recipient of a Whiting Award and an NEA Fellowship, and his short fiction has appeared in the O. Henry Prize Stories, the Best American Mystery Stories, and other publications. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the Black Mountain Institute in Las Vegas, he is currently a criticism columnist for the Virginia Quarterly Review and an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Arts at the University of Chicago.
Raymond Wlodkowski is a psychologist and writer who lives in Chicago. Brill/Sense Publishing has recently released (2019) his newest book: Living a Motivated Life: A Memoir and Activities. It offers a forty year perspective of an intrinsically motivated life with ideas for helping people to accomplish such enduring and vital engagement in their lives today.
Ready to take your work to the next level? Our Agent Pitch and Meet an Editor add-on sessions are tailored to both advanced and ongoing writers.
Meet the Agents!
Joanna MacKenzie is an agent with Nelson Literary Agency where she represents all manner of adult commercial fiction and select YA fiction. Her #MSWL includes Midwest stories with a strong sense of place, a Beaches redux, moms with secret lives, and small town-set thrillers.
Anjali Singh is an agent at Ayesha Pande Literary. Before becoming an agent, she worked as an international literary scout and as an editor and is best known for having championed Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis after stumbling across it on a visit to Paris. She has always been drawn to the thrill of discovering new writers, and among the literary novelists whose careers she helped launch are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Samantha Hunt, Preeta Samarasan, Brigid Pasulka (winner of the PEN-Hemingway Prize for A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True), and Saleem Haddad. She is looking for character-driven fiction or non-fiction works that reflect an engagement with the world around us, and graphic novels for all ages. Some of her recent and forthcoming projects include Bridgett Davis’ acclaimed memoir The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life in the Detroit Numbers, Arif Anwar’s debut The Storm, internationally bestselling Palestinian author Susan Abulhawa’s novel River (Atria, 2020); and the graphic novels Wake: The Hidden History of Enslaved Black Women’s Armed Resistance (37ink, 2020) by Rebecca Hall and Hugo Martinez, Deena Mohammed’s Shubeik Lubeik (Pantheon, 2021), Gillian Goerz’s Shirley Bones, Priya Huq’s Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin’s Hijab (Abrams 2020), and Sherine Hamdy and Myra El-Mir’s Jabs (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2020).
Marya Spence (Janklow & Nesbit) Raised in California’s Bay Area, Marya studied literature at Harvard, where she was Fiction Editor for the Advocate and specialized in creative writing. She went on to get her MFA at New York University and teach undergraduate creative writing there. She also spent these years in her 20’s working and interning at The New Yorker, PAPER Mag, Travel & Leisure, Vanity Fair, Publishers Weekly, METROPOLIS Magazine, and more—with a brief stint in equity research. As someone who values craft from the writer’s perspective, Marya represents a diverse range in fiction and nonfiction, including, but not limited to, literary novels and collections, upmarket commercial fiction, cultural criticism and voice-driven essays, narrative journalism with a humorous or critical edge, and pop culture. She lives in Brooklyn.
Alexandra Weiss is an Associate Literary Agent at the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Publishing from Columbia College Chicago, and currently resides in the Windy City. She has written for Bustle as a Books and Features Writer, and has held several different positions within the Marketing and PR world. Previously, she was an Acquisitions Editor for an award- winning fiction and non-fiction anthology. Before joining as an Agent, Alexandra interned with JDLA for over two years and worked for boutique book publicist where she assisted with numerous book publicity campaigns. Alexandra specializes in children’s fiction, including fiction and nonfiction picture books, middle grade, and young adult. She is open to most genres but tends to favor contemporary, magical realism, light fantasy, and science fiction. She also loves stories that include magic, folklore, science, astronomy, or anything STEM related. She’s actively seeking literature from diverse and underrepresented voices, and is eager to find stories with strong, smart female characters.
Renée Zuckerbrot worked as an editor at Doubleday before becoming a literary agent. Her authors include Kelly Link, Dan Chaon, Shawn Vestal, Karin Tidbeck, Daniel Wallace, Polly Rosenwaike, M.O. Walsh, and Eric Sanderson, author of Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City, among others. Her authors have won or been nominated for the MacArthur Fellowship (aka “Genius Grant”), National Book Award, PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for debut fiction, the National Magazine Award, the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, the NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award, B&N Discover Great New Writers Award, the Story Prize, the PEN/O. Henry Prize, the Shirley Jackson Award, the Locus, the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Pushcart.
Meet the Editors!
Aram Mrjoian is a writer, editor, instructor, and PhD student at Florida State University. He is an editor-at-large at the Chicago Review of Books, the assistant editor at the Southeast Review, and the managing editor at TriQuarterly. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Gulf Coast online, The Millions, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Kenyon Review online, Longreads, Booth, Joyland, Colorado Review, and many other publications. He earned his MFA in creative writing at Northwestern University. Find his work at arammrjoian.com.
Kenyatta Rogers is a Cave Canem Fellow and has been awarded multiple scholarships from the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference. He has also been nominated multiple times for both Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes. His work has been previously published in or is forthcoming from Jubilat, Vinyl, Bat City Review, The Volta, PANK, MAKE Magazine among others. He is as a co-host of the Sunday Reading Series with Simone Muench, an Associate Editor with RHINO Poetry and currently serves on the Creative Writing Faculty at the Chicago High School for the Arts.
Daniel Smetanka has worked in the publishing industry for twenty-five years. As an Executive Editor at Ballantine/Random House, Inc., his list included books by Elizabeth Rosner, Thomas Steinbeck, and Dan Chaon, a 2001 Finalist for the National Book Award. He is currently Vice President, Editor in Chief of Counterpoint Press. His projects include works by Joan Silber, Dana Johnson, Abby Geni, Tod Goldberg, Natashia Deon, Cristina Garcia, Alan Lightman, Gina Frangello, Kim Brooks, and Karen E. Bender, a 2015 Finalist for the National Book Award.
Richard Thomas is the award-winning author of seven books—Disintegration and Breaker (Penguin Random House Alibi), Transubstantiate, Herniated Roots, Staring into the Abyss, Tribulations and The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). He has been nominated for the Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, and Thriller awards. His over 140 stories in print include The Best Horror of the Year (Volume Eleven), Behold!: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders (Bram Stoker winner), Cemetery Dance (twice), PANK, storySouth, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad (numbers 2-4), and Shivers VI. Visit www.whatdoesnotkillme.com for more information.
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