Authors & Speakers

Over 150 authors, artists, and speakers are participating in LitFest Pasadena 2018. For authors with books available, books may be purchased at Vroman’s Bookstore for signing after they appear.

Eric DeVaughn

Eric DeVaughnn is a Southern California poet and author performing under the moniker TRUE. His book “Aggressive: The Inherent Violence of my Beastly Unbecoming” is a revision of his debut collection, “Aggressive.” His dynamic work explores such themes as family and fatherhood, faith, love, justice, and other social observations.

Erica Garza

Born in Los Angeles to Mexican parents, Erica Garza has spent most of her adult life traveling and living abroad. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter. Erica’s essays have appeared in Salon, Narratively, BUST, Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping, Refinery29, Bustle, Alternet, Vivala, HelloGiggles, the Los Angeles Review, and Australia’s Mamamia and The Motherish. She has appeared as a guest on BBC Radio 4, Thom Hartmann’s The Big Picture, and August McLaughlin’s Girl Boner Radio. In 2010, she earned her MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Columbia University. Her memoir on sex addiction, Getting Off, is her first book.

Erika Ayon

Erika Ayón emigrated from Mexico when she was five years old and grew up in South Central Los Angeles. She graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in English. She was selected as a 2009 PEN Emerging Voices Fellow. She was also selected as a poet for the Newer Poet XV reading, part of the Aloud Series of the Los Angeles Central Library. She has taught poetry to middle and high school students across Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in The Acentos Review, Chiricú Journal, Orangelandia Anthology, Wide Awake Anthology, Coiled Serpent Anthology, and elsewhere. You can find out more about her at

Eva Montealegre

Eva Montealegre grew up on her father’s showboat, The River Queen, docked in St. Louis. It was a hotbed of adultery, politics, delicious food and great music. Her mother, an investigative journalist, dragged Eva through every neighborhood in St. Louis from aristocratic homes to crime infested alleys. A combination of earthy artistic expression and intellectual pursuits formed Eva from a young age with in-depth engagements into the worlds of art, film, theatre and music, ultimately forging her into the LA crime author of Red Carpet Noir.

Eva Woods

Eva Woods was inspired to write SOMETHING LIKE HAPPY after surviving her own brush with cancer and the breakdown of her marriage. Raised in a small village in Northern Ireland, Woods now lives in London, where she teaches creative writing and regularly contributes to Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire UK, xoJane, and other publications. She writes crime fiction as Claire McGowan.

F. Douglas Brown

F. Douglas Brown is the author of ICON (Writ Large Press, 2018), and Zero to Three (University of Georgia 2014), the 2013 Cave Canem Poetry Prize recipient selected by Tracy K. Smith. He also co-authored with poet Geffrey Davis, Begotten (Upper Rubber Boot Books 2016), a chapbook of poetry as part of Upper Rubber Boot Book’s Floodgate Poetry Series. Brown, an educator for over 20 years, currently teaches English at Loyola High School of Los Angeles, an all-boys Jesuit school. He is both a Cave Canem and Kundiman fellow. His poems have appeared in the Academy of American Poets, The PBS News Hour, The Virginia Quarterly (VQR), Bat City Review, The Chicago Quarterly Review (CQR), The Southern Humanities Review, The Sugar House Review, Cura Magazine, and Muzzle Magazine. He is co-founder and curator of un::fade::able – The Requiem for Sandra Bland, a quarterly reading series examining restorative justice through poetry as a means to address racism. When he is not teaching, writing or with his two children, Isaiah and Olivia, he is busy DJing in the greater Los Angeles area.

Florencia Ramirez

Florencia Ramirez is a trained researcher at the University of Chicago’s School of Public Policy. Her articles appear in Edible Communities Magazine and San Jose Mercury News, among others, and her popular blog. Florencia has been interviewed by NPR, American Public Media, KCRW’s Good Food, New York and Bay Area Pacifica Radio, Entertainment Weekly, and KTLA Morning News. She lives in Oxnard, California, an agricultural town on the Pacific coast that smells of celery, strawberries and fertilizers with her husband and three young children.

Gabriel Jesiolowski

Gabriel Jesiolowski is a queer, feminist artist, poet and essayist. They work in a research-based practice using installation, painting, photography, printed matter, and text to scuffle within the spaces of language and art. Their work has been shown in galleries such as the Dumbo Arts Center, Future Tenants Gallery and the Flux Factory and appeared in print in Crossings: A Counter Disciplinary Journal, So to Speak: a Feminist Review, and Topos: The International Review of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design, among others. They were a recent writer-in-residence at The Alice Gallery in Seattle and a 2016 MacDowell fellow. They live & work in the San Juan Islands and Los Angeles.

Gary Phillips

Born under a bad sign, Gary Phillips must keep writing to forestall his appointment at the crossroads. He has published novels, comics and more than 60 short stories. His latest includes being editor of the well-received The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir. He is past president of the Mystery Writers of America, So Cal chapter.

Gerda Govine

Gerda Govine Ituarte’s poetry collections include Future Awakes in Mouth of NOW; Alterations|Thread Light Through Eye of Storm; and Oh, Where is My Candle Hat? In 2016, she established a four-week lunchtime poetry reading series “Poetry Within Reach in Unexpected Places,” and established the Pasadena Rose Poets comprised of nine seasoned Pasadena-connected poets. Govine Ituarte introduced weekly poetry reading at the City of Pasadena Council Meetings in 2017, which continues. Her poetry has appeared in, Journal of Modern Poetry, Pasadena San Gabriel Valley Newspaper, Altadena Poetry Review, Hometown Pasadena, Coiled Serpent, Spectrum and The New Engagement. She’s read at The Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena Senior Center, Pasadena Central Library, La Pintoresca Park, Avenue 50 Studio, Beyond Baroque, Tia Chu Cha Center, World Stage and Huntington Gardens. She is a member of Public Address, Pasadena Writers Posse and Kate Gale Writing Workshop.

GT Foster

G T Foster was born in San Bernardino County and spent his childhood in the Central Valley. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at University of California, Riverside, and taught 25 years for Los Angeles Unified School District. A Viet Nam-era veteran, G T began his exploration of poetry in the 1960s. He is currently writing his first novel, The Butt Naked and the Been Damn. His poetry has been published in the Pasadena Weekly, San Gabriel Valley Poets Quarterly, and Spectrum 2 Anthology.

Hazel Clayton Harrison

Hazel Clayton Harrison’s poetry has appeared in The Altadena Poetry Review Anthology – 2016 and 2017, Coiled Serpent, Journal of Modern Poetry and other publications. Her memoir, Crossing the River Ohio, is available on Amazon. As a poet, memoirist and storyteller, she is passionate about healing communities through literature and art.

Holly Watson

Holly Watson specializes in national and local publicity campaigns for literary and commercial fiction, serious and creative non-fiction, as well as select food, health and science titles. With two decades of experience working with major publishing houses including Viking Penguin Books, Liveright / W.W. Norton & Co., Akashic Books, Harper One, Ecco, and Cassava Republic Press, Holly has created campaigns and events for a wide range of bestselling, award-winning authors. Website:

Irene Suico Soriano

Irene Suico Soriano is an immigrant Filipina American poet, independent literary curator and the author of Primates from an Archipelago (Rabbit Fool Press, 2017). She founded and coordinated the Southern California reading series “Wrestling Tigers: Asian Pacific American Writers Speak” at the Japanese American National Museum and was the literary curator for the Los Angeles Festival of Philippines Arts & Culture (FPAC) in the mid-90s. She was featured in the Los Angeles Times for her curatorial participation in the groundbreaking NEA funded “World Beyond Poetry Festival” that featured over 100+ poets from the diverse communities of Los Angeles. She participates in local and international anti-vivisection efforts and believes in the fundamental rights of non-human animals to live and be free from harm, pain, exploitation and captivity.

Isabel Quintero

Isabel Quintero is a writer and the daughter of Mexican immigrants. She was born, raised, and resides in the Inland Empire of Southern California. Gabi, A Girl in Pieces from Cinco Puntos Press, her first novel, was the recipient of several awards including the 2015 William C. Morris Award for Debut YA Novel, and the California Book Award Gold Medal for Young Adult. Her chapter books, Ugly Cat and Pablo, are published from Scholastic, Inc., and her first graphic novel, Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide, was released by Getty Publications, 2018. In addition to writing fiction, she also writes poetry and essays.

J.G. Finch

The poet J.G. Finch was born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1980 and spent most of his childhood in Tennessee and Texas. Finch’s major poetic influences are Langston Hughes and Louise Glück. Finch’s first book, Heavy Things, was published in 2016. He wrote Heavy Things while living in a small, closet-sized room in an old hotel in Pasadena.

Jaha Zainabu

Jaha Zainabu is a poet, photographer and visual artist from Long Beach, California currently residing in Los Angeles. She is the author of two previous books, THE SCIENCE OF CHOCOLATE MILK MAKING (Telepoetics Press) and THE CORNERS OF MY SHAPING (Penmanship Press). Jaha has also created a one woman show called Journey and has a cd with the same title. Her other cd is called Simple like a daisy and her audiobook is The soundtrack to my together. Jaha is the artist-in-residence for a social justice organization called WomanPreach which travels throughout the United States and is also an instructor with Community Literature Initiative based in Los Angeles. She has toured her work in many churches, colleges, schools, theatres and poetry venues. She is currently working on her second one woman show which will begin its run in Los Angeles.

James Evert Jones

James Evert Jones (aka James Maverick) is a co-founder and Director of Expressions L.A., a literary arts program based in the San Fernando Valley. James has been a contributor to the poetry magazines Next… Magazine and Vice and Verse. His work has been published in the anthologies Voices from Leimert Park, Vol. II, The Moment, Onyx: Spoken Word, Spectrum, and News Clips and Ego Trips- the Best of Next… Magazine.

James Sowka

Having lived in LA for four years, James Sowka is a filmmaker, writer, and general goofball. He grew up in the midwest, loves watching dumb TV shows, and doesn’t ever go to the beach.

Janet Fitch

Janet Fitch is the author of White Oleander, an Oprah book Club pick, and Paint It Black. Both novels have been widely translated and were made into feature films. Her new book, The Revolution of Marina M. is an epic novel set during the Russian Revolution. Her work has appeared in such anthologies and journals as: Los Angeles Noir, the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Real Simple, Vogue, Black Clock, and The Rattling Wall. She is a contributor to Lit For Life, and teaches at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.

Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn

Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn has an MA degree in Fiction from the University of Southern California and a BA degree in Communication from Loyola Marymount University. Her first script, Those People: A Love Story was selected by the DreamAgo 2016 Plume & Pellicule international screenwriting atelier. Prior to filmmaking, Janice had an extensive career as a journalist. She is a senior editor for the Los Angeles Review of Books and co-author of Swirling: How to Date, Mate, and Relate Mixing Race, Culture, and Creed (Atria, 2012). She is a Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities fellow.

Jasika Nicole

Jasika Nicole is best known for her work as Astrid Farnsworth on Fox’s ‘Fringe’ and Huck’s wife, Kim, on ABC’s ‘Scandal’. She also played the role of Georgia on WGN’s smash hit ‘Underground’, and stars in the newly released cult fav indie film ‘Suicide Kale, which she also produced. Nicole is an avid DIY-er who builds furniture, makes shoes, and sews all her clothing in her spare time. You can follow her creative exploits via her instagram, JasikaIsTryCurious, and see her writing and illustration work at

Jean Guerrero

Jean Guerrero is the author of the PEN-award winning CRUX, which will be published by One World (Penguin-Random House) in July. It’s a reported memoir about her quest to unravel the mystery of her father, a Mexican immigrant who crosses borders both real and illusory. She is an investigative reporter covering immigration for KPBS on radio, TV and print. She also contributes to NPR, PBS and other public media outlets. Previously, she was a foreign correspondent in Mexico City for the Wall Street Journal. Her stories have taken her to smuggling routes at the U.S.-Mexico border, opium poppy plantations and inside the sewers of Tijuana. She lives in San Diego.

Jeff Eyres

Jeff Eyres has written jokes for Saturday Night Live and a number of late night television shows and has worked as a pundit/commentator on CNN Headline News. His sketch comedy group Mental Furniture had a sold-out run at the Joseph Papp Public Theatre in New York and appeared in HBO’s New Performers Series. He was a member of the legendary First Amendment Improvisation Troupe – whose roll included Bruce Willis, John Leguizamo, Kathy Kinney and many others. His plays “Hamlet: Satanic Sentinel of the Suburbs,” “Mountain Vampire Goth Chicks” and “Mrs. Copway’s Pony” have each run multiple times in New York. He wrote and appeared in the cult classic movie “Dick and Jane Drop Acid and Die.” He is a graduate of the Second City Writers Program and the University of California, Riverside MFA program.

Jeff Sweat

Jeff Sweat has made a living from words his entire career, starting out as an award-winning tech journalist for InformationWeek magazine and moving into marketing. He now runs his own Los Angeles–based PR and marketing agency, Mister Sweat. He grew up in Idaho as the middle of eight children—seven boys and one girl—and attended Columbia University in New York. Jeff lives in a big blue house in Los Angeles with his wife Sunny and their three kids, two cats, and a racing greyhound. He loves to travel and writes everywhere he goes, even when there’s not a desk.

Jennifer Brody

Jennifer Brody is the award-winning author of The 13th Continuum. Her book sold in a 3-book deal and is a Gold Medal Winner (Young Adult – Sci-Fi/Fantasy) from the Independent Publisher‘s Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards. Return of the Continuums and The United Continuums complete this epic trilogy. Translation rights to her books have sold in multiple territories, most notably Russia and China. Her short fiction has been published by Common Deer Press and in the From the Stars anthology. She is a graduate of Harvard University, a creative writing instructor at the Writing Pad, and a volunteer mentor for the Young Storytellers Foundation. She’s also a board member for the non-profit writing competitions the Roswell Award and the Tomorrow Prize. After studying film at Harvard University, Jennifer began her career in Hollywood, most notably working on The Lord of the Rings films, The Golden Compass, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. She lives and writes in LA, where she’s hard at work on her next book.

Jennifer Torres

Jennifer Torres is the author of middle grade novels Stef Soto, Taco Queen and Flor and Miranda Steal the Show, and the picture book, Finding the Music/En pos de la música. Her first writing job was as a newspaper reporter—she still writes for magazines every now and then, and she’s still passionate about the news. Jennifer’s fiction is inspired by her Mexican-American heritage, and she hopes her books help show young readers that their voices and their stories matter. She and her family live in Sierra Madre.

Jerry Stahl

Jerry Stahl is the author of nine books, including the best-sellers I, Fatty and Permanent Midnight, which was made into a movie with Ben Stiller. and most recently, the novel Happy Mutant Baby Pills, and the essay collection O.G. DAD – Weird Things Happen When You Don’t Die Young. Stahl has also worked extensively in film and television. His TV work include the HBO movie, Hemingway & Gellhorn, and the Showtime mini-series, Escape at Dannemora, which airs in late 2018.

Jervey Tervalon

Jervey Tervalon was born in New Orleans and raised in Los Angeles, and received his MFA in Creative Writing from UC Irvine. His new novel is Monster’s Chef. He is the founder of Literature for Life, literary magazine and educational advocacy organization, and Artistic Director of The Pasadena LitFest. He lives in LA with his wife, Jinghuan Liu Tervalon and their kids.

Jessi Klein

Jessi Klein is the Emmy and Peabody award-winning head writer and an executive producer of Comedy Central’s critically acclaimed series Inside Amy Schumer. She’s also written for Amazon’s Transparent as well as Saturday Night Live. She has been featured on the popular storytelling series The Moth, and has been a regular panelist on NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! She’s been published in Esquire and Cosmopolitan, and has had her own half-hour Comedy Central stand-up special.