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Authors & Speakers

Over 250 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.

David Davis

Journalist-curator-editor David Davis is the author of three books: “Waterman: The Life and Times of Duke Kahanamoku;” “Showdown at Shepherd’s Bush: The 1908 Olympic Marathon and the Three Runners Who Launched a Sporting Craze;” and “Play By Play: Los Angeles Sports Photography: 1889-1989.” His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, and Smithsonian, and has been anthologized in “The Best American Sports Writing” series. He lives in Los Angeles.

David Francis

David Francis – Wedding Bush Road – david.francis@nortonrosefulbright.comDavid Francis is the author of The Great Inland Sea, published to acclaim in seven countries, and Stray Dog Winter, Book of the Year in The Advocate, winner of the American Library Association Stonewall Prize for Literature and a LAMBDA Literary Award Finalist His third novel, Wedding Bush Road, was released in Australia and the United States in 2017. David has taught creative writing at University of California, Los Angeles, Occidental College and University of Southern California. His short fiction and articles have appeared in publications including Harvard Review, The Sydney Morning Herald, Best Australian Stories, Australian Love Stories, Los Angeles Times and The Rattling Wall. He works for the Norton Rose Fulbright law firm in Los Angeles and spends part of each year back on his family’s farm in Australia. He is Vice President of PEN Center USA.

Debe Arlook

Debe Arlook is a photographic artist and printer based in Los Angeles. Her work is a direct response to her former career as an inspirational speaker and counselor; her longtime meditation practice and interpersonal communication.  Debe explores dual meaning involving reality and perception using urban landscape, conceptual and abstract photography.   She invites the viewer to spiral into sensory perception or come to a conclusion with the mind’s interpretive analysis by inserting themselves into the experience of what they see.  Each project reflects her exploration of communication, interpretation and self-awareness.  In less obvious ways, each photograph is a self-portrait revealing a glimpse into her sense of irony, curiosity and poetic sensibility. Published internationally and in private collections, Debe’s work is shown extensively in Los Angeles and around the country.  Currently, her project, _sembl_ə_ns_, is featured in the Spring Issue of Éclat International and she is in the planning stages to exhibit at the Neutra Museum.  She is affiliated with APA-LA, the Society of Photographic Educators, LA Center for Photography and the Los Angele Art Association.

Derek D. Brown

Derek D. Brown is a poet born and raised in Los Angeles and a graduate from Community Literature Initiative‘s author training program at the USC. His first book of poetry Articulate Scars was published in 2017. Derek is a member of the Still Waters Writers’ Collective and regularly shares his work at the World Stage Performance Gallery‘s longstanding Anansi Writers Workshop. He has also facilitates the open mic at Vibrations Cultural Center and Tea House as well as filling in at The World Stage.

Detrice Jones

Detrice Jones was born and raised in the vibrant city of San Francisco, Ca. She graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor’s Degree in African American Studies and English. As a student, Detrice wrote a compelling short story, “Just Surviving Another Day”, which was published in the anthology The Cocaine Chronicles and featured in Issue 1 of Literature for Life. Her story was critically hailed, and highlighted both in Los Angeles Times and on NPR. Detrice went on to be awarded the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program Scholarship and attendee of the Squaw Valley Writer’s workshop. She currently lives in Los Angeles where she works on several short stories and her debut novel.

Diane Lang

Diane Lang is a volunteer nature educator—at two California nature centers and a state park—and recently enjoyed earning her California Naturalist pin! She has a passion for sharing what she’s learned, including in her several picture books about the wild world: Vulture Verses: Love Poems for the Unloved; Daytime, Nighttime, All Through the Year, and Fur, Feather, Fin—All of Us Are Kin.  The Long and Short Tale of Colo and Ruff (bobcat and cougar cubs) will come out in early 2019. She and her husband share their home with two dogs, two tortoises, and two sweet tarantulas.

Don Kingfisher Campbell

Don Kingfisher Campbell, MFA from Antioch University L.A., has taught at Occidental College for 33 years, poetry editor of the Angel City Review, publisher of Spectrum magazine, and host of the Saturday Afternoon Poetry reading series in Pasadena, California. For awards, features, and publication credits, please go to:

Donnell Alexander

Donnell Alexander is a Los Angeles-based storyteller whose work has been featured by KCRW, Al Jazeera’s Inside Story, Leafly, and Time.

Douglas Manuel

Douglas Manuel was born in Anderson, Indiana. He received a BA in Creative Writing from Arizona State University and a MFA from Butler University where he was the Managing Editor of Booth a Journal. He is currently a Middleton and Dornsife Fellow at the University of Southern California where he is pursuing a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing. He has served as the Poetry Editor of Gold Line Press as well as was one of the Managing Editors of Ricochet Editions. His work is featured on Poetry Foundation’s website and has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, Los Angeles Review, Superstition Review, Rhino, North American Review, The Chattahoochee Review, New Orleans Review, Crab Creek Review, and elsewhere. His first full length collection of poems, Testify, was released by Red Hen Press in the spring of 2017.

Edoardo Ponti

Edoardo Ponti is a film director who divides his time between California and Italy. He has made a name for himself in the industry with numerous award-winning shorts and feature films, as well as plays and an opera. Edoardo Ponti graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern California in 1994 with a BA in creative writing. He went on to earn an MFA in film directing and production from USC’s prestigious School of Cinematic Arts in 1997. Edoardo is married to actress Sasha Alexander, with whom he has two wonderful children. This is his first book of poetry.

Elena Sichrovsky

Born in Japan but raised in Taiwan, Elena Sichrovsky is an Austrian citizen currently living in Shanghai, China. She’s a student at SUES there and also a member of The Shanghai Writing Workshop. She has been writing since fifth grade and continues to pursue it with a passion; she’s currently finishing work on her first novel and loves writing poetry and short stories as well.

Eli Ryder

Eli Ryder lives in a small desert suburb of Los Angeles with his wife and daughter, where he teaches English, writes speculative fiction, and is an avid lover of all things twisted. His writing has appeared in print, online, and on stage, and he is a Co-Founding Editor of Automata Review. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction from UC Riverside’s low-residency program in Palm Desert.

Elisa Parhad

Elisa Parhad is the author of Southern California: A Guide for the Eyes. Los Angeles is… is her first book for children. She lives in Pasadena.

Elisabeth Sheffield

Elisabeth Sheffield is the author of three novels, all published by FC2: Helen Keller Really Lived (2014), Fort Da: A Report (2009), and Gone (2003). Additionally, her work has appeared in various venues such as Ploughshares, the Denver Quarterly, Pretext, 13th Moon, Gulf Coast and past and present issues of Gargoyle. A National Endowment of the Arts Award for Literature Fellow in 2012, Elisabeth Sheffield has also been awarded two Fulbrights, in Kiel, Germany (1999-2000), and in Belfast, Northern Ireland (2014), and a writing residency at the Hanse Institute for Advanced Study in Bremen, Germany (2016-2017). Currently she is working on another novel and directing the creative writing program at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Elise Parhad

Elisa Parhad is the author of Southern California: A Guide for the Eyes. This is her first book for children. She lives in Pasadena.


Elizabeth Iannaci

Elizabeth Iannaci is a widely-published and anthologized LA-based poet whose work appeared recently in 1001 Nights: 20 Years of Redondo PoetsThe Saranac Review,Pentimento, Crab Creek Review, and Main Street Rag’s Suspense Anthology.  She earned her MFA in Poetry from VCFA, has one son, and is partially-sighted, which may account for her preference to paisley over polka dots. Her most recent chapbook, The Virgin Turtle Light Show: Spring, 1968 is due out in May.

Elline Lipkin

Elline Lipkin, Ph.D., the Poet Laureate of the Altadena Library District for 2016- 2018, co-edited last year’s edition of the Altadena Poetry Review Anthology 2017. She is the award-winning author of two books: The Errant Thread and Girls’ Studies. Her poetry and scholarly work have appeared in a variety of journals and academic publications. She is a Research Scholar with UCLA’s Center for the Study of Women and teaches for Writing Workshops Los Angeles. She holds an MFA from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing is from the University of Houston.

Elliot Seymour

Elliot Seymour was born in Pasadena, CA on June 25th, 1985. His parents got divorced and, it left him with a void he eventually filled with boxing. His amateur boxing coach, Tom Osuna, served as a mentor and father figure. After a short,but successful amateur career, in which he won 2 golden gloves championships at 2 different weight classes, Elliot turned pro. A whirlwind of life events resulted in him ultimately ending up homeless. Undeterred, he soldiered on, and went into training camp with a world rated guy, fighting 3 times in a month while homeless and climaxing with him fighting Mickey Rourke in a staged exhibition match in Moscow, Russia. After some of the organizers tried to steal $5,000 from him and assassinate his reputation, Seymour responded with a tell all book, “Fighting Mickey in Moscow”, that he’s still working on and Casey Affleck had approached him about it, with interest in doing a bio pic.

Eric Beetner

Eric Beetner has been described as “the James Brown of crime fiction – the hardest working man in noir.” (Crime Fiction Lover) and “The 21st Century’s answer to Jim Thompson” (LitReactor). He has written more than 20 novels including Rumrunners, Leadfoot, The Devil Doesn’t Want Me, The Year I Died 7 Times and Criminal Economics. His award-winning short stories have appeared in over three dozen anthologies. He co-hosts the podcast Writer Types and the Noir at the Bar reading series in Los Angeles where he lives and works as a television editor. For more visit

Eric DeVaughnn

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

Erin Aubry Kaplan

ERIN AUBRY KAPLAN is a Los Angeles journalist and columnist who has written about African-American political, economic and cultural issues since 1992. She is a contributing writer to the op-ed section of the Los Angeles Times, and from 2005 to 2007 was a weekly op-ed columnist – the first black weekly op-ed columnist in the paper’s history. She has been a staff writer and columnist for the LA Weekly and New Times Los Angeles. She has contributed to many publications, including, Essence, Ms. and the New York Times. She has also been a regular columnist for, the Los Angeles Wave newspaper and make/shift, a quarterly, cutting-edge feminist magazine launched in 2007.

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.

Gemma Vidal

Gemma Vidal is a non-binary (they/them) geek renegade born and raised in San Jose, California. By day, they help ensure that all the coolest US graphic novels and comics reach international markets. By night, Gemma continues the fight against their arch nemesis- Panic Attacks, while trying to enjoy reading, watching movies, video games and Lindy hopping. You can listen to Gemma’s upcoming podcast “Diverse Geeks in Focus”(DGIF) later this summer on the Geeks Say What? network. Twitter: @sweetnbittergem