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.

Jian Huang

Jian Huang is a Los Angeles-based writer, essayist, and the recipient of a 2016 PEN Emerging Voices award and a 2017 Idyllwild Writers Week fellow. Her work has appeared in Los Angeles Review of Books, LA Public Library’s ALOUD author series, Angel City Review, Entropy, and Dirty Laundry Lit among others. Find her online at

Jillian Lauren

Jillian Lauren is a writer, storyteller, adoption advocate, and New York Times bestselling author of the memoirs EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED, SOME GIRLS: My Life in a Harem, and the novel PRETTY. Her writing has appeared in The Paris Review, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Vanity Fair, and Elle, among others. She a regular storyteller with The Moth, and did a Tedx talk about adoption and identity at Chapman University. Jillian is married to Weezer bass player Scott Shriner and they live in Los Angeles with their two sons.

John David O'Brien

Born in Sagamihara, Japan into a military family, John David O’Brien works as an artist, writer and curator, living between Los Angeles and Umbria, Italia. John works in both studio and public art exhibiting locally and internationally and was the recipient of California Community Foundation Fellowship in 2012, the City of Los Angeles Artists Grant in 1998 and a Fulbright Research Grant to Italy in 1994. He has also been art event organizing and curating since 1989.

Jonathan Gold

Jonathan Gold is a food critic who currently writes for the Los Angeles Times and used to write for LA Weekly and Gourmet magazine. In 2007 he became the first such critic to win the Pulitzer Prize. He is also a regular on KCRW’s Good Food radio program. Gold often chooses small, ethnic restaurants for his reviews, although he covers all types of cuisine. A collection of his articles can be found in his book, Counter Intelligence: Where to Eat in the Real Los Angeles. He has been married to Laurie Ochoa, who was editor-in-chief at LA Weekly since 1990; they met at the Weekly in 1984.

Jonathan Josephson

JONATHAN JOSEPHSON: Thirty-six of Jonathan’s plays have been produced at site-specific locations, schools and theatres across the country including Actors Theatre of Louisville (Humana Festival), Milwaukee Rep (RepLab) Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Play Festival (Festival Winner), San Jose Rep (SJREAL), Chance Theater, and numerous immersive adaptations with the award-winning Unbound Productions (as part of the perennially sold out productions of Wicked Lit, History Lit and Mystery Lit). Jonathan is a five-time Finalist for the Heideman Award and a Finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. Fourteen of Jonathan’s plays are published by Steele Spring Stage Rights, Samuel French, and other publishers. B.A. in Theatre: Playwriting from UCSD. DG, ALAP. []

Josh Tager

Josh Tager is a private investigator and freelance obituary writer. He is a recipient of a 2017 Idyllwild Writers Retreat Fellowship. His writing has appeared in Glamour, Time Out New York, Penthouse and Teen Beat, among others, and he’s working on his memoir, Nancy Jew.

Joshua Mensch

Joshua Mensch is a poet, visual artist, and a founding editor of the literary journal B O D Y. He grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada, and lives and works in Prague, Czech Republic. His first book of poetry, BECAUSE, is forthcoming from W.W. Norton in May 2018.

Julia Long

Julia Long, who leads the Pasadena Walking Tours, is a Pasadena native, consummate traveler, and avid historical researcher. She introduces the hidden pathways and long-forgotten stories of Pasadena, California, to visitors and residents alike.

Ka'Lynn Youngblood

Ka’lynn “nnylak” Youngblood is a world renown photojournalist and poet from the community of Leimert Park. She has a background in graphic design, social activism, and habilitating plants. She’s worked with literacy organizations for 10years and has traveled across the states to spread the positive vibration that is a revolutionary black movement for progress of the community.

Karineh Mahdessian

Karineh Mahdessian is a community social worker interested in people and art. She writes. She eats. She loves. She laughs.

Kate Gale

Dr. Kate Gale is Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Red Hen Press, Editor of the Los Angeles Review. She teaches in the Low Residency MFA program at the University of Nebraska in Poetry, Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction. She serves on the board of Red Hen Press and the Poetry Society of America. She is author of seven books of poetry (her most recent, The Goldilocks Zone), a novel Lake of Fire, and six librettos including Rio de Sangre, a libretto for an opera with composer Don Davis which had its world premiere October 2010 at the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee. Her current projects include operas with Michael Roth, Joseph Turrin, Armando Bayola, Daniel Felsenfeld, and art songs with Mark Abel.

Kathleen Kaufman

Kathleen Kaufman is a native Coloradan and long-time resident of Los Angeles, California. She is a University of Southern California alum, teaches high school English, and is a writing and composition adjunct professor at Santa Monica College. In addition to writing, Kathleen is an avid amateur photographer and has published work in The Huffington Post and other publications. When not writing, she probably has a camera in hand or is curled up with a good horror novel. Kathleen currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, terrier, and a pack of cats.

Khadija Anderson

After 18 years in Seattle, Khadija Anderson returned to her hometown of Altadena where she runs a social justice themed literary series, Poets & Allies for Resistance. Khadija is a Pushcart Prize nominee and holds an MFA in Poetry from Antioch LA. Khadija’s poems have been published extensively and her book, History of Butoh, was published in 2012 by Writ Large Press.

Kim Dower

Kim Dower has published three collections of poetry, all from Red Hen Press: Air Kissing on Mars, (2010) which was on the Poetry Foundation’s Contemporary Best Sellers list and described by the Los Angeles Times as, “sensual and evocative . . . seamlessly combining humor and heartache,” Slice of Moon, (2013) nominated for a Pushcart, and called, “unexpected and sublime,” by “O” magazine, and Last Train to the Missing Planet, (2016), “full of worldly, humorous insights into life as it is,” says Janet Fitch. Her work has been featured in Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac,” and Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry,” as well as in Ploughshares, Barrow Street, and Rattle. Her poems are included in several anthologies, including, Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond, and Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes & Shifts of Los Angeles. She teaches Poetry and Dreaming in the B.A. Program of Antioch University. Kim is City Poet Laureate of West Hollywood, and will hold this position through October, 2018. Red Hen Press will be publishing her next book, Sunbathing on Tyrone Power’s Grave next spring.

Kit Gower

Kit Gower traded a career in film & television development in LA for a freelance writing and editing life in Pittsburgh. She is working on her first novel, creating a writing and editing blog called The Literary Fox, and trying to keep those ‘horrible bouts of sanity’ few and far between.

Kwei Quartey

Kwei Quartey is Ghanaian-American physician and author of the Inspector Darko Dawson series and the new Mabel Safo, PI series. He won a National Book Award for his first novel, Wife Of The Gods, which was a Los Angeles Times Bestseller. Kwei writes early in the morning before starting his day at the clinic. When not doctoring or writing, Kwei volunteers at a horseback riding camp for autistic children.

Lauren Mullen

Laura Mullen is a contemporary American poet working in hybrid genres and traditions. She received her BA in English from UC Berkeley and her MFA in Poetry from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1988 and has since received numerous other fellowships in the United States and abroad. Her most eighth book is Complicated Grief (Solid Objects, 2015), and recent poems have appeared in Lana Turner and Conjunctions. She is the McElveen Professor in English at Louisiana State University, and Affiliate Faculty for Stetson’s MFA of the Americas. Her translation of Veronique Pittolo’s Hero is forthcoming from Black Square.

Laurie Kilmartin

Laurie Kilmartin has been doing standup since 1987 and has appeared on CONAN, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Comedy Central. Her Seeso special “45 Jokes About My Dead Dad” made Vulture’s list of Top Ten Comedy Specials of 2016. She’s written two books, Shitty Mom (2012) and Dead People Suck (2018). She is currently a writer for CONAN on TBS, and previously wrote for Tough Crowd w/Colin Quinn (Comedy Central) and The Late Late Show with Craig Fergusion (CBS). She has appeared the Montreal Comedy Festival as a New Face and, 12 years later, as a Master.

Leslie Berestein Rojas

Leslie Berestein Rojas is KPCC’s Immigration and Emerging Communities Reporter. Leslie has been with KPCC since 2010. She reports on immigration and immigrants: How federal immigration policies and politics play out in Southern California, and on how generations of immigrants and their descendants continue to shape the region. She launched KPCC’s Multi-American immigration blog in partnership with NPR and served as its main reporter and editor for five years. Before coming to KPCC, Leslie reported on immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border for the San Diego Union-Tribune, where she followed migrant trails in the desert and told the stories of those who disappeared along the way. She’s also reported for Time, People, the Orange County Register and the Los Angeles Times. Her reporting has taken her to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.Leslie was born in Cuba and raised on the Eastside of Los Angeles.

Lila Higgins

Lila Higgins is a museum educator with 15 years of experience in environmental education, exhibit development, and citizen science. In late 2008 she joined the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles (NHMLA) County. She currently oversees the Museum’s Community Science program one of the Museum’s strategic initiatives. Her focus on communicating science to the public in novel ways led her to create the @NatureinLA social media accounts and blog, and interactive museum exhibits. Lila was the lead educator for the museum’s Nature Lab and Nature Gardens exhibits, which respectively focus on sharing stories about nature in Los Angeles. Lila holds a bachelor’s degree in Entomology from University of California, Riverside and a Master’s degree in Environmental Education from California State University, San Bernardino.

Lisa Teasley

Lisa Teasley is the author of the acclaimed novels Dive and Heat Signature and the award-winning story collection, Glow in the Dark, all published by Bloomsbury. Her essays, stories and poems have been much anthologized, appearing in publications and media such as National Public Radio, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times. She is the writer and presenter of the BBC television documentary “High School Prom,” and has lectured and led writing workshops around the world including in Indonesia, Nigeria, Haiti, and China. Lisa is the senior fiction editor at Los Angeles Review of Books.

Lizz Huerta

Lizz Huerta was born and raised in Chula Vista, California to Mexican and Puerto Rican parents. She has been navigating/erasing borders her entire life. He work has appeared in the Rumpus, Duende, the Portland Review, Winter Tangerine and various other journals and publications. She won a Lumina Fiction prize, with Roxane Gay calling her writing “a menacing, inescapable seduction.”

Lois P. Jones

Lois P. Jones’ awards include the Bristol Poetry Prize in 2017 and the Tiferet Poetry Prize in 2012, with work shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in poetry in 2016 and 2017. Jones has work published or forthcoming in anthologies including New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust (Vallentine Mitchell of London); The Poet’s Quest for God (Eyewear Publishing), and Wide Awake: Poetry of Los Angeles and Beyond (The Pacific Coast Poetry Series). Other publications include Narrative, American Poetry Journal, One, Tupelo Quarterly, The Warwick Review, Tiferet, Cider Press Review and Tinderbox Poetry Journal. Jones’ first collection of poems, Night Ladder, is Glass Lyre Press’s 2017 Book Award winner and semi-finalist for the Julie Suk Award. She hosts KPFK’s Poets Café in Los Angeles and co-hosts the long running Moonday Poetry Series at Flintridge Bookstore.

Lory Bedikian

Lory Bedikian’s The Book of Lamenting was awarded the 2010 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. She earned her MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon, where she was awarded the Dan Kimble First Year Teaching Award for Poetry. Her work has been selected several times as a finalist in the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition and in the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award Competition and has received grants from the Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial fund and AFFMA. Poets & Writers chose her work as a finalist for the 2010 California Writers Exchange Award. Her work was included in the anthology Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond, Beyond Baroque Books, 2015 and chosen as a finalist in the 2015 AROHO Orlando Competition.

Luivette Resto

Luivette Resto, a mother, teacher, poet, and Wonder Woman fanatic, was born in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico but proudly raised in the Bronx. Her first book of poetry Unfinished Portrait was published in 2008 by Tia Chucha Press and later named a finalist for the 2009 Paterson Poetry Prize. Her second book Ascension was published in April 2013 courtesy of Tia Chucha Press. She has also published in numerous journals and anthologies. Currently, she lives in the Los Angeles area with her three revolutionaries.

Lynell George

Lynell George is an award-winning Los Angeles-based journalist and essayist. She has been a staff writer for both L.A. Weekly and the Los Angeles Times and is currently an arts and culture columnist for KCET | Artbound. She is the author of No Crystal Stair African Americans in the City of Angels (Verso/Doubleday) and After/Image: Los Angeles Outside the Frame, a collection of her essays and photographs published by Angel City Press.


MariNaomi is the award-winning author and illustrator of Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0 to 22 (Harper Perennial, 2011), Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories (2dcloud/Uncivilized Books, 2014), Turning Japanese (2dcloud, 2016), I Thought YOU Hated ME (Retrofit Comics, 2016), and the Life on Earth trilogy (Graphic Universe, 2018-2020). Her work has appeared in over sixty print publications and has been featured on websites such as The Rumpus, LA Review of Books, Midnight Breakfast and BuzzFeed. MariNaomi’s comics and paintings have been featured by such institutions as the Smithsonian, the De Young Museum, the Cartoon Art Museum, the Asian Art Museum, and the Japanese American Museum. In 2011 and 2018, Mari toured with the literary roadshow Sister Spit. She is the founder of the Cartoonists of Color Database and the Queer Cartoonists Database. She is the cohost of the podcast Ask Bi Grlz with Myriam Gurba.

Martha Batalha

MARTHA BATALHA studied journalism and literature in Brazil before moving to New York where she worked in publishing. THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF EURIDICE GUSMAO is her first novel. It was an instant bestseller in Brazil and has been translated into 10 languages. She lives in Santa Monica, CA. Find out more about her at her website

Marvin Dorsey

Marvin Dorsey was born in Los Angeles, and spent much of his youth in the Valley. He now lives on a ranch in Lancaster and works in Sunland. From these outskirts Marvin pursues his mission for the care and well-being of domesticated animals as well as his passion for poetry. Marvin is a member of the writing group the Emerging Urban Poets in Pasadena, and of the reading ensemble The Inner Four. He has produced six slim chapbooks over the years and is included in several anthologies highlighting poets of the San Gabriel Valley.

Melinda Palacio

Melinda Palacio is a poet, author, and speaker. She lives in Santa Barbara and New Orleans. Her poetry chapbook, Folsom Lockdown, won Kulupi Press’ Sense of Place 2009 award . She is the author of the novel, Ocotillo Dreams (ASU Bilingual Press 2011), for which she received the Mariposa Award for Best First Book at the 2012 International Latino Book Awards and a 2012 PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature. Her first full-length poetry collection, How Fire Is a Story, Waiting, (Tia Chucha Press 2012) was a finalist for the Milt Kessler Award, the Paterson Prize, and received First Prize in Poetry at the 2013 International Latino Book Awards. In 2015, her work was featured on the Academy of American Poets, Poem-a-Day Program. Melinda’s new poetry collection, Bird Forgiveness, is forthcoming from 3Taos Press in 2018. Read more of Melinda’s work at