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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.

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.

Henry Lien

Henry Lien is a 2012 graduate of Clarion West, where he was mentored by George R.R. Martin, Chuck Palahniuk, and Kelly Link on the material forming the foundation for his debut novel. His short fiction has appeared in publications like Asimov’s, earning multiple Nebula Award nominations. Born in Taiwan, Henry currently lives in Hollywood, California. PEASPROUT CHEN, FUTURE LEGEND OF SKATE AND SWORD is his debut novel.

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.

Jacqueline Derner Tchakalian

Jacqueline Derner Tchakalian, a poet and visual artist, published her first book The Size of Our Bed, Red Hen Press, in 2015. Her work has appeared in numerous literary publications including the antholologies Beyond the Lyric Moment and Not My President; the Anthology of Dissent. She received a Special Merit Award from The Comstock Review in 2017.

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 has also joined the casts of “Scandal”, “Underground” and most recently “The Good Doctor”. She also voices the narrator of cult favorite podcast “Alice Isn’t Dead” in addition to her animated voice artist work. 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.

Jean Spinosa

Jean Spinosa is an actor, writer, director, choreographer, performance artist, puppeteer, wig stylist, live events producer, theatre arts teacher, curator, literary archivist, community organizer, program developer, business developer, and administrator. She received her B.A. in Theatre Arts with an emphasis in Acting from San Francisco State University. Spinosa is certified by The American Conservatory Theatre, The Moscow Institute of Modern Art with Directors of the Moscow Art Theatre, and The Bulgarian National Academy of Theatre, Film, Puppetry, and Mime. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2003, Spinosa has become particularly noted for being the creator, producer, performer, and host of Wig Out! Get Your Wig On!® Est. 2005 More info at

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 Gray Olson

Children’s book creator Jennifer Gray Olson is a graduate of California State University, Fullerton where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art Education. She is a glassblower and sculptor. She lives in Southern California with her husband and three children. Learn more about Jennifer and view her illustrations at,, and on Facebook and Twitter: @jgrayolson

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.

Jeryl Prescott

Jeryl is best known as an actress for her recurring roles as Jacqui in AMC’s The Walking Dead, Cherry in Showtime’s Emmy-nominated Ray Donovan, Janice in Nate Parker’s Sundance smash and historical feature, Birth of a Nation, Golden in Powers, and as Mama Cecile in Universal Studio’s feature The Skeleton Key. She is excited to appear in a comedy, American Koko, produced by Viola Davis’s JuVee Productions, currently streaming on She is also a writer and producer, and you can see her as the lead character in the feature film Stand Down Soldier streaming at http:/ She has appeared in popular dramas and comedies including guest starring roles in NCIS Los Angeles and BET’s new hit REBEL, and in “Scandal,” “Battle Creek,” “Gang Related,” “Modern Family,” “Revolution,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Castle,” “Hawthorne,” “Southland,” and “Criminal Minds.” Look for her alongside Tommy Ford in Conflict of Interest and Tony Todd (CandyMan) in the psychological thriller, West of Hell. You can also see her soon in highly-anticipated feature films: Dead Women Walking, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival to rave reviews, and Stephen Soderbergh’s latest project, High Flying Bird, written by Oscar winner Tarell McCraney (Moonlight).

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.

Jessica M. Wilson Cárdenas

Jessica M. Wilson Cárdenas is a Chicana Poet born in East Los Angeles, CA. She is a 3rd generation Beatnik by way of Jack Spicer through Paul Vangelisti; with her MFA in Poetry from Otis College of Art and Design and BA in Creative Writing and Art History from UC Riverside. She is the founder of the Los Angeles Poet Society, (a bridge to LA’s literary network), an educator and an activist. She is celebrating a win for best spoken word album from the 2018 Independent Music Awards, with Violinist Jenni Asher. Their album is called FreedomJessica’s latest collection Serious Longing  is available from Swan World Press, Paris, France. |

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.