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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.

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. [jonathanjosephson.com]

Jonathan Slavin

Jonathan can currently be seen on Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet, and ABC’s Speechless.  He recently co-starred on the ABC series Dr. Ken opposite Ken Jeong. He has appeared as a series regular on Better Off Ted, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Union Square, and voiced Ogo on the animated Nikolodean series Robot and Monster. Recent and notable guest stars include Major Crimes, Corporate, Con Man, Grimm, Castle, Grey’s Anatomy, Weeds, and Miss 2059. His feature film credits include Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day, Dirty Girl, Hard Pill, A Cinderella Story, Race to witch Mountain, and My Mother’s Hairdo. Slavin is an activist, dedicating much of his time to animal rights, and is a longtime vegan and animal rescuer. He is equally committed to LGBT rights, and has participated three times in AIDS/LifeCycle, a nearly 600 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, raising funds for HIV services provided by the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center and is also a mentor with their Lifeworks Mentorship program.

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.

Judy Chu

Congressperson Judy Chu represents the 27th Congressional District, which includes Pasadena and the west San Gabriel Valley of southern California. She currently serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over legislation pertaining to taxes, revenues, Social Security, and Medicare. In that Committee, Rep. Chu is a member of the Subcommittees on Health and Human Resources, giving her oversight over healthcare reform and crucial safety net programs.  She is the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress in history.

Jules Rivera

Jules Rivera was born in Bronx, NY and raised in Florida.  Formerly an engineer, Jules left that life behind and moved to Los Angeles to pursue her true passion of creating fun, colorful, illustrative stories.  She now creates comics, storyboards, and animation artwork for a living.  Her work focuses on science fiction and fantasy elements with diverse casts. When she’s not drawing things, she’s tending to her garden of weird plants or training to surf.

Julia Callahan

Julia Callahan started her publishing career in the Book Soup annex at age twenty-two. She worked her way through the ranks to become the Assistant Director of Marketing. In 2010, she left Book Soup for Rare Bird Books—a downtown L.A.-based publishing and literary publicity company—where she is the Director of Sales and Marketing and one of the main editors, and does anything else that needs doing.

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.

Kamala Lopez

Kamala Lopez is a filmmaker, actress and Yale graduate known for her many roles in television and film, such as Deep Cover, Born in East LA and I Heart Huckabees. Lopez’s debut feature film about first U.S. Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin, “A Single Woman,” won the Exceptional Merit in Media Award in 2009 from the National Women’s Political Caucus. Equal Means Equal, winner of Best U.S. Documentary at Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival, is Lopez’s first documentary feature.

Lopez’s work on behalf of women and girls has been recognized by Women’s eNews who selected her as one of the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century in 2012 and the National Women’s Political Caucus who named her the 2011 Woman of Courage.

The Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors and the Women’s Commission named her 2015 Woman of the Year (Arts/Media) and in 2016, the State of California awarded her the Latino Spirit Award for Achievement in Advocacy and Entertainment. Equal Rights Advocates, a top women’s civil rights organization, recently named her the 2016 Champion of Justice.

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.

Larry Wilson

Larry Wilson is public editor of the Pasadena Star-News and the Southern California News Group. He is artistic director emeritus of LitFest Pasadena.

Laura Friedman

Laura is the Assistant Speaker pro Tempore of the Assembly, and the Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. In her first term in office, she has authored a robust package of bills to strengthen environmental sustainability, and improve access to higher education and health care. She’s a steadfast advocate for the environment, the arts, reproductive rights, and equality for all.

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.

Lillian Diaz-Przybyl

Lillian Diaz-Przybyl is a life-long multi-media enthusiast, with a background in comics and teen-oriented content. Co-founder of Sparkler Monthly, an online magazine dedicated to bringing exciting media to teen and college-age women, she’s a former senior editor at TOKYOPOP Inc., has worked as director’s assistant to Takashi Shimizu (director of the Grudge franchise), and is currently a producer for Butcherbird Studios.

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.