2023 Panelists & Speakers
(This is a partial list of the 2023 Washington Writers Conference's speakers. Check back frequently for updates!)
Anthony Award-nominated E.A. Aymar’s most recent thriller, No Home for Killers, earned high praise from Kirkus and others. His previous thriller, They’re Gone, garnered rave reviews in Publishers Weekly and Kirkus (starred) and was named one of the best books of 2020 by the South Florida Sun Sentinel. He is a former member of the board of International Thriller Writers and is an active member of Crime Writers of Color and Sisters in Crime. He runs the DC Noir at the Bar series, was born in Panama, and now lives and writes in (and generally about) the DC/MD/VA triangle. Find him on Facebook and Instagram.
Anjili Babbar is a writer and a scholar of Irish and British literature, with a particular focus on crime fiction and criminality, including literary forgery and deception. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester and Master’s degrees from the University of Rochester and McGill University. She has published on topics ranging from Irish crime fiction to representations of Irish folklore in popular culture. Her new book, Finders: Justice, Faith, and Identity in Irish Crime Fiction, is forthcoming from Syracuse University Press. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Hive (@anjili).
In the words of the New York Times, Louis Bayard “reinvigorates historical fiction,” rendering the past “as if he’d witnessed it firsthand.” His acclaimed novels include The Pale Blue Eye, now a Netflix motion picture starring Christian Bale, the national bestseller Courting Mr. Lincoln, Roosevelt’s Beast, The School of Night, The Black Tower, and Mr. Timothy, as well as the highly praised young-adult novel Lucky Strikes. A New York Times Notable author, he has been nominated for both the Edgar and Dagger awards. His reviews and articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and Salon, and he authored the popular “Downton Abbey” recaps for the New York Times. Find him on Instagram and Twitter.
Tara Campbell is an award-winning writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, fiction co-editor at Barrelhouse, and graduate of American University’s MFA in Creative Writing program. Her flash and speculative fiction have appeared in Masters Review, Wigleaf, Electric Literature, CRAFT Literary, Uncharted Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, and Escape Pod/Artemis Rising, among other outlets. She’s the author of the eco sci-fi novel TreeVolution, two hybrid collections of poetry and prose, and two short-story collections from feminist sci-fi publisher Aqueduct Press. She teaches creative writing at venues such as American University, Johns Hopkins, Clarion West, Catapult, the Writer’s Center, Hugo House, and the National Gallery of Art. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Ann Fraistat is a Maryland-based author, playwright, and narrative designer. Her debut novel, What We Harvest, was an ABA Indies Introduce and Kids’ Indie Next Pick, and a finalist for the Barnes & Noble YA 2022 Book Awards. Her co-author credits include plays such as “Romeo & Juliet: Choose Your Own Ending,” and alternate-reality games sponsored by the National Science Foundation. She has a B.A. in theater and English from the University of Maryland and is a graduate of NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.
Cheryl A. Head writes the Anthony and Lambda Literary award-nominated Charlie Mack Motow Mysteries. Formerly of Detroit, Head’s books are included in the Special Collections of the Library of Michigan. The most recent book in her series, Warn Me When It’s Time, received a Silver Medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards and was dubbed “chilling and prescient” by the New York Times. Time’s Undoing, a crime novel based on her family’s personal tragedy, is forthcoming from Dutton. Cheryl now lives in Washington, DC, with her partner and her canine supervisors, Abby and Frisby. Find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
The majority of Alma Katsu’s novels could be considered horror or fantasy and usually combine historical fiction with supernatural elements. Her best-known novel, The Hunger (2018), a reimagining of the story of the Donner Party, was named one of NPR’s 100 favorite horror stories, and continues to be honored as a new classic in horror. She also writes spy thrillers — the marriage of her love of storytelling with a 30-plus-year career in intelligence. Her latest is the forthcoming Red London, the second volume in her Lyndsey Duncan spy series. Find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Annie Marhefka is a writer in Baltimore. Her creative nonfiction and poetry have been published by Lunch Ticket, Fatal Flaw Lit, Literary Mama, Pithead Chapel, and others, and her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Annie is the executive director of Yellow Arrow Publishing, a Baltimore-based nonprofit supporting and empowering women-identifying writers, and is working on a memoir about mother/daughter relationships. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.
Anthony Marra is the New York Times bestselling author of The Tsar of Love and Techno, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, and Mercury Pictures Presents. He was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and was longlisted for the National Book Award. Find him on Twitter and Instagram.
Leeya Mehta is a prize-winning poet, fiction writer, and essayist whose latest poetry collection is A Story of the World Before the Fence. In 2022, her work appeared in three new anthologies: Future Library (Red Hen Press), The Penguin Book of Indian Poets, and Converse. Leeya writes a column for the Independent on the literary life, “The Company We Keep.” She is the interim director of the Alan Cheuse International Writers Center, serves on the board of the Inner Loop, and teaches at George Mason University. Find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Chloe Yelena Miller lives in Washington, DC, with her family. She is the author of the poetry collections Viable and Unrest. She is a recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities and holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Chloe teaches writing at American University and the University of Maryland Global Campus, as well as privately. She is the co-founder of Brown Bag Lit, where she leads poetry workshops and hosts readings. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.
Raised in the Detroit suburbs, Eliza Nellums now lives just outside Washington, DC. Her first novel, All That’s Bright and Gone, was named an Amazon Editor’s Pick and was praised in the Washington Post and Real Simple. Her second novel, The Bone Cay, was released in 2021. She is a member of the Metro Wriders, a weekly critique group that meets in Dupont Circle. An amateur botanist and avid gardener, she divides her time among plants, books, and cats. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Diana Parsell is a former journalist and longtime writer and editor in the DC area. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University’s M.A. in writing program, she helped launch the Independent in 2011. She has worked for publications including National Geographic and the Washington Post, and for science organizations in DC and Southeast Asia. She received a Mayborn Fellowship in Biography to write her forthcoming Eliza Scidmore: The Trailblazing Journalist Behind Washington’s Cherry Trees, and she won the 2017 Hazel Rowley Prize from Biographers International Organization. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.
Bethanne Patrick maintains a storied place in the publishing industry as a critic and as @TheBookMaven on Twitter, where she created the popular #FridayReads and regularly comments on books and literary ideas to 200,000+ followers. Her work appears frequently in the Los Angeles Times, as well as in the Washington Post, NPR Books, and Literary Hub. She sits on the board of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation and has served on the board of the National Book Critics Circle. She is also the host of the “Missing Pages” podcast. Patrick’s essays and short fiction have appeared on Elle.com, the Rumpus, VQR.com, and in the Grace & Gravity series. Her debut memoir, Life B: Overcoming Double Depression, is out in May. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Dolen Perkins-Valdez is the New York Times bestselling author of Wench, Balm, and Take My Hand. She was a finalist for two NAACP Image awards and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for fiction, and she was awarded the First Novelist Award by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. She lives in Washington, DC, with her family and chairs the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Monica Prince teaches activist and performance writing and serves as director of Africana Studies at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania. She is the author of Roadmap: A Choreopoem, How to Exterminate the Black Woman: A Choreopoem, and Letters from the Other Woman. She is the managing editor of Santa Fe Writers Project and the co-author, with Anna Andes, of the suffrage play “Pageant of Agitating Women.” Her work appears in Wildness, the Missouri Review, the Texas Review, the Rumpus, MadCap Review, American Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Martha Anne Toll’s debut novel, Three Muses, won the Petrichor Prize for Finely Crafted Fiction and has received glowing tributes since it came out in September 2022. She writes fiction, essays, and book reviews, and reads anything that’s not nailed down. Toll brings a long career in social justice to her work covering authors of color and women writers as a critic and interviewer at NPR Books, the Washington Post, Pointe Magazine, the Millions, and elsewhere. She also publishes short fiction and essays in a wide variety of outlets. Toll is a member of the board of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. Find her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Mary Kay Zuravleff is the award-winning author of the forthcoming American Ending, which Alice McDermott called “wholly fresh and achingly believable.” Inspired by her coal-mining grandfathers and the grandmothers she’s named for, all Russian Orthodox Old Believers, American Ending chronicles immigrant life in Appalachia, a worldwide pandemic, and who gets to be an American citizen — all from 100 years ago. Her third novel, Man Alive!, was a Washington Post Notable Book, and she is the recipient of the American Academy’s Rosenthal Award and multiple DC Artist fellowships, including for 2023. She teaches writing at American University and the Chautauqua Institution. Find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.