David Aguilar is a notable astronomer and the author and illustrator of several National Geographic books on astronomy, including the 2008 Voice of Youth Award winner, Planets, Stars and Galaxies: A Visual Encyclopedia of Our Universe, and the 2011 Eureka Gold Award best science book winner, 13 Planets. His upcoming book, Alien Worlds, investigates just how bizarre alien life might be. Aguilar is the popular host of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for the Astrophysics “Observatory Nights” program, and he leads travelers to destinations around the globe to explore celestial phenomena. He and his wife reside near Cambridge, MA, and at their observatory outside Aspen, CO.
Steve Almond is a fiction writer and essayist. He received his MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he received a Graduate Fellowship. He is the author of the story collections God Bless America, The Evil B.B. Chow and My Life in Heavy Metal, the novel Which Brings Me to You (with Julianna Baggott), and the nonfiction books Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life, (Not That You Asked), and Candyfreak. His stories have appeared in Tin House, Playboy, Zoetrope: All-Story, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Ecotone, among other magazines, and have been reprinted in Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize. Almond lives outside Boston with his wife and children.
Deni Y. Béchard was born in British Columbia to French Canadian and American parents and grew up in both Canada and the United States. His new book, Cures for Hunger, is a memoir about growing up with his difficult father. Béchard’s first novel, Vandal Love, was published in French and Arabic and was published in the US in 2012. It won the 2007 Commonwealth Prize, both for the best first book in Canada and for the best overall first book in the British Commonwealth. Béchard’s articles, stories and translations have appeared in a number of magazines and newspapers and he has done freelance reporting from Northern Iraq as well as from Afghanistan. He is currently working on Empty Hands, Open Arms, a book about grassroots conservation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
April Bernard grew up in New England, and graduated from Harvard University. She moved to New York to work in publishing and went on to become a senior editor at Vanity Fair. Bernard left publishing in order to pursue a Ph.D. in English literature from Yale University. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, and The New York Review of Books. She is the author of four books of poetry and two novels, including her new novel, Miss Fuller, the imagined story of Margaret Fuller–feminist, journalist, orator, and “the most famous woman in America”. She is currently the Director of Creative Writing at Skidmore College and teaches in the MFA program at Bennington College.
Daniel Chamovitz grew up in Pennsylvania, and studied at both Columbia University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he received his Ph.D. in Genetics. From 1993 to 1996 he carried out postdoctoral research at Yale University before accepting a faculty position at Tel Aviv University where he recently served as Chair of the Department of Plant Sciences. He is currently the Director of the Manna Center for Plant Biosciences at Tel Aviv University. Professor Chamovitz is among the most prominent researchers in his field and is often invited to give lectures at leading universities worldwide. His new book, What a Plant Knows, A Field Guide to the Senses is a captivating journey into the lives of plants—from the colors they see to the schedules they keep.
Eileen Christelow is the author and illustrator of twenty-nine humorous picture books, including those in the Five Little Monkeys series, The Great Pig Escape, Letters From a Desperate Dog, and nonfiction titles What Do Illustrators Do?, What Do Authors Do?, and Vote! Her most recently published books are Five Little Monkeys Reading in Bed and The Desperate Dog Writes Again. Christelow travels widely to visit children at elementary schools across the country, and her books make frequent appearances on children’s choice lists. She lives with her husband, artist Ahren Ahrenholz, in Dummerston, VT.
Martha Collins founded the Creative Writing Program at The University of Massachusetts-Boston. She is the author of six books of poetry and two chapbooks. Her awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ainsfield Wolf Award, the Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award , three Pushcart Prizes and a Lannan Residency grant . Collins published an award-winning, book-length poem, Blue Front, where she describes a lynching that her father witnessed in Cairo, Illinois when he was five years old. Her new book, White Papers, is a series of untitled poems that explore race from a variety of personal, historical, and cultural perspectives. Collins is currently Pauline Delaney Professor of Creative Writing at Oberlin College and lives in Oberlin, Ohio and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Chard deNiord is the author of four books of poetry, The Double Truth, which was selected as one of the top ten books of poetry by the Boston Globe in 2011, Night Mowing , Sharp Golden Thorn , and Asleep in the Fire. His book of essays and interviews with seven senior American poets (Galway Kinnell, Ruth Stone, Lucille Clifton, Donald Hall, Robert Bly, Jack Gilbert, and Maxine Kumin) titled Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers, Stapled Songs was published in December of 2011. deNiord is the co-founder of the New England College MFA Program in Poetry and Professor of English at Providence College. He lives in Putney, Vermont with his wife Liz.
Carl Dennis is the author of eleven books of poetry. He earned a BA from the University of Minnesota and a PhD from the University of California-Berkeley. His books of poetry include Practical Gods, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize, and his latest volume, Callings. Dennis’s work is known for its quiet intelligence, meditative bent, and honest exploration of the times and trials of a certain segment of the American middle-class. Dennis has also published a book of criticism, Poetry as Persuasion. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Dennis has received numerous honors and awards for his work including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry and the Ruth Lilly Prize. Dennis retired as Professor of English at the State University of New York at Buffalo where he was also Artist in Resident.
Matthew Dicks is a writer and award–winning elementary school teacher. His articles have been published in the Hartford Courant and he has been a featured author at the Books on the Nightstand retreat. He is the author of the forthcoming novel, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend and two previous novels, Something Missing and Unexpectedly Milo. Dicks lives in Newington, Connecticut, with his wife, Elysha, and their daughter Clara and son Charlie.
Angela DiTerlizzi is the author of Say What?, illustrated by Joey Chou, and the Adventure in Meno picture book series, which she created with her husband. She, her husband Tony and their young daughter divide their time between western Massachusetts and Jupiter, Florida.
Tony DiTerlizzi is widely known as the co-creator and illustrator of the New York Times bestselling Spiderwick Chronicles, a series that has been translated into thirty languages and adapted into a feature film. His new and even more exciting illustrated series for middle-grade readers began with The Search for WondLa and continues in A Hero for WondLa. In addition to his own books, DiTerlizzi has created cover art for well-known fantasy authors J.R.R. Tolkien, Peter S. Beagle, and Anne McCaffrey. He and his wife Angela and their daughter divide their time between western Massachusetts and Jupiter, Florida.
Ben Dolnick is the author of two acclaimed coming of age novels, Zoology and You Know Who You Are. He was born and raised in Chevy Chase, Maryland. He attended Georgetown Day School and went on to receive his undergraduate degree from Columbia University, and has worked as a zookeeper at the Central Park Zoo, a bookseller, a research assistant in an immunology lab, and a tutor. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Robert Gray works as an editor and weekly columnist at Shelf Awareness, which publishes two newsletters–one for general readers and one for people in the book business. He launched his book blog, Fresh Eyes Now, in 2004. Gray has written for numerous publications, including Tin House, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Publishers Weekly and Cimarron Review. From 1992 until 2006, he was a bookseller and buyer at the Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt. He has an MFA in Writing and Literature from Bennington College and lives in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Rachel Hadas is a poet, professor, essayist and translator. She is the author of twelve books of poetry including her newest book, The Ache of Appetite. Hadas received her M.A. from Johns Hopkins University and Ph.D. in comparative literature from Princeton University. Since 1981, she has taught in the English Department of the Newark, New Jersey campus of Rutgers University, and has taught occasional courses in literature and writing at both Columbia and Princeton. She is currently a Board of Governors Professor of English. Among her honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Foundation grant, and an award in literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She lives in New York City.
Kathryn Harrison is the author of the novels Envy, The Seal Wife, The Binding Chair, Poison, Exposure, and Thicker Than Water. She has also written memoirs, The Kiss and The Mother Knot, a travel memoir, The Road to Santiago, a biography, Saint Therese of Lisieux, and a collection of personal essays, Seeking Rapture. Ms. Harrison is a frequent reviewer for The New York Times Book Review. Her essays, which have been included in many anthologies, have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, Vogue, O Magazine, Salon, and other publications. Her latest book is Enchantments. She lives in New York with her husband, the novelist Colin Harrison, and their children.
Karen Hesse has written many acclaimed works of historical fiction for children and young adults, including 1998 Newbery Medal winner Out of the Dust. The recipient of a MacArthur Fellows Grant in 2002 and the Kerlan Award in 2006, Hesse immerses herself in extensive research for each of the books she writes. In her newest novel, Safekeeping, she has turned her attention to a dystopian future and the dislocating experiences of a Brattleboro teenager who walks to Canada in search of her missing parents and safety. Hesse’s stunning black-and-white photographs, taken as she walked her character’s northerly route, illustrate this groundbreaking book for students and adults.
Joan Houlihan is author of four books of poetry: The Us, named as a “must-read” book of 2009 by Massachusetts Center for the Book, The Mending Worm, winner of the Green Rose Award from New Issues Press, Hand-Held Executions: Poems & Essays, and Ay, a sequel to The Us, forthcoming in 2013. She is contributing editor and reviewer for the Contemporary Poetry Review and author of Boston Comment, a series of critical essays archived online. Houlihan founded and directs the Concord Poetry Center and the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference. She has taught at Columbia University, Emerson College, and Clark University and is on the faculty of Lesley University’s Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Major Jackson is an American poet, professor and the author of three collections of poetry: Holding Company and Hoops, both finalists for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature-Poetry and Leaving Saturn, winner of the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and finalist for a National Book Critics Award Circle. He is also a recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and has been honored by the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. Jackson is the Richard Dennis Green and Gold Professor at University of Vermont and a core faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars. He served as a creative arts fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, as the Jack Kerouac Writer-in-Residence at University of Massachusetts-Lowell and currently serves as the Poetry Editor of the Harvard Review.
Tayari Jones was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia where she spent most of her childhood. Her first novel, Leaving Atlanta, is a coming of age story set during the city’s infamous child murders of 1979-81. Jones herself was in the fifth grade when thirty African American children were murdered from the neighborhoods near her home and school. Leaving Atlanta received many awards and accolades including the Hurston/Wright Award for Debut Fiction. Her second novel, The Untelling, is the story of a family struggling to overcome the aftermath of a fatal car accident. Silver Sparrow, her third novel, is the coming-of-age story of two sisters. It was chosen as the #1 Indie Next pick for June 2011. Library Journal, O Magazine, Slate and Salon all selected the novel among the best of the year. She is currently an Associate Professor in the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark University.
John Kelly is the author of nine books about science, medicine, and human behavior, including the critically acclaimed The Great Mortality and Three on the Edge. His forthcoming book, The Graves are Walking, has already received rave reviews. “John Kelly gives heartbreaking detail to the Great Famine that seared itself into the memory of the Irish people, and sheds fascinating new light on the policy decisions that made it even worse. The Graves are Walking is a cautionary tale for all who would risk calamity–human, economic, or ecological–in the name of scoring an ideological victory.”–President Bill Clinton. “Kelly (The Great Mortality) traces a path of misery and devastation as he documents one of the 19th century’s worst disasters, a nightmarish six years that left twice as many dead as the American Civil War…[Kelly's] exhaustive research covers every aspect, threading the gruesome events into a huge panoramic tapestry that reveals political greed lurking behind the pestilence.”–Publishers Weekly (Starred Review). He lives in New York City and Sandisfield, MA.
Ann Kingman is co-host and co-producer of Books on the Nightstand, a weekly podcast about books and reading. She and her co-host Michael Kindness strive to bring informative, entertaining and thoughtful book talk to their listeners, recommending books they love, no matter who publishes them. Books on the Nightstand has grown into a thriving online book community, and Ann and Michael have recently begun hosting weekend reader retreats around the country. Always an avid reader, Kingman spends her days as a District Sales Manager for Random House, Inc., working with bookstores to find just the right books for their customers. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Attleboro, Massachusetts.
Victor LaValle is the author of the short story collection Slapboxing with Jesus and three novels, The Ecstatic, Big Machine, and his forthcoming book, The Devil in Silver. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including a Whiting Writers’ Award, a United States Artists Ford Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the key to Southeast Queens. Big Machine was named a best book of 2009 by Publishers Weekly, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and the Nation, and was awarded the Shirley Jackson Award for best novel, the American Book Award, and the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. “Big Machine is like nothing I’ve ever read, incredibly human and alien at the same time…”—Mos Def. LaValle is an Assistant Professor and the Acting Fiction Director at the Columbia University School of the Arts. He lives in New York with his wife, novelist Emily Raboteau.
Sydney Lea is Poet Laureate of Vermont. His most recent collection of poems is Six Sundays Toward a Seventh: Selected Spiritual Poems, from publishers Wipf and Stock. His 2011 collection is Young of the Year . Later this year, the University of Michigan Press will issue A Hundred Himalayas, a sampling from his critical work over four decades. A North Country Life: Tales of Woodsmen, Waters and Wildlife, a third volume of outdoor essays, will be published in early 2013, as well as his eleventh poetry collection, I Was Thinking of Beauty. He has taught at several colleges, in Europe and the United States, including Yale, Wesleyan, and Dartmouth. He lives in Newbury, Vermont.
Reeve Lindbergh is the youngest child of Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. She is the author of several books for adults and children including Under a Wing, a memoir of her childhood and youth, No More Words, a description of the last years of her mother, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and Forward From Here, a memoir about entering her sixties. Her mother’s final collection of writings, Against Wind and Tide: Letters and Journals, 1947-1986 was published in April 2012. She lives with her husband, Nat Tripp, and several animals on a farm in northern Vermont.
Margot Livesey is the acclaimed author of the novels The House on Fortune Street, Banishing Verona, Eva Moves the Furniture, The Missing World, Criminals, and Homework. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Vogue, and The Atlantic, and she is the recipient of grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. The House on Fortune Street won the 2009 L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award. Livesey was born in Scotland and grew up on the edge of the Highlands. She lives in the Boston area and is a Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Emerson College. Her new book, The Flight of Gemma Hardy, is an inventive re-imagining of Jane Eyre.
Richard Mason was born in South Africa in 1978 and lives in New York City. His first novel, The Drowning People, published when he was twenty-one and still a student at Oxford, sold more than a million copies worldwide and won Italy’s Grinzane Cavour Prize for Best First Novel. He is also the author of Natural Elements, which was chosen by the Washington Post as one of the best books of 2009 and longlisted for the IMPAC Prize and the Sunday Times Literary Award. History of a Pleasure Seeker is his fourth novel. In 1999, with Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mason started the Kay Mason Foundation, which helps disadvantaged South Africans access quality education. He is the recipient of the Inyathelo Award for Philanthropy.
Courtney Maum is the humor columnist behind Electric Literature’s “Celebrity Book Review,” a frequent contributor of satirical essays about the writing life for Tin House magazine, and a book reviewer for Bomb. She additionally works as a corporate namer, trend forecaster and brand strategist for a number of different agencies, and writes screenplays with her husband, the French film director, Diego Ongaro. Her work has recently won awards from Hobart, The Cupboard, Folio magazine and the Cannes Film Festival, and has appeared online or in print in a number of places. A Literary Death Match champion, her short story “Clarins” was a 2011 Million Writers Award notable story. She has just finished a novel written entirely from the point of view of one of the celebrities she channeled for Electric Literature. You can find her on Twitter at @cmaum or read some of her work at http://courtneymaum.tumblr.com/ .
Bernice L. McFadden is the author of seven critically acclaimed novels including the classic Sugar and Glorious, which was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, selected as the debut title for the One Book, One Harlem program, and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. She is a two-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of two fiction honor awards from the BCALA. Her sophomore novel, The Warmest December, was praised by Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison as “searing and expertly imagined.” Her new novel, Gathering of Waters, is the fictionalized story of Emmitt Till and Money, Mississippi. McFadden lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Howard Frank Mosher is a contemporary author of eleven books: ten fiction and one non-fiction. Much of his fiction takes place in the mid-20th century and all of it is set in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, a region loosely defined by the three counties in the northeastern corner of the state (Essex, Orleans, and Caledonia). His characters are often quirky, reflecting the distinctive peculiarities of the region’s taciturn residents. He is the 1981 recipient of the Literature Award bestowed by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. A Stranger in the Kingdom won the New England Book Award for Fiction in 1991, and was later filmed by director Jay Craven. Craven has also adapted Disappearances and Where the Rivers Flow North to film. He received the Vermont Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2006. His new book, The Great Northern Express, is both a chronicle of his recent 100-city book tour across America and a reflection on his development as a writer in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.
Stewart O’Nan’s award-winning fiction consists of fourteen novels including Snow Angels, A Prayer for the Dying, Last Night at the Lobster, Emily, Alone and his most recent book The Odds. He is also the author of a book of short stories (which won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize), a screenplay and two works of non-fiction: The Circus Fire, and Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season (with Stephen King). Granta named him one of America’s Best Young Novelists. He holds an MFA from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. O’Nan lives with his family in Pittsburgh.
Edith Pearlman has published more than 250 works of short fiction and non-fiction in national magazines, literary journals, anthologies, and on-line publications. Her work has appeared in Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and New Stories from the South. Her fourth collection, Binocular Vision, is the winner of the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award, the 2011 PEN/Malamud Award and the 2011 Wallant Award and was a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award for Fiction. She lives in Brookline, MA.
Mark Rotella is the author of Amore: The Story of Italian American Song and Stolen Figs and Other Adventures in Calabria. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Salon, Washington Post,Village Voice, Saveur and American Heritage, among others. A senior editor at Publishers Weekly, he lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife and their two children.
Tom Santopietro’s three previous books, Sinatra in Hollywood , Considering Doris Day, and The Importance of Being Barbra, examine how three very different entertainment superstars came to embody America at the height of its standing in the second half of the twentieth century. His books have been featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, and Publishers Weekly. Santopietro has made multiple radio appearances across the country, in forums ranging from National Public Radio to Voice of America, as well as appearing on network and cable television stations. His new book, The Godfather Effect, is a brilliant examination of our forty year obsession with the classic film trilogy.
Alexandra Styron is the author of Reading My Father and a novel, All the Finest Girls. She is the daughter of William and Rose Styron and a graduate of Barnard College and the MFA program at Columbia University. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal. She currently teaches memoir writing in the MFA program at Hunter College. She lives with her husband and two children in Brooklyn, New York.
Daniel Tobin is the author of five books of poems: Where the World is Made, Double Life, The Narrows, Second Things, and Belated Heavens. Among his awards are the Massachusetts Book Award in Poetry, The Discovery/The Nation Award, The Robert Penn Warren Award, the Greensboro Review Prize, the Robert Frost Fellowship, the Katherine Bakeless Nason Prize, a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a fellowship in poetry from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. His critical study, Passage to the Center: Imagination and the Sacred in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney, came out to wide praise. His recent book of essays, Awake in America, appeared from the University of Notre Dame Press in 2011. He is Interim Dean of the School of the Arts at Emerson College in Boston.
Isabel Wilkerson is the author of The Warmth of Other Suns, the New York Times best-seller that tells the universal, human story of three people who made the decision of their lives in what came to be known as the Great Migration, a watershed in American history. The book won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the 2011 Anisfield-Wolf Award for Nonfiction, the 2011 Hillman Book Prize, the 2011 Lynton History Prize from Harvard and Columbia universities, the 2011 Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, the Stephen Ambrose Oral History Prize, and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Nonfiction, among others, and was shortlisted for both the Pen-Galbraith Literary Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Wilkerson won the Pulitzer Prize for her work as Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times in 1994, making her the first black woman in the history of American journalism to win a Pulitzer Prize and the first African-American to win for individual reporting. Wilkerson also won a George Polk Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for her research into the Great Migration, and she was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists. She lives in Atlanta.
Jane Yolen, often called “the Hans Christian Andersen of America,” is the author of over 300 books, including Owl Moon, The Devil’s Arithmetic, and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? Yolen is versatile as well as prolific—she writes for both children and adults in a number of genres. Books featured at the Festival include three published in 2011: her recent poetry collection for adults, Things to Say to a Dead Man; the graphic novel The Last Dragon, illustrated by fantasy artist Rebecca Guay; and Snow in Summer, a novel-length version of the Snow White story set in West Virginia. The winner of numerous awards and the recipient of six honorary doctorates, Yolen lives in western Massachusetts.
Todd Zuniga is the founding editor of Opium Magazine, and the co-creator and host of Literary Death Match, which is a reading series that occurs regularly in New York City, San Francisco and London, and has launched in 39 cities worldwide including Beijing, Berlin, Dublin, Edinburgh, and Paris. He was named a LA Times Face to Watch in 2012. Zuniga is also a Pushcart Prize-nominated writer for his short fiction and an award-winning journalist (Best Feature Writing awarded by Ziff-Davis Media). He created 1UP.com’s Sports Anomaly podcast, and now hosts 4thString.com’s “Weekly Thrillride.”