Speakers

Amy M. Alvarez

Amy M. Alvarez is the author of Makeshift Altar and the co-editor of Essential Voices: A COVID-19 Anthology.

Yasmin Angoe

Yasmin Angoe is the Anthony-nominated, first-generation Ghanaian American and bestselling author of the acclaimed Nena Knight Trilogy.

Jami Attenberg

Jami Attenberg is author of seven books of fiction, including the best-seller The Middlesteins, and a memoir, I Came All This Way to Meet You.

Rachel Beanland

Rachel Beanland is author of two novels: The House Is On Fire and Florence Adler Swims Forever.

Remica Bingham-Risher

Remica Bingham-Risher is a poet, interviewer, and essayist. Her last book, Soul Culture: Black Poets, Books, and Questions That Grew Me Up, was published in 2022.

Cara Black

Cara Black is the author of twenty books in the New York Times bestselling Aimée Leduc series and the national bestseller Three Hours in Paris.

Lauren Blackwood

Lauren Blackwood is the New York Times bestselling author of Within These Wicked Walls and Wildblood.

Ashley Herring Blake

Ashley Herring Blake is an American author of children’s fiction, best known for her Stonewall Honor Book Award-winning middle grade debut Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World and Girl Made of Stars.

Jeffrey Blount

Jeffrey Blount is the award-winning author of three novels. His most recent book, The Emancipation of Evan Walls, was the winner of the 2020 National Indie Excellence Award for African American fiction.

Aniko Bodroghkozy

Media historian and professor Aniko Bodroghkozy’s books include Equal Time: Television and the Civil Rights Movement and Groove Tube: Sixties Television and the Youth Rebellion.

Paul Bogard

Paul Bogard is author of The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light, a finalist for the PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.

Dan Brady

Dan Brady is the author of the poetry collections Strange Children, Subtexts, and Songs in E——, winner of the Barclay Prize for Poetry, along with two poetry chapbooks.

Karida L. Brown

Karida L. Brown’s research centers on the ontologies of systemic racism and the fullness of Black life. Her most recent book, The New Brownies’ Book: A Love Letter to Black Families, is inspired by the work of W. E. B. Du Bois.

Nicolette Cagle

Nicolette Cagle is a field naturalist with deep roots in ecology and environmental communication. She recently published Saving Snakes: Snakes and the Evolution of a Field.

Rachel Cantor

Rachel Cantor is the author of the novels Half-Life of a Stolen Sister, Good on Paper, and A Highly Unlikely Scenario. Two dozen of her stories have been published in …

Erica Cavanagh

Erica Cavanagh’s writing includes Letter to a Stranger: Essays to the Ones Who Haunt Us and Solastalgia: An Anthology of Emotion in a Disappearing World.

Danielle Chapman

Danielle Chapman is a poet, nonfiction writer, and lecturer in English at Yale University. Her memoir, Holler: A Poet Among Patriots was published in 2023, and her second book of poems, Boxed Juice, is forthcoming.

Brinda Charry

Brinda Charry is a novelist-turned-academic-returned-novelist. The East Indian is her first novel published in the United States.

Lindsay Chervinsky

Lindsay M. Chervinsky is a presidential historian and author of the award-winning book The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution.

Michael Cheuk

Michael Cheuk is one of the founding members and leaders of the Charlottesville Clergy Collective, a group of interfaith religious leaders and interested lay people.

Curtis Chin

Curtis Chin’s memoir Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant was released in 2023.

Meagan Church

Meagan Church is author of The Last Carolina Girl and The Girls We Sent Away. She writes to tell grounded stories that explore the complexity of human nature.

Katy Clune

Katy Clune is state folklorist and director of the Virginia Folklife Program at Virginia Humanities. She has her BA in art history from UC Berkeley and her MA in folklore …

Tanya Denckla Cobb

Tanya Denckla Cobb is author of Reclaiming Our Food and The Backyard Homestead Guide to Growing Organic Food and is director of the Institute for Engagement & Negotiation at the University of Virginia.

Meredith Cole

Meredith Cole began her career as a filmmaker and screenwriter. Her short stories and essays have appeared in various anthologies and magazines. She was the winner of the St. Martin’s Press/Malice …

Heather Cole

Heather S. Cole is a public historian and writer living in Staunton, Virginia. She has worked in a variety of museum and archives, including as an interpreter for the Woodrow …

Lightsey Darst

Lightsey Darst is author of The Heiress / Ghost Acres, and three previous books of poetry from Coffee House Press, including Find the Girl, which was awarded a Minnesota Book Award for Poetry.

Lisa Selin Davis

Lisa Selin Davis is a critically-acclaimed essayist and journalist whose work has appeared in major publications, including The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Time, The …

Stephanie Dray

Stephanie Dray is a bestselling author of historical women’s fiction. Her forthcoming novel Becoming Madam Secretary is about Frances Perkins, who was the first woman to hold a federal cabinet position under FDR.

Peter Malone Elliott

Peter Malone Elliott is an author, screenwriter, and developmental editor. Blue Ridge is his debut novel.

Ruthanna Emrys

Ruthanna Emrys is author of A Half-Built Garden, Winter Tide, and Deep Roots. She also writes radically hopeful short stories about religion and aliens and psycholinguistics.

Percival Everett

Percival Everett is best known for his novels Erasure, I Am Not Sidney Poitier, and The Trees, which was shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize.

Diane Flynt

Diane Flynt grows cider apples in the southern Appalachians and writes about fruit, farming, and the South. She recently published Wild, Tamed, Lost, Revived: The Surprising Story of Apples in the South.

B. Brian Foster

B. Brian Foster is an ethnographer and multi-medium storyteller working to document and interpret the culture, folklore, and placemaking practices of Black communities in the rural U.S. South. He is …

Jacob K. Friefeld

Jacob K. Friefeld’s new book, The First Migrants, tells this epic story of Black homesteaders in the Great Plains.

Dwight Garner

Dwight Garner is a book critic for The New York Times. His most recent book is The Upstairs Delicatessen: On Eating, Reading, Reading About Eating, and Eating While Reading.

Clifford Garstang

Clifford Garstang is the author of three novels: The Last Bird of Paradise, Oliver’s Travels, and The Shaman of Turtle Valley. He is also the author of three story collections, including …

Roxane Gay

Bestselling author Roxane Gay recently published the collection of essays Opinions: A Decade of Arguments, Criticism, and Minding Other People’s Business.

Mojgan Ghazirad

A native of Iran, Mojgan Ghazirad graduated from Tehran University of Medical Sciences with medical degree. She studied pediatrics at Inova Children’s Hospital and received her neonatal medicine specialty from …

Amiee Gibbs

At Penguin Random House, Amiee Gibbs is a sales manager for independent bookstores across New England, New York, and the West Coast.

Victoria Gilbert

Victoria Gilbert writes the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series, the Booklover’s B&B Mystery series, and the Hunter and Clewe traditional mystery series for Crooked Lane Books.

Ani Gjika

Albanian-born writer Ani Gjika is the author and literary translator of eight books and chapbooks of poetry, among them Bread on Running Waters and An Unruled Body: A Poet’s Memoir.

Leah Naomi Green

Leah Naomi Green is the author of The More Extravagant Feast, selected by Li-Young Lee for the Walt Whitman Award of The Academy of American Poets.

Kathleen Grissom

Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Kathleen Grissom is now happily rooted in south-side Virginia. She is the New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House, Glory Over Everything, and …

Lauren Grodstein

Lauren Grodstein is the author of Our Short History, The Washington Post Book of the Year The Explanation for Everything, and the New York Times bestseller A Friend of the Family, among other works.

Bonnie Hagerman

Bonnie Hagerman is the author of Skimpy Coverage: Sports Illustrated and the Shaping of the Female Athlete and an Associate Professor of Women, Gender & Sexuality at the University of Virginia.

Grace Elizabeth Hale

Grace Elizabeth Hale is the Commonwealth Professor of American Studies and History at the University of Virginia. An award-winning historian and internationally recognized expert on modern American culture and the regional …

Jimin Han

Jimin Han was born in Seoul, South Korea, and grew up in Providence, Rhode Island; Dayton, Ohio; and Jamestown, New York. She is author of A Small Revolution and The Apology.

Lana Harper

Lana Harper is the New York Times bestselling author of the Witches of Thistle Grove series.

Tiffany Clarke Harrison

Tiffany Clarke Harrison’s debut nove Blue Hour chronicles a mixed race woman’s harrowing journey through contemporary American motherhood.

Alix E. Harrow

Alix E. Harrow is the Hugo Award winning and New York Times bestselling author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January, The Once and Future Witches, and more.

Rob Harvilla

Rob Harvilla is the host and author of 60 Songs That Explain the ’90s and a senior staff writer at The Ringer.

Donna Hemans

Donna Hemans is author of the forthcoming mystery The House of Plain Truth. She previously published River Woman and Tea By the Sea, which won the Lignum Vitae Una Marson Award.

Jody Hobbs Hesler

Jody Hobbs Hesler is the author of the story collection What Makes You Think You’re Supposed to Feel Better and the forthcoming novel Without You Here (September 2024). Her words also appear widely in …

Henry Hoke

Henry Hoke is an editor at The Offing and author of five books—most recently the memoir Sticker and the novel Open Throat.

Don P. Hooper

Don P. Hooper is a writer and filmmaker of Jamaican heritage. His short story Got Me a Jet Pack is part of the New York Times bestselling anthology Black Boy Joy.

Katherine Howe

Katherine Howe is a New York Times bestselling and award-winning historian and novelist. She is the author of several novels for adults and young adults, including Astor: The Rise and Fall of an American Fortune.

Erika Howsare

Erika Howsare holds an MFA in literary arts from Brown University and has published two books of poetry.

Audrey Ingram

Audrey Ingram is a native of Alabama and a graduate of Middlebury College and Georgetown University Law Center. She practiced law in Washington, DC for fifteen years. When not writing, …

Kelly Ann Jacobson

Kelly Ann Jacobson is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Lynchburg. Her queer young adult novel Tink and Wendy won the Foreword Reviews Gold Medal for YA.

Meagan Jennett

Meagan Jennett is an author and poet. Her debut novel, You Know Her, has received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist.

Anna E. Jordan

Anna E. Jordan is author of the children’s book Shira and Esther’s Double Dream Debut.

Pauline Kaldas

Pauline Kaldas is author of The Measure of Distance, Looking Both Ways, The Time Between Places, and more. She is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Hollins University.

Alma Katsu

Alma Katsu is the award-winning author of The Hunger, a reimagining of the story of the Donner Party with a horror twist.

Kimberly Behre Kenna

Kimberly Behre Kenna is the award-winning author of the Brave Girls Collection for middle-grade readers.

Terry Kennedy

Terry L. Kennedy is the author of the poetry collections What the Light Leaves Hidden and New River Breakdown, as well as the limited-edition chapbook Until the Clouds Shatter the Light that Plates Our Lives.

Brooks Lamb

Brooks Lamb is a conservationist, agrarian, and author of Love for the Land: Lessons from Farmers Who Persist in Place and Overton Park: A People’s History.

Anya Liftig

Anya Liftig, author of the 2023 memoir Holler Rat, is a performance artist and writer. Her performance work has been in venues around the world including MOMA.

Ada Limón

Ada Limón is the author of six books of poetry, including The Carrying, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is also the current United States Poet Laureate and a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow.

Jeffrey Dale Lofton

Jeffrey Dale Lofton hails from Warm Springs, Georgia, best known as the home of Roosevelt’s Little White House. He calls the nation’s capital home now and has for over three …

Lee Mandelo

Lee Mandelo’s debut novel, Summer Sons, which has been featured in NPR and the Chicago Review of Books, is a contemporary Southern gothic dealing with queer masculinity, fast cars, and ugly inheritances.

Cynthia Manick

Cynthia Manick is the author of No Sweet Without Brine, which was selected as a New York Public Library Best Book of 2023, and Blue Hallelujahs.

Jeff Mann

Jeff Mann has published six books of poetry, three collections of essays, a book of poetry and memoir, six novels, and four volumes of short fiction.

Maurice Manning

Snakedoctor is Maurice Manning’s eighth book of poetry. His first book, Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions, was selected by W.S. Merwin for the Yale Series of Younger Poets.

Karen Wright Marsh

Karen Wright Marsh is an author, speaker and the executive director and cofounder of Theological Horizons centered at the University of Virginia. She is the host of the Vintage Saints …

Irène Mathieu

Irène P. Mathieu is a pediatrician and an award-winning author of four poetry collections, including milk tongue and Grand Marronage.

Amber McBride

Amber McBride’s debut young adult novel, Me (Moth), was a finalist for the National Book Award, and won the 2022 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent.

Gerald P McCarthy

Gerald McCarthy wrote Blueprint for Going Green: How a Small Foundation Changed the Model for Environmental Conservation.

Patti McCracken

Patti McCracken is author of the highly-acclaimed The Angel Makers: Arsenic, a Midwife and Modern History’s Most Astonishing Murder Ring.

Sharyn McCrumb

Sharyn McCrumb is an award-winning Southern writer, best known for her Appalachian “Ballad” novels, set in the North Carolina/Tennessee mountains, including the New York Times bestsellers: The Ballad of Tom Dooley, She …

Denene Millner

Denene Millner is a six-time New York Times bestselling author, Emmy Award–nominated TV show host and award-winning journalist who has written thirty-one books.

Betty Joyce Nash

Betty Joyce Nash’s essays and stories have aired on NPR affiliate WVTF and appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, North Dakota Quarterly, Reckon Review, Across the Margin, and elsewhere. Her first novel, Everybody Here is Kin, debuted …

Nora Neus

Nora Neus is an Emmy-nominated producer, freelance journalist, and author of 24 Hours in Charlottesville: An Oral History of the Stand Against White Supremacy.

Idra Novey

Idra Novey is a novelist, poet, and translator. Her most recent novel Take What You Need is a candidate for Italy’s Bridge Book Award.

January Gill O’Neil

January Gill O’Neil is an associate professor at Salem State University and author of Glitter Road, Rewilding, Misery Islands, and Underlife.

Cindy Juyoung Ok

Cindy Ok is author of the debut full-length Ward Toward and the chapbooks House Work and Syntaxed.

Charly Palmer

In every painting, Charly Palmer bears witness to African ancestry and contemporary experiences—rhythmic, visual stories that shift what each viewer believes.

Prudence Peiffer

Prudence Peiffer is an art historian, writer, and editor, specializing in modern and contemporary art. Her book The Slip: The New York City Street That Changed American Art Forever was longlisted for the National Book Award.

Betsy Prioleau

Betsy Prioleau is an author and cultural historian. Her most recent book is Diamonds and Deadlines: A Tale of Greed, Deceit, and a Female Tycoon in the Gilded Age, which was a New York Times Editors’ Choice and Wall Street Journal Noteworthy Book.

Deborah Prum

Deborah M. Prum’s fiction has published in The Virginia Quarterly Review, Across the Margin, The Virginia Writers Centennial Anthology, McQueen’s Quinterly, The Sweetbay Review, and Streetlight Magazine.Her non-fiction has appeared in The Washington Post, Southern Living, The Writer, …

Virginia Pye

Virginia Pye’s fourth book of fiction, The Literary Undoing of Victoria Swann, has been called “captivating and delicious,” by Margot Livesey; “witty, intelligent, and exuberant,” by Christopher Castellani; and “a book lover’s delight,” by Kerri Maher.

John Ragosta

Historian John Ragosta’s newest book, For the People, For the Country: Patrick Henry’s Final Political Battle, was released in August 2023.

Judy Rakowsky

In Jews in the Garden, award-winning journalist Judy Rakowsky helps a relative uncover the truth of what happened to their family during World War II.

Sarah Mughal Rana

Sarah Mughal Rana is a Muslim author who graduated from the University of Toronto. She currently cohosts the On the Write Track podcast.

Danica Roem

Burn the Page author Danica Roem is a former newspaper reporter and lifelong Virginia resident wrapping up her third and final term serving the 13th District of the Virginia House of Delegates

Rhonda Roumani

Rhonda Roumani is a Syrian American journalist who lived in Syria as a reporter for U.S. newspapers. She is also an author of books of non-fiction and fiction for children.

Ashley Shew

Ashley Shew is an associate professor of science, technology, and society at Virginia Tech. Her books include Against Technoableism and Animal Constructions and Technological Knowledge.

Scott Shigeoka

Scott Shigeoka is an internationally recognized curiosity expert, speaker, and the author of SEEK: How Curiosity Can Transform Your Life and Change the World.

Laura Sims

Laura Sims is author of the critically acclaimed novels How Can I Help You and Looker. An award-winning poet, she has also published four poetry collections.

SJ Sindu

SJ Sindu is a Tamil diaspora author of two literary novels, two hybrid chapbooks, two graphic novels, and one forthcoming collection of short stories.

Joanne Skerrett

Joanne Skerrett is the author of several novels, including Abraham’s Treasure, a finalist for the CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Literature in 2011.

Julia Ridley Smith

Julia Ridley Smith is the author of a short story collection, Sex Romp Gone Wrong, and a memoir, The Sum of Trifles. Her short stories and essays have appeared in Alaska Quarterly …

Ethel Morgan Smith

Ethel Morgan Smith is author of three books, including Path to Grace: Reimagining the Civil Rights Movement, winner of the 2023 Eudora Welty Prize.

Laurel Snyder

Laurel Snyder is the author of many books for young readers, including the Geisel-winning Charlie and Mouse series and her most recent picture book Endlessly Ever After.

Polly Stewart

The Good Ones is Polly Stewart’s debut thriller. She was born and raised in the Blue Ridge, where she still lives.

Michael Strassfeld

Rabbi Michael Strassfeld has been prominent in the American Jewish community for nearly forty years, dating from his involvement as co-editor of the first Jewish Catalog in 1973.

James Sturz

James Sturz has covered the underwater world for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Atlantic, among other publications. His most recent work is the science fiction novel Underjungle.

Susan Suleiman

Susan Suleiman is author of two memoirs: Budapest Diary: In Search of the Motherbook, and Daughter of History: Traces of an Immigrant Girlhood.

Patricia Sullivan

Patricia Sullivan is the author of several books focusing on the African American experience, race, politics, and the history of the Civil Rights Movement.

Jennifer Sutherland

Jennifer Sutherland is a poet, essayist, attorney and educator from Baltimore, Maryland. Bullet Points, released in 2023, is her first book.

Brian Teare

Brian Teare is the author of seven critically acclaimed books, including Doomstead Days, winner of the Four Quartets Prize and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Aggie Blum Thompson

Before turning to fiction, Aggie Blum Thompson covered real-life crime as a newspaper reporter for a number of papers, including The Boston Globe and The Washington Post.

Courtney Thorsson

Courtney Thorsson is an associate professor in the English Department at the University of Oregon, where she teaches, studies, and writes about African American literature.

Adriana Trigiani

Adriana Trigiani is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty books of fiction and nonfiction, including The Shoemaker’s Wife.

Boo Trundle

Boo Trundle is a writer, artist, and performer whose work has appeared across various platforms and publications, including The Brooklyn Rail, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and NPR’s The Moth. She has released three …

Addie Tsai

Addie Tsai is the author of Dear Twin and Unwieldy Creatures, a Shirley Jackson Award finalist. They currently teach creative writing at William & Mary.

Jeannette Walls

Jeannette Walls is the bestselling author of The Glass Castle, a memoir that recounts her dysfunctional and nomadic upbringing. Her most recent work is the historical fiction novel Hang the Moon.

Ruth P. Watson

Ruth P. Watson is author of several novels and children’s books. Her new novel, A Right Worthy Woman, was based on the life of the first African American banker Maggie Lena Walker.

Heather Webb

Heather Webb is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of nine historical novels, including the forthcoming Queens of London.

Steve Weddle

Steve Weddle is author of The County Line and Country Hardball, a collection of connected short stories The New York Times called “downright dazzling.”

Kelly Weinersmith

Dr. Kelly Weinersmith studies parasites that manipulate the behavior of their hosts, and is an adjunct faculty member in the BioSciences Department at Rice University. Her research has been featured …

Sarah Weinman

Sarah Weinman is the author of Scoundrel and The Real Lolita, and editor of several anthologies, most recently Evidence of Things Seen: True Crime in an Era of Reckoning.

Ashley Wilda

Ashley Wilda is a writer living in eastern Virginia. Their debut novel,The Night Fox, is a YA magical realism tale written in poetry and prose about mental health and nature.

Gregory Wilson

Gregory Wilson’s scholarship covers a wide range of topics in modern United States history.

Ashley Winstead

Ashley Winstead’s novels include In My Dreams I Hold a Knife, The Last Housewife, and Midnight is the Darkest Hour.

Lauren Yero

Lauren Yero is a Cuban American writer living in the mountains of western North Carolina. Her debut novel is Under This Forgetful Sky.

Karen Spears Zacharias

Karen Spears Zacharias is an American writer and a former journalist. Her work has been featured on NPR, CNN, The New York Times, Washington Post, and in numerous anthologies.

Alison Zak

Alison Zak is the author of Wild Asana: Animals, Yoga, and Connecting Our Practice to the Natural World.