The 2021 A&E Conference will include presentations by notable authors and industry professionals.
Please note: This is not a complete list of panelists and presenters who will be attending the 2021 A&E Conference. Check back in for updates.
Usha Akella has authored nine books that include poetry, one chapbook and two musical dramas. Her latest poetry volume is published by the noted feminist press Spinifex, Australia. She earned an MSt. in Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge, UK. She is the founder of Matwaala the first South Asian Diaspora Poets Festival in the USA (www.matwaala.com) and www.the-pov.com, a website of curated interviews. She was selected as a Creative Ambassador for the city of Austin in 2019 & 2015. She is widely anthologized and has been invited to numerous international poetry festivals all over the world.
Candace Buford has been an avid reader since childhood—always looking for stories with strong and complex POCs. She graduated from Duke University with a degree in German Literature, which exposed her to the delightfully creepy side of storytelling by writers like Kafka and Brecht. She also holds a law degree from Penn State Law School and a business degree from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. Raised in Houston, Candace currently lives in the heart of Seattle, where you can find her huddled in café corners, scribbling away in her notebook. She is the author of Kneel, a contemporary young adult novel about social justice, and the author of middle grade novel Whatever Happens, a Julie and the Phantoms original story. She shares her life with a rocket scientist and a Plott Hound, who both ensure there is never a dull day. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @candacebuford.
Maurice Chammah is a journalist and the author of Let the Lord Sort Them: The Rise and Fall of the Death Penalty, which was published by Crown in 2021 and previously won the J. Anthony Lukas Work-In-Progress Book Award. He is a staff writer at The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization focused on the U.S. criminal justice system, and his work has been published by The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Texas Monthly. He also co-directs the Insider Prize, a contest for incarcerated writers sponsored by American Short Fiction. He lives in Austin, Texas.
When it comes to romance, Madeleine Colavita is a bit of a late-bloomer, having not discovered the genre until she was a publishing intern. But she’s been making up for lost time, consuming every happily-ever-after she can get her hands on. Since joining the Forever team in 2013, she’s had the pleasure of working with many bestselling and critically acclaimed writers including Bethany Bennett, Christina Britton, Belle Calhoune, Sajni Patel, Reese Ryan, and Karelia Stetz-Waters, among others. As an editor, Madeleine is looking for fun, fresh, diverse voices across all subgenres of romance—especially historical, cowboy, and small-town contemporary—as well as in romantic comedies and women’s fiction. She wants to be surrounded by characters who mostly make her laugh, only occasionally make her cry, and always make her believe in true love. When not helping her authors craft HEAs, she enjoys baking, watching old movies, and needlepointing Christmas ornaments.
Taylor Crumpton is the Online Arts and Entertainment Editor at D Magazine. She manage the Music, Theater & Dance, Fine Arts, Film and weekly Things To Do listicle for the site’s 1.3 million users. As the first Black Women in the Arts and Entertainment Editor position, she uses her platform to elevate historically overlooked communities who are innovating Dallas’ rich and culturally vibrant arts culture. Prior to joining D magazine, Taylor was a music, politics and pop culture writer, who published a book essay under HALFWAY BOOKS, an independent publishing venture, started by New York Times bestselling author Shea Serrano.
Sean Desmond is the publisher of Twelve, an imprint of Grand Central, and has been in the publishing world for more than twenty-five years. His first novel, Adams Fall, was published in 2000 and was adapted into the film Abandon. This past year, he published his second novel, Sophomores, with Putnam Books. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Award winning novelist and filmmaker Owen Egerton is the author of a number of books including The Book of Harold the Illegitimate Son of God, How Best to Avoid Dying, and the PEN Southwest Book Award winner Hollow, which was named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2017. He is also the writer/director of several films including Mercy Black (Blumhouse, Universal, Netflix), and the horror comedy Blood Fest (Rooster Teeth, Warner Media). As a screenwriter, Egerton has written for Fox, Warner Bros, and Disney. He is one of the talents behind the Alamo Drafthouse’s long-running comedy show Master Pancake Theater and host of the One Page Salon reading series. Egerton has been voted Austin’s Best Author six times by readers of The Austin Chronicle.
Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, professor, and literary critic living in Austin, TX. He is the author of ZERO SAINTS and COYOTE SONGS and the editor of BOTH SIDES and HALLDARK HOLIDAYS. His work has been nominated twice to the Bram Stoker Award as well as the Locus Award and won the Wonderland Book Award for Best Novel in 2019. His nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Electric Literature, LitReactor, and other venues. His reviews appear regularly in places like NPR, Publishers Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Boston Globe, Criminal Element, Mystery Tribune, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and other print and online venues. He’s been a juror for the Shirley Jackson Awards twice and has judged the PANK Big Book Contest, the Splatterpunk Awards, the Newfound Prose Prize, and the 2021 FIU Student Literary Awards, among others. He has offered writing workshops through the Writers’ League of Texas, the Lighthouse Writers Workshop, HubCity Press, the Las Vegas Writers Lounge, Stories on Stage Sacramento, and other institutions. He has offered keynotes at various institutions and events, including the Lighthouse Book Project, ARRTCon, the inaugural POP_UP Academic Conference on Popular Culture, and the Revolve Creative Conference. In 2021, he received the Horror Writer’s Association Diversity Grant. Iglesias is a member of the Horror Writers Association, the Mystery Writers of America, and the National Book Critics Circle. He teaches creative writing at Southern New Hampshire University’s online MFA program. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias.
Mitchell S. Jackson is the winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing and the 2021 National Magazine Award in Feature Writing. Jackson’s debut novel The Residue Years received wide critical praise and won a Whiting Award and The Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence. The Residue Years was also a finalist for The Center for Fiction Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the PEN / Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction, and the Hurston / Wright Legacy Award. Jackson’s other honors include fellowships, grants, and awards from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Creative Capital, the Cullman Center of the New York Public Library, the Lannan Foundation, the Ford Foundation, PEN America, TED, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Center for Fiction. His writing has been featured on the cover of the New York Times Book Review, Time, Esquire, and Marie Claire, as well as in The New Yorker, Harpers, The New York Times, The Paris Review, The Guardian, The Washington Post Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, and elsewhere. Jackson’s nonfiction book Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family was published in 2019 and named a best book of the year by fifteen publications, including NPR, Time, The Paris Review, The Root, Kirkus Reviews, and Buzzfeed. His next novel John of Watts will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Jackson covers race and culture as the first Black columnist in the history of Esquire. He is the John O. Whiteman Dean’s Distinguished Professor in the English Department of Arizona State University.
Jackson is also a well-regarded speaker who has delivered lectures and keynote addresses all over the world, including the annual TED Conference, the Ubud (Bali) Writers and Readers Festival, and the Sydney Writers’ Festival, as well as at esteemed institutions, among them Yale University, Brown University, Cornell University, and Columbia University. A formerly incarcerated person, Jackson is also a social justice advocate who engages in outreach in prisons and youth facilities in the United States and abroad.
Britta Jensen’s debut novel, Eloia Born, won the 2019 Writer’s League of Texas YA Discovery Prize and was long-listed for the Exeter Novel Prize. Reviewers are calling the book “both a dystopian narrative and a quest story; consider it a spiritual successor to Lois Lowry’s The Giver and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village.” The sequel, Hirana’s War released October 1, 2020. Her stories explore themes of persevering through disability, parental separation and the intersection of various cultures on new worlds. Her novella, Ghosts of Yokosuka released this year and her subversive retelling of Hamlet and Ophelia’s story will be forthcoming in the Castle Anthology of Horror- Femme Fatales this October. She earned a BA in Acting Performance from Fordham University and an MA in Teaching of English Literature from Columbia University. For the past seventeen years she has taught creative writing and edited books for both traditional and indie authors. Friends often refer to her as a polyglot—which is a product of living twenty-two years overseas in Japan, South Korea, and Germany before settling in Austin, Texas. She enjoys mentoring writers and editing books with The Writing Consultancy and Yellowbird Editors and teaches freshman composition at St. Edwards University. Learn more about her work at www.britta-jensen.com.
Varian Johnson is the author of several novels for children and young adults, including THE PARKER INHERITANCE, which won both Coretta Scott King Author Honor and Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor awards; THE GREAT GREENE HEIST, an ALA Notable Book for Children and Kirkus Reviews Best Book; and the graphic novel TWINS, illustrated by Shannon Wright, which won a BCALA Children & Youth Literary Award for best graphic novel and was named an Eisner Award nominee. His newest novel, PLAYING THE CARDS YOU’RE DEALT, is forthcoming this fall. Originally from Florence, South Carolina, he received an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is honored to now be a member of the faculty. Varian currently lives outside of Austin, Texas, with his family.
Sarah Kasbeer is the author of A Woman, a Plan, an Outline of a Man (2020), selected by Alice Bolin as the winner of the Zone 3 Press Creative Nonfiction Award. Described by Kirkus Reviews as “a series of deeply personal and thought-provoking essays” in a starred review, her debut collection was named a creative nonfiction medalist in the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs) and a most anticipated book by The Millions and Refinery29. Sarah is a features editor at The Rumpus, a Tin House Winter Workshop alum, and has taught personal essay at the Creative Nonfiction Foundation. Her essays have appeared in Creative Nonfiction, The Cut, Dissent, Elle, Guernica, Longreads, The Normal School, and many other places. Her writing has also received notable mention by The Best American Essays and a Pushcart Prize nomination. Born and raised in Illinois, she currently lives New York City where she’s at work on her first novel.
Samantha Mabry was born four days before the death of John Lennon. She grew up in Dallas, playing bass guitar along to vinyl records in her bedroom after school, writing fan letters to rock stars, doodling song lyrics into notebooks, and reading big, big books. In college at Southern Methodist University, she majored in English literature, minored in Spanish, and studied Latin and classics. After that, she went on to receive a master’s degree in English from Boston College. These days, she teaches college-level composition in Dallas and spends as much time as possible in the West Texas desert. A FIERCE AND SUBTLE POISON (Algonquin Young Readers, spring 2016) was her first novel. ALL THE WIND IN THE WORLD, a Western, was published in the fall of 2017 and was nominated for the National Book Award for Young Peoples’ Literature. TIGERS, NOT DAUGHTERS released in the spring of 2020. It received six starred trade reviews and was the winner of both the Reading the West award and Writers’ League of Texas award.
Courtney Maum is the author of the novels Costalegre (a GOOP book club pick and one of Glamour Magazine’s top books of the decade), I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You and Touch (a New York Times Editor’s Choice and NPR Best Book of the Year selection), the popular guidebook Before and After the Book Deal: A writer’s guide to finishing, publishing, promoting, and surviving your first book, and the forthcoming memoir, The Year of the Horses. A nominee for the Joyce Carol Oates Prize, Courtney’s writing has been widely published in such outlets as the New York Times, and O, the Oprah Magazine, and her short story This is Not Your Fault was turned into an Audible Original at Amazon. Courtney is the founder of the artist residency, The Cabins, and she privately coaches writers on how to preserve the mystery and joy of the creative process in a culture that wants artists to become brands. You can sign up for her free writing newsletter at CourtneyMaum.com.
Jedah Mayberry was raised in southeastern CT, the backdrop for his fiction debut. The Unheralded King of Preston Plains Middle won Grand Prize in Red City Review’s 2015 Book Awards and was named 1st in Multi-Cultural Fiction for 2014 by the Texas Association of Authors. In 2018, he completed a Hurston-Wright Foundation Workshop in Fiction. A second book, Sun Is Sky, due from Jacaranda Books. His work has appeared at Linden Avenue, Brittle Paper, Black Elephant, Akashic Fri-SciFi Series, Solstice Magazine, Permission to Write, and A Gathering Together among others. Jedah resides with his wife and daughters in Austin, TX.
Anna Meriano is the author of the Love Sugar Magic series and This Is How We Fly. She graduated from Rice University with a degree in English and earned her MFA in creative writing with an emphasis in writing for children from the New School in New York. She works as a writing teacher and tutor in her hometown of Houston. Anna likes reading, knitting, and playing full-contact quidditch. Her work can also be found in the anthologies Up All Night, Living Beyond Borders, and Game On.
Leonard N. Moore is the George Littlefield Professor of American History at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, who earned his undergraduate degree from Jackson State University in 1993 and his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in 1998. This is his 24th year in the classroom as a professor, having first been at LSU from 1998-2007, and he has been at UT since 2007. At Texas he teaches more than 1,000 students every fall semester in his two undergraduate courses and he directs study abroad programs in Dubai, Beijing, and Cape Town, South Africa. He is the author of four books on black politics and his current project is a full-length film that chronicles the 1935 lynching of a family member in Washington Parish, Louisiana. He is married with three teen-aged kids.
Award-winning author, Sajni Patel, was born in vibrant India and raised in the heart of Texas. She draws on personal experiences, cultural expectations, and southern flair to create worlds centered around strong Indian women. Once in MMA, she’s now all about puppies, rainbows, and tortured love stories. She divides her time between Hawai’i (where honu is her #1 obsession) and Austin (where she not-so-secretly watches Mathew McConaughey from afar during UT football games.) Queso is her weakness and thanks to her family’s cooking, Indian/Tex-Mex cuisine is a real thing. She’s a die-hard Marvel Comics fan, an ube fanatic, and is always wrapped up in a story. Her debut, The Trouble with Hating You, was featured in Tribeza: Austin Curated and Austin Woman’s Magazine, and was on the cover of AudioFile Magazine as one of the best audiobooks of 2020. Her works have been included in Best Of lists for Oprah Magazine, The Insider, Cosmo, PopSugar, and featured in Teen Vogue, NBC, Apple Books, BookList, and Buzzfeed.
An award-winning television producer and screenwriter, Maya Perez‘s screenplays have been recognized by fellowships from SFFILM/Westridge, Sundance Institute, and NY Stage & Film. Her feature screenplay TALIESIN is being produced by Tangerine Entertainment’s Amy Hobby and Anne Hubbell. Her short stories and essays have been published in American Short Fiction, Joyland, Electric Lit, Misadventures, The Masters Review, and more. Maya is an executive producer on the television series “On Story,” which premiered its eleventh season on PBS in April 2021 and airs in 85% of the nation. Nominated for a 2019 Lone Star EMMY Award®, On Story won a Lone Star EMMY Award® for Best Interview/Discussion Program Series in 2018 and for Best Arts/Entertainment Program in 2014. She is also co-editor of three collections of interviews with filmmakers published by University of Texas Press. Maya teaches at Michener Center for Writers and The University of Texas at Austin in the Radio-TV-Film Department.
Ursula Pike is an author and creative writing instructor living in Austin, Texas. Her debut memoir AN INDIAN AMONG LOS INDÍGENAS: A NATIVE TRAVEL MEMOIR was listed as one of Ms. Magazine’s Most Anticipated Reads for the Rest of Us 2021. She is a graduate of the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts and her writing has appeared in Yellow Medicine Review, LitHub, World Literature Today, and Ligeia Magazine. Ursula has been featured in Austin Monthly, the Texas Standard, and Poets & Writers Magazine. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia from 1994 to 1996. An enrolled member of the Karuk Tribe, she grew up between Daly City, California, and Portland, Oregon. For more information visit ursulapike.com.
John Pipkin is the author of the critically-acclaimed novels: The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter (Bloomsbury 2016), and Woodsburner (Nan A Talese/Doubleday 2009) which won the New York Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, The Massachusetts Center for the Book Prize, and the Texas Institute of Letters Steven Turner Award for First Work of Fiction. He is currently the Director of the Undergraduate Creative Writing Program at the University of Texas-Austin and also teaches in the low-residency MFA Program at Spalding University. Originally from Baltimore, he holds a Ph.D. in 19th-century British Literature from Rice University and has received fellowships to MacDowell, Yaddo, Dobie-Paisano, and the Gullkistan Center for Creativity in Iceland. He recently received the 2021 Harry Ransom Award for Excellence in Teaching at UT-Austin.
Richard Z. Santos is the author of the novel Trust Me, which was named one of the ten best debuts of 2020 by Crime Reads. He is the editor of a forthcoming anthology of Latinx horror stories to be published in 2022. He is currently Executive Director of Austin Bat Cave, a literary nonprofit in Austin that provides creative writing workshops for students in under-resourced areas. He received an MFA from Texas State University. He is a previous board member of the National Book Critics Circle, judged the 2019 Kirkus Nonfiction Prize, the 2020 Acacia Prize, and has read for The National Endowment of the Arts and other national competitions. His fiction, essays and reviews have appeared in multiple publications, including Pank, Texas Monthly, Salt Hill, Kirkus Reviews, The Rumpus, The Morning News, Cosmonauts Avenue, and many more. Previously, he worked for labor unions, political campaigns, and consulting firms in Washington DC and was a high-school English and Social Studies teacher.
Gordy Sauer is a native Texan and transplant Missourian. He holds an MFA from Columbia University. His writing has appeared in Narrative Magazine and Boulevard, among other places, and it has received support from the Vermont Studio Center. A lifelong educator, he has taught snowboarding, fly fishing, creative writing, and now works as a speechwriter at the University of Missouri. Child in the Valley is his first novel.
Chaitali Sen is the author of the novel The Pathless Sky (Europa Editions 2015) and the short story collection A New Race of Men from Heaven, which won the Mary McCarthy Prize for Short Fiction and will be published by Sarabande Books in January 2023. Her stories and essays have appeared in Boulevard, Ecotone (receiving a special mention in the 2019 Best American Short Stories Anthology), Shenandoah, New England Review, New Ohio Review, Colorado Review, Electric Literature, LitHub, Los Angeles Review of Books, Catapult, and many other publications. She holds an MFA from Hunter College.
Adam Soto is web editor at American Short Fiction. He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is a former Michener-Copernicus Foundation Fellow. He lives with his wife in Austin, TX, where he is a teacher and a musician. His debut novel, This Weightless World, a work of literary science fiction Kirkus Reviews calls “…a touching meditation on humanity,” will be available Nov. 9 from Astra House. Concerning Those Who Have Fallen Asleep, Soto’s collection of award-winning ghost stories, is forthcoming from Astra House fall 2022. adamsotowriter.com / @adjoso / IG: adamjsoto
Stacey Swann’s debut novel Olympus, Texas—published in 2021 by Doubleday, W&N (UK), and Bompiani (Italy)—was a Good Morning America Book Club pick, an Indie Next selection, and longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Swann holds an M.F.A. from Texas State University and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Her stories have appeared in Epoch, Memorious, Versal, and other journals, and she is a contributing editor of American Short Fiction.
USA Today-bestselling author Sherry Thomas decided years ago that her goal in life is to write every kind of book she enjoys reading. Thus far she has published romance, fantasy, mystery, young adult, and three books inspired by the martial arts epics she grew up devouring. Her books regularly receive starred reviews and best-of-the-year honors from trade publications. The first three entries in her gender-bending Lady Sherlock historical mystery series are all NPR best books of the year. Sherry emigrated from China at age 13 and English is her second language.