Author Biographies

Lois Ann Abraham was born in the Dust Bowl, grew up in Texas and Oklahoma, then New Mexico, where her heart still lives. As a child, she enjoyed reading and imagining stories of her own, but only as she neared retirement did she pursue her passion for writing. Her first collection of short stories Circus Girl & Other Stories was featured at the SummerWords writing festival as was her first novel, Tina Goes to Heaven, which is about a sex worker looking for a better life. Her interests are varied, but her motivation is always to reveal and enjoy what is really going on in the minds, hearts, bodies, and souls of people. Abraham teaches English at American River College and lives in Sacramento with her husband. (

Tamim Ansary was born in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1948, a product of the first marriage between an Afghan man and an American woman. He came to America at age 16 to finish high school and has lived here ever since.  The events of 9/11 prompted him to write an email to some 20 friends, which became one of the first viral phenomena of the Internet Age. Since then he has written memoir, history, and novels about Afghanistan, Islam, and world history. His latest book is a memoir, Road Trips, about an Afghan kid in Portland, Oregon in the vapor trail of The Sixties. (

A. J. Baime was raised in suburban New Jersey and received an M.A. in Literature from NYU. He is a longtime journalist and is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal. His articles have also appeared in the New York Times, Popular Science, Men’s Journal, and numerous other publications. Baime a New York Times bestselling author of several nonfiction books, most notably Go Like Hell and The Arsenal of Democracy. Both books are in development for major motion pictures. His latest book is The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months that Changed the World. Baime currently lives in Granite Bay.

Lillian Bell has been reading mysteries since she can remember. She started out with Nancy Drew, but soon graduated to pilfering Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers novels from her father’s bookshelves when she was twelve. She also writes as Kristi Abbott, Eileen Carr, and Eileen Rendahl, and has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University in Los Angeles. She is the author of over 15 novels, the latest of which is A Grave Issue. She is an award-winning, best-selling author of chick lit, romantic suspense, cozy mystery and urban fantasy. After many moves to cities such as St. Louis, Boston, Chicago, and Phoenix, and job hopping from art gallery assistant, communications manager, editorial assistant, and graphic designer, she now writes and lives in Davis. (

Claire Booth grew up in Reno, but her writing career has taken her all over the country; she’s worked in Missouri, Washington, D.C., South Florida, the Seattle region and the Bay Area. She spent more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, covering crimes so strange and convoluted they seemed more like fiction than reality. Her first book, The False Prophet, is the true account of one of those crimes. Eventually, she had enough of the real world and decided to write novels instead. Her mysteries – The Branson Beauty and her latest book, Another Man’s Ground – take place in Branson, Missouri, where small-town politics and big-city country music tourism clash in – yes – strange, convoluted ways. She lives in the Sacramento suburbs with her family. (

Allison Brennan is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of over 20 books and multiple short stories. She is the author of the acclaimed Lucy Kincaid series and her latest book, Shattered, is the fourth in her Max Revere series. Crime fiction, mysteries, and romantic suspense are among Brennan’s favorite genres; her romantic thrillers tend to carry a dark, suspenseful edge. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, she lives outside Elk Grove with her husband, five children, and assorted pets.  (

Sylvia Brownrigg grew up partly in Silicon Valley, at a time when there were more apricots than apples; and partly in England, where she developed a lifelong taste for Marmite. Brownrigg has set her stories and novels in both places, and occasionally in imaginary landscapes. While most of her fiction has been for adults, when her son and daughter were younger she wrote a novel for children, Kepler’s Dream (under the name Juliet Bell), which briefly made her cool in the eyes of her kids. Brownrigg’s most recent novel, Pages for Her, is a sequel to her Lambda award-winning love story published in 2001, Pages for You. She lives in Berkeley with her family. (

J.L. Cooper is an author and practicing psychologist in Sacramento. His writing highlights the dance between the subjective world and the relational world, where the lyricism of everyday life is elevated, and where images and brief vignettes rise to the surface, suspending time as needed. In his full-length book of poetry, An Ocean Large Enough, water themes are prominent, including churning, flow, stillness, and play. He grew up swimming the beaches of Southern California, and was an ocean lifeguard for five unforgettable summers. He’s currently assembling his work into collections of fiction and creative nonfiction. His short stories have won four literary awards, two of which have been featured in Sacramento Stories on Stage. He lives in Carmichael with his wife. (www.

Kim Culbertson is an award-winning author of six young adult novels. Much of the inspiration for her novels comes from work she’s done as a high school teacher since 1998. In 2012, Culbertson wrote her eBook novella The Liberation of Max McTrue for her students, who she says, have taught her far more than she has taught them over the years. Her latest book, The Wonder of Us, tells the story of two childhood best friends fighting due to the struggles that come from living on separate continents. They propose an epic adventure to fix their friendship: tour six European countries in two weeks, but will this be enough to overcome the divide, or will they learn growing up means growing apart? Culbertson lives in the northern California foothills with her family. (

 Albert Flynn DeSilver is an internationally published poet, author, teacher, speaker, and writing coach. He served as Marin County’s first Poet Laureate from 2008-10. He is the author of two books of poetry and a memoir about his rise from a suicidal alcoholic to Poet Laureate. He presents at conferences and workshops nationally, has taught as a California Poet in the Schools and in the Teen and Family Program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. With a mixture of engaging storytelling and practical exercise, his latest book, Writing as a Path to Awakening, invites you on a yearlong journey of growth and discovery to enhance your writing through the practice of meditation while using the creative process to accelerate your spiritual evolution. He lives in northern California.  (

Gayle Greene grew up in the Santa Clara Valley, before it became Silicon, when it was still “the valley of heart’s delight.” She writes of the loss of that valley in Missing Persons, “a fascinating foray into loss, grief, and self-identity, reminiscent of Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking.”  A longtime professor at Scripps College, Claremont, Greene began her writing life with books about Shakespeare, women writers and feminist theory. Her interests shifted to health and the environment which resulted in a biography, The Woman Who Knew Too Much: Alice Stewart and the Secrets of Radiation, about pioneer British physician, radiation epidemiologist, and anti-nuclear guru. Next she turned to insomnia, the bane of her existence, with Insomniac, a first person account of living with insomnia and an investigation into sleep science. She lives in the Bay Area and Mendocino. (

Gini Grossenbacher grew up in east Sacramento, where she spent many hours helping in her dad’s eye surgery practice. Though her father would have loved her to be a doctor, she preferred writing stories inspired by Little Women. After a career teaching high school English, she is writing her own historical series, The American Madams. Her first work, Madam of My Heart, fictionalizes the life of San Francisco’s infamous Belle Cora. Her next novel due this year, Madam in Silk, explores another madam in Gold Rush Chinatown. When she is not writing, Gini teaches creative writing to small adult groups. (

Sands Hall grew up in Squaw Valley in the Sierra Nevada, happy to have a National Forest as her backyard. Words have always been a source of joy for her, and she found her way first to theater, where she enjoyed working as actor, director, and eventually as playwright. In and around these activities, she earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop, honed her affection for teaching creative writing, and published a novel, as well as a volume of essays and exercises, Tools of the Writer Craft. Her recent memoir is FLUNK. START: Reclaiming My Decade Lost in Scientology. Also a singer/songwriter, Sands lives in Nevada City, and spends fall semesters at Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania as an Associate Teaching Professor of English. (

Jessica Barksdale Inclán has degrees in sociology and English literature from C.S.U. Stanislaus and a Master’s degree in English literature from S.F.S.U. She has taught a variety of subjects, including composition, creative writing, mythology, and women’s literature at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, as well an online novel writing courses for U.C.L.A. Extension. Inclán is the author of 14 novels. Her latest, The Burning Hour, tells the story of the Mapps, a fiercely independent Native American family. When faced with the driest fire season on record, they must place their trust in a less than honorable government, while Nick Delgado, a young wildland firefighter for the Bureau of Land Management, struggles with regulations and familial expectations. Inclán lives in Oakland with her husband. (

Meredith Jaeger was born and raised in Berkeley, California, the daughter of a Swiss father and an American mother. In her twenties, she lived in the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Australia. Meredith worked for a San Francisco startup before publishing her debut novel, The Dressmaker’s Dowry. She is drawn to the urban immigrant experience and the lives of working-class Victorians. She was inspired by her engagement ring, an heirloom from 1903. Imagining she didn’t know the history behind it, she created a story filled with family secrets. Her second novel, Boardwalk Summer, will be published in June 2018. She lives in Alameda with her husband and family. (

Rae Franklin James grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her love of writing was nourished at the early age of eight when she and her best friend wrote wandering tales of pirates and damsels in distress. She graduated from the U.C. Berkeley where she cultivated a different type of writing—legislation and political policy. After a career of public policy and advocacy, she focused on her first love, writing. In 2013, her debut novel was published. The Identity Thief, the final book in her six-part mystery series, was released this year. James is married with two sons and resides in northern California. (

Frances Kakugawa grew up speaking Pidgin in Hawaii. At age six, she discovered that Dick, Jane and Sally didn’t speak as she did. Fascinated, she decided then to become a writer. She protected this dream, avoided writing courses in college, afraid a professor would tell her she couldn’t write. Her collection of childhood poems were lost when her village was destroyed by lava flows. Her first of 14 books, Sand Grains, was published when she was in her 30’s. When she became a caregiver for her mother who had Alzheimer’s, her poetry writing transformed her experiences into an art form.  Her four illustrated children’s books about a little mouse poet is almost auto-biographical. Internationally published, she travels nationwide helping to humanize caregiving through poetry writing. Her most recent book is Dangerous Woman: Poetry for the Ageless. (

Obi Kaufman grew up in the East Bay as the son of an astrophysicist and a psychologist, spending most of high school practicing calculus and breaking away on weekends to scramble around Mount Diablo, mapping and naming the creeks, oak forests and sage mazes. Into adulthood he would regularly journey into the mountains, spending more summer nights without a roof than with one. As his identity as a wilderness naturalist took hold, he began work on his first book, the California Field Atlas. For Kaufman, the epic narrative of the California backcountry holds enough art, science, mythology and language for a hundred field atlases to come. When not backpacking, today you can find the painter-poet at his desk in Oakland, posting @coyotethunder #trailpaintings on social media. ( 

Jennifer Laam first developed an interest in Russian history during the events leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union, leading to her earning of a B.A. in history with a minor in Russian studies from the University of the Pacific. Since then, she has become particularly intrigued by the world of Nicholas and Alexandra and the fate of the last Romanovs, which inspired her three novels, the newest being The Lost Season of Love and Snow. Currently, she resides in the Central Valley, where she works for her alma mater, University of the Pacific. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, film, obsessing over cosplay, and line dancing. (

Michael David Lukas is a graduate of Brown University and the University of Maryland. He has been a Fulbright Scholar in Turkey, a night-shift proofreader in Tel Aviv, and a waiter at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Vermont. Translated into more than a dozen languages, his first novel was a finalist for several awards. His second novel, The Last Watchman of Old Cairo, features a literature student at Berkeley who is the son of a Jewish mother and a Muslim father. One day, a mysterious package arrives on his doorstep, pulling him into a mesmerizing adventure to uncover the tangled history that binds the two sides of his family. His writing has appeared in publications such as The New York TimesWall Street Journal, National Geographic Traveler, and Georgia Review. He lives in Oakland. (

Erin Lyon graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and then worked in broadcast television for ten years before going to law school. She is now a practicing attorney and blames all of the people in her life for not trying to talk her out of the whole “becoming a lawyer” thing (except for her brother who, to be fair, did say, “Really?”). Erin’s first two novels, I Love You Subject to the Following Terms and Conditions and her latest Unconditionally were published in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Erin lives in northern California with her husband of 20 years, her teenage daughter, and a house full of rescue animals. (

Erika Mailman grew up in Vermont and attended Colby College and the University of Arizona, Tucson, where she received an M.F.A. in poetry. She is a lover of history, David Bowie, Oakland, Vermont, domestic shorthairs, fairy houses, mochas and movies. All her novels touch on lives of women throughout history whose stories have been discounted or untold. Her latest book, The Murderer’s Maid, interweaves the stories of two women: one, the servant of infamous Lizzie Borden, and the other a modern-day barista fleeing from an attempt on her life. As part of research for this novel, her editor made her stay overnight in the Lizzie Borden B&B, where she slept in the maid’s attic bedroom. She lives in northern California with her family. (

Marcus McGee was born in Morocco, raised briefly in Spain and Nebraska, before settling in Sacramento. He holds a Communication Studies degree from C.S.U. Sacramento, with minors in French language and theatre arts. McGee has a passion for stories that push the envelope, that challenge the imagination and convictions of readers, whether through novels, short stories, essays, plays or screenplays. His latest book, Alberta, explores the theme of legal personhood and equality, when a seventeen-year-old chimp named Alberta petitions the government for the rights to be recognized as the first nonhuman person in America. Since 1998, McGee has been a vanguard editor and publisher, at the forefront of an industry transformation. His ambition is to change the way audiences experience books, television and film. (

Beth McMullen grew up in New York, in a house with no television. She read a lot of books and decided pretty early to be an author. How hard could it be? Turns out, hard. Really hard. Eventually she wearied of a torturous San Francisco-Silicon Valley commute, quit that gig and focused on writing a novel. It was remarkably bad. Lots of people said so. So she doubled down and, thankfully, her next effort paid off. While McMullen has written a number of books for adults, she has recently turned her attention to writing for the middle grade audience. Her first kid series, Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls, launched in the summer of 2017. McMullen lives in Davis with her husband and two kids. (

Catriona McPherson was born in Scotland and daydreamed her way through school, being told she had too much imagination and should learn to contain it. Her major professor at graduate school said no one else ever wrote a science fiction novel and got a linguistics Ph.D. McPherson spent five years as a professor in academia, then stopped fighting the inevitable and has been a full-time novelist for over fifteen years, writing contemporary psychological suspense and detective stories set in the 1920s. Her latest is House. Tree. Person. She has won or been shortlisted for most major crime-writing awards in the United States. McPherson immigrated to America in 2010 and lives in the hills west of Davis. (

Gina L. Mulligan grew up reading classics and thrillers in San Diego. After college, she began her writing career as a freelance journalist for local and national magazines. While working on a travel article about the Hotel Del Coronado, she stumbled on a passion for historical fiction and spent the next 13 years immersed in the Gilded Age to write two historical novels. Mulligan also founded Girls Love Mail, a charity that collects handwritten letters of encouragement for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. She has turned them into a book called Dear Friend, which delivers words of wisdom, empathy, inspiration, and humor when they’re needed the most. (

Nayomi Munaweera was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka and grew up in Nigeria. She holds a B.A. in literature and a Master’s degree in South Asian literature. In 2001, she abandoned her Ph.D. studies after it became impossible for her to ignore that her heart belonged to writing. Her first book told of a long and brutal civil war in Sri Lanka and the burdens of exile and belonging. Her second and most recent book, What Lies Between Us, is the confession of a woman who has committed the worst crime a woman can commit. She is most interested in exploring what happens to women’s bodies within the space of misogynistic patriarchy where we all reside. Munaweera lives in Oakland and teaches writing at Mills College and Ashland University. (

Cornelia Nixon was born in Boston, grew up bicoastal in Marin County and Maryland, and started writing at age six. Always a reader, she eventually fell in love with Virginia Woolf and James Baldwin, Marilynne Robinson and Tobias Woolf. While reading a book a week for most of her life, and teaching English at U.C. Berkeley, Indiana University and later Mills College, she continued to find time to write and has published five books, most of which have won prizes, including a first-prize O. Henry Award. Her most recent book, The Use of Frame explores the struggling marriage of two poets, exploring how closeness and despair can warp a lover’s perception. She now lives half the year in Berkeley and half on an island in Puget Sound. (

Mark Noce writes historical fiction with a passion and eagerly reads everything from fantasy to literature. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, he’s an avid traveler and backpacker, particularly in Europe and North America. He earned his B.A. and M.A. from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he also met his wife. By day, he works as a technical writer, having spent much of his career at places like Google and Facebook. Dark Winds Rising is the second book in his Queen Branwen Series, a collection of historical novels set in medieval Wales. (

Norman Ollestad was born and raised in Malibu where he was thrust into the world of surfing and competitive downhill skiing by his father. He won the Southern California Slalom skiing championship at age 11 in 1979, but in that same year suffered in a plane crash which claimed the life of his father and rendered him the sole survivor of the accident. This story was the basis for his 2009 bestselling memoir, Crazy for the Storm. His newest book, French Girl with Mother, is a provocative thriller about a young artist touring Europe who meets a young French woman and stumbles across her families secret business of trafficking art forgeries. Ollestad lives in Venice, CA with his family. (

 Gayle Pitman is a professor of psychology and women’s studies at Sacramento City College. She is the author of the award-winning books Backdrop: The Politics and Personalities behind Sexual Orientation Research and This Day in June. Her newest book, Feminism From A – Z, is an alphabetical primer on feminism for teen girls. Each chapter examines a topic that offers call-to-action exercises incorporated into each lesson. Together, the chapters take a look at history and current events through the lens of feminist theory and introduce an inclusive and wide range of feminist thoughts and perspectives. Pitman has written extensively on topics pertaining to sexuality, gender, and intersectionality. In addition to numerous journal articles and academic papers, Pitman is a contributor to three edited books. (

 Bridget Quinn was raised in Montana, and she’s lived since in Norway, New York, Oregon, and California. Bridget holds a B.A. in art history from U.C. Santa Barbara, and an M.A. from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. She’s taught art history, history and writing for more than two decades; worked in museums and for galleries and private collections; worked at climbing gyms on both coasts, and was a researcher for the first several ESPN X Games, covering rock climbing, ice climbing, BMX freestyle and downhill mountain biking. Quinn draws from her expertise in her latest book Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order). Her writing has appeared in Narrative Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, Hyperallergic, and elsewhere. A grateful denizen of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, Bridget lives in the city with her husband, kids, dogs, and way too many bikes. (

Anne Raeff is a high school teacher and works primarily with recent immigrants. She is proud of her occupation because she too is a child of immigrants, and much of her writing draws on her family’s history as refugees from war and the Holocaust. Her stories and essays have appeared in New England Review, ZYZZYVA, and Guernica among other places. She has written a novel and a short story collection. Her second and most recent novel, Winter Kept Us Warm, is an evocative story of family strained by the cruelty of war and its generational repercussions, stitching together the deep threads of love, friendship, loyalty, and, of course, loss. She lives in San Francisco with her wife. (

 Marilyn Reynolds’s sixty-nine-year old husband, Michael, was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) in 2009. Her memoir Til Death or Dementia Do Us Part is the sort of book she hungered to read when Mike was first diagnosed. Reynolds is also the author of ten books of realistic teen fiction in the “True-to-Life Series from Hamilton High”, as well as the books I Won’t Read and You Can’t Make Me: Reaching Reluctant Teen Readers and Over 70 and I Don’t Mean MPH: Reflections On the Gift of Longevity. Retired from teaching, Reynolds works in creative writing programs for incarcerated youth and gives author talks at middle and high schools. She lives in Sacramento and is currently at work on book number eleven in her Hamilton High series. (

Michelle Richmond grew up in Alabama. During a family vacation to San Francisco when she was 13, she realized she was a Californian at heart. Fifteen years later she moved to San Francisco, and her novels have been set in the Bay Area ever since. The Year of Fog, about a child who vanishes into the fog at Ocean Beach, was written as a love letter to San Francisco. Her 2014 novel Golden State imagines modern-day California on the brink of secession. In her latest novel, The Marriage Pact, a professional couple is lured into an exclusive, mysterious, worldwide marriage cult with strong ties to Silicon Valley. The Marriage Pact has been sold in 29 languages, with film rights optioned to 20th Century Fox. (

Brynn Saito was born and raised in Fresno. She turned to poetry at an early age to make sense of the many dualities shaping her life: her Korean American mother and Japanese American father; Christianity and Buddhism; farming legacies and big city dreams. After eventually moving to New York City, Saito published her first book of poetry, The Palace of Contemplating Departure (titled after the name of a palace in South Korea) in 2013. Her second and most recent book, Power Made Us Swoon addresses the W.W.II incarceration of the Japanese American community. Saito lives in the Bay Area where she teaches and writes about the power of art, poetry, and storytelling in transmuting trauma and healing communities. (

 Gin Sander has lived in the world of books for decades – in bookstores, at publishing companies, writers’ conferences, creative retreats, and scholarly symposia. Formerly a senior editor with a nonfiction division of Random House, for ten years she ran a women’s writing retreat weekend in Tahoe, Write By The Lake. Writing under her own name Jennifer Bayse Sander, she is the co-author of one of the bestselling books for writers, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published. Writing as Gin Sander, she is the author of popular gift book titles like The Martini Diet, Wear More Cashmere, and her latest, The Big Bucket List Book. She now organizes literary-themed tours in California and abroad. You might see her around Sacramento, pointing out various landmarks during her “Joan Didion’s Sacramento” tour.

Syma Solovitch is a freelance writer and developmental editor who has studied in Montreal, New York, and Paris. She spent many years as a public school teacher and was the 1993 New York City Teacher of the Year for District 5 (Central Harlem). She now lives in northern California, where she works as an Education Programs Consultant for the California Department of Education. She is the co-author (with husband Bruce D. Haynes) of Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family, which tells the story of one Harlem family across three generations, connecting its journey to the historical and social forces that transformed Harlem over the past century. (

Jeanine Stevens had the good fortune to be surrounded by books and song when growing up: her very own encyclopedias, “Wind of the Western Seas” and “The Song of India.” She lived only three miles from city center (Indianapolis), but there were still stands of hardwood forests. She roamed her little hub of creeks, museums and libraries. Stevens is drawn to cities and appreciates the work of Frank O’Hara and Charles Baudelaire. Many of her poems are inspired by art pieces of women. Travel and her graduate degree in Cultural Anthropology have also been big influences on her writing. Professor Emerita at American River College, she divides her time between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. (

 Jordan Summers, since the age of 6, has had more fun sleeping on rock, snow, and dirt than any one person should be allowed – spending absurd amounts of time in mountains, forests, canyons, and deserts. His passion for the outdoors and love for the Sierra Nevada range combined to propel his motivation in writing guidebooks. Summers’ books, including his most recent guidebook, Day and Section Hikes: John Muir Trail, are the result of his over 4,000 miles trekking this western treasure. Summers is an alumnus of the National Outdoor Leadership School, a Leave No Trace trainer, and a NOLS-WMI Wilderness First Responder. He lives in Elk Grove and is a volunteer for the Tahoe Rim Trail Association and the Pacific Crest Trail Association. (

Mary Volmer grew up in Grass Valley and paid her way through Saint Mary’s College on a basketball scholarship. In college she studied biology and English, but entertained little thought of becoming a writer until she graduated and left the country to work and study in Aberystwyth, Wales. In Wales, writing grew into a passion. She began her first novel, Crown of Dust, about the lives of women in a California Gold Rush town. Her second novel, Reliance, Illinois, a coming of age story about a suffragette, has just been released in paperback. Volmer returned to Saint Mary’s College to teach and lives on campus with her husband and son. (

Heather Young grew up in Maryland as the daughter of two transplanted Midwesterners. As a girl she read everything she could get her hands on, from mysteries to science fiction to romances to the classics, but four decades (and a career as a lawyer) would pass before she would write a novel of her own. The Lost Girls, a mystery about love and betrayal set on a remote Minnesota lake, was inspired by her parents’ stories of growing up in small Midwestern towns. Heather lives in Mill Valley, California, with her husband and two children, and is working on her second novel. (