Festival Authors

Hover over or click on an author’s photo to read their bio.

Salar Abdoh was born in Iran and splits his time between Tehran and New York City. He is the author of the novels Tehran at TwilightThe Poet Game, and Opium; and he is the editor of Tehran Noir. He teaches in the MFA program at the City College of New York. Photo credit: Mehri Rahimzadeh.

Bisi Adjapon is the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Teller of Secrets, whose short story version, Of Women and Frogs, was nominated for the Caine Prize. She has written for and been featured in many publications including McSweeney’s Quarterly, the Washington PostMs MagazineAljazeera, the New York Times, The Guardian and the Washington Times. She founded and ran the Young Shakespeare company for four years, and, as an International Affairs Specialist for the US Foreign Service, she won the Civil Rights Award for Human Relations. As an educator, she won an Excellence in Teaching award. She divides her time between Ghana and America.

Dr. Crystal S. Anderson is an expert in Transnational American Studies, Black Internationalism and Global Asias and affiliate faculty in African and African American Studies at George Mason University. Her most recent book, Soul in Seoul: African American Music and K-pop (2020), explores the impact of African American popular music on contemporary Korean pop, R&B and hip-hop and the role of global fans as the music press. A veteran blogger on Asian popular culture and former associate chief editor for hellokpop, she also manages KPK: Kpop Kollective, the oldest and only site for public scholarship on K-pop.  

Matt Bondurant’s novel, The Night Swimmer, was featured in the New York Times Book Review, Outside magazine, and the Daily Beast, among other outlets. His second novel, The Wettest County in the World, is an international bestseller and was made into the feature film Lawless, starring Shia Labeouf, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, and Jessica Chastain. His first novel, The Third Translation, is also an international bestseller, translated into fourteen languages worldwide.  He currently lives in Oxford, Mississippi.

Tara Campbell is a writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, and fiction co-editor at Barrelhouse. She received her MFA from American University. Previous publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, Wigleaf, Jellyfish Review, Booth, Strange Horizons, and CRAFT Literary. She’s the author of a novel, TreeVolution, and four collections: Circe’s Bicycle, Midnight at the Organporium, Political AF: A Rage Collection, and Cabinet of Wrath: A Doll Collection. Connect with her at www.taracampbell.com or on Twitter: @TaraCampbellCom

Helon Habila is the author of Travelers, The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Miniltancy in Nigeria, Oil on Water, and more. He won the Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction in 2015. 

Bruce Holsinger is a novelist and literary scholar who teaches at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He’s the author of many nonfiction books as well as three novels, most recently The Gifted School, which won the Colorado Book Award and was a Book of the Month Club main selection. His essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Slate, The New York Review of Books, and many other publications, and he’s the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. His new novel, The Displacements, will be published this coming July by Riverhead Books. 

Ava Homa is an award-winning novelist, a journalist, and a human rights activist. Her bylines have appeared in publications such as the Globe and Mail, Literary Hub, Toronto Star, Literary Review of Canada, Room Magazine, and many more. She has spoken about women’s rights across North America and Europe, including at the United Nations, Geneva. Her book of short stories on modern Iranian women Echoes from the Other Land was nominated for the 2011 Frank O’Connor Short Story Prize. Her debut novel Daughters of Smoke and Fire, the story of a Kurdish woman’s search for justice and freedom, won the 2020 Nautilus Book Award. Daughters of Smoke and Fire was also nominated for the 2022 William Saroyan International Writing Prize and it’s Roxane Gay’s book club pick. 

Michael Landweber lives and writes in Washington, DC. He is the author of the novels The In Between, We, and Thursday, 1:17 pm. His short stories have appeared in literary magazines such as Gargoyle, Fourteen Hills, Fugue, Barrelhouse and American Literary Review. He is an Associate Editor at Potomac Review and a contributor for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Nathan Leslie won the 2019 Washington Writers’ Publishing House prize for fiction for his short story collection, Hurry Up and Relax. He is also the series editor for Best Small Fictions. Invisible Hand (2022) and A Fly in the Ointment (2023) are his latest story collections. Nathan’s previous books of fiction include Three Men, Root and Shoot, Sibs, and The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice. He is also the author of a collection of poems, Night Sweat. Nathan is the founder and organizer of the Reston Reading Series and the publisher and editor of the online journal Maryland Literary Review

Dr. Debra Lane has been an educator for more than 30 years, as a teacher and administrator in the U.S. and abroad. She has led several schools as principal, including most recently at one of the world’s leading international schools, Shanghai American School. She taught grades from pre-K through middle school, as well as ESOL, Literacy, and Gifted and Talented classes in Fairfax County Public Schools and in the Dominican Republic. Recently she was Director of Talent Development at Alexandria City Public Schools. She holds a BS from Baylor University, master’s degrees from Virginia Tech and George Mason University, and an Ed.D. from the University of Virginia. 

Rashmi Sadana is Associate Professor of Anthropology at George Mason University and directs the Urban Research Hub in Mason’s Center for Social Science Research. She is the author of The Moving City: Scenes from the Delhi Metro and the Social Life of Infrastructure (University of California Press, 2022), English Heart, Hindi Heartland: The Political Life of Literature in India (University of California Press, 2012) and co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to Modern Indian Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2012). Rashmi has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Council of Learned Societies, American Institute of Indian Studies, and Weatherhead Foundation/School for Advanced Research.

Laura Ellen Scott is the author of five novels, including three Books in The New Royal Mysteries series. Her most recent publication is a short story based on the song, “Lawyers, Guns, and Money” in the Lawyers, Guns, and Money: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Warren Zevon anthology. Born in Ohio, she now divides her time between Virginia and West Virginia. She teaches fiction writing at George Mason University. 
 

Kate Shaffer is a writer and small business owner based in Portland, Maine. She is the author of three cookbooks, which have earned accolades from the Independent Publisher Book Awards, the Foreword Indies Awards, and include a spot on Food & Wine’s 2011 Top 25 Cookbooks of the Year. Kate is the founder of Ragged Coast Chocolates (raggedcoastchocolates.com), an award-winning artisanal confectionery and baking company which utilizes directly traded and sustainably produced chocolate and locally sourced fruits, vegetables, herbs, grains, and flowers. Kate lives in Portland, Maine’s East End with her husband Steve, and three cats, Maurice, Lenny, and The Noodle.

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