Festival Authors

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

2024 Headliners

Critically acclaimed novelist Chris Bohjalian uses his gripping fiction to explore contemporary social issues and how they play out in the lives of ordinary people, as well as to shed light on some of the most important moments in history. His writing delves into such topics as domestic violence, global climate change, gender identity, genocide, adultery, animal rights, adoption, homelessness, mental illness, and human trafficking with equal facility. He is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of some two-dozen books, and his work has been translated into over 35 languages.

Marlon James was born in Jamaica in 1970. He is the author of the New York Times-bestseller Black Leopard, Red Wolf, which was a finalist for the National Book Award for fiction in 2019. His novel A Brief History of Seven Killings won the 2015 Man Booker Prize. It was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for fiction, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for fiction, and the Minnesota Book Award. James is also the author of The Book of Night Women, which won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Minnesota Book Award, and was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction and an NAACP Image Award. His first novel, John Crow’s Devil, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for first fiction and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and was a New York Times Editors’ Choice. 

Beth Macy is a journalist who writes about outsiders and underdogs. Her writing has won more than two dozen national journalism awards, including a Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard, a J. Anthony Lukas Prize for Factory Man, and an L.A. Times Book Prize for Dopesick, which was made into a Peabody Award-winning series for Hulu starring Michael Keaton. All four of her books, including her second book, Truevine, were instant New York Times bestsellers. Her newest book is Raising Lazarus. She lives in Roanoke, Virginia, with her husband, Tom, and Mavis, their rescue mutt.

Anthony Award-nominated E.A. Aymar’s thriller, No Home for Killers, was published to praise from the New York Times, Kirkus, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and was an instant Amazon Bestseller. His previous thriller, They’re Gone, received rave reviews in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus (starred), and was named one of the best books of 2020 by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. He is a former member of the national board of the International Thriller Writers and is an active member of Crime Writers of Color and Sisters in Crime. He runs the DC Noir at the Bar series, was born in Panama and now lives and writes in, and generally about, the DC/MD/VA triangle. His newest thriller is When She Left. 

Michelle Brafman is a writer and teacher. Her debut novel, Washing the Dead, was included in Book Riot’s list of 100 must-read books about women and religion. Her second book, Bertrand Court, features stories that have won numerous awards including a Special Mention in the Pushcart Prize Anthology. Her newest novel is Swimming with Ghosts. Michelle teaches fiction writing at the Johns Hopkins MA in Writing program and also founded the Glen Echo Workshops where she leads monthly multi-genre workshops and teaches summer college essay writing classes.

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond is the editor of RELATIONS: An Anthology of African and Diaspora Voices of which Kirkus Reviews said in a starred review “This smart, generous collection is a true gift.” She is also the author of the children’s picture book BLUE: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky, illustrated by Caldecott Honor Artist Daniel Minter. BLUE was honored with the 2023 NCTE Orbis Pictus Award® recognizing excellence in the writing of non-fiction for children, included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List, and nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Brew-Hammond also wrote the young adult novel Powder Necklace, which Publishers Weekly called “a winning debut.” Every month, Brew-Hammond co-leads a writing fellowship whose mission is to write light into darkness. 

Edward Cahill is Professor of English at Fordham University. He is the author of Liberty of the Imagination: Aesthetic Theory, Literary Form and Politics in the United States. Disorderly Men is his first novel.

Kim Coleman Foote was born and raised in New Jersey, where she started writing fiction at the age of seven(ish). A recent fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, she has received additional fellowships from the NEA, NYFA, Bread Loaf, Phillips Exeter Academy, Center for Fiction, and Fulbright, and residencies at Yaddo, MacDowell, and Hedgebrook, among others. Her fiction and essays have appeared in The Best American Short Stories 2022, The Rumpus, Prairie Schooner, the Missouri Review, The Literary Review, Kweli, and Obsidian. Coleman Hill is her first published book.

Nicole Glover is a writer of historical fantasy series Murder and Magic, which begins with The Conductors. The next two books in the series are forthcoming in 2024. When she’s not writing, she works as UX researcher in Virginia. She can be found at nicole-glover.com.

Wayne Karlin has published eight novels and three non-fiction books. He has received five State of Maryland Individual Artist Awards in Fiction, two Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1994 and 2004), the Paterson Prize in Fiction for 1999, the Vietnam Veterans of American Excellence in the Arts Award in 2005, and the 2019 Juniper Prize for Fiction for A Wolf by the Ears. His newest collection is Memorial Days: Viet Nam Stories, 1973-2022.

Born in New Delhi, India, Vandana Khanna is a writer, educator, and editor. She is the author of three collections of poetry, Train to Agra, Afternoon Masala, and Burning Like Her Own Planet, as well as the chapbook, The Goddess Monologues. Her work has won the Crab Orchard Review First Book Prize, The Miller Williams Poetry Prize, the Diode Editions Chapbook Competition, and the Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize. She has been published widely in journals and anthologies such as The New Republic, Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, New England Review, Guernica, and The Penguin Book of Indian Poets.

Chris Klimas is a web developer and game designer who has created narrative games for more than two decades. He created Twine, an open-source tool for interactive text-based storytelling, in 2009 and continues to lead the project. He’s also created parser-based interactive fiction, choice-based narrative games, and story-centered games in other genres.


Eliza Knight is an award-winning and USA Today bestselling author. She is known best for her novels, The Mayfair BookshopMy Lady Viper, Prisoner of the Queen, and Ribbons of Scarlet. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and Novelists, Inc., and the creator of the popular historical blog, History Undressed, a co-host on the History, Books and Wine podcast, and a co-host on the true crime podcast, Crime Feast. Knight lives in Maryland with her husband, three daughters, two dogs and a turtle.

Tara Laskowski is the author of The Weekend Retreat, The Mother Next Door, and One Night Gone, which won an Agatha Award, Macavity Award, and Anthony Award, and was a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, Left Coast Crime Award, Strand Critics’ Award, and Library of Virginia Literary Award. She is also the author of two short story collections, Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons and Bystanders, has published stories in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Mid-American Review, among others, and is the former editor of SmokeLong Quarterly. Tara earned a BA in English from Susquehanna University and an MFA from George Mason University and currently lives in Virginia.

Hanna Pylväinen is the author of the novel We Sinners, which received a Whiting Award and a Balcones Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared in Harper’s Magazine, the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, Chicago Tribune, and the Wall Street Journal; she is the recipient of fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the American-Scandinavian Foundation, and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, as well as residencies from MacDowell, Yaddo, and the Lásságámmi Foundation. She has taught at the University of Michigan, Princeton University, Virginia Commonwealth University; currently, she is on the faculty at the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. 

Scroll to Top