2018 Panelists

Photo of Steve Atinsky
Steve Atinsky
Publisher Sales Rep.

Steve Atinsky is Sales Manager for Penguin Random House in Southern California, representing books from Knopf, Doubleday, and Pantheon. He has worked in the book business for over 20 years and is the author of two books for middle readers: Tyler on Prime Time and Trophy Kid or How I was Adopted by the Rich & Famous.

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Lisa Brennan-Jobs
Author

Lisa Brennan-Jobs lives in Brooklyn, New York. Small Fry is her first book.

Told for the first time in her own words, Small Fry is Brennan-Jobs’s poignant story of growing up as the child of one of the most fascinating and complex men of his time. Hers was a unique childhood spent with artists and visionaries, nerds and hippies, in a rapidly changing Silicon Valley. Part complex family portrait, part love letter to California in the late seventies and eighties, Small Fry is a vibrant, original memoir by an insightful new literary voice.

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Amy Comito
Publisher Sales Rep.

Amy Comito is a lifelong reader.  She has worked in bookstores and as a publisher representative for 30 years.  She currently is a sales rep for the Penguin imprints at Penguin Random House which include Penguin, Viking, Riverhead, Dutton, Putnam, Europa and many more.

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Christina Dalcher
Author

Christina Dalcher earned her doctorate in theoretical linguistics from Georgetown University. She specializes in the phonetics of sound change in Italian and British dialects and has taught at several universities.

Her short stories and flash fiction appear in over one hundred journals worldwide. Recognitions include the Bath Flash Award’s Short List, nominations for The Pushcart Prize, and multiple other awards. She teaches flash fiction as a member of the faculty at The Muse Writers Center in Norfolk, Virginia. VOX is her first novel.

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Marilyn Diebold
Discussion Leader

Marilyn Diebold is a library assistant at Mission Viejo Library. Formerly a junior high/high school teacher for over 30 years, she is happy to be assisting patrons and reading books rather than grading papers. Marilyn lives in south Orange County with her husband, teenage son, and two obnoxious cats.

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James Frey
Author

James Frey is originally from Cleveland, Ohio. He is the bestselling author of A Million Little Pieces, My Friend Leonard, Bright Shiny Morning and The Final Testament of the Holy Bible. He is married and lives in Connecticut.

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Casey Gerald
Author

Casey Gerald grew up in Dallas and went to Yale, where he majored in political science and played varsity football. After receiving an MBA from Harvard Business School, he cofounded MBAs Across America. He has been featured on MSNBC, at TED and SXSW, on the cover of Fast Company, and in The New York Times, Financial Times, and The Guardian, among others.

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Susan Groux
Discussion Leader

Susan Groux indulges her passion for reading by immersing herself in all aspects of the literary world.  The former Programs Director for the Newport Beach Library Foundation, she is currently working in a bookstore and continues to support literary programming and writers in any way that she can.

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Lydia Kiesling
Author

Lydia Kiesling is the editor of The Millions, where she has been writing reviews, essays, and the semi-regular Modern Library Revue since 2009. Her writing has appeared at a variety of outlets including The New York Times MagazineThe New YorkerThe Guardian, and Slate, and was recognized in Best American Essays 2016. Her debut novel, The Golden State, is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux’s MCD imprint.

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Wade Lucas
Publisher Sales Rep.

Wade Lucas is a ten year employee of Random House and an avid reader. Raised without television, reading was a huge priority in his childhood home, and it only makes sense that he’d end up working in the book industry. The very first book that captured his imagination was The Wind In The Willows. In his past, Wade has worked in the music industry, retail, and various coffee shops. He has been nominated for Publisher’s Weekly Rep of The Year twice and is the recipient of the Random House Outstanding Performance Award. Wade’s favorite authors include David Mitchell, China Mieville, Kelly Link, and P.G. Wodehouse.

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Stephen Markley
Author

Stephen Markley is an author, screenwriter, and journalist. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Markley’s previous books include the memoir Publish This BookThe Unbelievable True Story of How I Wrote, Sold, and Published This Very Book, and the travelogue Tales of Iceland. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Tilar J. Mazzeo
Author

Tilar J. Mazzeo is the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle bestselling author of books that include The Widow Clicquot, The Secret of Chanel No. 5, Hotel on the Place Vendôme (all from HarperCollins) and Irena’s Children. She also writes on food and wine for the mainstream press, and her work has appeared in venues such as Food & Wine and in her Back-Lane Wineries guidebook series (Ten Speed Press). Her course on creative nonfiction (Great Courses) is widely distributed and has made her a nationally prominent teacher of writing in nonfiction genres. The Clara C. Piper Associate Professor of English at Colby College, she divides her time among coastal Maine, New York City, and Saanichton, British Columbia, where she lives with her husband and step-children.

Her latest book, Eliza Hamilton: The Extraordinary Life and Times of the Wife of Alexander Hamilton will be published on September 18, 2018.

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Jim Mustich
Author

JAMES MUSTICH began his career in bookselling at an independent book store in Briarcliff Manor, New York, in the early 1980s. In 1986, he co-founded the acclaimed book catalog, A Common Reader, and was for two decades its guiding force. He subsequently has worked as an editorial and product development executive in the publishing industry. He lives with his wife, Margot, in Connecticut.

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Neel Patel
Author

Neel Patel is a first-generation Indian American who grew up in Champaign, Illinois. His short stories have appeared in The Southampton Review, Indiana Review, The American Literary Review, Hyphen Magazine, and on Nerve.com. He currently lives in Los Angeles, where he is at work on his debut novel.

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Shobha Rao
Author

Shobha Rao burst onto the literary scene in 2016 with her “rich and intelligent” (San Francisco Chronicle) short story collection An Unrestored Woman. Her debut novel, Girls Burn Brighter, was named one of the Most Anticipated Books of 2018 by Cosmo, Ms. Magazine, the Huffington Post, and others. She is the winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction, and her story “Kavitha and Mustafa” was chosen by T. C. Boyle for inclusion in Best American Short Stories 2015. She moved to the United States from India at the age of seven and currently lives in San Francisco.

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Tatjana Soli
Author

Tatjana Soli is a novelist and short story writer. Her bestselling debut novel, The Lotus Eaters, winner of the James Tait Black Prize, was a New York Times Notable Book for 2010, and finalist for the LA Times Book Award among other honors. Her second book, The Forgetting Tree, was a New York Times Notable Book for 2012. Her third novel, The Last Good Paradise, was a Millions Most Anticipated Book for 2015. Her stories have appeared in Zyzzyva, Boulevard, and The Sun. Her work has been twice listed in the 100 Distinguished Stories in Best American Short Stories. She lives in the Monterey Peninsula area of California.

The Removes, Soli’s fourth novel, will be published by Sarah Crichton Books, Farrar Strauss Giroux, in 2018. It tells the story of Libbie Custer, wife of the legendary General and Indian fighter George Armstrong Custer, interwoven with the account of a young girl taken by a Cheyenne war party and held in captivity for years, and the ways in which each woman is transformed by the addictive intensity of their experiences in the American frontier.

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Amy Stewart
Author

Amy Stewart is the New York Times best-selling author of ten books, including Girl Waits with Gun and the rest of the Kopp Sisters series, which are based on the true story of one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs and her two rambunctious sisters. The books are in development with Amazon Studios for a television series. Her popular nonfiction titles include The Drunken Botanist and Wicked Plants. While they have not been adapted for television, there are a few bars around the world named after The Drunken Botanist, which is even better. Amy and her husband own a bookstore called Eureka Books and live in Portland, Oregon.

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Kelly Stidham
Publisher Sales Rep.

Kelly Stidham has been in the book industry for more than 30 years. She was
a buyer at an Independent bookstore and CSULB, before becoming a sales rep
for Scholastic Inc. She then moved on 18 years ago to Simon and Schuster Publishing where she now currently works.

Photo of Cherise Wolas
Cherise Wolas
Author

Cherise Wolas’s debut novel, The Resurrection of Joan Ashby, was called “breathtaking” by Library Journal and Booklist, a “powerhouse debut novel,” by Entertainment Weekly, “extraordinary” by the Daily Mail, UK, and “completely captivating,” by BookPage. It was longlisted for the 2018 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Debut Fiction Prize, named a NYT Editor’s Choice, an Indie Next Great Read, and a Best Novel, Best Debut Novel, and Top 10 First Novel by various outlets. Already published in the UK, it is being translated into several foreign languages. Her second novel publishes in July 2018. The Family Tabor is “a piercing and multilayered portrayal,” (Publishers Weekly), “brilliantly executed” (ABA Indie Next List), “compelling” (Jewish Week), with “gorgeous intensity” (Library Journal) and “gorgeous writing” (Booklist). The Family Tabor has been named an Indie Next Great Read and has been optioned by Legendary Entertainment Television. She has been named one of the “11 Women to Watch in 2018” by BookPage. She is an award-winning film producer and a former lawyer. Originally from Los Angeles, she lives in New York with her husband.