2016 Panelists

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Steve Atinsky

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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Tracy Barone

Tracy Barone earned a BA and an MFA in dramatic writing at NYU and has been a screenwriter and playwright. She has worked in Hollywood, where she was the executive producer on Wild Wild West, Rosewood, My Fellow Americans, and Money Train and was instrumental in the acquisition and development of Men in Black and Ali. Her website is tracybarone.com.

In Tracy’s debut novel, Happy Family, a fiercely independent woman is forced to come to terms with the family that raised her, the one who gave her away and the one she desperately wants.

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Paul Brinkley-Rogers

Paul Brinkley‑Rogers is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and veteran war correspondent. For many years he worked in Asia as a staff member of Newsweek, covering the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia, the death of Chairman Mao, and Japan’s economic miracle. He also reported from Latin America for The Miami Herald, sharing the Pulitzer Prize with a reporting team in 2001 for coverage of the Elian Gonzalez custody battle.  In August,his latest book,Please Enjoy Your Happiness, received a starred review from Kirkus and also was selected as Pennie’s Pick of the month at Costco. He lives in Arizona.

Please Enjoy Your Happiness is Paul’s memoir.  It is one beautiful, long, final letter written as a tribute to a mysterious older Japanese woman with a troubled past who became the author’s mentor in the summer of 1959.

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Jade Chang

Jade Chang has covered arts and culture as a journalist and editor. She is the recipient of a Sundance fellowship for arts journalism and the AIGA/Winterhouse Award for design criticism.  She lives in Los Angeles.

The Wangs vs. the World is her debut novel about a Chinese immigrant family whose spectacular fall from glorious riches to rags brings them together in a way money never could.

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Rick Cobban

Rick Cobban started with Little, Brown in 1986 as a field representative in
the Washington DC area and has been VP of National Accounts,
based out of the Hachette USA headquarters in NY.  He is currently the West Coast regional manager as well as the SoCal/Arizona field rep.

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Amy Comito

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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Stephanie Danler

Stephanie Danler is a writer based in Brooklyn, New York. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the New School.

In her debut novel, Sweetbitter,  we spend a year with Tess, when she first arrives in New York, as she learns to navigate the chaotic, enchanting, punishing, and privileged life she has chosen, as well as the remorseless and luminous city around her.

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Michelle Gable

New York Times bestselling author of A Paris Apartment and I’ll See You in Paris, Michelle Gable graduated from The College of William & Mary. After a twenty-year career in finance, she now writes full time. Michelle lives in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California, with her husband, two daughters, and one lazy cat. To learn more, visit http://www.michellegable.com.

I’ll See You in Paris is based on the real life of Gladys Spencer-Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough, a woman whose life was so rich and storied it could fill several books. I’ll See You In Paris winds together the lives of three women born generations apart, but who face similar struggles of love and heartbreak.

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Bryn Greenwood

Bryn Greenwood is a fourth-generation Kansan, and the daughter of a mostly reformed drug dealer. She earned an MA in creative writing from Kansas State University and continues to work in academia as an administrator. Her short fiction has appeared in Chiron Review, Karamu, The Battered Suitcase and Menda City Review and also wrote Last Will and Lie Lay Lain. She lives in Lawrence, KS.

In All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, Bryn introduces us to Wavy as she grows up in a brutal world where what looks beautiful to her, looks ugly under the scrutiny of the outside world.

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Kim Hooper

Kim Hooper lives in Southern California with her husband and an absurd number of pets.

People Who Knew Me is Kim’s debut novel.  In this compelling story, “Emily” becomes “Connie” when she abandons her stressful life in New York to start life over in California. Years later she is forced to rethink her choice and make a tough decision about confronting her past.

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Wade Lucas

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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Tilar J. Mazzeo

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, and Hotel on the Place Vendôme (all from HarperCollins)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.

Irena’s Children is a gripping true account of “a female Oskar Schindler” who took staggering risks to save 25,000 children from death and deportation in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II.

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Bernadette Murphy

Bernadette Murphy is the author of Harley and Me: Embracing Risk on the Road to a More Authentic Life (May 2016, Counterpoint Press). She has published three previous books of narrative nonfiction including the bestselling Zen and the Art of Knitting, is an Associate Professor in the Creative Writing Department of Antioch University Los Angeles, and a former weekly book critic for the Los Angeles Times. Her website is Bernadette-Murphy.com

With scientific research and journalistic interviews weaving through a page-turning road trip narrative, Harley and Me is a compelling look at how one woman changed her life and found deeper meaning out on the open road.

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Lisa Napoli

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Lisa Napoli has lived for the last dozen years in southern California.  In her three decades as a journalist, she’s worked for The New York Times, MSNBC, the public radio show Marketplace, and a variety of other outlets.  She’s covered everything from presidential campaigns, to hacker conventions and a hostage standoff, to the dawn of the World Wide Web.  Her first book, Radio Shangri-La, is about the impact of media culture on the mysterious Kingdom of Bhutan, where she was invited to help start a radio station at the dawn of democratic rule. A graduate of Hampshire College, Lisa leads an award-winning volunteer cooking group at the Downtown Women’s Center on Skid Row in Los Angeles.  She’s also the founding board chair of the Bhutan Media Society, an all-volunteer news outlet created by Bhutanese refugees in diaspora.

Lisa was inspired to write her latest book, Ray and Joan, by a public artwork in Santa Monica with a mysterious provenance.  It is about the dramatic relationship between Ray Kroc, the man who amassed a fortune as chairman of one of America’s most controversial and iconic companies, McDonald’s, and the passionate woman, Joan, who then gave that fortune away.

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Debra Ollivier

Debra Ollivier is the author of the national bestseller What French Women Know: About Love, Sex, and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind and Entre Nous. A former contributor to Salon, she has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, Playboy, Parents MagazineThe Guardian, Le Monde and Les Inrockuptibles. Her work is also published in the bestselling anthologies Mothers Who Think: Tales of Real-Life Parenthood and Because I Said So: 33 Mothers Write About Children, Sex, Men, Aging, Faith, Race & Themselves.

Debra is currently an Acquisitions Editor-at- Large for Parallax Press, occasional ghostwriter, and freelance writer/developmental editor. She has shepherded numerous books through the publishing process and helped a diverse range people find their voice in print with indie and mainstream publishers. A native Angelino and dual French/American citizen, Debra lived 10+ years in Paris and continues to nurture a delicious love/hate relationship with the French.

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Hollie Overton

Hollie Overton is a recovering actress, turned TV writer. Her TV writing credits include, “Cold Case” and “The Client List.” Hollie is currently a Co-Producer on Freeform’s “Shadowhunters.” Hollie’s debut thriller, Baby Doll was recently published in the US, UK and eleven other countries. Her second novel, The Walls will be published Aug. 2017.

A native Texan and lover of Mexican food and Whataburger, Hollie resides in LA with her husband and rescue pup, Stevie. When Hollie isn’t writing, she’s teaching aspiring TV writers at Script Anatomy. To find out more about Hollie and her work, visit http://www.hollieoverton.com or connect on twitter @hollieoverton.

Hollie’s debut novel, Baby Doll, is the most tense thriller you will read this year.  It is a taut psychological thriller that focuses on family entanglements and the evil that hides behind a benign façade.

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Wendy Sheanin

Wendy Sheanin is a lifelong reader and writer. She began her career in books as events manager at A Clean, Well-Lighted Place for Books in San Francisco. While her heart remains in San Francisco, she moved to New York in 2007 and is now Vice President, Director of Marketing, Adult Publishing Group at Simon & Schuster. Among other things, she heads up Simon & Schuster’s book club program and is the publisher of OffTheShelf.com, which recommends great books to great readers five days a week. When she falls in love with a book, she’s relentless about sharing it with other readers—but in a good way.

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Tatjana Soli

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 Last Good Paradise is an exhilarating story about a group of troubled dreamers who meet at a remote island resort.  In this book, Tatjana explores our need to connect in an increasingly networked but isolating world.

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Rufi Thorpe

Rufi Thorpe received her MFA from the University of Virginia in 2009. Her first novel, The Girls from Corona del Mar, was long-listed for the 2014 International Dylan Thomas Prize and for the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. She lives in California with her husband and sons.

Dear Fang, With Love is a sprawling, ambitious new novel about a young father who takes his teenage daughter to Europe, hoping that an immersion in history might help them forget his past mistakes and her uncertain future.