2015 Speakers

Read up on the speakers we have confirmed for this year’s events!


Scott Beal
Scott Beal's poems have appeared recently in Rattle, Prairie Schooner, Beloit Poetry Journal, Muzzle, Southern Indiana Review, Sonora Review, and other journals. He won a 2014 Pushcart Prize for the poem "Things to Think About." His first full-length collection, Wait 'Til You Have Real Problems, was published by Dzanc Books in November 2014. Beal teaches full-time in the Sweetland Center for Writing, the English Department Writing Program, and the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program at the University of Michigan. He has led many poetry and fiction workshops for the Neutral Zone, the InsideOut Literary ArtsProject, 826michigan, and other organizations, and he currently serves as a writer-in-the-schools for Dzanc Books in Ann Arbor. He earned his MFA from the University of Michigan in 1996, where he received several Hopwood Awards. He co-authored Jangle the Threads with Rachel McKibbens and Aracelis Girmay (Red Beard Press, 2010) and Underneath: The Archaeological Approach to Creative Writing with Jeff Kass (Red Beard Press, 2011). His chapbook, Two Shakespearean Madwomen Vs. the Detroit Red Wings, won the Fall 1998 Chapbook Contest from White Eagle Coffee Store Press. The manuscript for Wait 'Til You Have Real Problems was a 2012 finalist for the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize from Pleiades Press and the ABZ Press Poetry Prize. Beal has competed in the Individual World Poetry Slam and has been a featured performer at schools, bookstores, and poetry slams around the country, including the Green Mill in Chicago, the Nuyorican Poet's Cafe in New York, and the Cantab Lounge in Boston. He curates and co-hosts the Skazat! monthly poetry series in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he lives with his two daughters. Scott is a new friend.

Bonnie Jo Campbell
Bonnie Jo Campbell grew up on a small Michigan farm with her mother and four siblings in a house her grandfather Herlihy built in the shape of an H. She learned to castrate small pigs, milk Jersey cows, and, when she was snowed in with chocolate, butter, and vanilla, to make remarkable chocolate candy. When she left home for the University of Chicago to study philosophy, her mother rented out her room. She has since hitchhiked across the U.S. and Canada, scaled the Swiss alps on her bicycle, and traveled with the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus selling snow cones. As president of Goulash Tours Inc., she has organized and led adventure tours in Russia and the Baltics, and all the way south to Romania and Bulgaria. Her collection Women and Other Animals details the lives of extraordinary females in rural and small town Michigan, and it won the AWP prize for short fiction; her story "The Smallest Man in the World" has been awarded a Pushcart Prize. Her novel Q Road investigates the lives of a rural community where development pressures are bringing unwelcome change in the character of the land. Her critically-acclaimed short fiction collection American Salvage, which consists of fourteen lush and rowdy stories of folks who are struggling to make sense of the twenty-first century, was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award in Fiction. For decades, Campbell has put together a personal newsletter - The Letter Parade - and she currently practices Koburyu kobudo weapons training. She has received her M.A. in mathematics and her M.F.A. in writing from Western Michigan University. She now lives with her husband and other animals outside Kalamazoo, and she teaches writing in the low residency program at Pacific University. Bonnie Jo is an Old Friend.

Scott Cheshire
Scott Cheshire earned his MFA from Hunter College. His work has been published in Harper's, Electric Literature, Slice, AGNI, Guernica and the Picador anthology The Book of Men. He lives in New York City. High as the Horses' Bridles is his first novel. Scott is new friend.

Darrin Doyle
Darrin Doyle has lived in Saginaw, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Osaka (Japan), Cincinnati, Louisville, Manhattan (Kansas, not the other one), and Mount Pleasant. His short stories have appeared in Puerto del Sol, The Long Story, Cottonwood, Alaska Quarterly Review, Night Train, Harpur Palate, Laurel Review, The MacGuffin, and other journals. He has received fellowships and scholarships from the Sewanee Writers Conference and the NY Summer Writers Institute and teaches at Central Michigan University. He is the author of the novels Revenge of the Teacher's Pet: A Love Story (LSU Press) and The Girl Who Ate Kalamazoo (St. Martin's Griffin). He teaches at Central Michigan University. Darrin is a new friend.

Scott Ellsworth
“A historian with the soul of a poet" is how Booklist described him in its starred review of The Secret Game, while Ann Arbor's own Jennifer Conlin, a frequent contributor to the New York Times, called Ellsworth "an elegant and deeply talented writer." Born and raised in Oklahoma, his work has been featured on the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, the BBC, the American Experience, and NPR. The author of Death in a Promised Land, a groundbreaking history of the 1921 Tulsa race riot, his new book, The Secret Game, published by Little, Brown, about a long-buried civil rights milestone, wrote one reviewer, "reminds us who heroes are and what they can be." Scott lives with is wife, Betsy, and their sons, Johnny and Will, in Ann Arbor, where he also teaches at the University of Michigan. Bonus trivia for mystery fans: he is a great-great nephew, twice removed-or something like that-of Arthur Upfield, the Australian mystery writer. Scott is a new friend.

Amanda Flower
Amanda Flower, a three-time Agatha Award-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. She also writes mysteries as national bestselling author Isabella Alan. In addition to being an author, Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland.

Andrew Grant
Andrew was born in Birmingham, England. He went to school in St Albans, Hertfordshire and later attended the University of Sheffield where he studied English Literature and Drama. After graduation Andrew set up and ran a small independent theatre company which showcased a range of original material to local, regional and national audiences. Following a critically successful but financially challenging appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Andrew moved into the telecommunications industry as a 'temporary' solution to a short-term cash crisis. Fifteen years later, after carrying out a variety of roles including several which were covered by the UK's Official Secrets Act, Andrew became the victim / beneficiary of a widespread redundancy programme. Freed once again from the straight jacket of corporate life, he took the opportunity to answer the question, what if ... ? He is now the author of four suspense novels, most recently RUN! (October 2014). Andrew is married to novelist Tasha Alexander, and the couple divide their time between Chicago and the UK. Andrew is an Old Friend.

Andrea Hannah
Andrea Hannah lives in the Midwest, where there are plenty of dark nights and creepy cornfields as fodder for her next thriller. Her critically-acclaimed debut novel, Of Scars and Stardust, was published by Flux in October 2014. She graduated from Michigan State University with a M.A. in special education. When she’s not teaching or writing, she spends her time chasing her sweet children and ornery pug, running, and dreaming up her next adventure. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @andeehannah, and at www.andreahannah.com

Julie Hyzy
Julie Hyzy's very first job had her flipping burgers and chopping onions at a neighborhood hot dog stand. She traded that experience for a job as a singing waitress at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour -- but gave that up when she started college (and because she couldn't carry a tune). Over the years, she's acted in community theater productions, appeared in television commercials, and crashed a previously all-male fraternity to become one of the first female brothers in Loyola University's Chapter of Delta Sigma Pi. Julie had dreams of becoming a writer, but family, friends, and frat brothers convinced her otherwise. Having held positions as junior officer at a downtown bank, office manager at an architectural firm, and financial advisor at a prestigious wealth management company, she realizes that the business degree was probably a good choice -- but fiction is truly her passion. Now, with some well-earned life experience behind her, she's delighted to finally be able to make writing a priority in her life. Julie is the author of the New York Times bestselling White House Chef mysteries as well as the Manor House mystery series. She is the winner of both the Barry Award and the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original. Julie is an old friend.

David James
David James writes books about stars and kisses and curses. He is the author of the YA novel, Light of the Moon, the first book in the Legend of the Dreamer duet, as well as the companion novellas, The Witch's Curse and The Warrior's Code. A Legend of the Dreamer anthology, Shades of the Stars, was released July 2013, and includes the exclusive novella, The Enchanter's Fire. The final book in the duet, Shadow of the Sun, will be released in late 2013. Living in Michigan, David is addicted to coffee, gummy things, and sarcastic comments. He enjoys bad movies, goofy moments, and shivery nights. David is a new friend.

Laura Kasischke
Laura Kasischke teaches in the University of Michigan MFA program and the Residential College. She has published seven collections of poetry and seven novels. She lives with her family in Chelsea, Michigan. Laura is an Old Friend.

Owen Laukkanen
Owen Laukkanen's 2012 debut, THE PROFESSIONALS earned rave reviews from critics and readers alike. The story of four recent university graduates who turn to kidnapping in a failing job market, The Professionals was hailed as, "a brutally beautiful piece of work" by New York Times bestseller John Sandford, "a high-octane adrenaline and gunpowder-fueled rocket ride" by bestseller C.J. Box, and, "a first-class thriller by a terrific new voice" by John Lescroart. Mystery Scene Magazine called it one of the year's best debuts, while Kirkus Reviews named it one of the top 100 novels of the year. Now, Laukkanen is back with CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE, which reunites FBI Special Agent Carla Windermere and Minnesota state investigator Kirk Stevens in another explosive blockbuster. Kirkus Reviews raves, "Fans of crime thrillers shouldn't miss this or anything else with Laukkanen's name on the cover. The writing is so crisp, the pages almost turn themselves," while Booklist writes, "Laukkanen has clearly avoided the sophomore slump." A graduate of the University of British Columbia's Creative Writing program, Laukkanen spent three years in the world of professional poker reporting before turning to fiction. He currently lives in Vancouver, where he's hard at work on the third and fourth installments in the Stevens and Windermere series. Owen is a new friend.

Lisa Lenzo
Conceived in New York City, born in Oklahoma, and raised in Detroit, Lisa Lenzo is the author of Strange Love, a novel-in-stories published by Wayne State University Press in 2014 and the recipient of a Michigan Notable Book Award for 2015. Acclaimed author Ann Beattie chose Lenzo's first story collection Within the Lighted City for the 1997 John Simmons Short Fiction Award and it was published by University of Iowa Press. Lenzo has also received a Hemingway Days Festival Award, a PEN Syndicated Fiction Project Award, and she was the 2013 first prize winner in a contest sponsored by the Georgetown Review. Her stories and essays have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, The Mississippi Review Prize Issue, The Italian American Reader, Sacred Ground: Stories About Home, Tales from the Concrete Highway, Fresh Water: Women Writing on the Great Lakes, and on NPR. Lenzo grew up in Highland Park and Detroit and is a summa cum laude graduate of the MFA program at Western Michigan University. She now lives with her husband near Saugatuck, Michigan, where she drives a bus in the afternoons so she can spend her mornings writing. Lisa is a new friend.

Thomas Lynch
Thomas Lynch is the author of five collections of poems and four books of essays. A book of stories, Apparition & Late Fictions, published in 2010 to critical acclaim, is now available in paperback and can be purchased in bookstores and online. A "Classic Contemporary" edition of Skating with Heather Grace, his first book of poems, has just be reissued by Carnegie-Mellon University Press. In 2011, Paraclete Press published The Sin Eater: A Breviary -- a collection of his sin-eater poems accompanied by black and white photographs by Michael Lynch and cover art by Sean Lynch. Salmon Press, The Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare, Ireland published an Irish edition in 2012. The Good Funeral - Death, Grief & The Community of Care, co-authored with theologian, Dr. Thomas G. Long, was published in September, 2013. Thomas Lynch's work has been the subject of two film documentaries. PBS Frontline's The Undertaking, aired nationwide in 2007, won the 2008 Emmy Award for Arts and Culture Documentary. Cathal Black's film, Learning Gravity, produced for the BBC, was featured at the 2008 Telluride Film Festival and the 6th Traverse City Film Festival in 2009 where it was awarded the Michigan Prize by Michael Moore. He has taught with the Department of Mortuary Science at Wayne State University in Detroit, with the graduate program in writing at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and with the Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA. He is a charter member of the faculty of the Bear River Writers Conference at Walloon Lake in Michigan. Thomas Lynch's essays, poems and stories have appeared in The Atlantic and Granta, The New York Times and Times of London, The New Yorker, Poetry and The Paris Review and elsewhere. He lives in Milford, Michigan where he has been the funeral director since 1974, and in Moveen, Co. Clare, Ireland where he keeps an ancestral cottage. Tom is an Old Friend.

Greer Macallister
Raised in the Midwest, Greer Macallister is a poet, short story writer, playwright and novelist whose work has appeared in publications such as The North American Review, The Missouri Review, and The Messenger. Her plays have been performed at American University, where she earned her MFA in Creative Writing. She lives with her family on the East Coast. Her debut novel THE MAGICIAN'S LIE was a weekly or monthly pick by Indie Next, LibraryReads, People Magazine, SheReads, PopSugar, Publishers Weekly, the Boston Globe, and Audible.com. Greer is a new friend.

G.M. Malliet
G.M. Malliet is the author of the St. Just mystery series as well as the Max Tudor series. She has been nominated for or won the Agatha, the Anthony and the Macavity Awards, as well as being the winner of a Malice Domestic grant. Malliet did post-graduate work at Oxford University after earning a graduate degree from the University of Cambridge, the setting for her first series, the St. Just mysteries. Raised in a military family, she spent her childhood in Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, and Hawaii and has lived in places ranging from Japan to Europe, but she most enjoyed living in the U.K. She and her husband live across the river from Washington, D.C., in the colonial "village" of Old Town, Alexandria. Her hobbies include reading, hiking in the Blue Ridge, cooking vegetarian meals, and planning the next vacation. She writes full time nearly every day, and is writing a screenplay in addition to her mystery novels and short stories. She gets her ideas from people watching, particularly in airport waiting areas, train stations, parks, and restaurants. She changes her mind frequently about who would be the best actor to portray St. Just or Max Tudor. Currently, Hugh Grant for Max Tudor is tied with Colin Firth and Rufus Sewell. She feels Jude Law would make a perfect DCI Cotton (Max's crime-solving sidekick). She feels the same about Laurence Fox, although she imagines he is tired of playing sidekicks. She spends an inordinate amount of time worrying about this. Gin is a new friend.

Jeffrey Marks
Jeffrey Marks was born in Georgetown, Ohio, the boyhood home of Ulysses S. Grant. Although he moved with his family at an early age, the family frequently told stories about Grant and the people of the small farming community. At the age of twelve, he was introduced to the works of Agatha Christie via her short story collection, The Underdog and Other Stories. He finished all her books by the age of sixteen and had begun to collect mystery first editions. After stints on the high school and college newspapers, he began to freelance. After numerous author profiles, he chose to chronicle the short but full life of mystery writer Craig Rice. That biography (which came out in April 2001 as Who Was That Lady?) encouraged him to write mystery fiction. The Ambush of My Name is the first mystery novel by Marks to be published although he has several mystery short story anthologies on the market. He followed up with Atomic Renaissance: Women Mystery Writers of the 1940s/1950s and Anthony Boucher: A Biobibliography. His work has won a number of awards including the an Anthony in 2009 for his Anthony Boucher biography, Barnes and Noble Prize, and he has been nominated for an Edgar (MWA), an Agatha (Malice Domestic), a Maxwell award (DWAA), and an Anthony award (Bouchercon). Today, he writes from his home in Cincinnati, which he shares with his dogs. Jeff is an Old Friend.

Edith Maxwell
I have always been a writer. Creating fiction, long and short, is my passion. I made my living writing technical documentation in the software industry, wrote features and essays as a free-lance journalist, edited medical texts, and produced several published articles and a doctoral dissertation in the field of linguistics. And before that I wrote fiction and news articles. I am active in Sisters in Crime, the vice-president of the New England chapter, and a member of Mystery Writers of America. I am also a long-time member of the Society of Friends (Quaker), currently serving as Clerk of Amesbury Friends Meeting. As a former organic farmer I know the language and tensions of someone like Cam Flaherty, the farmer in the Local Foods mysteries. I lived in southern Indiana for five years and loved the slow pace and language of its natives. Currently residing in Amesbury, Massachusetts, I am originally a fourth-generation Californian. I have two grown sons, and live in an antique house with my beau, our three cats, and several fine specimens of garden statuary. Edith is a new friend.

Monica McFawn
Monica McFawn lives in Michigan and teaches writing at Grand Valley State University. Her fiction has appeared in the Georgia Review, Gettysburg Review, Web Conjunctions, Missouri Review and others. She is the author of a hybrid chapbook, "A Catalogue of Rare Movements" and her plays and screenplays have had readings in Chicago and New York. Most recently her short story collection, "Bright Shards of Somplace Else" was the winner of the 2013 Flannery O'Connor Award, as well as being the recipient of a Michigan Notable Book Award. Monica is a New Friend.

Tiya Miles
Tiya Miles is a Professor of Afroamerican Studies, American Culture, History, Native American Studies and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include African American and Native American intersectional and comparative histories and narratives, as well as slavery, public history, and the historical experiences of women. She is the author of two prize-winning works of history, Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom (2005) and The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story (2010), as well as a debut novel titled The Cherokee Rose (2015). She has published various articles and essays on women's history and black and Native interrelated experience, and is co-editor, with Sharon P. Holland, of Crossing Waters, Crossing Worlds: The African Diaspora in Indian Country (2006). She is married to Joseph Gone, a community psychologist who specializes in Native American mental health and well-being. Together, they have twin daughters and a younger son. The Gone-Miles family lives on a tree-lined street in a hundred-year-old house in Ann Arbor.

Bethany Neal
Bethany Neal writes young adult fiction with a little dark side and a lot of kissing from her Ann Arbor, Michigan home. She graduated from Bowling Green State University and has worked as an interior designer, photographer, and teacher’s assistant at a K-8 school. She is obsessed with (but not limited to): nail polish, ginormous rings, pigs, pickles, dessert, sour gummy candies, dream analysis, memorizing song lyrics, predestined love, not growing up, music videos, Halloween, and fictional boys who play guitar. My Last Kiss is her debut novel. It is the subject of this year's Book Cover Contest, which Ms. Neal will help to judge.

Casey Rocheteau
Casey Rocheteau was the recipient of the inaugural Write A House permanent residency in Detroit in September, 2014. She has attended Callaloo Writer's Workshop, Cave Canem, and Bread Loaf Writers' Conference in Sicily. She has performed throughout the United States from Portland, ME to Portland, OR, and has led writing and performance workshops for youth and adults alike. For over a decade, Casey has been involved with spoken word and slam poetry and was a member of the 2012 Providence Slam Team. She's released two albums on the Whitehaus Family Record. Her first collection of poetry, Knocked Up On Yes, was released on Sargent Press in 2012. Her second collection of poetry will be published on Sibling Rivalry Press in early 2016. Casey is a new friend.

Mary Doria Russell
MARY DORIA RUSSELL was born in suburban Chicago in 1950. Her mother was a Navy nurse and her father was a Marine Corps drill sergeant. She and her younger brother Richard consequently developed a dismaying vocabulary at an early age. She learned discretion at Sacred Heart Catholic elementary school; how to diagram sentences at Glenbard East High; cultural anthropology at the University of Illinois; social anthropology at Northeastern University in Boston; and received her doctorate in biological anthropology from the University of Michigan. Mary and Don Russell have been happily married for an unusually high percentage of the years since 1970. Don is a software engineer and one of the founders of AllTech Medical Systems, which designs and manufactures medical imaging equipment for the Chinese domestic market. Don and Mary live near Cleveland, Ohio, with a tubby, opinionated dachshund named Annie Fannie Sweet Feet. Annie is the model for the fictional Rosie in Dreamers of the Day, which Mary claims “includes the finest portrait of a 16-pound black and tan long-haired dachshund in modern American literature.” Ms. Russell is the author of eight novels, including THE SPARROW, DOC, EPITAPH and A THREAD OF GRACE. She has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the Hugo award, as well as winning many other awards and prizes, including the Arthur C. Clarke Prize for Best Novel (The Sparrow).

Curtis Sullivan
Curtis Sullivan is co-owner and proprietor of Vault of Midnight, the internationally recognized and award winning comic book shop based out of Michigan. An Ann Arbor native by birth, day-laborer and cook by trade, Sullivan (along with co-owner Steve Fodale) opened Vault's doors in 1996 in a one-room schoolhouse in the midst of the comic book industry's darkest epoch. Vault of Midnight can now be found in the premier retail districts of Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, with more expansion forthcoming. Sullivan's goal is nothing less than a total sea change in the way planet earth views comic books and the shops that sell them. He is also co-host of the Super Skull podcast and a professional amateur chef.

Denise Swanson
Denise Swanson, The New York Times best-selling author of the Scumble River Mystery series, began writing after coming face-to-face with evil. She quickly decided she would rather write about villains than encounter them in her daily life. She was also shocked to discover that getting a book published was nearly as difficult as vanquishing scoundrels. Denise was nominated for RT Magazine's Career Achievement Award. Her fellow nominees included Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich. She has spoken at hundreds of library events and other civic organizations. She has also been interviewed on radio and TV. Her continuing Scumble River Mystery series is set in Scumble River, a fictional small town in Illinois, and features Skye Denison, a full-figured school psychologist-sleuth who is torn between a handsome police chief and an urbane coroner. All of her books are in multiple printings and many have featured in the Barnes & Noble Mass-Market Mystery, IMBA and BookScan Best-Sellers lists. They have also been BookSense 76 Picks and Top Picks for RT Magazine, as well as nominated for the Agatha Award, the Mary Higgins Clark Award, and the Reviewers Choice Award. Five of her recent books, Murder of a Stacked Librarian, Murder of the Cat's Meow, Murder of a Wedding Belle, Murder of a Bookstore Babe and Murder of a Creped Suzette, débuted on The New York Times Best-Sellers List! Denise Swanson lives in Illinois with her husband, classical composer David Stybr, and their cool black cat Boomerang. Unlike her protagonist Skye, Denise realizes she can never really move very far from her hometown. But several times a year she and Dave sneak away for a little adventure. Denise is an old friend.

Vu Tran
Vu Tran's fiction has appeared in the O. Henry Prize Stories, the Best American Mystery Stories, A Best of Fence, The Southern Review, Harvard Review, and other publications. He has received honors from Glimmer Train Stories and the Michigan Quarterly Review, and is a recipient of a 2009 Whiting Writers' Award and a 2011 Finalist Award for the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise. His first novel, Dragonfish, will be published by WW Norton in August 2015. Born in Vietnam and raised in Oklahoma, Vu received his MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and his PhD from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he was a Glenn Schaeffer Fellow in fiction at the Black Mountain Institute. Mr. Tran is a new friend.

Scott Woods
Scott Woods is the author of We Over Here Now (2013, Brick Cave Books) and has published and edited work in a variety of publications. He has been featured multiple times in national press, including multiple appearances on National Public Radio. He was the President of Poetry Slam Inc. and MCs the Writers' Block Poetry Night, an open mic series in Columbus, Ohio. In April of 2006 he became the first poet to ever complete a 24-hour solo poetry reading, a feat he bested with six more annual 24-hour readings without repeating a single poem.

Nick Yribar
Nick Yribar is general manager and Global Director of Results at Vault of Midnight. An Ann Arbor native by birth, day-laborer and writer by trade, Yribar has been with Vault of Midnight since 2008. He is also co-host of the Super Skull podcast and a middling chef, at best.

Lara Zielin
Lara Zielin is a young-adult author whose Midwestern roots run deep. Her debut novel, DONUT DAYS, was an ALA/YALSA best book for young readers and a Lone Star Reading List selection. She also writes romance novels under the name Kim Amos. You can find out more about her love for donuts, cheese, and her three -legged beagle (which she calls a threegle) at www.larawrites.com.