2020 Fiction Participants

Listed in alphabetical order

Elizabeth AmesElizabeth Ames

Named for Iowa but born and raised in Wisconsin, Elizabeth Ames is a writer living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan, Elizabeth has lived in Seattle, France, and Rwanda since leaving the Midwest. She currently lives in a Harvard dormitory with her husband, two children, and a few hundred undergraduates. Her debut novel, The Other’s Gold, was re-leased in 2019 by Viking Books. Visit elizabethames.com to learn more.


Jenna BlumJenna Blum

Jenna Blum is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of novels Those Who Save Us (Harcourt, 2002) and The Stormchasers (Dutton, 2010) and novella “The Lucky One” in the collection Grand Central (Berkeley/ Penguin, 2014). Jenna’s third novel, The Lost Family, was published by Harper Collins June 5, 2018. Jenna is one of Oprah’s Top 30 Women Writers. Her first novel Those Who Save Us, a New York Times bestseller, the #1 bestselling novel in Holland in 2011, and the 2005 “Winner of the Ribalow Prize, awarded by Hadassah Magazine and adjudged by Elie Wiesel. Jenna is based in Boston, where she has taught fiction and master novel workshops at Grub Street Writers since the school’s founding in 1997. From 1993-1997, Jenna interviewed Holocaust survivors for the Steven Spielberg Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. Jenna is a professional public speaker, traveling nationally and internationally to speak at universities, libraries, events, and bookclubs – for Those Who Save Us, Jenna visited over 800 book clubs in the Boston area alone! Jenna has written the screenplay for Those Who Save Us, currently under option, and is working on her fourth novel.


Christopher CastellaniChristopher Castellani

Christopher Castellani’s fourth novel, Leading Men — for which he received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the MacDowell Colony — was published by Viking in February 2019. Leading Men was featured in Publishers Weekly, People, Entertainment Weekly, Interview, The Washington Post, and was an Editors’ Choice of the New York Times. His collection of essays on point of view in fiction, The Art of Perspective, was published by Graywolf in 2016. Castellani is on the fiction faculty of the Warren Wilson MFA Program and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He lives in Boston, where he is artistic director of GrubStreet, the country’s largest and leading independent center for creative writing.
Photo Credit: Michael Joseph


Bruce Robert CoffinBruce Robert Coffin

Bruce Robert Coffin is the bestselling author of the Detective Byron mystery series. A former detective sergeant with more than twenty-seven years in law enforcement, he supervised all homicide and violent crime investigations for Maine’s largest city. Following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, Bruce spent four years investigating counter-terrorism cases for the FBI, earning the Director’s Award, the highest award a non-agent can receive. His most recent novel, Beyond the Truth, winner of Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion Award for Best Procedural, was a finalist for the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and a finalist for the Maine Literary Award for Best Crime Fiction. His short fiction appears in several anthologies, including Best American Mystery Stories, 2016. Bruce is a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. He is a regular contributor to the Murder Books blog. Bruce is represented by Paula Munier at Talcott Notch Literary. He lives and writes in Maine.


Alena DillonAlena Dillon

Alena Dillon’s debut novel, Mercy House, was released by William Morrow of Harper Collins in February 2020. Her work has also appeared in The Rumpus, Scary Mommy, Slice Magazine, The Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review, and Bustle. She earned her MFA from Fairfield University and now lives on the north shore of Boston with her husband, son, and their dog.


Melissa DuclosMelissa Duclos

Newburyport native Melissa Duclos is the author of Besotted, a novel about two American women living in Shanghai. Melissa is also an essayist whose non-fiction has appeared in The Washington Post, The Offing, Bustle, and Electric Literature among other venues, and was chosen as Salon’s Best Personal Essay of 2015. She is the founder of “Magnify: Small Presses, Bigger” a monthly newsletter celebrating independent presses, and the co-founder of “Amplify: Writers’ Voices, Louder” an organization that offers classes, workshops, and networking opportunities for emerging writers looking to build their careers. She now lives in Portland, Oregon with her two children and is at work on a new novel and a collection of essays.


Monica DuncanMonica Duncan

Parade Magazine recommends, “If you love This Is Us, read Twine by Monica Duncan.” Duncan’s debut novel Twine was released by Crowsnest Books in September 2019, and she will appear as a featured writer at London’s ReadFest 2020. Duncan’s essays have appeared in Political Animal Magazine, Writer’s Digest and Women Writers, Women’s Books. SheReads listed Twine as one of the “Best Fall Books by Women” and Women.com lists Twine on its “15 of the Best New Fall Books by Women.” Duncan was a presenter at the 2019 Newburyport Literary Festival, and is currently at work on her second novel. Originally from Michigan, she finds herself continually drawn to the hidden richness of the places she comes from. Now living in Newburyport, Massachusetts, Duncan is still at home, by the water. She holds music degrees from Michigan State and Indiana University, and is active as a freelance musician and teacher in the Greater Boston area. She has discovered that her favorite skill as a writer she learned from her life in music: Be a good listener.


Anne Easter SmithAnne Easter Smith

Anne Easter Smith is the award-winning author of six historical novels about the York family during the Wars of the Roses. Historical Novels Review wrote that her books: “…grab you, sweep you along with the story, and make you fall in love with the characters…” Her first five books, including A Rose for the Crown, Daughter of York, and Royal Mistress, are published by Touchstone Books at Simon & Schuster. The King’s Grace won the 2009 Romantic Times Best Historical Biography award, and Queen By Right was nominated in the same category in 2011. A native of England, Anne has lived in various states in the US for fifty years, settling in Newburyport in 2000 with husband, Scott. From her early 20s, Richard III has held a fascination and led to several decades of study of him and his period. This Son of York is the culminating book in her York series, with Richard as protagonist. Before becoming a published author, Anne wore many hats in her life: executive secretary in London, Paris, and New York; PBS auction coordinator and program guide editor; folksinger; tournament tennis player; features editor at a daily newspaper; and most recently actor and director on Newburyport community stages.


Edwin HillEdwin Hill

Edwin Hill is the author of Little Comfort and The Missing Ones. He was born in Duxbury, Massachusetts, and spent most of his childhood obsessing over The Famous Five, Agatha Christie, and somehow finding a way into C.S. Lewis’s wardrobe. His parents were fond of taking his sister and him on month-long family camping trips across the U.S. and Canada, and one of his best memories is of finishing a copy of The Seven Dials Mystery while the rest of the family visited Mount Rushmore. After attending Wesleyan University and graduating with a B.A. in American Studies, he headed west to San Francisco for the dotcom boom. Later, he returned to Boston, earned an MFA from Emerson College, and switched gears to work in educational publishing. He served as the vice president and editorial director for Bedford/St. Martin’s, a division of Macmillan Learning for many years before turning to writing full time. He lives in Roslindale, Massachusetts with his partner Michael and his favorite reviewer, their lab Edith Ann, who likes his first drafts enough to eat them.


Marjan KamaliMarjan Kamali

Marjan Kamali is a novelist and teacher whose work has been anthologized, broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and adapted for the stage. Her recent release, The Stationery Shop, hailed by The Wall Street Journal as “a moving tale of lost love” and selected as one of Newsweek’s Best Summer Books is a powerful love story set in the background of a country facing political turmoil. Her debut novel, Together Tea, which was a Massachusetts Book Award Finalist, an NPR WBUR Good Read, and a Target Emerging Author Selection, follows a mother and daughter as they embark on a return journey to Iran. A graduate of UC Berkeley with an MBA from Columbia University and an MFA from New York University, Kamali is a teacher of writing at GrubStreet and former adjunct business writing professor at Boston University. Her fiction has also been published in two anthologies and been excerpted in Solstice Literary Magazine and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her novels have been translated into German, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Turkish, Polish, Czech, and Slovak.


Stephen P. KiernanStephen P. Kiernan

As a journalist and novelist, Stephen P. Kiernan has published nearly four million words. His newspaper work garnered more than forty awards — including the George Polk Award and the Scripps Howard Award for Distinguished Service to the First Amendment. Stephen’s newest novel, UNIVERSE OF TWO, will be out May 5, 2020. He is also author of the novels THE CURIOSITY (now in television series development), THE BAKER’S SECRET (a regional Indie bestseller), and THE HUMMINGBIRD. He has also written two nonfiction books, LAST RIGHTS and AUTHENTIC PATRIOTISM. His work has been translated into many languages. Stephen was born in Newtonville, NY the sixth of seven children. A graduate of Middlebury College, he received a Master of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He has chaired the board of the Young Writers Project, served on the Vermont Legislative Committee on Pain and Palliative Care, and served on the advisory board of the New Hampshire Palliative Care Initiative. He has spoken and consulted around the country about hospice, palliative care and advance directives. A performer on the guitar since he was ten years old, Stephen has recorded 3 CDs of solo instrumentals, and composed music for dance, the stage and documentary films. He lives in Vermont with his two amazing sons.


Crystal KingCrystal King

Crystal King is the author of The Chef’s Secret and Feast of Sorrow, which was long-listed for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. She is an author, culinary enthusiast, and marketing expert. Her writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language, and culture of Italy. She has taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at several universities including Harvard Extension School and Boston University, as well as at GrubStreet, one of the leading creative writing centers in the US. A Pushcart Prize–nominated poet and former co-editor of the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review, Crystal received her MA in critical and creative thinking from UMass Boston, where she developed a series of exercises and writing prompts to help fiction writers in medias res. She resides in Boston. You can find her at crystalking.com.


Ken LiuKen Liu

Ken Liu is an American author of speculative fiction. A winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards, he wrote The Dandelion Dynasty, a silkpunk epic fantasy series (starting with The Grace of Kings), as well as The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories and The Hidden Girl and Other Stories. He also authored the Star Wars novel, The Legends of Luke Skywalker. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Liu worked as a software engineer, corporate lawyer, and litigation consultant. Liu frequently speaks at conferences and universities on a variety of topics, including futurism, cryptocurrency, history of technology, bookmaking, the mathematics of origami, and other subjects of his expertise.


Nina MacLaughlinNina MacLaughlin

Nina MacLaughlin is the author of Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung, a re-telling of Ovid’s Metamorphoses told from the perspective of the female figures transformed, published by FSG/FSG Originals in November, 2019. Her first book was the acclaimed memoir Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter. Formerly an editor at the Boston Phoenix, she worked for nine years as a carpenter, and is now a books columnist for the Boston Globe. Her work has appeared on or in The Paris Review Daily, The Believer, American Short Fiction, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Wall Street Journal, Meatpaper, and elsewhere. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photo Credit: Kelly Davidson.


Catherine McKenzieCatherine McKenzie

Catherine McKenzie is the bestselling author of 10 novels, including Hidden, The Good Liar and I’ll Never Tell. Her most recent novel, I’ll Never Tell was a Globe & Mail bestseller, a #1 Amazon bestseller, was shortlisted for the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and was a Goodreads Nominee for the Best Thriller of 2019. She lives and writes in Montreal, Canada, where she is also a practicing lawyer.


Kate McQuadeKate McQuade

Kate McQuade is the author of the story collection Tell Me Who We Were (William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2019) and the novel Two Harbors (Harcourt, 2005). Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Black Warrior Review, Harvard Review, Shenandoah, and Verse Daily, among other publications. Her nonfiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Lily for Washington Post, LitHub, TIME Magazine, and American Literary Review, where she was named the winner of the 2019 ALR Essay Prize. Her honors include fellowships and scholarships from the MacDowell Colony, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Women’s International Study Center, and Yaddo. Born and raised in Minnesota, she holds degrees from Princeton University and the Bread Loaf School of English and teaches at Phillips Academy, Andover, where she lives on campus with her husband and three children.


Louise MillerLouise Miller

Louise Miller is the author of The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living (Pamela Dorman Books/Viking/2016) and The Late Bloomers Club (Pamela Dorman Books/Viking/2018). She lives, writes and bakes in Boston, MA.


David MoloneyDavid Moloney

David Moloney’s debut novel, Barker House, was released by Bloomsbury in April 2020. A former corrections officer, Moloney’s novel gives a rare look inside an American jail. His work has also appeared in Guernica, The Common, Salamander, and The Yale Review. He earned his MFA from the Mountainview Low-Residency. He is represented by Alexa Stark of Trident Media Group. He lives in Lowell, Massachusetts with his wife and two children.


Meg Mitchell MooreMeg Mitchell Moore

Meg Mitchell Moore is the author of five novels. While she’s not officially a Newburyport native, she likes to pretend she is since this is the place she’s lived for the most consecutive years of her life. In fact Newburyport is the setting of her sixth novel, Two Truths and a Lie, out in May 2020 from William Morrow. Her 2019 novel, The Islanders, was named one of eight Great Summer Reads by The New York Times, and her previous books have been featured in Entertainment Weekly, People, and on the television show The View. Her third novel, The Admissions, has been optioned for television. A graduate of Providence College and New York University, she lives in Newburyport with her husband, their three teenage daughters, and a golden retriever who is a certified therapy dog, sometimes called upon to work in her own household.


Peter OrnerPeter Orner

Peter Orner is the author of six books, most recently Maggie Brown & Others, a New York Times Notable Book and an Oprah Magazine Best Book of 2019. Of the book, Dwight Garner of the New York Times wrote, “It’s been apparent since his first book, ‘Esther Stories’ (2001), that Peter Orner was a major talent.” Orner’s memoir, Am I Alone Here? (2016) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Other books include the novels, Love and Shame and Love (2010) and The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo (2006) and the story collection, Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge (2013), all published by Little, Brown. Esther Stories was re-issued with an introduction by Marilynne Robinson (2013). A two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, Orner’s stories and essays have been published in the Paris Review, the New Yorker, the New York Times, and the Atlantic Monthly. Orner holds the Dartmouth Professorship of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College, and lives with his family in Norwich, Vermont, where he’s a member of volunteer fire department.


Joanna SchaffhausenJoanna Schaffhausen

Joanna Schaffhausen has a doctorate in psychology, which reflects her long-standing interest in the brain—how it develops and the many ways it can go wrong. She has worked for ABC News, writing for programs such as World News Tonight, Good Morning America, and 20/20. Her debut, The Vanishing Season, won the 2016 Mystery Writers of America/St. Martin’s Minotaur First Crime Novel Award. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and daughter.


Peter SwansonPeter Swanson

Peter Swanson is the author of six novels, including The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger; Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year; and his most recent, Eight Perfect Murders. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine. He lives outside of Boston, where he is at work on his next novel.


Carolyn Marie WilkinsCarolyn Marie Wilkins

Carolyn Marie Wilkins is a jazz pianist, a Psychic Medium and an initiated Priestess of Yemaya, the African goddess of compassion, motherhood and the ocean. Her other novels Mojo For Murder and Melody For Murder feature the crime-fighting exploits of Bertie Bigelow, a forty-something choir director and amateur sleuth living on the South Side of Chicago.


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