Mitzi Rapkin

Host - First Draft

Mitzi Rapkin got her start in radio as a reporter for KBUT in Crested Butte, Colorado.  She was a Washington correspondent for a commercial radio station in Boston, worked as a producer, editor and writer for National Geographic Television and is a former reporter and news director for Aspen Public Radio.  She has written for various national magazines and newspapers and also writes fiction.  She is short for her age, loves dark chocolate and the smell of new books.

Ways to Connect

James Hannaham is the author of God Says No and Delicious Foods.

Charles Baxter is the author of five novels, five short story collections, three collections of poetry and two essay collections on fiction.  His novel The Feast of Love was nominated for a National Book Award.  His most recent story collection is called There’s Something I Want You to Do.  Baxter lives in Minneapolis and teaches at the University of Minnesota and in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

Kevin Morris has written for The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and Filmmaker Magazine. He is the co-producer of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, “The Book of Mormon,” and producer of the classic documentary film, “Hands on a Hardbody.”

He is also the founding and managing partner of the entertainment law firm Morris, Yorn, et al., which specializes in representing actors, writers, and directors in the motion picture and television industries. He lives with his wife and two children in Los Angeles. This is his first collection of fiction.

Lily King grew up in Massachusetts and received her B.A. in English Literature from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her M.A. in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. Her novels include The Pleasing Hour, Father of the Rain, and Euphoria. Her work has won various awards including a New York Times Notable Book award, and a Kirkus Award for Fiction. Euphoria won the New England Book Award for Fiction 2014 and was a finalist in the National Book Critics Circle Awards. Euphoria was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2014 by The New York Times Book Review.

David Shankbone

Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti in 1969 and came to the United States when she was twelve years old. She graduated from Barnard College and received an M.F.A. from Brown University. She writes fiction, memoir, non-fiction and essays. Her books include Breath, Eyes Memory, Krik? Krak!, The Farming of Bones, Brother, I’m Dying, The Dew Breaker, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work and her latest novel Claire of the Sea Light. She is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, was awarded the American Book Award for The Farming of Bones. Both Krik? Krak! and Brother, I’m Dying received National Book Award Nominations and Brother, I’m Dying won a National Book Critics Circle Award. She lives in Miami with her family.

Dinaw Mengestu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1978. He is the recipient of a fellowship in fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts and a Lannan Literary Award, and received a "5 under 35" Award from the National Book Foundation. His first novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, was named a New York Times Notable Book and awarded the Guardian First Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, among numerous other honors. His latest novel is called All Of Our Names.


Edward Carey

Elizabeth McCracken is the author of five books: Here’s Your Hat What’s Your Hurry (stories), the novels The Giant’s House and Niagara Falls All Over Again, the memoir An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, and the forthcoming Thunderstruck & Other Stories.  She’s received grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Liguria Study Center, the American Academy in Berlin, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

She has taught creative writing at Western Michigan University, the University of Oregon, the University of Houston, and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.  She holds the James A. Michener Chair in Fiction at the University of Texas, Austin, and boy are her arms tired.

Ilana Panich-Lisman

Jennifer duBois is the recipient of a 2013 Whiting Writer’s Award and a 2012 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 award. Her debut novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes, was the winner of the California Book Award for First Fiction and the Northern California Book Award for Fiction, and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Prize for Debut Fiction. Her second novel, Cartwheel, has been nominated for a New York Public Library Young Lions Award. Jennifer earned a B.A. in political science and philosophy from Tufts University and an M.F.A. in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop before completing a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. Her writing has appeared in such publications as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Playboy, The Missouri Review, Salon, The Kenyon Review, Cosmopolitan, Narrative, and ZYZZYVA. A native of western Massachusetts, Jennifer currently teaches in the MFA program at Texas State University.

Debbi Cooper

Molly Antopol’s debut story collection, The UnAmericans (W.W. Norton), was longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award, named a finalist for the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award, the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, the National Jewish Book Award and the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, and was a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree. It was chosen as a “Best Book of 2014” by over a dozen venues and will be published in seven countries. She teaches at Stanford University, where she was a Wallace Stegner Fellow, and lives in San Francisco.

Matthew Thomas was born and raised in New York City. He has a BA from the University of Chicago, an MA from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, and an MFA from the University of California, Irvine. His New York Times-bestselling novel We Are Not Ourselves was shortlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize and longlisted for both the Guardian First Book Award and the Folio Prize.

Caitlin Saunders

George Saunders is the author of four collections of short stories: the bestselling Pastoralia, set against a warped, hilarious, and terrifyingly recognizable American landscape; CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, a Finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, In Persuasion Nation, one of three finalists for the 2006 STORY Prize for best short story collection of the year, and Tenth of December. Pastoralia, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, and Tenth of December were all New York Times Notable Books. Tenth of December was nominated for the 2013 National Book Award in Fiction. The Boston Globe lauds Saunders’ ability to “construct a story of absurdist satire, then locate within it a moment of searing humanity." In 2014, Saunders' graduation speech at Syracuse University will be published as the book Congratulations, by the Way.

Shannon Taggart

CJ 's fiction has appeared in Tin House, TriQuarterly, Third Coast, The L Magazine, The Brooklyn Review, The Laurel Review, SLICE, The Kenyon Review, and Esquire. She is the 2010 recipient of McSweeney's Amanda Davis Highwire Fiction Award, the winner of the 2012 Jaimy Gordon Prize in Fiction and the A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Orlando Prize for Sudden Fiction. She was also a finalist in Esquire's Short Short Fiction Competition and shortlisted for the UK's Bridport Prize.

Antonya Nelson is the author of seven short story collections including Funny Once, Some Fun, and Female Trouble, and four novels including Bound and Living To Tell.  She teaches creative writing at the University of Houston and in the Warren Wilson MFA Program. Her awards include the Rea Award for Short Fiction, Guggenheim and NEA Fellowships, and an American Artists Award. She lives in Telluride, Colorado, Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Houston, Texas.

Isabelle Selby

Anthony Doerr is the author of The Shell Collector, About Grace, Four Seasons in Rome, Memory Wall, and the new novel All the Light We Cannot See. Doerr’s fiction has won four O. Henry Prizes and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. He has won the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize, the Rome Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship, the National Magazine Award for Fiction, three Pushcart Prizes, the Pacific Northwest Book Award, three Ohioana Book Awards, the 2010 Story Prize, which is considered the most prestigious prize in the U.S. for a collection of short stories, and the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award, which is the largest prize in the world for a single short story.  His books have twice been a New York Times Notable Book, an American Library Association Book of the Year, and made lots of other year end “Best Of” lists. In 2007, the British literary magazine Granta placed Doerr on its list of 21 Best Young American novelists.

Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho with his wife and two sons.

Bret Anthony Johnston is the author of the novel Remember Me Like This, which is a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and the award-winning Corpus Christi: Stories, which was named a Best Book of the Year by The Independent (London) and The Irish Times. He is also the editor of Naming the World and Other Exercises for the Creative Writer. His work appears in The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Paris Review, Glimmer Train Stories, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Best American Short Stories, and elsewhere.

His awards include the Pushcart Prize, the Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers, the Stephen Turner Award, the Cohen Prize, a James Michener Fellowship, and the Kay Cattarulla Prize for short fiction. His nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Tin House, The Best American Sports Writing, and on NPR’s All Things Considered.

A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he’s the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship and a 5 Under 35 honor from the National Book Foundation. He wrote the documentary film Waiting for Lightning, which was released in theaters around the world by Samuel Goldwyn Films. He teaches in the Bennington Writing Seminars and at Harvard University, where he is the Director of Creative Writing.

Merritt Tierce was born and raised in Texas. She worked in various secretarial and retail positions until 2009, when she moved to Iowa City to attend the Iowa Writers’ Workshop as the Meta Rosenberg Fellow.  After graduating in 2011 with her MFA from Iowa, she received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, and she is a 2013 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Author. Merritt’s first published story, Suck It, was selected by ZZ Packer to be anthologized in the 2008 edition of New Stories from the South, and her first book, Love Me Back, was published by Doubleday in 2014, to wide acclaim.

Phyllis Rose

Robert Stone is the author of two short story collections, one memoir and eight novels. Stone won the National Book Award for his novel Dog Soldiers in 1975. It was adapted into the film Who’ll Stop the Rain. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize twice. He has received Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships. His memoir Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties chronicles his live in the navy, work as a Vietnam correspondent, and his time spent with Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady and Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters in San Francisco. His new novel is Death of the Black-Haired Girl.

Jayne Anne Phillips is a short story writer and novelist.  She was born and raised in West Virginia. Her first book of stories, Black Tickets, published in 1979 when she was 26, won the prestigious Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction, awarded by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.  Her novels include Machine Dreams, Shelter, MotherKind, Lark and Termite and Quiet Dell.  She is currently Distinguished Professor of English and Director of the Rutgers Newark MFA Program at Rutgers-Newark, the State University of New Jersey.

Nina McConigley is the author of the story collection Cowboys and East Indians, which was the winner of the 2014 PEN Open Book Award and winner of a High Plains Book Award. She was born in Singapore and grew up in Wyoming. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston, where she was an Inprint Brown Foundation Fellow.

Richard Phibbs

Michael Cunningham is the author of the novels A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, The Hours (winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award & Pulitzer Prize), Specimen Days, and By Nightfall, as well as the non-fiction book, Land's End: A Walk in Provincetown. His newest novel is, The Snow Queen. He lives in New York, and teaches at Yale University.