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

Rachel Kushner’s second novel, The Flamethrowers, was a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award, shortlisted for the 2014 Folio Prize, longlisted for the 2014 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, and a New York Times bestseller and Top 10 Book of 2013. Her debut novel, Telex From Cuba, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, winner of the California Book Award, and a New York Times bestseller and Notable Book. Kushner is the only writer ever to be nominated for a National Book Award in Fiction for both a first and second novel. Her fiction and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Paris Review, The Believer, Artforum, Bookforum, Fence, Bomb, and Grand Street. She is the recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship. www.rachelkushner.com

Jane Smiley writes novels, non-fiction and essays. Her novel A Thousand Acres won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1992.   In 2001 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She received the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature in 2006.  Her most recent novel for adults is Private Life and her most recent young adult fiction is a series called The Horses of Oak Valley Ranch.  She lives in Northern California.

Chilean author Isabel Allende won worldwide acclaim when her bestselling first novel, The House of the Spirits, was published in 1982. In addition to launching Allende’s career as a renowned author, the book, which grew out of a farewell letter to her dying grandfather, also established her as a feminist force in Latin America’s male-dominated literary world.

She has since written nearly 20 more works, including Of Love and Shadows, Eva Luna, Stories of Eva Luna, The Infinite Plan, Daughter of Fortune, Portrait in Sepia, a trilogy for young readers (City of Beasts, Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, and Forest of Pygmies), Zorro, Ines of My Soul, Island Beneath the Sea, and Maya’s Notebook. Books of nonfiction include Aphrodite, a humorous collection of recipes and essays, and three memoirs: My Invented Country, Paula (a bestseller that documents Allende’s daughter’s illness and death, as well as her own life), and The Sum of Our Days. Her latest book is Ripper, a crime novel.

www.isabelallende.com

Kristen Brock Hires

Jamie Quatro’s debut collection, I Want To Show You More is a New York Times Notable Book, NPR Best Book of 2013, Indie Next pick, and New York Times Editors’ Choice. It was named a Top 10 Book of 2013 by Dwight Garner in the New York Times and a Favorite Book of 2013 by James Wood in The New Yorker.  Quatro’s work has appeared in Tin House, Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, McSweeney’s, AGNI, The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of fellowships from Yaddo and The MacDowell Colony, as well as 2013 fellowships from both the Bread Loaf and the Sewanee Writers’ Conferences. Her stories are anthologized in the O.Henry Prize Stories 2013 and in the 9th edition of The Story and Its Writer (ed. Ann Charters, forthcoming). Quatro holds graduate degrees from the College of William & Mary and the Bennington College Writing Seminars, and is a Contributing Editor at Oxford American magazine. She lives with her family in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. www.jamiequatro.com

Nancie Battaglia

Russell Banks is the author of more than a dozen works, which include poetry, short stories, novels and essays.  His novels Cloudsplitter and Continental Drift were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize.  The Sweet Hereafter and Affliction were made into feature films.  His latest work is a short story collection called A Permanent Member of the Family.  Banks is the recipient of numerous literary awards, is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.  He lives in Keene, New York and Miami, Florida.

Leta Warner

Maria Semple is the author of This One Is Mine and Where’d You Go Bernadette. Before turning to fiction, she wrote for Mad About You, Ellen, and Arrested Development. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker. She lives in Seattle. http://www.mariasemple.com/

Heather Kraft

Ethan Rutherford was born in Seattle, and now lives in the Midwest. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, One Story, American Short Fiction, New York Tyrant, Esopus, Five Chapters, and The Best American Short Stories. His work has received special mention in the 2009, 2010 and 2013 editions of the Pushcart Prize, and received awards from the McKnight Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board. He received his MFA from the University of Minnesota, and has taught creative writing at Macalester College, the University of Minnesota, and the Loft Literary Center. He is the guitarist for the band Pennyroyal, which has been assaulting the ears of its listeners with songs of the ocean and long lost love since 2010. He is currently at work on a novel set in the Alaskan wilderness.

Christine Sneed is a graduate of the MFA creative writing program at Indiana University and has published stories in Best American Short Stories, PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, New England Review, The Southern Review, Ploughshares, Pleiades, Glimmer Train, Massachusetts Review, Meridian, Other Voices, Greensboro Review, River Styx, Phoebe, South Dakota Review, and many other journals. Her first novel is Little Known Facts.  Her short story collection Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry won a Grace Paley Prize in 2009.

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.

Bastian Schweitzer

Dani Shapiro is the bestselling author of the memoirs Devotion and Slow Motion, and five novels including Black & White and Family History. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, One Story, Elle, The New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times, and has been widely anthologized. She has taught in the writing programs at Columbia, NYU, The New School and Wesleyan University, and she is co-founder of the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy. She is a contributing editor at Travel + Leisure. She lives with her family in Litchfield County, Connecticut. Her new book is called Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life.

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