Our Fall Residency Guest Faculty

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Each residency, we’re joined by a slate of guest writers, producers, agents, publishers, editors, industry professionals. Here’s who will be joining us in December. 

Interested in applying? Want to visit for the day? We be happy to have you. Please contact Agam Patel at agam.patel@ucr.edu or 760-834-0926.


Alexandra Barreto. Alexandra Barreto has been a working actress in Los Angeles for the last fifteen years, guest starring and/or recurring on just about every show on television from “Pushing Daisies” to “Justified” to “Parenthood.” She is currently recurring on the hit ABC Family series, “The Fosters.” Alexandra has added producing to her repertoire with much success. Her first feature film, TOO LATE, starring Academy Award Nominees John Hawkes and Robert Forster premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Past projects include writing and producing the first political commercial to air on Comedy Central, along with Rider and Shiloh Strong. The team went on to produce, “The Dungeon Master,” which won Best Short at the Tribeca (Online) Film Festival, and Best Comedy Short at the Sonoma International Film Festival, and “Method,” written by herself and Chad Crone, which premiered at the Palm Springs International ShortFest and was singled out as one of the best of the fest by the Huffington Post. Shorts International is distributing both films. In addition, she’s produced four short films including, “F*uck The Parents,” starring Pamela Adlon (“Californication,” “Louie”) and Twitter sensation Rob Delaney.


Michael Braverman. Michael Braverman has served as executive producer of several reality shows, including most recently America Unplugged, Joe Rogan Questions Everything, Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura, and Bar Rescue. Since 2010, Michael has been an executive producer with A Smith & Co.


Jamie Brisick. A former professional surfer and a Fulbright scholar, Jamie Brisick has written extensively about surfing for The New York Times, The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald, and The Surfer’s Journal and is the author of three books, Becoming Westerly: Surf Legend Peter Drouyn’s Transformation into Westerly Windina, We Approach Our Martinis With Such High Expectations and Have Board, Will Travel: The Definitive History of Surf, Skate, and Snow.


Adam Deutsch. Adam Deutsch is the publisher of Cooper Dillon Books.  Adam Deutsch has his M.A. from Hofstra University and M.F.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has been on the editorial staff of a number of presses and journals, including Ninth Letter and Barn Owl Review. Adam has been interviewed and has written about publishing at Delphi Quarterly, Quarterly Conversation, Crossroads Lit Journal, & diode. He teaches writing at community colleges in San Diego and has a chapbook, Carry On, from H_NGM_N Books


HelenKay Dimon. HelenKay Dimon is a former divorce lawyer turned full-time author. She has sold over forty novels and novellas to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Ballantine Bantam Dell, Kensington, Harlequin and Penguin. Her nationally bestselling and award-winning books have been showcased in numerous venues and her books have twice been named “Red-Hot Reads” and excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine. She is on the Board of Directors of the Romance Writers of America and teaches fiction writing at UC San Diego extension program and MiraCosta College.


Maggie Downs. Maggie Downs is a writer, world traveler and adventure collector, a Midwestern native now in sunny Palm Springs, California. She lives for passport stamps, good books, and meaty stories, and she has successfully hailed a cab in more than 40 countries. A former columnist for Gannett Newspapers, her work has most recently appeared in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Anthony Bourdain’s Roads and Kingdoms, Eating Well, the BBC, Outside, Palm Springs Life, and Smithsonian, among many other publications. Maggie holds a BSJ in magazine journalism from Ohio University and an MFA from University of California, Riverside.


Rae Dubow. Rae Dubow is the director of Talking Out Loud. She believes that everyone can be trained to communicate more effectively. Using techniques that she has taught for many years, she has a developed a system for public speaking that will help you create a dialogue with your audience. A former actress, Rae received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She has coached and directed actors since the late 1990s and has worked with many writers on their public presentations. She has taught in private schools, and at universities including the University of California, Riverside.


Alex Espinoza. Alex Espinoza was born in Tijuana, Mexico to parents from the state of Michoacán and raised in suburban Los Angeles. In high school and afterwards, he worked a series of retail jobs, selling everything from eggs and milk to used appliances, custom furniture, rock T-shirts, and body jewelry. After graduating from the University of California-Riverside, he went on to earn an MFA from UC-Irvine’s Program in Writing. His first novel, Still Water Saints, was published by Random House in 2007 and was named a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection. The book was released simultaneously in Spanish, under the title Los santos de Agua Mansa, California, translated by Lilliana Valenzuela. His second novel, The Five Acts of Diego León, will be published by Random House in March 2013. Alex’s fiction has appeared in several anthologies and journals, including Inlandia: A Literary Journey Through California’s Inland Empire, Latinos in Lotusland, Huizache, Silent Voices, The Southern California Review, and Flaunt. His essays have been published at Salon.com, in the New York Times Magazine, in The Other Latin@: Writing Against a Singular Identity, in The Los Angeles Review of Books, and as part of the historic Chicano Chapbook Series. He has also reviewed books for the Los Angeles Times, the American Book Review, and NPR. His awards include a 2009 Margaret Bridgeman Fellowship in Fiction to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a 2014 Fellowship in Prose from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a 2014 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for The Five Acts of Diego León. An active participant in Sandra Cisneros’ Macondo Workshop and the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Alex serves on the board of Cal Humanities, a statewide non-profit whose aim is “to connect Californians to ideas and one another in order to understand our shared heritage and diverse cultures, inspire civic participation, and shape our future.”  Alex is also deeply involved with the Puente Project, a program designed to help first-generation community college students make a successful transition to a university. A Puente student himself, he has since served as a Puente mentor and often visits Puente classes to talk with students and teachers about writing, literature, and the opportunities he gained through education. Currently, Alex is an associate professor of English at CSU-Fresno where he teaches literature and creative writing. As always, he is at work on his next book.


Christopher Farnsworth. His latest book, THE ETERNAL WORLD, is on sale now everywhere from William Morrow. You can order it on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, or get a copy at your local bookstore through IndieBound. His next novel, KILLFILE, will be published by William Morrow in 2016. He is also the writer of the Nathaniel Cade series, about a vampire who works for the President of the United States. Blood Oath, The President’s Vampire, and Red, White, and Blood are all available from G.P. Putnam’s Sons. A short novella about Cade, The Burning Men, is available from Amazon.com. The Cade books were twice finalists for the Goodreads Choice awards, have been translated into nine languages and published in over a dozen countries, and optioned for film and television. Christopher’s work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, the New Republic, Washington Monthly, and on The Awl. Born and raised in Idaho, he worked as an investigative and business reporter before selling his first script, THE ACADEMY, to MGM. He lives in Los Angeles with his family.


Sarah Hepola. Sarah Hepola has written many stories about drinking and eating too much. Her essays on culture have appeared in the New York Times magazine, Elle, The New Republic, Glamour, The Guardian, Slate, The Morning News, and Salon, where she was a longtime editor. Her past jobs include: Travel columnist, music editor, film critic, sex blogger, and for about 15 seconds in the late ’90s, she taught high school English. She lives in East Dallas, where she enjoys playing her guitar poorly and listening to the “Xanadu” soundtrack. Blackout: Remembering The Things I Drank to Forget, her first book, was a New York Times Bestseller.


Rickerby Hinds. One of the most influential individuals to come into the theater world in a generation, Rickerby Hinds has the unique ability to challenge conventional notions of the stage while remaining respectful of its long history and traditions. A native of Honduras, Central America who immigrated to South Central Los Angeles at age 13, Hinds’ Daze to Come changed the dramatic arts forever when it debuted in 1989. The first ever full-length play to use the founding elements of hip hop as the primary language of the stage, Daze introduced the genre of hip hop theater to the world. Self-marketed and self-produced, its story of a rap community forced into exile was both raw and inspiring. Daze To Come and Hinds’ subsequent works have empowered an entire school of young playwrights to speak to the world in the language of hip hop. Possessing an MFA in playwriting from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television where he was twice awarded the Audrey Skirball-Kenis (ASK) Award for best play, Hinds’ visionary creations span the gamut of human emotions and experiences. Blackballin’, which received a reading at London’s Royal Court Theatre, examines the issue of race and history in American sports and society. The semi-autobiographical Birthmark (commissioned by Showtime to be adapted into a screenplay) explores the social and cultural conflicts of a Spanish-speaking immigrant of African-descent forced to choose between the limiting racial categories offered within American society. In One Size Fits All, Hinds tackles the global issue of the exploitation of children by tracing the life of an athletic sneaker from its creation in an Indonesian sweatshop, to the ghettos of America, to the sugar cane fields of the Dominican Republic, and finally to the feet of a child soldier in Eastern Europe. In addition to his mission to open up the theater to a diversity of voices and experiences, Hinds is driven to bring the theater to new audiences. In Straight From Tha Underground he examines the issue of freedom by chronicling the experiences of a B-Boy from Compton who is mystically transported back to 1863. Having played in venues as disparate as university theaters, churches, community centers, and national conferences, Underground highlights Hinds’ ability to craft stories and dialogue that impact audiences across racial, educational, economic and generational lines. In Keep Hedz Ringin’, an adaptation of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Hinds makes the ultimate connection between tradition and innovation-demonstrating that hip hop culture and expression, like grand opera, has the ability to elevate both its practitioners and its audiences to unprecedented heights of human understanding. Encompassing both mission and vision, Hedz epitomizes Hinds’ belief in what theater can accomplish when approached from a truly inclusive starting point. Dreamscape employs DJing and spoken word to explore the life of a young African American girl as she is shot to death by police officers. Finally Buckworld One tackles the age-old question of our existence and purpose on earth. From the universal to the individual to the relationship between fathers and sons to our search for God, this production attempts to tell this expansive story through dance (Krump), spoken word, and historical video footage in a multi-media presentation.Hinds is currently a Full Professor of Playwriting in the Department of Theater Film & Digital Production at the University of California, Riverside and the Founding Director of the Center For Dramatic Innovation. He has also taught at the University of Cincinnati and the University of Redlands. Among the entities that have supported his works in the form of commissions, grants, and fellowships are; the Ford Foundation, the Showtime Television Network, the GeVa Theatre in New York, the Mark Taper Forum, the Cornerstone Theatre, the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The New LATC (Los Angeles Theater Center). Institutions such as Stanford University, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the University of Houston, Howard University and the University of Aarhus, Denmark, University of Warsaw, University of Gdansk are just some of the places that have invited his work to their campuses.


Tara Ison. Tara Ison is the author of the novels The List (Scribner), A Child out of Alcatraz (Faber & Faber, Inc.), a Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and Rockaway (Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press), featured as one of the “Best Books of Summer” in O, The Oprah Magazine, July 2013.  Her essay collection, Reeling Through Life: How I Learned to Live, Love, and Die at the Movies, was published in January 2015, and Ball, a short story collection, is forthcoming in November 2015, both from Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press. Her short fiction, essays, poetry and book reviews have appeared in Tin House, The Kenyon Review, The Rumpus, Nerve.com, Black Clock, TriQuarterly, O, The Oprah Magazine, PMS: poemmemoirstory, Publisher’s Weekly, The Week magazine, The Mississippi Review, LA Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune, the San Jose Mercury News, and numerous anthologies.  She is also the co-writer of the cult movie Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead. She is the recipient of a 2008 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship and a 2008 COLA Individual Artist Grant, as well as multiple Yaddo fellowships, a Rotary Foundation Scholarship for International Study, a Brandeis National Women’s Committee Award, a Thurber House Fiction Writer-in-Residence Fellowship, the Simon Blattner Fellowship from Northwestern University, and a California Arts Council Artists’ Fellowship Award. Ison received her MFA in Fiction & Literature from Bennington College.  She has taught creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Goddard College, Antioch University Los Angeles, and UC Riverside Palm Desert’s MFA in Creative Writing program.  She is currently Associate Professor of Fiction at Arizona State University.


Dinah Lenney. Dinah grew up on the East Coast, outside Boston and New York City, and graduated from a small public high school just north of Manhattan. She earned her Bachelor’s at Yale and a Certificate of Acting from the Neighborhood Playhouse School, eventually moving to Los Angeles where, among other roles, she landed the long-recurring part of Nurse Shirley on NBC’s critically acclaimed series, ER. Dinah’s continued to work on stage, in film, and on television, playing a wide range of roles in theatre and musical theatre, and guest-starring on series too many to mention, among them Law and Order, Without a Trace, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Sons of Anarchy. She’s taught in acting programs at Universities all over the country, and is the co-author, with Mary Lou Belli, of Acting for Young Actors (Random House). Dinah’s memoir, Bigger than Life, was published in the American Lives Series at the University of Nebraska Press, and excerpted for the “Lives” column in The New York Times Sunday Magazine. Her memoir-in-essays, The Object Parade, was published by Counterpoint Press. The senior nonfiction editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books, Dinah also serves as core faculty for the Bennington Writing Seminars (where she took an MFA in Creative Nonfiction in 2003), and for the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. She’s written essays and reviews for literary journals, anthologies, and newspapers, print and online, and was especially mentioned in the Pushcart Anthology XXXIV. She lives with her husband in Echo Park, close enough to Dodger Stadium to hear the roar of the crowd. Her latest book, Brief Encounters, is an anthology of short nonfiction.


Joshua Mohr. Joshua Mohr is the author of five novels, including “Damascus,” which The New York Times called “Beat-poet cool.”  He’s also written “Fight Song” and “Some Things that Meant the World to Me,” one of O Magazine’s Top 10 reads of 2009 and a San Francisco Chronicle best-seller, as well as “Termite Parade,” an Editors’ Choice on The New York Times Best Seller List.  His novel “All This Life” was recently published by Counterpoint/Soft Skull. He lives in San Francisco and teaches in the MFA program at the University of San Francisco.


Guy Nicolucci. Guy Nicolucci is an Emmy-winning writer who has worked on the team for The Daily Show with John Stewart, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and The Martin Short Show.  He has written comedy material for Seth Rogan, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Charlie Sheen, Mike Tyson and many more for Comedy Central’s notorious Roast series.  His articles have appeared in such publications as US Weekly, New York, Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone. He holds an MFA in Screenwriting from UC Riverside.


Maret Orliss. Maret Orliss is the senior programming manager for events at the Los Angeles Times, where responsibilities include overseeing the program for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Prior to working for the Times, she was the associate promotional director at Vroman’s Bookstore. She is a graduate of Occidental College and has served on grant-review panels for the NEA and will be a panelist at the 2016 AWP conference.


Heather Partington. Heather Scott Partington is a writer, teacher, and book critic. Her writing appears at The Los Angeles Times, Ploughshares’ Blog, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Las Vegas Weekly, Electric Literature, and The Rumpus. She holds an MFA in Fiction from UC Riverside’s Palm Desert Campus. Heather teaches high school English and lives in Elk Grove, California.


BJ Robbins.  BJ Robbins opened her Los Angeles-based agency in 1992 after a multi-faceted career in book publishing in NY. She started in publicity at Simon & Schuster and was later Marketing Director and then Senior Editor at Harcourt. Her agency represents quality fiction, both literary and commercial, and general nonfiction, with a particular interest in memoir, biography, narrative history, pop culture, sports, travel/adventure, medicine and health. Her clients include Deanne Stillman, Stephen Graham Jones, Craig Ferguson, J. Maarten Troost, Wendy Werris and many more.


James Sie. JAMES SIE is the author of STILL LIFE LAS VEGAS (St. Martin’s Press, 2015). He is an award-winning playwright of literary adaptations, and has written and starred in the solo show TALKING WITH MY HANDS for the Mark Taper Forum/East West Players in Los Angeles and the NWAAT in Seattle. He has contributed essays to The Rumpus, FSG’s Book Keeping and The Advocate. In addition to writing, Sie can currently be heard as a voiceover artist in animation and audiobook narration.


Dan Smetanka is the Executive Editor of Counterpoint Press and has worked in various aspects of the publishing industry for over twenty years. As an Executive Editor at Ballantine/Random House, Inc., he acquired and published award-winning debut books including The Ice Harvest by Scott Philips, The Speed of Light by Elizabeth Rosner, Down to a Soundless Sea by Thomas Steinbeck, and Among the Missing by Dan Chaon, a 2001 finalist for the National Book Award. Prior to this, he served as Director of Maria B. Campbell Associates, an international scouting agency that facilitated the placement of American authors into the international marketplace. Daniel also acted as a publishing consultant to both Amblin/Dreamworks and The Kennedy/Marshall Company to identify material appropriate for feature film and television adaptation. As Executive Editor for Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press, one of the largest independent presses in the country and one of the few located on the west coast, his recent projects include works by Thomas Steinbeck, Linda Gray Sexton, James Brown, Scott Phillips, Janna Malamud Smith, Craig Nova, Ilie Ruby, Neil Jordan, Dana Johnson, Isaac Adamson, Karen E. Bender, Joshua Mohr, Emma Woolf, John N. Maclean, Tara Ison, Kim Addonizio, Andrea Portes, Dinah Lenney, Frank Browning, Anna David, Liza Monroy, Thaisa Frank, Tod Goldberg, Gina Frangello, Natashia Deon and more.


Bridget Smith.  Bridget Smith began her career at Dunham Literary, Inc. in June 2011. Previously, she was an intern at Don Congdon Associates, worked at a secondhand book store in Connecticut, and evaluated short story submissions for Tor.com under Liz Gorinsky and Patrick Nielsen Hayden. She graduated from Brown University in 2010. While there, she studied anthropology and archaeology, worked as a radio DJ, fenced on the varsity team, and helped design an experiment that she later performed in microgravity at NASA. A lifelong fan of children’s books, she’s looking for middle grade and young adult novels in a range of genres, including fantasy and science fiction, historical fiction, romance, and contemporary, plus anything that bends the rules of genre. She is actively seeking books with underrepresented or minority characters. She is also seeking fiction for adults, especially fantasy and science fiction, historical fiction, and literary women’s fiction.


Brian Kim Stefans. Brian Kim Stefans was born in Rutherford, New Jersey in 1969. He earned a BA from Bard College and attended the CUNY Graduate School for two years before earning an MFA in electronic literature from Brown University. His books of poetry include “Viva Miscegenation”: New Writing (MakeNow Books, 2013), Kluge: A Meditation and other works (Roof Books, 2007), What Is Said to the Poet Concerning Flowers (Heretical Texts, 2006), Angry Penguins (Harry Tankoos Books, 2000), Gulf (Object Editions, 1998), and Free Space Comix (Roof, 1998). Along with several chapbooks of poetry, his other books include Before Starting Over: Selected Interviews and Essays 1994-2005 (Salt Publishing, 2006) and Fashionable Noise: On Digital Poetics (Atelos, 2003), which includes experimental essays on the role of algorithm in poetry and culture. His poems and essays have been translated into Icelandic, Spanish, Norwegian, French and other languages. A resident of New York from 1992-2005, Stefans was an active participant in the poetry culture of the city as an editor and organizer, publishing numerous reviews in outlets such as Publishers Weekly, Boston Review, St. Mark’s Poetry Project Newsletter, Shark, Rain Taxi, Verse, and Tripwire. Among other web activities, Stefans created arras.net in 1998, a site devoted to new media poetry and poetics that features his interactive art and digital poems, and blog Free Space Comix. He is also a video artist, graphic designer and publisher of Arras Books. Recent critical writing includes “Conceptual Writing: The L.A. Brand,” the series “Third Hand Plays” for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art website concerning digital text art, and “Terrible Engines: A Speculative Turn in Recent Poetry and Fiction” that inaugurates his recent interest in applying concepts from recent Continental philosophy to new forms of literature. His writing on Asian American art and literature includes “Remote Parsee: Asian American Poetry Since 1970” (in Telling It Slant: Avant-Garde Poetics of the 1990s, 2001) and “Miscegenated Scripts: A Theory of Asian American New Media.” Stefans is currently editing a historical anthology of Los Angeles poetry that spans from the Spanish poetries of the 1860s to the Little Caesar generation (centered around Dennis Cooper) of 1980s. His most recent outlet for critical writing, including art and music reviews, has been the Los Angeles Review of Books. Stefans is also working on a documentary about the Los Angeles post-punk scene from 1975-1987 called Scavenged Luxury. He lives in Hollywood where he teaches poetry, new media, and screenplay studies in the UCLA English department.


Rider Strong.  After being cast as Gavroche in Les Miserables at nine years old, Rider Strong began a career that has lasted two decades and spanned a variety of genres and formats. He became best known in his teens for Boy Meets World, which ran for seven seasons on ABC. At 20, Rider secured his place in the independent film world by starring in Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever. He’s been covered in blood for a slew of horror and thriller films since. Back on stage, he starred as Benjamin Braddock in both the First US National Tour and the Australian productions of The Graduate. Along with his brother, Rider has written and directed three short films that have played over 60 festivals worldwide and won both audience and juried awards at multiple fests. The pair also created an award-winning spec campaign commercial in support of Barack Obama that became the first political ad to air on Comedy Central. They are currently the in-house directors for Girl Meets World and developing their family comedy The Knights of Camp Cascade for Amazon. Rider graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University and received his M.F.A. in Fiction & Literature from Bennington College.


Richard Thomas. Richard Thomas is the Editor-in-Chief of Dark House Press and is also the author of seven books: Three novels, Disintegration and Breaker (Random House Alibi), and Transubstantiate (Otherworld Publications); three short story collections, Tribulations (TBA), Staring Into the Abyss (Kraken Press), and Herniated Roots (Snubnose Press); as well as one novella of The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). With over 100 stories published, his credits include Cemetery Dance, PANK, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Arcadia, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad 2 & 3, Gutted, and Shivers 6. He has won contests at ChiZine and One Buck Horror, and has received five Pushcart Prize nominations to date. He is also the editor of four anthologies: Exigencies and The New Black (Dark House Press), The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press) and Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk (finalist for the Bram Stoker Award). In his spare time he is a columnist at LitReactor and Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press. He has taught at LitReactor, the University of Iowa, StoryStudio Chicago, and in Transylvania.


Andrew Winer is the author of the novels The Marriage Artist and The Color Midnight Made. A recipient of a NEA Fellowship in Fiction, he occasionally writers about artists, composer, thinkers and other writers. He is working on a new novel about religion and politics. He is the Chair of the Creative Writing department at the University of California, Riverside.


Johnny Wunder. Johnny Wunder was born in Seattle, Wash and moved to California when he had the rare opportunity of working in the Anaheim Angels clubhouse and has been living in SoCal ever since.  In 2014 he became the VP of Film and Television for The Coalition Group which is a brand new film finance/development fund. They are currently in development on 26 projects which include collaborations with Cross Creek, Virgin Produced, Ivan Reitmans Montecito Picture Company and CAA.

By | 2017-05-18T16:48:11-07:00 November 17th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized|Comments Off on Our Fall Residency Guest Faculty

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