Faculty Bios

We proudly offer the bios of our accomplished teachers.

Michael Backus is the author of the novels The Vanishing Point (Cactus Moon Books, forthcoming) and Double (Xynobooks Publishing), and the chapbook Coney on the Moon (Redbird Chapbooks). His short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in One Story, Okey Panky, Cleaver, Portland Review, Sycamore Review, Digging Through the Fat, Oyster River Pages, Prime Number magazine, The Writer magazine, and Every Writer's Resource, among many othersHe has taught at Columbia College and Marymount Manhattan College. He holds a BA from Purdue University and an MFA from Columbia College.

Chelsea Bieker is the author of the novel Godshot and the short-story collection Cowboys and Angels, (both Catapault Press, forthcoming). Her short fiction has appeared in Granta, McSweeney’s, Joyland, No Tokens, the Cincinnati Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, and The Normal School, among many others. Her essays and nonfiction have appeared in Electric Literature, Catapault magazine, Pregnancy and Newborn magazine, and she has been a columnist for Propeller Magazine. She has taught at Portland State University and Harrisburg Area Community College. She holds a B.S. from California Polytechnic State University and an MFA in Fiction from Portland State University.

Susan Breen is the author of the novel The Fiction Class (Plume and Headline Review UK), and the Maggie Dove series of mystery books (Random House Alibi). She has published short fiction in American Literary Review, Chattahoochee Review, Nebraska Quarterly, North Dakota Quarterly, anderbo, and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. She holds a BA from the University of Rochester and an MA in Economics from Columbia University.

Benjamin Buchholz is the author of the novel One Hundred and One Nights (Back Bay Books/Little, Brown), the nonfiction book Private Soldiers (Wisconsin Historical Society Press), and two poetry chapbooks, Thirteen Stares (Magic Helicopter Press) and Windshield (BlazeVox Press). He is also co-author, with Sam Farran, of the memoir The Tightening Dark: An American Hostage in Yemen, (Hachette Books, forthcoming). His short fiction has appeared in Storyglossia, Hobart, Mad Hatter’s Review, and Prime Number Magazine, and been anthologized in the Dzanc Press Best of the Web collections. He writes the Path to Professionalizing column for The Writer magazine, and the Stories from the City column for Burning Man. He has published articles in Military Review magazine and Infantry magazine, and served as a foreign area officer and U.S. Army attaché in Oman and Yemen, and lectured at Princeton University. He holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, completed the Omani Royal Air Force Staff College in Arabic Language, and holds an MA in Near East Studies from Princeton University.

Tom Cooper is the author of the novels Florida Man (Random House, forthcoming) and The Marauders (Broadway Books/Crown Publishing). His short fiction has appeared in the Mid-American Review, Gulf Coast, Boulevard, Smokelong Quarterly, and Oxford American, among many others. He has taught at Florida State University, Nicholls State University, the University of Central Florida, and the University of South Florida-Tampa. He holds a BA from Florida Atlantic University, an MA in Literature from the University of South Florida, and a Ph.D in Creative Writing from Florida State University.

Anita Diggs is co-author, with Ida Keeling, of the memoir Can't Nothing Bring Me Down: Chasing Myself in the Race Against Time (Zondervan). She is the author of four novels, including A Meeting in the Ladies Room, (Kensington Books), and the nonfiction book Talking Drums: An African-American Quote Collection (St. Martin’s Press). She has also served as senior editor and director of One World Books for Ballantine/Random House. She has taught for Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She holds a BA from the State University of New York/Empire State College and an MFA in Creative Writing/Memoir from Hunter College.

Dewaine Farria is the author of the novel Revolutions of All Colors (Syracuse University Press, forthcoming), and his short stories have appeared in the Southern Humanities Review, CRAFT Literary, and Drunken Boat, among others. His essays and short nonfiction have appeared in the Rumpus, the New York Times, War on the Rocks, the Mantle, and Afropunk, among others. He is a contributing editor for the Maine Review. As a U.S. Marine he served in Jordan and Ukraine, and for the United Nations, he served in the North Caucasus, Kenya, Somalia, and Occupied Palestine. He holds a BS from the University of the State of New York-Albany, an MA in International and Area Studies from the University of Oklahoma, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Seth Fried is the author of the novel The Municipalists (Penguin) and the short-story collection The Great Frustration (Soft Skull Press/Counterpoint). His short fiction has appeared in the Kenyon Review, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, the Missouri Review, One Story, and Tin House, among many others. His work has been anthologized in the Better of McSweeney’s and the Pushcart Prizes XXV: The Best of the Small Presses, and twice named a Distinguished Story by the editors of the Best American Short Stories series. He is a regular contributor to Shouts & Murmurs in the New Yorker magazine and to NPR's Selected Shorts. He has worked as an assistant editor at the Mid-American Review. He holds a BA from Bowling Green State University.

Jon Gingerich has published fiction in The Saturday Evening Post, The Malahat Review, Pleiades, Grist, Stand Magazine, Helix Magazine, and Oyez Review, among many others. He is the editor of O’Dwyer’s magazine. He holds a BA from The Ohio State University and an MFA from The New School. 

Brendan Halpin is the author of the novels Dear Catastrophe WaitressLong Way Backand Donorboy (all by Villard); the memoirs Losing My Faculties and It Takes a Worried Man (both by Villard);  and the author or co-author of eight young adult novels, including Forever Changes  (by Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom (Walker Books) and A Really Awesome Mess (Egmont USA) . He holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA in Teaching from Tufts University. 

Season Harper-Fox has published fiction, poetry, and book reviews in Cream City Review, Rocky Mountain Review of Modern Language and Literature, OnTheBus, and Primavera, and she has served as editorial assistant for Prairie Schooner. She has taught at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She holds a BA and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Scott Alexander Hess is the author of the novels The River Runs Red, Skyscraper, which was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and The Butcher's Sons (all Lethe Press), Bergdorf Boys, and Diary of a Sex Addict, (both JMS Books). His short fiction and essays have appeared in Genre Magazine, The Fix, and The Huffington Post, and he co-wrote the short film Tom in America, which screened at more than a dozen film festivals. He holds a BJ from the University of Missouri-Columbia and an MFA in Fiction from The New School.

Elane Johnson has published short fiction and essays in Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, Current, the Gnu, Hippocampus, the Indianapolis Star, the Sonora Review, and the Superstition Review, and in the anthologies Southern Sin(In Fact Books) and FromThe Depths (Haunted Waters Press). One of her essays was a finalist for the Mark Twain Humor Prize. She has taught at American Public University, A.T. Still University, Central Georgia Technical College, and Southern New Hampshire University, where she received the Excellence in Teaching Award. She holds a BA from Mercer University and an MFA in Creative Writing from National University.

R. Dean Johnson is the author of the novel Californium (Plume Books) and the short-story collection Delicate Men (Alternative Book Press). His short fiction and essays have appeared in Ascent, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Louisville ReviewNew Orleans Review, Natural Bridge, Ruminate, Santa Clara Review, Slice, and Southern Review, and in the anthologies Agave (Ink Brush Press) and A Tribute to Orpheus (Kearney Street Books). He served as fiction editor at Hayden’s Ferry Review and editor of the anthology, Teachable Moments: Essays on Experiential Education (University Press of America). He has taught at Arizona State University, Prescott College, Cameron University, and Eastern Kentucky University. He holds a BS from California State Polytechnic, an MA in English from Kansas State University, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Arizona State University.

Matt Jones has published short fiction in McSweeney’s, Post Road, Ruminate, Scalawag Magazine, Whitefish Review, and the Chicago Tribune; short speculative fiction in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Phantom Drift: A Journal of New Fabulism, Interfictions: A Journal of Interstitial Arts, and the Golden Key; and essays in the Atlantic, the Cincinnati Enquirer, Electric Literature’s Okey-Pankey, Entropy, Hippocampus, the Michigan Quarterly Review, Penny, and Slice Magazine. He has taught at Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, and the University of Alabama. He holds a BA from St. Edward’s University and an MFA in Creative Writing-Prose from the University of Alabama.

Jaime Karnes has published fiction and nonfiction in Granta, Storyglossia, Willard & Maple, HTMLGIANT, PopMatters and TransLit Magazine. She is an Editor-at-Large in fiction at The Utopian. She has taught at Rutgers and Essex County College. She holds a BA from the University of Kansas and an MFA in Fiction from Rutgers-Newark University.

Kirsten Imani Kasai is the author of the novels The House of Erzulie (Shade Mountain Press), Ice Song, which was a Barnes & Nobel Feature Pick, and Tattoo, (both Random House). Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in Transition Magazine (Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research at Harvard University), Arts & Letters, Existere Journal of Arts and Literature, Drunk Monkeys, Disturbed Digest, Body Parts Magazine, The San Diego Reader, and Pretty Owl Poetry, among many others. Her essays and articles have appeared in The American Journal ofEconomics and Sociology, Re-Discover MSN—San Diego, About Town Magazine, and Annotation Nation, as well as the anthologies My Cruel Invention (Meerkat Press) and The Body Horror Book (Oscillate Wildly Press). She has worked as the managing editor of San Diego Family Magazine, and taught at San Diego State University, Emporia State University, and Southern New Hampshire University. She holds a BA from Ashford University and an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles. 

Erin Entrada Kelly is the New York Times best-selling author of the Newbery Medal-winning novel Hello Universe, as well as the novels We Dream of Space, Lalani of the Distant Sea, You Go First, The Land of Forgotten Girls, and Blackbird Fly (all HarperCollins). Her short fiction has appeared in more than two dozen magazines and literary journals including the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Tayo Special Issue, Adroit Journal, Danse Macabre, Every Day Fiction, and Boston Literary Magazine. She is a contributor to Library Journal and has been a writer and editor for Thrive Magazine, where she won several awards for excellence in feature writing from the Louisiana Press Association and the Associated Press. She has taught for Rosemont College and Wallingford Swarthmore Community Classes. She holds a BA from McNeese State University and an MFA in Fiction from Rosemont College.

Megan Kruse is the author of the novel Call Me Home (Hawthorne Books). She has published fiction and nonfiction in Narrative Magazine, Drunken Boat, Witness Magazine, The Sun, Bellingham Review, and Psychology Today, and her short fiction is included in the anthologies Portland Noir (Akashic) and Portland Queer (Lit Star Press). She was named a 5 Under 35 honoree by the National Book Awards. She has taught for the University of Montana, Ashford University, Badgerdog in Austin, and Hugo House in Seattle. She holds a BA from Oberlin College and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana.

Chip Livingston is the author of the novel Owls Don’t Have to Mean Death and the story collection Naming Ceremony, (both Lethe Press), as well as the poetry collections Crow-Blue, Crow-Black (New York Quarterly Books) and Museum of False Starts (Gival Press). His short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Ploughshares, Cincinnati Review, Potomac Review, Court Green, Subtropics, and Crazyhorse, among many others. He has taught at the Institute of American Indian Arts, the University of the Virgin Islands, the University of Colorado, and Brooklyn College. He holds a BS in journalism and a BA in English from the University of Florida, an MA in Fiction from the University of Colorado, and an MFA in Poetry from Brooklyn College.

Dan Lopez is the author of the novel The Show House (Unnamed Press) and the short-story collection Part the Hawser, Limn the Sea (Chelsea Station Editions). His short fiction has appeared in Storychord, Ducts, Prick of the Spindle, and is included in the anthology With: New Gay Fiction (Chelsea Station Editions). His nonfiction has appeared in Los Angeles Review of Books, Time Out New York, The Collagist, and The Millions. He holds a BA from the University of Central Florida.

Carolyn MacCullough is the author of the young adult novels, Falling Through Darkness (Roaring Book Press), one of the New York Public Library Best Books for the Teen Age, Stealing Henry (Roaring Brook Press), Once a Witch (Graphia), Always a Witch (Graphia), and Drawing the Ocean. She also teaches at the New School. She holds a BA from Grinnell College and an MFA in Creative Writing from the New School.

Sarah Moriarty is the author of the novel North Haven (Little A). She has been managing editor and head writer for the blog A Child Grows in Brooklyn, where she continues to be a regular contributor, and she writes for the blogs What to Expect and Mommy Poppins. Her short nonfiction has appeared in the Quivering Pen and Large Hearted Boy. She has taught for Medgar Evers College, the College of Staten Island, and St. Ann's School. She has studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, holds a BA from Harvard University, and an MFA in Fiction from The New School. 

N. West Moss is the author of the short-story collection The Subway Stops at Bryant Park (Leapfrog Press), and her fiction has been published in McSweeney’s, the New World Review, The Saturday Evening Post, Cahoodaloodaling, The Stockholm Review, Salt,Blotter Magazine, and The Westchester Review, among many others. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in Salon, The New York Times, Brevity, Memoir Journal, Sou-Wester, Ars Medica, and Hospital Drive Magazine, among others. She has been a visiting scholar at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, and taught at William Paterson University, Montclair State University, and Passaic County Community College. She holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, a Master of Secondary Education from Mercy College, and an MFA in Creative Writing from William Paterson University.

Amy Sue Nathan is the author of the novels The Last Bathing Beauty (forthcoming, Lake Union Publishing), Left to ChanceThe Good Neighbor, and The Glass Wives, (all St. Martin’s Press). She was a columnist for the Chicago Tribune Sunday Perspectives section, and her personal essays have appeared in the New York Times, Psychology Today, Imperfect Parent, Writer’s Digest, and Writer Unboxed, among many others. She writes the Women’s Fiction Writers blog, and has taught for the Chicago Writers Workshop, the Philadelphia Writers Workshop, and Writer’s Digest. She holds a BA in journalism from Temple University.

Benjamin Obler is the author of the novel Javascotia (HamishHamilton), and he has published short fiction and essays in Cottonwood, the Evansville Review, the Times of London, QWERTY, and The Slate. He has taught at the Loft Literary Center. He holds a BA from the University of St. Thomas and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow.

Betsey Odell is the author of the novel Deep Water (Sapphire Books) and the essay “Naked in Bohemia” in the anthology Travelers Tales Prague and the Czech Republic (Travelers’ Tales Guides). She has published nonfiction in Preserving Your Memory, of which she was editor-in-chief, and Yellow Rat Bastard. She has taught at Randolph-Macon College. She holds a BA from Randolph-Macon College.

Joe Okonkwo is the author of the novel Jazz Moon (Kensington Books). His short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Chelsea Station Magazine, Cooper Street, The New Engagement, Storychord, and have been anthologized in Love Stories from Africa and Best Gay StoriesHis essays, reviews, and poetry have appeared in Publishers Weekly, and Read It Forward, among others. He is prose editor of the Newtown Literary Journal. He has taught at Bronx Arts and for the Queens Library. He holds a BA from the University of Houston and an MFA in Fiction from the City College of New York. 

Dalia Pagani is the author of the novel Mercy Road (Delacorte), and her fiction and essays have appeared in Story, Portsmouth Review, Green Mountains Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, Omnificent, and Cruising World. She has taught at Plymouth State University, Lebanon College, and Johnson State College. She holds a BA and an MFA in Writing from Vermont College.

Christine Reilly is the author of the novel Sunday’s on the Phone to Monday (Simon & Schuster), and the poetry chapbooks Too Animal, Not Enough Machine (Sundress Publications) and Mano a Mano: Or Relationship Neither Here Nor There (Shoe Music Press). She has written young adult e-books for the Sh! Pass It On series (Palindrome Media). Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in the Adirondack Review, the Brooklyn Review, FriGG, and Lifelines, among many others. A one-time Intel Science Talent Search National Semi-Finalist, she has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, the Dalton School, and the Collegiate School. She holds a BA from Bucknell University and an MFA in English from Sarah Lawrence College.

Kristin Rockaway is the author of the novels Life, Unscheduled (Montlake, forthcoming), How to Hack a HeartbreakShe’s Faking It(both Graydon House), and The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World (Center Street), as well as the young adult novel My Epic Spring Break (Up) (Underlined, forthcoming). She’s written essays and blog posts for Fresh Fiction, Frolic, Novel Novice, We Heart Writing, and Women Writers, Women’s Books, among others. She holds a BA from New York University.

Alanna Schubach is a Center for Fiction Emerging Writers Fellow and has been named a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Fiction. Her essays, articles, and criticism have appeared in The Atlantic, Refinery 29, The Washington Post, The Village Voice, and the LA Review of Books, among many others, and her short fiction has appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, Electric Literature's Recommended Reading, Post Road, the Lifted Brow, and Prick of the Spindle. She has taught at the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, the College Readiness Program, the Westchester County Department of Corrections, and Girls Write Now. She holds a BA from American University and an MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College.

Tatjana Soli is the author of the novels The Lotus Eaters, a New York Times bestseller, The Removes (Sarah Crichton Books), The Forgetting Treeand The Last Good Paradise (both St. Martin’s Press). She has published fiction in StoryQuarterly, Confrontation, Gulf Coast, Other Voices, Nimrod, Third Coast, Carolina Quarterly, Sonora Review and North Dakota Quarterly, and her work has been twice cited in Best American Short Stories. She holds a BA from Stanford University and an MFA in Fiction from Warren Wilson.

Divya Sood is the author of the novels Find Someone to Love and Nights Like This (both Riverdale Avenue Books). Her short stories have won the New Jersey Arts and Letters First Prize for Short Fiction, and appeared in The Masters Review. She has taught at Rutgers University and Southern New Hampshire University. She holds a BA from Rutgers University and an MA in English from New York University. 

Nelsie Spencer is the author of the novel The Playgroup, (St. Martin’s Press), and the feature screenplay A Girl's Best Friend. She co-wrote the feature film Valley Inn, which debuted at the Palm Beach International Film Festival. She wrote, produced, and co-hosted the radio show The Radio Ritas, (Greenstone Media) and hosts the podcast Losing It. She co-wrote and starred in the play My Heart Belongs To Daddy, produced at the Pittsburgh Public Theater, Dorothy Lyman’s A Director’s Theater in Los Angeles, and at Duke University’s Pre-Broadway series, and her one-woman show Goodbye Cream played at the When I’m 34 Festival in Los Angeles. She studied dance and theater at Orange Coast College, and fiction at The New School.

Jessica Sticklor is the author of the novels The Beekeeper's Daughter (Bedazzled Ink Press) and Betwixt and Between (Ig Publishing), under her author's name Jessica Stilling, and the young adult novel Into the Fairy Forest (D.X. Varos), under the name J.M. Stephen. She has written craft articles for The Writer magazine and essays for Ms. magazine and Tor.com, and her short fiction has appeared in The Paper Nautilus, Open Wide Magazine, Conclave, The Skyline Review, Chiron Review, and Kudzu, among many others. She has worked as an editor at The House of Books. She holds a BA from The New School and an MFA in Creative Writing from CUNY.

Arlaina Tibensky is the author of the novel And Then Things Fall Apart (Simon & Schuster). Her short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in One Story, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, the Madison Review, and The Dinner Party Download on NPR. She holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University.

Nancy Weber is a founding board member of the New York Writers Coalition, where she also served as program director, youth program director, and instructor. She has published short stories and poetry in the Evergreen Review, the Brooklyn Rail, and The Narrator. She has taught at St. Joseph’s College and LaGuardia Community College. She holds a BFA from New York University and an MFA in Creative Writing from St. Joseph’s College.

David Yoo is the author of the YA novels Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before (Hyperion) and Girls for Breakfast (Delacorte), the middle grade novel The Detention Club (Balzer + Bray), and the essay collection The Choke Artist (Grand Central). He has published fiction and nonfiction in Massachusetts Review, Rush Hour, Maryland Review, and the anthology Guys Write for Guys Read (Viking). He is also a columnist for KoreAm Journal. He has taught at Pine Manor College, Eckerd College, and CU-Boulder. He holds a BA from Skidmore College and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Irene Zabytko is the author of the novel The Sky Unwashed (Algonquin), and the short story collection When Luba Leaves Home (Algonquin). Her short fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, and her nonfiction has appeared in such publications as the Orlando Sentinel, the New York Times Book Review, and the Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine. She holds a BA from Vermont College and an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College.