2019 Keynote Speaker

Janet Fitch is the author of the #1 national bestseller White Oleander, a novel translated into 24 languages, an Oprah Book Club book and the basis of a feature film; Paint It Black, also widely translated and made into a 2017 film; and an epic novel of the Russian Revolution, The Revolution of Marina M. Additionally, she has written a young adult novel, Kicks, short stories, essays, articles, and reviews, contributed to anthologies and regularly teaches at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. She taught creative writing for 14 years in the USC Master of Professional Writing program, as well as VCFA’s Writing and Publishing program, A Room of Her Own (AROHO), the UCLA Writer’s Program, and Pomona College. She lectures frequently on fiction writing. Fitch was a 2009 Likhachev Cultural Fellow to St. Petersburg, Russia, a Helen R. Whiteley Fellow, a Research Fellow at the Huntington Library and a Moseley Fellow at Pomona College. Fitch graduated from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, in 1978 with a BA in History. She lives in Los Angeles and travels whenever she gets the chance.For more information, visit her website.

2019 Guest Faculty

Antonia Crane is the author of the memoir, Spent (Barnacle Books, Rare Bird Lit). She is a writing instructor at UCLA, a stripper, sex worker, activist, and performer in Los Angeles. She has written for The New York Times, The Believer, The Toast, Playboy, Cosmopolitan, Salon.com, The Rumpus, Electric Literature, DAME, The Establishment, Bustle, The Los Angeles Review, Quartz: The Atlantic Media, Medium.com, Buzzfeed, Lenny Letter, and lots of other places. She is a Producer for several episodes of the scripted internet series DRIVEN, and she wrote and produced Episode Poppy starring Breeda Wool and Sam Ball. Her screenplay The Lusty (co-written by Transparent director, writer Silas Howard), based on the true story of the exotic dancer’s labor union, is a recipient of the San Francisco Film Society/Kenneth Rainin Foundation Grant in screenwriting. She has appeared on CNN’s This is Life with Lisa Ling and has been interviewed on WTF with Marc Maron and Michael Smerconish on SiriusXM POTUS, where he compared dancers to Uber drivers. She is currently making cool shit by and for the sex worker community. For more information, visit her website.

Kim Dower, originally from New York City, received a BFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College, where she also taught creative writing. Sunbathing on Tyrone Power’s Grave is her fourth collection of poetry. Her other collections, Air Kissing on Mars (2010), described by the Los Angeles Times as “sensual and evocative … seamlessly combining humor and heartache,” was on the Poetry Foundation’s Contemporary Best Sellers list, Slice of Moon (2013) was nominated for a Pushcart and called “unexpected and sublime” by O Magazine, and Last Train to the Missing Planet (2016) was described by Janet Fitch as being “full of worldly, humorous insights into life as it is.” All were published by Red Hen Press. Kim’s work has been featured in Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac,” and Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry,” as well as in Ploughshares, Barrow Street, Rattle, and Eclipse. Her poems are included in several anthologies, including, Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond and Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes & Shifts of Los Angeles. She teaches two workshops, Poetry and Dreaming and Poetry and Memory, in the B.A. Program of Antioch University. Owner of Kim-from-L.A. a literary publicity company helping authors promote and market their books, Kim was the City Poet Laureate of West Hollywood from October 2016 through October 2018. She lives in West Hollywood with her family. For more information, visit her website.

Raquel Vasquez Gilliland is a Mexican-American poet and painter inspired by folklore, myth, and plants. Her first book, Dirt and Honey, combines these focuses with themes of ecology and feminism and received the Jason Wenger Award for Literary Excellence. Her chapbook Tales from the House of Vasquez was winner of the 2018 Rattle Chapbook Prize. Her debut YA novel, Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything, will be published in 2020 by Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. She holds a B.A. in cultural anthropology from the University of West Florida and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Her poems have appeared in Dark Mountain, Luna Luna, Rattle, Sheila-Na-Gig, and other journals. Raquel Vasquez Gilliland lives in New Jersey with her husband and son. For more information, visit her website.

Pavana Reddy is a Los Angeles-based poet and songwriter. She is most well-known for her first book of poetry, Rangoli, as well as a song called “Remain the Sea,” written for the critically acclaimed album Land of Gold by Anoushka Shankar. She has just released her second book of poems, Where Do You Go Alone, and is working on her third. For more information, visit her website.

Fred Stuart has been playing, repairing and building guitars for nearly thirty years – fifteen of which were spent at Fender. During his time at Fender, Fred refined his craft and became a Senior Master Builder. His attention to detail and vast knowledge are reflected in his line of custom guitars. Fred is one of the most esteemed guitar builders today, with an extensive international following. Among the many artists for whom Fred has built guitars are Danny Gatton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and Billy Gibbons.

Local Faculty

Melissa Chadburn has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Review of Books, New York Times Book Review, Buzzfeed, Longreads, American Public Media’s Marketplace, and dozens other places. She is a contributing editor for The Economic Hardship Reporting Project. Her essay, “The Throwaways,” received notable mention in Best American Essays and Best American Nonrequired Reading. Her essay “Food of My Youth” was selected for Best American Food Writing 2019, and her debut novel, A Tiny Upward Shove, is forthcoming with Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. For more information, visit her website.

Gayle Dowling, a singer/songwriter/guitarist, has been entertaining audiences since her teens. She has been writing songs for several years and her songs reflect her passion for life. Gayle has released several CDs which were recorded in her home studio and have been played on various PBS stations and the nationally syndicated station KFRG. Her performances include her original and acoustic folk songs at such venues as L.A.’s Mark Taper Forum and Riverside’s Orange Blossom Festival. Gayle has a BA in liberal studies from Cal Poly Pomona with minors in history and literature. She received her teaching credential from Cal State San Bernardino and a masters degree in curriculum development from National University. Gayle taught in the Jurupa Unified School District for twenty years but has since retired in order to devote her time to her music and to teaching music. Her primary focus when teaching is on performance and style. For more information, visit her band’s website, Gayle and Company.

Ron Frank’s passion for theatre and the classic works of writers focusing on social consciousness and change ignited at an early age. He studied Theatre Arts with the world reknowned teacher of method acting, Stella Adler, resulting in a lengthy list of credits. Leaving behind his love for the stage, he turned his attention to becoming a practitioner of the healing arts. Ron Frank holds a Doctorate in Homeopathic Medicine, is a Diplomat in Homeopathy and a Certified Natural Healthcare Practitioner. He has practiced homeopathy in Palmdale, California, for 26 years, and is manager of the Wrightwood Farmers Market (Fridays 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.).

Timothy Green was born in Rochester, New York. He worked in an mRNA research lab, and as a group home counselor for mentally ill adults, before moving to California to serve as editor of the poetry magazine Rattle in 2004. His poems have appeared in many journals, including The Connecticut Review, The Florida Review, Mid-American Review, and Nimrod International Journal. Green has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Rhysling Award, and his first book, American Fractal (Red Hen Press, 2009), won the Phi Kappa Phi award from the University of Southern California. He is a contributing columnist for the (Riverside) Press Enterprise. Green earned his B.A. at the University of Rochester and graduated with a Masters in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California in 2009. He lives in Wrightwood with his wife and two children. More information can be found at his website.

Gregory Jones is a professor of Communication Studies at Victor Valley College. He holds a PhD in Higher Education Leadership, a Masters in Communication and a Bachelor’s in English Literature. A pianist and vocalist, Jones has been composing, performing and recording music for three decades. He has won an Inland Empire award for musical theater and is a master of ceremonies for the annual Idyllwild Jazz Festival. He’s lived in Wrightwood since 2006, and is founder of the Wrightwood Blues Society.

Joan McCandless was born in Washington, D.C., and has lived in Wrightwood, CA, since 1988. She served as Director of Health & Safety at the American Red Cross in Los Angeles where she developed outreach programs which eventually became national models for health education in under­served communities. More recently Joan worked as a Park Ranger in Yosemite National Park, researching, writing and presenting interpretive walks and talks to visitors from around the world. An avid hiker, backpacker and skier, being out in nature has always grounded Joan. Art is an integral part of Joan’s life. Pastel is her current medium of choice because of its vibrancy and playfulness. Most of her art is drawn from her nature photography and is often inspired by long-­term friendships.

Gail Nieto is a long time resident of Wrightwood. She is retired teacher and avid reader. She belongs to two book clubs, one of which has been in existence for almost 20 years. She enjoys reading and discussing a wide variety of genres. She is also a community volunteer, artist, and naturalist who enjoys being outdoors in her garden or just meandering through the woods or along the beach.

Victoria Barras Tulacro is a life-long resident of Wrightwood who considers herself a recovering poet who now writes fiction. Her most recent works appear in Arcadia, Fifth Wednesday, and The Farallon Review, and she is a regular contributor to the awarding-winning blog, We Will Begin Again. She is currently working on her first novel What We Leave Behind, and is a full-time professor of English at Chaffey College.

Jan Vondra has been a longtime resident of Wrightwood. She grew up surrounded by books, poetry, music and art as her dad was a pianist/music teacher and her mother an artist/English teacher. Her grandmother, also an artist, lived in Montana and had a passion for replicating scenes of the wild Northwest. For most of her professional career, Jan has been a passionate participant in public education, serving as a high school English teacher and a site and district level administrator. Since retiring from the local school district, Jan continues to be an avid reader and is enjoying her opportunity to develop her skills as a student of the arts.