Author Bios

2016 Participating Authors
Jonathan Allen    Joanne Bamberger    Michelle Brafman    David E. Hoffman    Jonathan Horn    
Paul Lisicky    Thomas Mallon    Peter Manseau    John McQuaid
  Linda Pastan    Dolen Perkins-Valdez   Alexandra Petri    Cokie Roberts   Ariel S. Winter
Kate Alcott
A Touch of Stardust

Kate Alcott is the pseudonym for journalist Patricia O’Brien, whose award-winning career has spanned the world of books, fiction and nonfiction, journalism, politics and education.. As Kate Alcott, she is the author of The Dressmaker, The Daring Ladies of Lowell and A Touch of Stardust. She lives in Washington, D.C.

To read a Q&A with Kate Alcott, click here.



Joanne Bamberger

Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox

Joanne Bamberger is a Washington, D.C. based writer and political/media analyst. She is the founder of the political blog PunditMom, the Editor-in-Chief of The Broad Side and is a contributor at Politico’s Arena. A self-described "recovering attorney" and long-time broadcast journalist, Bamberger’s political commentary has been featured on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, XM Radio POTUS, BBC Radio,, USA Today and others. She speaks frequently at conferences about the growing political influence of women online, including Netroots Nation, EMILY's List,  and others. Mothers of Intention: How Women & Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America is an best-selling book.

To read a Q&A with Joanne Bamberger, click here.



Michelle Brafman
Washing the Dead

Michelle Brafman has received numerous awards for her short fiction, including a Special Mention in the Pushcart Prize Anthology. Her fiction and essays have appeared in The Washington Post, Slate, Tablet, The Minnesota Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Lilith Magazine and numerous other publications. Brafman teaches fiction writing at the Johns Hopkins University MA in Writing Program.


David E. Hoffman
The Billion Dollar Spy

David E. Hoffman is a contributing editor at The Washington Post.  He covered the White House during the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, and was subsequently diplomatic correspondent and Jerusalem correspondent.  From 1995 to 2001, he served as Moscow Bureau Chief, and later as foreign editor and assistant managing editor for foreign news.

Jonathan Horn
The Man Who Would Not Be Washington

Jonathan Horn is an author and former White House presidential speechwriter whose new Robert E. Lee biography, The Man Who Would Not Be Washington, made The Washington Post bestseller list. He has appeared as a commentator on MSNBC and BBC radio and written for The New York Times Disunion series, The Weekly Standard, and other outlets. 

Paul Lisicky
The Narrow Door

Paul Lisicky is the author of four books, including Famous Builder and The Burning House. He has received fellowships from the NEA and the Michener/Copernicus Society, among others. He teaches in the Master of Fine Arts program at Rutgers University-Camde

To read a Q&A with Paul Lisicky, click here.


(c) William Bodenschatz

Thomas Mallon

Thomas Mallon is the author of nine books of fiction and his work appears in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Book Review and other publications. His honors include Guggenheim and Rockefeller fellowships, the National Book Critics Circle citation for reviewing, and the Vursell prize of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, for distinguished prose style. He has been literary editor of Gentlemen’s Quarterly and deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and in 2012 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is currently Professor of English at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.


Peter Manseau
One Nation, Under Gods

Peter Manseau is the author of six books, including the memoir Vows, the novel Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter, the travelogue Rag and Bone, and the new retelling of American history One Nation, Under Gods. Winner of the National Jewish Book Award, the American Library Association's Sophie Brody Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Literature, the Ribalow Prize for Fiction, and a 2012 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, Manseau received his doctorate in religion from Georgetown University, and is currently curating an exhibit on America's diverse religious past for the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.

To read a Q&A with Peter Manseau, click here.


(c) Hannah McQuaid 

John McQuaid
Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat

John McQuaid has written about topics such as city-destroying super-termites, the slow collapse of fishing communities, hurricane levee engineering, mountaintop removal coal mining, and the global flower business for publications including Smithsonian magazine, The Washington Post, Wired,, EatingWell Magazine and the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He is the co-author of Path of Destruction: The Devastation of New Orleans and the Coming Age of Superstorms. His work has won a Pulitzer Prize, as well as awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. 

To read a Q&A with John McQuaid, click here.


Linda Pastan

Since the early 1970s, Linda Pastan has produced quiet lyrics that focus on themes like marriage, parenting, and grief. She is interested in the anxieties that exist under the surface of everyday life.

Pastan's many awards include the Dylan Thomas award, a Pushcart Prize, the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry, the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, and the Ruth Lily Poetry Prize, in 2003. Pastan served as Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1991 to 1995 and was on the staff of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference for 20 years. She is the author of over twelve books of poetry and essays. Her PM/AM: New and Selected Poems (1982) and Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968–1998 (1998) were finalists for the National Book Award; The Imperfect Paradise (1988) was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her recent collections include The Last Uncle (2001), Queen of a Rainy Country (2006) and Traveling Light (2011). She lives in Potomac, Maryland. 


Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Dolen Perkins-Valdez is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Wench. She wrote the introduction to an edition of Solomon Northup's Twelve Years a Slave, which was a New York Times bestseller. Perkins-Valdez’s fiction has appeared in The Kenyon Review, StoryQuarterly, StorySouth and elsewhere.  In 2011, she was a finalist for two NAACP Image Awards and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for fiction. She was also awarded the First Novelist Award by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. She received a D.C. Commission on the Arts Grant for her second novel Balm. Perkins-Valdez teaches in the Stonecoast Master of Fine Arts program in Maine and is a popular guest for Black History and Women's Month programs. 


(c) Trina Sobotka

Alexandra Petri
A Field Guide to Awkward Silences

Some people are born awkward. Some achieve awkwardness. Some have awkwardness thrust upon them. Alexandra Petri is all three. She is a Washington Post columnist and blogger, an International Pun Champion, a playwright, and a Jeopardy! loser, and she’s been on your TV a couple of times. She is also a congressman’s kid, if that will make you buy this book! When she remembers, she does stand-up comedy too, but she’s been locked in her apartment for the past nine months making this book for you and hissing when exposed to sunlight.


 (c) Randy Sager
Cokie Roberts
Capital Dames
Cokie Roberts is a political commentator for ABC News and NPR. She has won countless awards and in 2008 was named a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress. She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers We Are Our Mothers' Daughters; Founding Mothers; Ladies of Liberty; and, with her husband, the journalist Steven V. Roberts, From This Day Forward and Our Haggadah
Ariel S. Winter
Barren Cove
Ariel S. Winter was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Shamus Award, and the Macavity Award for his novel The Twenty-Year Death. He is also the author of the children’s picture book One of a Kind, illustrated by David Hitch, and the blog We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie. 

To read a Q&A with Ariel S. Winter, click here.