Author Bios

2017 Participating Authors

Frank Ahrens  •  Kate Alcott  •  Kathleen Barber  •  Jessica Anya Blau  •  Michelle Brafman  •  
Jennifer Close  •  John A. Farrell  •  Katherine Heiny
  •  Claudia Kalb  •  Deborah Kalb  •  
Christina Kovac •  Michael Kranish •  Carolyn Parkhurst
  •  Steve Roberts  •  Helen Simonson  •  Josua Weiner


(c) John McDonnell
Frank Ahrens 
Seoul Man: A Memoir of Cars, Culture, Crisis, and Unexpected Hilarity

Frank Ahrens was a reporter at the Washington Post for eighteen years in the Sports, Style and Business sections. He finished his journalism career covering the Great Recession for The Washington Post and appearing frequently on CNBC, PBS and radio, explaining strange things like synthetic collateralized debt obligations. Ahrens followed his wife to South Korea and joined Hyundai Motor Company, where he eventually became a vice president. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Q&A with Frank Ahrens



Kate Alcott
The Hollywood Daughter

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 DressmakerThe Daring Ladies of Lowell and A Touch of Stardust. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Q&A with Kate Alcott



Kathleen Barber
Are You Sleeping

Kathleen Barber graduated from the University of Illinois and Northwestern University School of Law, and previously practiced bankruptcy law at large firms in Chicago and New York. When she’s not writing, Kathleen enjoys traveling the world with her husband. This is her first published book.


(c) David Grossbach

Jessica Anya Blau
The Trouble with Lexie

Jessica Anya Blau was born in Boston and raised in Southern California. Her novels have been featured on The Today Show, CNN and NPR, and in Cosmo, Vanity Fair, Bust, Time Out, and other national publications. Jessica's short stories and essays have been published in numerous magazines, journals and anthologies. Jessica co-wrote the script for “Love on the Run” starring Frances Fisher and Steve Howey. For many years, Jessica taught writing at Johns Hopkins University and Goucher College. Currently, Jessica divides her time between Baltimore and New York.

Q&A with Jessica Anya Blau


Michelle Brafman
Bertrand Court

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 PostSlateTabletThe Minnesota ReviewFifth Wednesday JournalLilith Magazine and numerous other publications. She is the author of Washing the Dead and Bertrand court. Brafman teaches fiction writing at the Johns Hopkins University MA in Writing Program.

Q&A with Michelle Brafman


(c) Michael Lionstar

Jennifer Close
The Hopefuls

Jennifer Close is the best-selling author of Girls in White Dresses and The Smart One. Born and raised on the North Shore of Chicago, she is a graduate of Boston College and received her Master of Fine Arts in fiction writing from The New School in 2005. She worked in New York in magazines for many years. She now lives in Washington, D.C., and teaches creative writing at George Washington University.

Q&A with Jennifer Close


(c) Kathy Kupka

John A. Farrell
Richard Nixon: The Life

John A. Farrell is the author of Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography, and Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Century, which won the D. B. Hardeman Prize for the best book on Congress. He is a contributing editor to Politico Magazine, after a prize-winning career as a newspaperman, most notably at The Denver Post and The Boston Globe, where he worked as White House correspondent and served on the vaunted Spotlight team.

Q&A with John A. Farrell


(c) Leila Barbaro

Katherine Heiny
Standard Deviation

Katherine Heiny's fiction has been published in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Narrative, Glimmer Train, and many other places. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and children. Standard Deviation is her first book.

Q&A with Katherine Heiny

Claudia Kalb
Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder: Inside the Minds of History’s Great Personalities

Claudia Kalb is a journalist and author who specializes in the fields of medicine, mental health, and science. Her articles have appeared in Newsweek, Smithsonian, Scientific American and numerous other publications, both in print and online.  Her bestselling book, Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder: Inside the Minds of History’s Great Personalities, was published in 2016. A former senior writer for Newsweek, Claudia wrote features and cover stories for the magazine for 17 years on subjects ranging from stem cells and genetic testing to the origins of autism and the biological underpinnings of emotional memory. Claudia’s reporting has received numerous awards, including a Front Page Award from the Newswomen’s Club of New York. 

Deborah Kalb
The President and Me: George Washington and the Magic Hat

Deborah Kalb is a freelance writer and editor. She spent about two decades working as a journalist in Washington, D.C., for news organizations including Gannett News Service, Congressional QuarterlyU.S. News & World Report, and The Hill, mostly covering Congress and politics. Her book blog, Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb, which she started in 2012, features hundreds of interviews she has conducted with a wide variety of authors.

She is the author of the new children’s book The President and Me: George Washington and the Magic Hat (Schiffer, 2016), and the co-author, with her father, Marvin Kalb, of Haunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama (Brookings, 2011). She is the editor of the new two-volume reference book, Guide to U.S. Elections, 7th edition (CQ Press/SAGE, 2016), the co-author of The Presidents, First Ladies, and Vice Presidents (CQ Press, 2009), and the co-editor of State of the Union: Presidential Rhetoric from Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush (CQ Press, 2007), and has contributed updates to a variety of CQ Press books on politics and governmen


Christina Kovac
The Cutaway

Christina Kovac worked for seventeen years managing Washington, D.C. newsrooms and producing crime and political stories in the District. Her career as television journalist began with Fox Five’s Ten O’Clock News, and after that, the ABC affiliate in Washington. For the last nine years, she worked at NBC News, where she worked for Tim Russert and provided news coverage for Meet the Press, the Today show, Nightly News, and others. Christina Kovac lives with her family outside of Washington, D.C. The Cutaway is her first novel.

Q&A with Christina Kovac


Michael Kranish
Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power

Michael Kranish grew up in Chevy Chase, MD and is an investigative political reporter for The Washington Post. He is the coauthor of John F. Kerry and The Real Romney, both Boston Globe biographies of the presidential candidates, and the author of Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War. He was the recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists Award for Washington Correspondence in 2016. 


(c) Nina Subin
Carolyn Parkhurst 
Carolyn Parkhurst holds an Master of Fine Arts in fiction from American University. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels The Dogs of Babel, Lost and Found and The Nobodies Album, as well as a children’s book Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly. She lives in Washington, D. C., with her husband and their two children.

Q&A with Carolyn Parkhurst

Steve Roberts
Images of America: Bethesda and Chevy Chase
Steve Roberts attended Harvard University, where he served as editor of the student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson. After graduating with a B.A. in Government in 1964, Roberts was hired by The New York Times as research assistant to James Reston, then the paper's Washington, D.C. bureau chief. He was a senior writer at U.S. News & World Report for seven years where he is now a contributing editor. As a Washington pundit, Roberts appears regularly on ABC Radio, Washington Week in Review, CNN, Hardball with Chris Matthews. He often fills in as substitute host of The Diane Rehm Show on National Public Radio. He also appears regularly on America Abroad. Roberts has taught journalism and political communication at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs since 1997.

Roberts and his wife, Cokie Roberts, write a nationally syndicated newspaper column and are contributing writers for USA Weekend, a Sunday magazine that appears in 500 newspapers nationwide. In February 2000 they jointly published From This Day Forward.

Q&A with Steve Roberts


(c) Nina Subin
Helen Simonson
The Summer Before the War
Helen Simonson was born in England and spent her teenage years in a small village near Rye, East Sussex. A graduate of the London School of Economics, she has spent the last three decades in the United States and currently lives in Brooklyn. She is married, with two grown sons. Her debut novel Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, was a New York Times bestseller and was translated and published in twenty-one countries. This is her second bestselling novel.
Joshua Weiner
he Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish
Mr. Weiner is the author of three books of poems, The World’s Room (2001) and From the Book of Giants (2006), and The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish (2013). He earned a BA from Northwestern University and a PhD from University of California, Berkeley. He is the poetry editor of Tikkun magazine and is also the editor of At the Barriers: On the Poetry of Thom Gunn (2009). He is the recipient of the Rome Prize in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the Larry Levis Award from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a Whiting Writers’ Award. He has served residencies at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and spent a year in Berlin on an Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship, and was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship. Berlin Notebook, prose about the refugee crisis in Europe, was published by the Los Angeles Review of Books in 2016. Weiner is professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park, and lives with his family in Washington, D.C. 

Q&A with Joshua Weiner