- Student Activities
LAHS Writers Week
Los Altos High School is proud to announce Writers Week, taking place from March 2 through March 5, 2020. Since 1985 writers have come to our English classes to speak about their individual work as well as the life and craft of a writer. Here are just a few of the amazing speakers we are happy to host this year.
Donia Bijan is a San Francisco Bay Area chef and author who left Iran in 1978 during the Islamic Revolution that threatened the life of her mother, an outspoken women’s rights advocate.
After graduating from UC Berkeley, Donia went to Paris to attend the Cordon Bleu. At twenty-seven she became the executive chef of The Sherman House, where she earned awards for her French inspired cuisine. In 1994, she realized her dream of opening her own restaurant, L’Amie Donia, a celebrated French bistro in Palo Alto, California.
Since closing her restaurant, Ms. Bijan has divided her days between writing and teaching. Her memoir, Maman’s Homesick Pie, published in 2011 by Algonquin Books, reimagines her passion for cooking as a vessel to travel back and forth between the kitchens of her childhood and the formal kitchens of her training, illuminating the experience of exile, and drawing from her Persian, French, and American pantry to thread ties between cultures. Her debut novel, The Last Days of Café Leila, the story of a daughter’s return to her childhood home, was released in April 2017.
Jack Bowen graduated from Stanford University with Honors in Human Biology. He went on to earn a Masters Degree in Philosophy from California State University, Long Beach graduating Summa Cum Laude. Jack's debut novel, "The Dream Weaver" made the San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller list in March 2006 and the Amazon Top 500 and was released as an Anniversary Edition in 2008. His second book, "A Journey Through the Landscape of Philosophy" was released in 2007 as a major college philosophy textbook. He completed a national tour for his most recent book, "If You Can Read This: The Philosophy of Bumper Stickers" (Random House, 2010). Jack was also a two-time All-American water polo player while at Stanford, an alternate goalie of the 1996 Olympic Team, and a member of the 2000 Olympic Training Team. Also an avid musician, he has been a recording drummer on over ten albums. He now blogs weekly on the Santa Clara University Law School website for the Institute of Sports Law and Ethics with a focus on Sport Ethics.
James Brandon produced and played the central role of Joshua in the international tour of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi for a decade, and is codirector of the documentary film based on their journey, Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption. He’s the cofounder of the I AM Love Campaign, an arts-based initiative bridging the faith-based and LGBTQ2+ communities, and serves on the Powwow Steering Committee for Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (BAAITS) in San Francisco. Brandon is a contributing writer for Huffington Post, Believe Out Loud, and Spirituality and Health Magazine. Ziggy, Stardust and Me is his first novel.
Marie Brennan is an anthropologist and folklorist who shamelessly pillages her academic fields for material. She most recently misapplied her professors' hard work to the Onyx Court historical fantasy series (Midnight Never Come, In Ashes Lie, A Star Shall Fall, and With Fate Conspire). She is also the author of the doppelganger duology of Warrior and Witch, the urban fantasy Lies and Prophecy, A Natural History of Dragons, The Tropic of Serpents, and more than forty short stories.
Rita Bullwinkel is the author of the story collection Belly Up, which won the 2018 Believer Book Award, and was translated into Italian and Greek. Bullwinkel’s writing has been published in Tin House, Conjunctions, BOMB, Vice, NOON, and Guernica. She is a recipient of grants and fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Brown University, Vanderbilt University, Hawthornden Castle, and The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. Both her fiction and translation have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. She is an Editor at Large for McSweeney's and a Contributing Editor for NOON. She lives in San Francisco and teaches at the California College of the Arts.
ALISON CARPENTER DAVIS
Alison Carpenter Davis graduated from Stanford in 1979. Her articles have appeared in Stanford magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the International Herald Tribune, and The Des Moines Register, among others. She was formerly an editor at Outside magazine and an adjunct professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She has a thing about words. She is the author of Letters Home From Stanford and is currently at work on a memoir. To contact Alison about an author event: firstname.lastname@example.org or (408) 605-8270
When he’s not writing about sci-fi for Tor, The Mary Sue, StarTrek dot com, and other geek media, Mike Chen writes sci-fi books. His second novel A Beginning At The End (January 14, 2020, MIRA/HarperCollins) is an intimate post-apocalyptic story with “heart, hope, and humanity” (Publishers Weekly). Visit his website or follow him on Twitter for geekery discussion, dog photos, and many curse words. Visit him on twitter and on his website.
Yangsze Choo is the NYTimes bestselling author of THE GHOST BRIDE (a CILIP Carnegie nominee, Oprah.com's best book of the week, and now a Netflix Original series which was just released Jan 23) and THE NIGHT TIGER, (Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club Pick, Amazon's Spotlight Pick, and a Book of the Month Club selection, as well as one of the best books of the year for Amazon, The Washington Review of Books, Bookpage, Chicago Public Library, Los Angeles Public Library, Parade, Real Simple, and Self Magazine). After graduating from Harvard, she worked as a management consultant while writing fiction on a coffee table at home in her spare time. Originally from Malaysia, she spent part of her childhood in Germany and Japan, and now lives in California with her family and several chickens. Yangsze loves to eat and read, and often does both at the same time. Neither of her books would have been possible without large quantities of dark chocolate
Lydia Conklin has received a Stegner Fellowship in fiction, a Creative Writing Fulbright in Poland, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation, two Pushcart Prizes, a Creative Writing Fellowship from Emory University, work-study and tuition scholarships from Bread Loaf, and fellowships from MacDowell, Yaddo, Hedgebrook, Djerassi, the James Merrill House, the Vermont Studio Center, VCCA, Millay, Jentel, Lighthouse Works, Brush Creek, the Santa Fe Art Institute, Caldera, the Sitka Center, and Harvard University, among others. Her fiction has appeared in a compilation of the best of the last twenty-five years of the Pushcart Prize and in Tin House, American Short Fiction, The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review, and elsewhere. She has drawn cartoons for The New Yorker and Narrative Magazine, and graphic fiction for The Believer, Lenny Letter, Popula Magazine, Drunken Boat, and the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago.
When A. E. Conran (Amanda) is not writing her own children's books or working as a freelance editor, she is a children's book specialist, school book fair booktalker and children’s book club facilitator at the renowned Bay Area independent bookstore, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA.
The Lost Celt is her first middle grade novel. A modern adventure story, it draws upon time-travel conspiracies, Roman and Celtic history and the stories of Irish warrior hero Cuchulain, but ultimately deals with the invisible effects of war on veterans and their families throughout the generations and the transcendent power of friendship.
Originally from Leicestershire, England, Amanda now lives in the Bay Area with her husband, son and daughter.
Kate Crane has written and edited for Dow Jones, Men’s Journal, Radar, Inc., Hearst publications, and Brooklyn Rail. She covered music regularly for Time Out New York for about a decade. At SmartMoney: The Wall Street Journal Magazine, she was deputy managing editor, and moved to Silicon Valley in 2015 to be deputy editor of news and culture site OZY.com.
Whatever Happened to Eddy Crane (Hanover Square Press), a memoir about her father's 1987 murder and the years she spent trying to understand it, will be published in 2021.
Sarah Eisner, a Bay Area native with southern roots, is a writer and the mom of two boys who currently attend Menlo-Atherton High School. She earned a master’s degree in engineering from Stanford, spent a decade marketing and managing products for Cisco Systems, then co-founded multiple venture backed companies before returning to an MFA program to study creative nonfiction writing. She is currently working on a project to explore personal and national reparations, in part by fighting to save reparations land with the descendants of people her ancestors enslaved. Eisner’s earlier work focused on the culture of the extreme in Silicon Valley--ambition and the ecosystems it produces, the definition of privilege versus opportunity, and the very nature of identity--where and how we glean our sense of self, and the ways we build and rebuild it. Her essays have been published in The Rumpus, The Toast, Columbia Journal, Salon, Fast Company, Stanford Magazine, and Brain, Child Magazine. In 2016, Eisner was named as an Emerging Writer Fellow by Aspen Words.
Alexis E. Fajardo is an Eisner award-winning editor and cartoonist. A student of the classics, Lex has created a unique blend of comedy, literature, and high-adventure in his graphic novel series, Kid Beowulf – named one of Kirkus’s best books of 2016. When he is not drawing comics he works for them as Senior Editor of Publishing at the Charles M. Schulz Studio in Santa Rosa, CA.
Jim Fisher is a poet, pamphleteer, and banjo picker from Berkeley. He attended Los Altos High School (class of 1990), where he wrote for The Talon and studied literature with Chris Wells, Ann Vosovic, Galen Rosenberg, and Neil Elverson. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford, his writing has appeared in Salon, The Bay Citizen, The North American Review, and The Paris Review, among other publications. He is currently the sole proprietor of 99centbroadsides, an Etsy shop featuring the poetry of Clayton Peacock.
Francesca Flores is a writer, traveler and linguist. Raised in Pittsburgh, she read every fantasy book she could get her hands on and started writing her own stories at a young age. She began writing DIAMOND CITY while working as a corporate travel manager. When she’s not writing or reading, Francesca enjoys traveling, dancing ballet and jazz, practicing trapeze and contortion, and visiting parks and trails around San Francisco, where she currently resides.
Abigail Hing Wen is the New York Times best selling author of “Loveboat, Taipei,” a young adult Crazy Rich Asians meets a Jane Austen Comedy of Manners, inspired by the actual cultural exchange program in Taipei attended by many Asian American teens since the 1960s. The romp is woven through with an immigrant girl’s coming-of-age story, of navigating family complexities, discovering identity in all its facets and finding love.
Loveboat, Taipei is a Barnes and Noble Young Adult Book Club and, along with Abigail, has been featured in print and television in Entertainment Weekly, Bloomberg and The World Journal. Loveboat, Taipei has been optioned for film by the producers of To All the Boys I've Loved Before, and Abigail will be executive producing with the team.
Abigail Hing Wen holds a BA from Harvard, JD from Columbia Law School and MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Like Ever, she is obsessed with musicals. When she’s not writing stories or listening to her favorite scores, she is busy working in venture capital and artificial intelligence in Silicon Valley, where she lives with her husband and two sons. Loveboat, Taipei is her first novel.
Originally from Texas, Ann Jacobus bribed five younger siblings to act in family dramatic productions she wrote and directed. She’s lived in Little Rock, Arkansas, New York City, the Kingdom of Bahrain, and Paris, France, among others. She graduated from Dartmouth College and earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She’s published short fiction, essays and poetry, and Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is her debut YA thriller from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Griffin. San Francisco is now home to her and her family and is where she teaches writing, volunteers weekly on a national suicide crisis line, and advocates any chance she gets for mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Otherwise, if not writing or reading, she’s binge-watching TV dramas. Find her at www.annjacobus.com, @annjacobusSF, and annjacobus.author on Facebook.
Nya Jade is the Ghanaian-born author of bestsellers The Year of Four and The Blood of Kingss, in her wonderfully addictive Phoebe Pope series about a teen shapeshifter spy-in-training. Readers have come to love Nya's Young Adult Urban Fantasy novels for their edge-of-your-seat suspense, diverse cast, and a rich, elaborate world building. Reviewers call Nya's writing, "deliciously descriptive... fantastically imagined and original."
Nya has a B.A. in Economics and an M.A. in Sociology from Stanford University. Prior to writing novels, Nya spent several years as an award-winning singer-songwriter. Her debut album My Denial won critical favor for its refreshing blend of rock, soul, and pop elements, and immediately landed on VH1's Top 20 Albums list. After an appearance on NPR’s Sound Check, host John Schaefer called Nya's album, "Soulful emotional music!"
When she's not writing or playing her guitar, you can find Nya spending time with family and friends or reading. Nya lives in Northern California with her family.
Laurie R. King is the New York Times bestselling author of 27 novels and other works, including the Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes stories (from The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, named one of the 20th century’s best crime novels by the IMBA, to 2018’s Island of the Mad). She has won an alphabet of prizes from Agatha to Wolfe, been chosen as guest of honor at several crime conventions, and is probably the only writer to have both an Edgar and an honorary doctorate in theology. She was inducted into the Baker Street Irregulars in 2010, as “The Red Circle.”
Devi S. Laskar is a native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and holds an MFA from Columbia University. The Atlas of Reds and Blues—winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature and the Crook’s Corner Book Prize—is her first novel. It was selected by The Georgia Center for the Book as a book “All Georgians Should Read,” long-listed for the DSC Prize in South Asian Literature, and long-listed for the Golden Poppy Award presented by the California Independent Booksellers Alliance. The Atlas of Reds and Blues was named by The Washington Post as one of the best books of 2019, and has garnered praise in Time magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian, and elsewhere. A former newspaper reporter, Laskar is now a poet, photographer, essayist, and novelist.
Stacey Lee is an award-winning author of historical and contemporary young adult fiction. A native of southern California and fourth-generation Chinese American, she graduated from UCLA then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. After practicing law in Silicon Valley for several years, she finally took up the pen because she wanted the perks of being able to nap during the day, and it was easier than moving to Spain.
Julie Lythcott-Haims roots for humans. Humans need agency in order to make their way forward; Julie is deeply interested in what impedes us. She is the New York Times bestselling author of How to Raise an Adult, an anti-helicopter parenting manifesto which gave rise to one of the top TED Talks of 2016, and now has over 4 million views. Her second book is the critically-acclaimed and award-winning prose poetry memoir Real American, which illustrates her experience with racism and her journey toward self-acceptance. A third book called How to BE an Adult, for young adults, is forthcoming. She is a former corporate lawyer and Stanford dean, and she holds a BA from Stanford, a JD from Harvard, and an MFA in Writing from California College of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her partner of over thirty years, her mother, and her itinerant young adults.
“Superb! Lovely! Moving, evocative” says Bay Area artist manager Miles Hurwitz. Mulcahy delivers story telling at its best. Lyrical detail paints a perfect picture. With each song, Mulcahy finds a path to a signature positive, inspiring message. Currently writing and recording with 2 time Emmy producer Ron Alan Cohen, Mulcahy has just released her Human to Human EP. Prior releases include her California Weather EP recorded with Los Angeles based producer Richard Harris whose Billboard and TV successes are too long to list. Tami has also recorded with 2 time Grammy producer Enrique Gonzalez Muller, and Grammy pre-telecast music director Larry Batiste.
Sharon Noguchi is a longtime Bay Area journalist. Currently she's a story editor with Chalkbeat, an independent non-profit news network that covers education. Previously she worked at the Mercury News as a reporter, opinion writer, copy editor, food writer and teen page editor. She also helps run a summer journalism program for high school students. She enjoys the outdoors and music, and is always thinking about what to cook next.
Jaya Padmanabhan is a journalist, essayist, and fiction writer. She writes a bi-weekly column for the San Francisco Examiner and contributes to India Currents, Elemental, The Bold Italic, Next Avenue and KQED among others. Jaya has won 17 awards for her editorials and essays since 2014. She is the author of "Transactions of Belonging," a collection of short stories published in 2014.
Parker Peevyhouse loves In-N-Out fries, redwood trees, and movies about sentient robots. She is the author of the science fiction puzzle-thrillers Strange Exit (Tor Teen 2020) and The Echo Room (Tor Teen 2018), which have been called “compulsively readable” and "thrilling" in starred reviews. Her collection of novellas, Where Futures End (Penguin 2016) was named a Best Book For Teens by the New York Public Library, the Chicago Public Library, and Bank Street. Parker lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and works in education.
Mitali Perkins (mitaliperkins.com) has written many books for young readers, including Between Us and Abuela (2020 Charlotte Huck Honor Book), Forward Me Back To You (SLJ and Kirkus Best YA Books of 2019), You Bring the Distant Near (nominated for a National Book Award, six starred reviews), and Rickshaw Girl (adapted into a film by Sleeperwave Productions), all of which explore crossing different kinds of borders. Mitali also writes about light topics like poverty, immigration, child soldiers, microcredit, and human trafficking, thanks to living overseas for many years and studying Political Science at Stanford and Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley. Her goal in fiction is to make readers laugh or cry, preferably both, as long as their hearts are widening. She lives and writes in the East Bay.
Ken Pontac has been a Migrant Film Worker in the animation industry for over a quarter of a century, writing and directing content for television, film, and various new-fangled thinking machines. In the past several years Pontac has written scripts and dialog for the Marvel Universe MMO, Sonic the Hedgehog’s “Lost World” game for Sega, a new animated series featuring the ghost gobbling Pac-Man, Disney’s animated action/adventure series Slugterra, an upcoming revival of the classic “Thunderbirds Are Go!” series, the charming pre-school show Octonauts, and the less-than-charming Internet sensation Happy Tree Friends (a show so violent that it's banned in Russia). He is also still receiving royalty checks for writing the LazyTown song "You Are A Pirate," which has become an Internet meme, enjoying millions of hits on YouTube and inspiring multiple mash-ups and drunken karaoke videos. Pontac lives in Sausalito with a beautiful redheaded nurse and his two crazy canines, Whistle the Wonder Dog and Little Mickey Blue Eyes.
Anne Raeff’s second novel, Winter Kept Us Warm, published in 2018, won the silver medal for the California Book Award for Fiction. Her short story
collection, The Jungle Around Us won the 2015 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. The collection was also a finalist for the California Book Award and was on The San Francisco Chronicle’s 100 Best Books of 2017 list. In 2019 she was a finalist for the Simpson Literary Award. Clara Mondschein’s Melancholia, also a novel, was published in 2002. Raeff’s stories and essays have appeared in New England Review, ZYZZYVA, and Guernica among other places. Her next novel, Only the River, will be published in May 2020. She is proud to be a high school teacher and lives in San Francisco.
Darcey Rosenblatt writes for middle grade and teenage people because she believes for them stories can be life changing – they were for her. Her debut novel Lost Boys (Henry Holt for Young Readers) was released in August 2017. Darcey is a cofounder of the annual Better Books Workshop for middle grade and young adult writers. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her fabulous husband and daughter, some fish, and the best dog in the world.
MAGGIE SHEN KING
Maggie Shen King is the author of An Excess Male, one of The Washington Post's 5 Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels of 2017, a James Tiptree, Jr. and Lambda Literary Award Finalist. She is Goodreads September 2017 Debut Author the Month. Her short stories have appeared in the New York Times, Ecotone, ZYZZYVA, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and more. Her manuscript Fortune's Fools, won Second Prize in Amazon's 2012 Breakthrough Novel Award.
Maggie grew up in Taiwan and attended both Chinese and American schools before moving to Seattle at age sixteen. She has managed the coffers of PTAs, a gardening club, and a local political campaign. When she is not writing, she can usually be found hacking her way around a golf course. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Tara Sim is the author of SCAVENGE THE STARS and the Timekeeper trilogy who can typically be found wandering the wilds of the Bay Area, California. When she’s not chasing cats or lurking in bookstores, she writes books about magic, murder, and explosions. Follow her on Twitter at @EachStarAWorld, and check out her website for fun extras at tarasim.com.
Kaitlin Solimine’s debut novel, Empire of Glass, was named a Finalist for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and has been called a “gorgeous experimental work” by BookRiot. Raised in New England, Kaitlin has considered China a second home for almost two decades. While majoring in East Asian Studies at Harvard University, she was a Harvard-Yenching scholar and wrote and edited Let’s Go: China. She has received a Fulbright Creative Arts Fellowship, a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference scholarship, and the Dzanc Books/Disquiet International Literary Program award judged by Colson Whitehead. Her writing has been published in Guernica Magazine, National Geographic News, The Wall Street Journal, Kartika Review, China Daily, and more. She is co-founder of the academic media platform, Hippo Reads, and after spending two years in Singapore, resides in San Francisco with her husband and daughter where she was a 2016 SF Writers Grotto Fellow. She is associate producer of the childbirth documentary, These Are My Hours.
Danna Staaf fell in love with cephalopods at the age of ten. She began to keep them as pets in a home aquarium and learned to scuba dive in order to meet more of them in the wild. She went on to study pygmy octopuses in Santa Barbara, cuttlefish in Australia, reef squid in Bermuda, and finally completed a PhD on "Reproduction and Early Life of the Humboldt Squid" (or "Squid Sex and Babies") at Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station in 2010. Now she lives in San Jose and works as a freelance science writer. Her first book, Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods, was named one of the best science books of 2017 by NPR.
Misa Sugiura’s ancestors include a poet, a priestess, a samurai, and a stowaway. She the author of two critically acclaimed young adult novels, It’s Not Like It’s A Secret and This Time Will Be Different. Misa was born in Chicago, raised in the suburbs, went to college on the East Coast, and taught English as a second language in Japan before moving to Silicon Valley, where she now lives under a giant oak tree with her husband, two sons, two cats, and a gray-banded king snake.
Nick Taylor is the author of the novels The Disagreement and Father Junípero's Confessor. Under the pseudonym T.T. Monday, he also writes a series of thrillers about the relief pitcher detective Johnny Adcock. The latest book in that series, Double Switch, was published by Doubleday in 2016. Taylor is a professor of English at San Jose State, where he directs the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies.
JENN ALANDY TRAHAN
Jenn Alandy Trahan is a Jones Lecturer in the Creative Writing Program at Stanford and was a 2016-2018 Wallace Stegner Fellow in Fiction. She was born in Houston, Texas and raised in Vallejo, California. Jenn received her BA in English from UC Irvine and her MFA & MA from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Her fiction has appeared in Harper's Magazine. She is at work on her first book.
Norman Zelaya has published stories in journals such as ZYZZYVA, Fourteen Hills and NY Tyrant. His work is reflective of his experiences growing up in the Mission during the 80s. He is currently a Special Education teacher.