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LAHS Writers Week

Writers Week
 
Los Altos High School is proud to announce Writers Week, taking place from March 12th through March 15th, 2024
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.
One Giant Leap Porchlight
 
 
 
Matt Abrahams

Matt Abrahams

Matt AbrahamsMatt Abrahams is a leading expert in communication with decades of experience as an educator, author, podcast host, and coach. As a Lecturer in Organizational Behavior at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, he teaches popular classes in strategic communication and effective virtual presenting. His new book Think Faster, Talk Smarter: How to Speak Successfully When You’re Put on the Spot provides tangible, actionable skills to help even the most anxious of speakers succeed when speaking spontaneously, such as navigating Q&A sessions, shining in job interviews, providing effective feedback, making small talk, fixing faux pas, persuading others. His previous book Speaking Up without Freaking Out: 50 Techniques for Confident and Compelling Presenting has helped thousands of people manage speaking anxiety and present more confidently and authentically.
 
CHARLIE JANE ANDERS

CHARLIE JANE ANDERS

A woman with pink hair
Charlie Jane Anders is the author of the young adult Unstoppable trilogy: Victories Greater Than Death,  Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak, and Promises Stronger Than Darkness. She's also the author of  Never Say You Can't Survive, a book about how to use creative writing to get through hard times. Her other books include The City in the Middle of the Night and All the Birds in the Sky. She co-created Escapade, a transgender superhero, for Marvel Comics and wrote her into the long-running New Mutants comic. And she's currently the science fiction and fantasy book reviewer for the Washington Post.
 
Jose Antonio Vargas

Jose Antonio Vargas

jose antonioJose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and Tony-nominated theatrical producer. A leading voice for the human rights of immigrants, he founded the non-profit narrative change organization Define American, named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company.
His best-selling memoir, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, was published by HarperCollins in 2018. His second book, White Is Not a Country, will be published by Knopf in 2025.
In 2019, he co-produced Heidi Schreck’s acclaimed Broadway play What the Constitution Means to Me, which was nominated for a Tony Award for "Best Play" and is streamable on Amazon Prime Video. His second Broadway production, a staging of David Byrne and Fatboy Slim's musical Here Lies Love, opened at the Broadway Theatre in July 2023.
 
 
Kemi Ashing-Giwa

Kemi Ashing-Giwa

Kemi Ashing-GiwaKemi Ashing-Giwa is the USA Today bestselling, Compton Crook Award-nominated author of The Splinter in the SkyThis World Is Not YoursThe King Must Die, and several short stories. She studied integrative biology and astrophysics at Harvard, and is now pursuing a PhD in Earth & Planetary Sciences at Stanford.
 
Read Kemi's work here
Donia Bijan

Donia Bijan

Donia BijanDonia Bijan is a Bay Area author and chef. After graduating from UC Berkeley, she attended the Cordon Bleu and ran her acclaimed restaurant, L’Amie Donia, in Palo Alto, for ten years. Her memoir, Maman’s Homesick Pie, was published in 2011. Her novel, The Last Days of Cafe Leila, an Amazon Editor’s Pick, was published in 2017. Her books have been translated into German and Italian. She is currently working on a novel set in Iran.
 
Alison Carpenter Davis

Alison Carpenter Davis

Alison DavisAlison (Al) Carpenter Davis is a writer, editor, and disability advocate drawn to hidden stories, the power of words to connect, and the commonality in being human. Her essays have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Des Moines Register, the HuffPost, Stanford Magazine, and the International Herald Tribune, among others. Al’s book Letters Home from Stanford came out in 2017, and looks at the heritage, history, and shared experience of college students everywhere. Formerly an editor at Outside magazine and an adjunct professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Al is at work on a memoir about her 50-year journey with Crohn’s disease. During the pandemic, she co-founded the Disability at Stanford Oral History Project to record Stanford’s cross-generational history of disability advocacy and the lived experience of those in the Stanford community with disabilities. Al and her husband, a teacher at Saratoga High School, live in Los Gatos in a house where three children and their dog once grew.  
 
 
 
YANGSZE CHOO

YANGSZE CHOO

A smiling woman in front of a bush
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
ABIGAIL HING-WEN

ABIGAIL HING-WEN

Abigail Hing Wen
Abigail Hing Wen is the New York Times Best Selling Author of Loveboat, Taipei and the recently released companion novel, Loveboat Reunion ad Loveboat Forever (forthcoming November 2023). She is executive producer for the Loveboat, Taipei film, starring Ross Butler and Ashley Liao, which wrapped production in Taipei in 2022. Abigail holds a BA from Harvard, a JD from Columbia Law School, and an MFA from the Vermont School of Fine Arts. When she’s not writing stories or listening to her favorite scores, she is busy working in artificial intelligence in Silicon Valley, where she lives with her husband and two children.

For more information: www.abigailhingwen.com 
Follow IG/Twi/Tiktok: @abigailhingwen
 
 
 
Optional further reading: the unpublished, original opening to Loveboat Reunion (please see novel for the final version)
Joanna Ho

Joanna Ho

Joanna HoJoanna Ho is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of many books for kids. She has received the Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature Honor, a Golden Kite Award, an Ezra Jack Keats Honor, and a Golden Poppy Award.
She is a writer and educator with a passion for anti-bias, anti-racism and equity work. She holds a BA in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, and a master’s from the Principal Leadership Institute at Berkeley. She has been an English teacher, a dean, the designer of an alternative-to-prison program, a creator of educator professional development, and a high school vice principal.
She lives in the Bay Area, where she survives on homemade chocolate chip cookies, outdoor adventures, and dance parties with her kids. Keep your eyes open for more books to come!
 
VANESSA HUA

VANESSA HUA

A portrait of a woman smiling
Vanessa Hua is the author of the national bestsellers A River of Stars and Forbidden City, as well as Deceit and Other Possibilities, a New York Times Editors Pick. A National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow, she has also received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and a Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing, a California Arts Council Established Artist Fellowship, as well as awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association, among others. Previously, she was an award-winning columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and her work has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, and The Atlantic. She teaches at the Warren Wilson MFA Program and elsewhere. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.


ANN JACOBUS

ANN JACOBUS

ann JacobusAnn Jacobus is the author of YA novels Romancing the Dark in the City of Light, winner of the Housatonic Book Award for Young Adult Literature, and The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent, as well as short stories, articles, essays, and poetry. She graduated from Dartmouth College, earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is a mental health advocate and a former volunteer crisis line counselor at San Francisco Suicide Prevention. She loves teaching writers of all ages and divides her time between California and Massachusetts with her family.
 
Imran J. Khan

Imran J. Khan

Imran KhanImran J. Khan is an award-winning Pakistani-American writer and filmmaker. His short films, including PROM, have screened at major film festivals, been broadcast on national television and have been awarded Vimeo Staff Pick. His debut feature, MUSTACHE, premiered in competition at SXSW in 2023, where it won the Audience Award. Imran has an editing background; on the TV side, IWAJU for Disney+ and DISENCHANTMENT for Netflix; and on the feature side, SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY, MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU; and the critically acclaimed documentary SHIRKERS. He is a graduate of NYU’S MFA Film Production program and a San Francisco Bay Area native who began his filmmaking journey at the University of California, Davis making viral internet sketch videos in his spare time while pursuing a degree in Biological Systems Engineering.
 
LAHS Alumnus!
Malaina Miya Kapoor

Malaina Miya Kapoor

malaina kapoorMalaina Kapoor is a writer from Redwood City, California. She previously served as a Fellow at PEN America, where she advocated for international human rights, press freedoms, and election integrity. Malaina served on the management team of a refugee resettlement organization and was the producer of In Deep, a nationally syndicated public affairs radio broadcast program. She has received national awards for her poetry, personal essays, and short stories. Malaina will graduate from Stanford University in 2025.
 
Nikki Kashani

Nikki Kashani

Nikki KashaniNikki Kashani is a first-generation Iranian American writer who was born and raised in Los Altos, California. She received her B.F.A. in film and television production from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in 2017. During her time at USC, Kashani interned at several entertainment companies such as Funny or Die, Broadway Video, Comedy Central and Disney’s Digital Media Studios, where she was able to absorb the full spectrum of the creative process in real world settings. Upon graduating, Kashani secured a writers’ PA role on HBO’s “Watchmen” and fell in love with the ensemble dynamic of a writers’ room. Following her time on the prestige drama, Kashani became a showrunner’s assistant on the Amazon thriller “The Terminal List", then moved to the Russo Brothers' AGBO,  where she reported directly to the two Co-Presidents of Story. 
 
Last year,  Nikki was one of 12 writers selected to participate in the Disney Writing Program out of thousands of applicants. Two months into the program, she was staffed on Hulu's new show, DELI BOYS, where she got to co-write her first episode of television!
 
 
LAHS Alumna!
Jane Kuo

Jane Kuo

Jane Kuo
Jane Kuo is an Asian American writer who grew up in Los Angeles. Her books, In the Beautiful Country and Land of Broken Promises, are fictional stories inspired by the weekends and summers she spent working in her family’s fast food restaurant. Jane’s essays have appeared in the LA Times and Writer’s Digest. She is currently writing a memoir.
 
 
DEVI S. LASKAR

DEVI S. LASKAR

A smiling woman
Devi S. Laskar is a poet, novelist, photographer, former newspaper reporter and lifelong TarHeel. She is the author of award-winningThe Atlas of Reds and Blues, which was named by The Washington Post as one of the 50 best books of 2019. Her second novel, Circa, was published in 2022 by Mariner Books and selected as a Goop Book Club and Book Club Girl pick. Her third novel, Midnight, At The War will be published by Mariner Books next year. She holds degrees from UNC - Chapel Hill, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Columbia University. She now lives in the Bay Area.
 
SHEFALI LUTHRA

SHEFALI LUTHRA

ShefailShefali Luthra has reported on national health policy for the past decade, most recently at The 19th, a nonprofit newsroom where she covers health care and gender equity with an emphasis on reproductive health. Her work covering abortion access in Texas was a finalist for an Online News Association Award, and she is a regular contributor to MSNBC and NPR's coverage of reproductive health care. Her book Undue Burden, about the health impacts of Roe v. Wade's overturn, will publish in May 2024.

Before joining The 19th, Luthra was a correspondent for the nonprofit newsroom Kaiser Health News. Her work at KHN received multiple prizes, including a Batten Medal and Headliner Award, and was published in outlets including The Guardian, NPR, The New York Times and The Washington Post. In 2019, she was selected for the Arthur Burns fellowship, through which she reported from Germany on alternative approaches to achieving universal health care, as well as access to contraception. A graduate of Los Altos High School and Brown University, she lives in Washington D.C.
 
 
LAHS Alumna!
Jason Mastrodonato

Jason Mastrodonato

Jason mastrondonatoJason Mastrodonato is a Bay Area News Group reporter covering the Giants, Warriors, 49ers and more for The Mercury News and East Bay Times. He specializes in human interest, feature and enterprise stories and is a regular contributor to the Mercury News magazine. A Northeastern University graduate, Jason began his journalism career at the Boston Globe in 2009. He went on to spend 12 years traveling the country on the Red Sox beat for MLB.com, MassLive.com and the Boston Herald before he joined the Bay Area News Group in 2023. He's a member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America and votes for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. 
 
Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski
Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior reporter and producer for Reveal, the public radio show and podcast produced by The Center for Investigative Reporting. Reveal airs on more than 600 stations nationwide every week, reaching more than a million listeners. Katharine's also been a senior writer for Salon and Fast Company. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, Slate and on NPR's "All Things Considered."
 
Katharine reporting for Reveal has won every major broadcast journalism award, including the Peabody Award, the Edward R. Murrow Award and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award two years in a row. Mieszkowski has a bachelor's degree from Yale University in Literature. Her husband Jim Fisher graduated from Los Altos High School in 1990. They have two daughters, ages 12 and 16, and live in Kensington.
 


Christine Moore

Christine Moore

Christine MooreChristine Moore grew up in rural Northern California surrounded by nature. Her childhood was spent primarily outdoors, where she learned the joy and fragility of life. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of San Francisco and has written professionally for more than 20 years. She is a mom, wife, journalist, a Poet Teacher through California Poets in the Schools, and facilitator of a women’s group in her community. She loves a crowded dinner table with lots of lingering and loud laughter.
 
Sean Patrick Small

Sean Patrick Small

Sean Patrick SmallSean Patrick Small is an actor, writer, director, and producer based out of Los Angeles. He is most recently known for his portrayal as Larry Bird on HBO's hit show Winning Time. Sean has won a best actor award at the LA Live Film Festival and was nominated in others for his role in the short film, The Just. Sean has acted, written, produced, and directed various shorts, pilots, and feature films. He is currently shopping multiple scripts, and is looking forward to bringing more creative storytelling to a screen soon.
 
 
LAHS Alumnus!
MITALI PERKINS

MITALI PERKINS

A laughing womanMitali 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

KEN PONTAC

Ken PontacKen Pontac is the architect of your childhood and a meme generating machine. His early work includes the stop-motion series Gumby, as well as the various iterations of the classic videogame Clayfighter. Pontac wrote and story-edited multiple episodes of the notorious Happy Tree Friends (a show so violent that it's banned in Russia, but has still enjoyed over a billion hits worldwide). Most famous meme? Wrote the Icelandic ear-worm You Are A Pirate. Give it a listen; it’ll lay eggs in your brain. His cult classic stop-motion series Bump in the Night is available in a compilation produced by Mill Creek Entertainment. Pontacʼs work on the delightfully pro-social animated series Arthur and Frog & Toad may offset some of the karmic debt incurred by his other literary efforts (MadWorld, anyone?), but will probably only bump him up from tapeworm to tree-frog on the reincarnation cycle. He’s currently working on a documentary recounting his (successful!) attempts to extricate a Ukrainian family from a Russian “filtration” camp, and working as a mentor at Autistry, a therapeutic makerspace promoting independence for autistic teens/adults. Pontac lives in Sausalito with a beautiful redheaded nurse and a tranquil Xoloitzcuintli named Chalupa.
 
YASMEEN SERHAN

YASMEEN SERHAN

Yasmeen SerhanYasmeen Serhan is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where she covers a wide range of topics, including populism, nationalism, and global protest movements. Since joining the magazine's London bureau in 2017, she has also reported on Brexit, European politics, and transatlantic affairs. She was previously an assistant editor and editorial fellow with The Atlantic in Washington, D.C. Even more previously, she studied international relations and French at the University of Southern California, where she could often be found writing and editing stories for the university's student-run newspaper, the Daily Trojan. She graduated from Los Altos High School in 2012.
 
Parini Shroff

Parini Shroff

parini shroffParini Shroff received her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied under Elizabeth McCracken, Alexander Chee, and Cristina García. She is a practicing attorney and currently lives in the Bay Area. The Bandit Queens is her debut novel.
 
Sudnya Shroff

Sudnya Shroff

SudnyaSudnya Shroff is an Indian American artist who has made San Francisco Bay Area her home since 1996. She has pursued her passion for storytelling through visual art, public installations, a novel, and now critically acclaimed FREMONT, her first feature film that premiered at Sundance in January 2023 and has since traveled worldwide. 
As a champion of the world’s distressed sisterhood, Sudnya has made it her life’s mission to tell stories — arrestingly beautiful and awe inspiring stories — those that have the power to transform our subconscious narratives of fear and scarcity to stories of love and abundance.
 
Danna Staaf

Danna Staaf

Donna StaafDanna Staaf is a marine biologist, author, and artist. She earned a PhD from Stanford University with her studies of Humboldt squid. Her writing has appeared in Science, Atlas Obscura, and Nautilus, and her first book, Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods, was named one of the best science books of the year by NPR's Science Friday. Her new book The Lady and the Octopus: How Jeanne Villepreux-Power Invented Aquariums and Revolutionized Marine Biologyhas received multiple starred reviews and made Booklist's Top 10 History Books for Youth. Staaf lives in San Jose, California, with her husband, children, cat, and innumerable plush octopuses.
 
JENN ALANDY TRAHAN

JENN ALANDY TRAHAN

A smiling woman
Jenn Alandy Trahan is a first-generation college graduate who received her BA in English from the University of California, Irvine and went on to receive both her MA in English and MFA in Fiction from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. She is grateful for support from Carlisle Family Scholarships at the Community of Writers, the Gullkistan Center for Creativity in Laugarvatn, Iceland, the Writing Downtown residency in Las Vegas, and the Elizabeth George Foundation. Her work has appeared in Permafrost, Blue Mesa Review, Harper's, One Story, and the Best American Short Stories. A 2016-2018 Wallace Stegner Fellow in Fiction, she's currently a Jones Lecturer at Stanford teaching courses in fiction, creative nonfiction, creative expression, Pilipinx fiction and contemporary American short stories.
 
NORMAN ZELAYA

NORMAN ZELAYA

A man speaking at a podium
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.