JULIE ROBINSON, CEO/Founder
Julie Robinson is the founder and creative force behind Literary Affairs and a yearly writer’s festival, The Beverly Hills Literary Escape. She has been offering her clients a variety of intellectual and entertaining experiences to take them “Beyond the Book” for over two decades. Julie’s sphere of influence with book buyers has long been recognized by publishers and publicists. Selection as a Literary Affairs Book of the Month or placement on her highly regarded reading list ensures a book will be chosen by hundreds of book clubs through word of mouth. Literary Affairs has highly qualified facilitators leading over 50 book clubs a month across Los Angeles and Julie creates intimate interviews and events with top writers in luxury settings as well as Literary Escapes with best-selling authors at spas like Miraval in Arizona. Literary Affairs produces a podcast of great conversations with authors and discussions of classic literature called Beyond the Book, which can be found on their website and subscribed to on iTunes. Over the past few years Julie is proud to have partnered with The National Book Foundation through her Literary Affairs Medici Foundation to provide their after school BookUp reading program to middle school kids in South Central LA. Her foundation also presents a $5000 Medici Book Club Prize each year at The Beverly Hills Literary Escape to the Best Book Club Book of the year. Julie is currently serving on the advisory board of The Council of the Library Foundation.
Julie’s intimate, highly-anticipated events at unique venues consistently sell out. Over the years Literary Affairs has produced successful, prestigious events and book club interviews for many authors including Lisa See, Elizabeth Gilbert, Colum McCann, Ethan Canin, Mona Simpson, Abraham Verghese, Joseph O’Neill, Dinaw Mengestu, Muriel Barbery, Dara Horn, Nathan Englander, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Geraldine Brooks, Jennifer Egan, Dani Shapiro, Marisa Silver, Thrity Umrigar, Paula McLain, Celeste Ng, Lily King, Richard Blanco, Andre Dubus III, Chang-Rae Lee, Karen Joy Fowler, Maria Semple, Nancy Horan, Ruth Ozeki, Lauren Groff, Marianne Wiggins, Judith Freeman, Gail Tsukiyama, Linda Olsson, Alex Gilvarry, Robert Goolrick, T.C. Boyle, Meg Wolitzer, Tobias Wolff and Michael Cunningham to name just a few.
AMANDA MASON, Digital Media Specialist
Amanda Mason likes to refer to herself as “a Jill of all trades”, having worked in film, television, healthcare, public housing, and non-profit advocacy. Amanda designed and has managed the Literary Affairs web site since 2016. Her role with us recently expanded to include management of our newsletters and podcasts. In her free time, she bakes, loves on her dogs, eats an unhealthy amount of Tex-Mex, and works on her screen adaptation of a popular romance novel. Amanda holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations from Texas Tech University. She lives in San Angelo, Texas, with her two dogs Bernadette and Weasley, but misses Los Angeles as one does a lost limb.
FLYNN BERRY, Facilitator
Flynn Berry is a novelist, and the author of Under the Harrow and A Double Life. Her work has been translated into seventeen languages. Both of her novels were New York Times Editors’ Picks, and Under the Harrow won the Edgar award for best first novel. Under the Harrow is currently being adapted for television by Paramount. She is a graduate of Brown University and has an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers.
PETRINA CROCKFORD, NYC Facilitator
Petrina Crockford has received honors from the Rolex Foundation, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, an Amtrak residency, and she was the 2015-16 Gerald Freund Fellow at the MacDowell Colony. Her writing has appeared in the Feminist Wire, Meridian, LUMINA, and Words Without Borders, among others, and she’s written for the Paris Review. After studying English Lit. at Yale, she worked in the editorial departments at the Paris Review, Art Forum, and Knopf. She’s currently a Provost’s Fellow in Literature and Creative Writing at USC.
JANET FATTAL, Facilitator
Janet B. Fattal has a master’s in Comparative Literature from UCLA and has taught literature and writing at the college level. Janet has penned curricula, edited memoirs, and published articles for national publications. As one half of the writing partnership J.J. Gesher, she has won several prestigious screenwriting awards, including the Geller Prize and the Screenwriting Award at the Austin Film Festival. J.J. Gesher’s first screenwriting collaboration was produced as a Lifetime Television movie. Their first novel, A Narrow Bridge, was published by Prospect Park Books in 2017. Janet leads many L.A.-area book groups, including the Skirball Cultural Center, Hadassah, and the Brandeis alumni association.
VANESSA FEBO, Facilitator
Vanessa Febo is completing her Ph.D. in English at UCLA and specializes in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century British and American (transatlantic) poetry. She is the recipient of many awards and fellowships for her research and teaching, including the Angell Scholar Award, the Research Mentorship Fellowship, and the Cota-Robles Fellowship. Her experience as a Research Fellow at the Charles E. Young Research Library’s Department of Special Collections has helped to fuel her passion for digging through the archives and discovering more about the history of poetry and the novel. A lover of Victorian novels, especially George Eliot and Charles Dickens, she also served as the UCLA representative in the annual Dickens’ Universe conference, a world-renowned annual gathering of scholars and teachers.
Born In Brooklyn, NY, Vanessa received her B.A. in English from the University of Michigan, where she completed her thesis on the portrayal of the reader in Edith Wharton’s novels. Prior to attending UCLA, she was also a marketing manager in the publishing industry for several years, during which time she worked on projects for photographers such as Douglas Kirkland and Christopher Makos, and clients such as Lake Como’s Villa d’Este hotel and Elle Décor. When she is not researching the history of transatlantic poetry, you can find her attempting to learn watercolor painting and taking long nature walks.
MARGUERITE HAPPE, Facilitator
Marguerite Happe is a scholar, author, and rare book expert who specializes in early modern and 18th-century British literature, History of the Book, archives, disability theory, and medical humanities. After receiving a B.A. in English at Creighton University, she garnered journalism experience as the Digital Editor of Sotheby’s Artful Living Magazine before returning to academia to complete an M.A. in Literature at the University of Arizona. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at UCLA, and she also works both with rare books & manuscripts at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library and as a private book club facilitator in Beverly Hills.
She has received numerous awards for both her undergraduate teaching and archival work in Special Collections Libraries, and has been granted numerous fellowships by the Antiquarian Book Society, London Rare Book School, UCLA Graduate Division, and more. In 2017, the University of Arizona Department of Special Collections published her bibliography titled Early Editions of Henry Fielding in University of Arizona Libraries, with an Appendix: Early Editions of Sarah Fielding and she has been invited to both national and international conferences to present her research on 18th century literature. She is passionate about increasing access to rare book libraries through digital media and is the creator of the Clark Library’s YouTube series on recreating historical recipes, called “Bad Taste.” When not reading or in a library, you can find her running ultramarathon races, pretending she is an adequate downhill skier, and building her own collection of rare books written by disabled authors.
SARAH LABRIE, Substitute Facilitator
Sarah LaBrie is a writer and librettist. She has been awarded fellowships from Yaddo, New York University, the Vermont Studio Center and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her fiction appears in Lucky Peach, The Literary Review, Epoch, Joyland, Taste and Encyclopedia Journal among other publications. Her writing for the Industry Opera’s Hopscotch was featured in the New Yorker, Wired and on NPR. Dreams of the New World, a choral piece commissioned by the Los Angeles Master Chorale and developed with composer Ellen Reid will premiere at Walt Disney Concert Hall next year. Her work has also been performed at Juilliard.
Sarah has written about books, technology and film for Literary Hub, Lenny Letter, The Verge, the LA Weekly, the Millions and the Los Angeles Review of Books. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University, where her work was generously funded by an NYU/Writers in the Schools Fellowship, and a BA in Comparative Literature and Literary Arts from Brown University, where she was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow.
Did you know that Sarah writes libretto? Read more about our multi-talented facilitator in her profile in The L.A. Times.
JESSICA PIAZZA, Facilitator
Jessica Piazza is a poet, writer and professor. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, she holds a Ph.D. in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California, where she currently teaches writing. She is the author of two full-length poetry collections: her multiple award-winning debut Interrobang, and Obliterations (co-written with Heather Aimee O’Neill), as well as the chapbook This is Not a Sky, and a children’s book, Olivia Otter Builds Her Raft. Jessica co-founded Bat City Review in Austin, TX and Gold Line Press in Los Angeles. She was the 2019 recipient of the Amy Clampitt Residency in Lenox, Massachusetts, where she spent six months working on a new poetry collection and a historical fiction novel. When Jessica isn’t writing or teaching, she’s cooking; she posts her culinary creations at @KitchenFling on Instagram. She has been a facilitator with Literary Affairs since 2012.
Jessica was recently interviewed about her experience with the Amy Clampitt Residency. Read the story at The Berkshire Eagle.
CRESCENT RAINWATER, Facilitator
Crescent Rainwater has a PhD in English from UCLA, and she specializes in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British literature, women’s writing, and Aestheticism and Decadence. Her passion is teaching literature, whether discussing forgotten Victorian and Modernist women writers, unpacking Aesthetic poetry, or exploring a Gothic novel. She completed a Master’s at University College Dublin in Ireland where she wrote her thesis on the feminist energies of Oscar Wilde’s oeuvre. Before that, she spent a semester at Oxford University, where she studied Victorian fiction.
She has a chapter in Lucas Malet, Dissident Pilgrim: Critical Essays published by Routledge, and an article forthcoming in Journal of Victorian Culture. She has received several awards and fellowships, including the Grace M. Hunt Research Award that enabled her to visit many special collection libraries in England where, among other things, she transcribed numerous unpublished letters of Dorothy Richardson.
ERIKA RECORDON, Facilitator
Erika Recordon is a fiction writer and a teacher. Her work has received awards from the Rona Jaffe Foundation and the Vermont Studio Center. She received her BA in Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder and her MFA from Brooklyn College. She’s been a junior agent at the Robin Straus Literary Agency and an editor-at-large for the Los Angeles Review of Books. She’s been a book group facilitator for four years and currently teaches literature and writing at Brooklyn College.
JESSIE SHABIN, NYC Facilitator
Jessie Shabin is a writer and teacher in New York. Her fiction has appeared in BRICK, Triangle House Review, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She received her MFA from Brooklyn College, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow, fiction editor of The Brooklyn Review, and recipient of the Himan Brown Award. She was a 2019 Bread Loaf Fellow.
AMY SILVERBERG, Facilitator
Amy Silverberg is a writer and comedian based in Los Angeles. Her short fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, TriQuarterly, The Southern Review, Necessary Fiction, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and many other publications. Her short story “Suburbia!” appeared in the 2018 edition of Best American Short Stories edited by Roxane Gay, and is currently optioned for a film.
Amy’s stand-up comedy has been featured on Comedy Central, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. In 2018, she was selected as a “New Face” at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, the largest and most prestigious festival of its kind. Former “New Faces” include Jimmy Fallon, Kevin Hart, and Ali Wong. She runs a monthly comedy show at the Hollywood Improv called “What Now?”
Amy also writes for television, most recently “The Movie Show” coming to the SYFY Channel. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Southern California, where she is a Dornsife Doctoral Fellow in fiction. She’s working on a novel.
CALLIE SISKEL, Facilitator
Callie Siskel is the author of Arctic Revival, selected by Elizabeth Alexander for a 2014 Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in the A Public Space, Ninth Letter, Yale Review, Poetry Northwest, 32 Poems, and other journals. She has received scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.
She holds a BA in English from Yale University and an MFA in poetry from Johns Hopkins University, where she was a lecturer in the Writing Seminars. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Southern California, where she is a Dornsife Doctoral Fellow in poetry.
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