2019 Speakers and Moderators

James River Writers is pleased to announce the confirmed speakers and moderators for our 17th annual James River Writers Conference. Keep checking here because we’ll be adding to this amazing list as additional speakers are confirmed.

Confirmed Speakers

Jennifer Baker

Jennifer Baker is a publishing professional, creator/host of the Minorities in Publishing podcast, and contributing editor to Electric Literature. Her essay “What We Aren’t” was listed as a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2018. Jennifer is editor of the short story anthology Everyday People: The Color of Life (Atria Books). And her writing has appeared in various publications in print & online. Her website is jennifernbaker.com. @jbakernyc

Mary Bonina

Mary Bonina is a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Fellow, Warren Wilson MFA, and member of the Writers Room of Boston. Credits include poetry collections, Clear Eye Tea and Living Proof, My Father’s Eyes: A Memoir, a completed novel on submission, Poets and Writers and Adelaide essays, poetry anthologized and in Hanging Loose, Salamander, etc. A Boston Contemporary Authors winning poem is now permanent public art. Several poems were set to music by composers Paul Sayed and Christopher Montgomery. @reebonina 

Brenna English Loeb

Agent: Brenna English-Loeb comes to Transatlantic Agency (TLA) after working for several years at Janklow & Nesbit Associates and Writers House, where she had the pleasure of working with New York Times bestselling and award-winning authors across multiple genres. At TLA she’s excited to grow her list of speculative and suspenseful fiction in both YA and adult, as well as adult nonfiction, in collaboration with senior agents. @benglishhh 

Marita Golden portrait

Marita Golden is the award-winning author of 17 works of fiction and nonfiction. Her most recent novel is The Wide Circumference of Love. As a cultural activist, she is the co-founder and President Emeritus of the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation. She has been a member of the writing faculties at George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Johns Hopkins University. @maritagolden

Melanie Hatter portrait

Melanie S. Hatter’s most recent novel Malawi’s Sisters (Four Way Books 2019) won the inaugural Kimbilio National Fiction Prize, selected by Edwidge Danticat. She is also the author of The Color of My Soul, and Let No One Weep for Me, Stories of Love and Loss. She is a participating author in the PEN/Faulkner Writers in Schools program in Washington, D.C., and serves on the board of the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation. @mshatter1

Jeff Jackson portrait

Jeff Jackson is a novelist, playwright, and songwriter. His second novel Destroy All Monsters was recently published by Farrar Straus & Giroux. It received advanced praise from Don DeLillo and Janet Fitch and rave reviews from The New York Times, NPR, and The Washington Post. His first novel Mira Corpora was a Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Six of his plays have been produced by the Obie Award-winning Collapsable Giraffe theater company in New York City. @DeathofLit

Tiffany Jackson portrait

Tiffany D. Jackson is the critically acclaimed author of YA novels including the NAACP Image Award-nominated Allegedly, Monday’s Not Coming, a Walter Dean Myers Honored Book and Coretta Scott King New Talent Award winner, and her newest work Let Me Hear A Rhyme. The Brooklyn native received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University, her master of arts in media studies from the New School, and has over a decade in TV/Film experience. @TiffDJack

Alma Katsu portrait

Alma Katsu is author of The Hunger, a reimagining of the story of the Donner Party. The Hunger was on NPR’s list of 100 favorite horror stories, and named one of the best books of 2018 by Barnes & Noble, The Observer, and elsewhere. Her debut novel, The Taker, was one of Booklist’s Top Ten Debut Novels of 2011. She’s a graduate of the Johns Hopkins writing program and an alumna of the Squaw Valley Writers Conference. @almakatsu 

Nathan Alling Long portrait

Nathan Alling Long’s work has won international competitions and appears on NPR and in over a hundred publications, including Tin House, Story Quarterly, and The Sun. Nathan’s flash fiction collection, The Origin of Doubt (2018), was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award; his second manuscript was a semi-finalist for the Iowa Fiction Award. He is the recipient of a Mellon Foundation Grant, a Truman Capote Literary Fellowship, two Bread Loaf scholarships, and three Pushcart nominations. He lives in Philadelphia and teaches Stockton University.

Beth Marshea

Agent: Beth Marshea is the owner and Lead Agent at Ladderbird Literary Agency. She represents work from diverse authors with a special focus on underrepresented voices in both Adult and YA. She represents literary fiction, speculative fiction, mystery, and thriller. as well as narrative nonfiction and memoir. @ladderbirdlit 


Tanya McKinnon

Agent: Tanya McKinnon is the co-founder of the McKinnon Literary where she represents New York Times Bestselling non-fiction, award-winning public intellectuals, award-winning children’s books, and New York Times bestselling graphic novels. She specializes in non-fiction that addresses cultural issues as well as gender, race, class, ethnicity, and sexuality. She is most drawn to work that pushes political and cultural boundaries. This can be in categories such as history, sociology, psychology, anthropology, medicine, cultural criticism, memoir, popular culture, journalism, and sheer whimsy. She looks for story-driven fiction that takes us into the lives of complicated and deeply human characters. She has a particular interest in politically progressive work, Latinx work, and African American work. Website: www.mckinnonliterary.com. Instagram: @tanyamckinnon

Ginger McKnight-Chavers portrait

Ginger McKnight-Chavers is an author and attorney whose novel, In the Heart of Texas (She Writes Press), won a 2016 USA Best Book Award. A native Texan, she is a graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, and was a Kathryn Gurfein Writing Fellow at Sarah Lawrence College. McKnight-Chavers was a contributor to Oil and Water: And Other Things That Don’t Mix, and has written for Essence, ShareBlue, The Huffington Post, and other publications. She currently resides in New York. @gingermckchav

Christina Morgan portrait

Agent: Christina Morgan has worked in book publishing since 2005. She has worked for Curtis Brown LTD., HarperCollins and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt prior to joining Serendipity.



Carol Taylor

Carol Taylor, a former Random House book editor, is a 25-year publishing veteran. She has worked as an editor, co-author, book doctor, and ghostwriter with literary and commercial writers, noted academics, public figures, and celebrities. She is editorial director at McKinnon McIntyre Literary Agency. Carol teaches Introduction to Publishing and The Editorial Process in the Publishing Certificate Program at City College.

Chris Terry portrait

Chris L. Terry was born in 1979 to an African-American father and Irish-American mother. His satirical novel Black Card is set in Richmond, Virginia and will be published by Catapult in August 2019. Terry’s debut novel Zero Fade was on Best of 2013 lists by Kirkus Reviews and Slate.com and shortlisted for the American Library Association’s YALSA BFYA. He lived in Richmond during his high school and college years and now lives in Los Angeles. @chrislterry

Padma Venkatraman portrait

American author Padma Venkatraman lived in five countries, explored rainforests, and was chief scientist on oceanographic vessels. Her novels, A Time to Dance, Island’s End and Climbing the Stairs, were released to multiple starred reviews and received several honors and awards. Her latest novel, The Bridge Home, a contender for the Global Read Aloud initiative, has received starred reviews in PW, Kirkus, Booklist and SLJ. A former keynote speaker, she is delighted to return to JRW.  @padmatv