About BookSwell

BookSwell is a literary events and media production company dedicated to connecting readers and writers in Southern California and beyond. Through events, media, and partnerships, BookSwell makes the book scene easier to navigate, introduces readers to new writing, and weaves together digital and real-life literary experiences. BookSwell was founded in 2017 by Cody Sisco with a mission to amplify the voices of Black writers, Indigenous writers, and writers of color alongside LGBTQ+, female, nonbinary, and indie writers.

Meet the Team


Cody Sisco is an author, publisher, and organizer. His speculative fiction straddles the divide between plausible and extraordinary. The Resonant Earth Series includes two novels thus far, Broken Mirror and Tortured Echoes, and a short story prequel, Believe and Live. He is also a 2017 Los Angeles Review of Books / USC Publishing Workshop Fellow and served as faculty for the 2018 workshop. He is a co-organizer of the Los Angeles Writers Critique Group and a founding member of the Made in L.A. indie author co-op.

What is one book that has changed your life? How?
A General Theory of Love
rocked my world. It explains the neurological, physiological, and psychological roots of attachment, affection, and other emotions. What had been mysterious about interpersonal relationships became much, much clearer. I have given this book as a gift to many friends over the years.

What genres do you enjoy reading?
Science fiction, fantasy, and horror were my first loves and will always remain dear to me, but I read more broadly now. Surprising myself, I’ve been enjoying more memoir and contemporary fiction recently.

Community Outreach Intern

Kirsten Cortez is a Latina college student at California State University, Los Angeles, ready to graduate with her English Degree in the Spring. She has a passion for literature and is an aspiring fiction writer.

What is one book that changed your life? How?

One book that changed my life is Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout. It is a young adult fiction novel based around aliens, but this is the novel that got me into reading in the first place. Without having read this book, I don’t think I would even be an English major. The way Armentrout did her storytelling captured me and still does when I reread it.

What genres do you enjoy reading?

Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical Fiction, I like a bit of everything!

Are you a writer/artist/creative? If so, what do you create?

I am a writer, currently working on short stories and ideas for full novels in the future.

Advisory Board

Sarah LaBrie is a writer based in Los Angeles. She has received fellowships from Ucross, the Corporation of Yaddo and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She grew up in Houston, Texas. She has an MFA from NYU, where she was a Writers in the Schools Fellow, and a BA from Brown. She was a staff writer on Made For Love, the TV adaptation of the novel by Alissa Nutting, created by Patrick Somerville (Maniac) and set to premiere on HBO Max in 2020. 

Dan Lopez is the author of The Show House, named a Best Book of 2016 by Chicago Review of Books, and Part the Hawser, Limn the Sea, a Lambda Literary Award Finalist for Debut Fiction. His work has most recently appeared in Los Angeles Review of Books, GOOD Magazine, and Lambda Literary. He lives in Los Angeles. 

What is one book that has changed your life? How?
Prater Violet by Christopher Isherwood. This is my favorite book. It came into my life at a time when I was really struggling with whether or not I should continue trying to write, and it completely reenergized me. It’s a short book, ostensibly about filming a rom-com in pre-WWII England, but the specter of the coming war hangs over the book. What I like about what Isherwood accomplished here is that you can read the story in a lot of different ways and that while on the surface it seems pretty straightforward, it’s filled with layers and rewards re-reading.

What are your interests outside of literature?
I’m a big moviegoer. If it’s playing at the local theater, I’ve probably seen it. I also love sailing, though I haven’t been in a long time. If you catch me in the right mood, I’m an excellent hiking companion.

Irene Yoon is the LARB Publishing Workshop Director and previously served as a Workshop Faculty Advisor. After living in Vladivostok, Russia on a Fulbright scholarship, she earned her doctorate in English from UC Berkeley, where she taught courses on contemporary fiction and visual culture, managed Art of Writing, an interdisciplinary writing program, and trained new teachers as the English Department’s Assistant Pedagogy Chair.Irene has worked with several authors to prepare books for publication with Columbia, Harvard, and Oxford University Presses. Her own writing has appeared in journals such as Twentieth Century Literature, Transition Magazine, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

What is one book that has changed your life? How? 
Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. I read it for the first time in college and was totally bowled over by what Woolf was able to do with language. I didn’t know writing like that was possible. And I guess it changed my life because it prompted me—for better and for worse!—to go to graduate school and spend several more years thinking and reading and writing about her work.
What are your interests outside of literature? 
I’ve become a bit of a news junkie of late, which isn’t a particularly glamorous interest but an utterly consuming one nonetheless. Otherwise, I really enjoy photography, visiting strange, old pockets of LA, traveling, learning about the Korean diaspora in various corners of the world, learning how to weave, curling up with my dog Nico, and karaoke. Love karaoke. 

Rachelle Yousuf is the current National President of the Women’s National Book Association and the former President of Women’s National Book Association, Los Angeles. She is the program manager for The Entrepreneur Center, a nonprofit coworking space serving women and minority entrepreneurs. Additionally, she is a literary event producer, working with YALLWEST and the LA branch of The Freya Project. Previously, she worked as the head of membership at PEN Center USA, a literary arts and human rights nonprofit. Rachelle holds a master’s in English Literature from California State University, Northridge.

Are you a writer/artist/creative? If so, what do you create?
I’m none of the above! I am a reader who believes in supporting the literary community.

What genres do you enjoy reading?
I read all genres, but love YA.

Past Contributors

Kathryn Carlson is a writer and editor. She has her Masters in English Literature from Cal Poly Pomona and is a 2018 Los Angeles Review of Books / USC Publishing Workshop Fellow. Her poetry has been published in the Pomona Valley Review. She also is currently working on her first novel and a series of short stories and essays.  She is also putting together a collection of her poetry. Her writing tends to be character driven emotionally based works, often based in realism although she has dabbled in science fiction and fantasy as well. Beyond her work as a contributor with Bookswell she does freelance work as both a writer and editor for a variety of different clients.

What is one book that has changed your life? How?
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle is a book I first read when I was twelve but have read many times since then. Meg was a revelation of a protagonist in a genre where girls rarely got to be the star. Meg was not known for her beauty or charm but her anger, intelligence, and grief. It was one of the first times I remember feeling really represented in what I was reading. Meg was far from perfect, she was real and flawed in a way that not only stuck out to me but many other young women as well.

What genres do you enjoy reading?
I read a wide swath of genres, though I have a soft spot for Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Shannon Eagen is an actress, rock climber, and avid reader living in Los Angeles. She graduated from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) with a BA in Communication Studies and a BFA in Theatre Performance. After appearing in a Tony-nominated Broadway Play in New York City, Shannon moved to the West Coast to pursue acting/voiceover work, and most recently, publishing! She got involved with BookSwell after completing the LA Review of Books/USC Publishing Workshop, and is passionate about all things bookish.

Who is your favorite author? Why?
Jeffrey Eugenides. I read The Virgin Suicides in high school and it was one of the first times I realized how truly beautiful language can be. His novels are written across genres and featuring very different protagonists, but the one constant is his beautiful prose. Bonus points that he’s from Detroit (as am I) and I’m a sucker for books that take place in places I know well.

Are you a writer/artist/creative? If so, what do you create? 
I’m an actress/voice over artist, and I perform in a monthly comedy show where I write original character monologues.

Katelyn Keating (she/her) is the editor in chief of CRAFT and the operations manager at Prospect Park Books. She was a 2017 fellow of the LA Review of Books Publishing Workshop, and has since joined their staff as the web advisor to PubLab. She is the publisher coordinator for LITLIT: The Little Literary Fair. Her personal and critical essays appear in Crab Orchard Review, Flyway, Lunch Ticket, Tahoma Literary Review, the U Press of FL anthology In Season: Stories of Discovery, Loss, Home, and Places in Between, and elsewhere. She’s a contributing writer and editor to the forthcoming Read Me Los Angeles: Exploring L.A.’s Book Culture [Prospect Park Books, March 2020]. Katelyn has a BA in communication arts from Skidmore College, and an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, where she served for two years on Lunch Ticket, first as an assistant editor, then as a staff blogger and as the nonfiction and Diana Woods Memorial Award section editor, and finally as editor in chief for issues 11 and 12.

What is one book that has changed your life?
I write and talk about this book ad infinitum, but won’t stop loving The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, for having opened my eyes to non-human animal characters with agency. I worked for a decade in animal health and spent most of my first three decades in horse barns, and I write often about human/animal interaction. Seeing effective fictional dogs in Edgar—dogs who get to be themselves on the page, not serve only as symbol or metaphor—was really helpful to my writing education.

What genres to you enjoy reading?
I try to read widely among prose genres, but spend most of my time with literary fiction, true crime, essays and essay collections, and dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction. For CRAFT, I am constantly reading short stories and collections, and particularly love when our published authors have new books from independent presses out in the world, like Cathy Ulrich with Ghosts of You (October 2019) and Paul Crenshaw with This I’ll Defend (out now). Reading Maggie Nelson’s The Red Parts and Alex Marzano-Lesnevich’s The Fact of a Body kicked off a true-crime (reading) spree in me that has not abated in years. Likewise, literary post-apoc books like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars, and Andrew Krivak’s The Bear (February 2020) keep me coming back to stoke my fears by the late-anthropocene (dumpster) fire.

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