WeHo Reads: Creating Hope in Times of Trouble

Wednesday, October 18, 2023 | 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. PT

Science fiction and fantasy authors share insights about creating hope in fiction and in reality. 

We’ve been through a few storied years, nationally, globally, scientifically. As we forge forward writing in a new, complexly shifting age, how do we approach subjects with new eyes? How do we keep ourselves afloat and find purpose in our writing against a constantly changing world narrative? Could certain narratives, such as the zombie apocalypse/every man for himself scenario, be dangerous to societal thinking? Is it the responsibility of the author to create stories with all these ideas in mind?

To discuss these questions, we’re gathering science fiction and speculative fiction authors who’ve written utopian and dystopian stories. Host Kate Maruyama will lead a roundtable discussion with award-winning authors, including Cecil Castellucci, Matthew Kressel, PJ Manney, Nisi Shawl, and Sherri L. Smith

The event is free and you can watch via YouTube Live on the WeHo Arts channel. Learn more at www.weho.org/wehoreads/

WeHo Reads is a literary series presented by the City of West Hollywood. More information and events at www.weho.org/wehoreads. BookSwell, a literary events and media company dedicated to lifting up writers from historically excluded communities, is producing the WeHo Reads 2023 season. Additional support is provided by UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and Poets & Writers as well as media partnerships with Bookshop.org, Book Soup, and Los Angeles Review of Books.

Kate Maruyama

Kate Maruyama is the author of HARROWGATE(47North), HALLOWEEN BEYOND: THE GENTLEMAN’S SUIT(Crystal Lake Publishing), and BLEAK HOUSES (Raw Dog Screaming Press). Her novella FAMILY SOLSTICE (Omnium Gatherum) was named Best Fiction Book of 2021 by RUE MORGUE MAGAZINE. Her short work has appeared in Asimov’s and Analog among journals, in numerous anthologies and won the Uncharted Magazine Short Story Prize. She is a member of the SFWA and the HWA and she serves on the board of Women Who Submit an organization that works toward gender parity in publishing. She writes, teaches, cooks, and eats in Los Angeles.

Sherri L. Smith

Sherri L. Smith writes fiction and nonfiction for young people. Her novel The Blossom and the Firefly was awarded the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Golden Kite; her novel Flygirl is a California Book Awards Gold Medalist. She also writes comics, including Bart Simpson Comics, James Cameron’s Avatar, and Wonder Woman. Sherri holds certificates in Enchantivism, the Art of Archetypal Fairy Tale Analysis, and Applied Mythology. She teaches in Hamline University’s MFA in Children’s Writing program and is the founder of Story Forest, where writers follow the old tales to find their own paths. Learn more at www.sherrilsmith.com.

Nisi Shawl

Nisi Shawl is the multiple award-winning author, co-author, and editor of over a dozen books of speculative fiction and related nonfiction, including the standard text on diverse representation, Writing the Other: A Practical Approach. Shawl’s best known fiction is the Nebula Award finalist novel Everfair. Recent books include a story collection, Our Fruiting Bodies; and the Middle Grade historical fantasy novel Speculation. Editing credits include the 2023 anthology New Suns 2, sequel to the acclaimed New Suns 1. They’ve spoken at Duke University, Spelman College, Sarah Lawrence College, and many other institutions.

PJ Manney

PJ Manney wrote the bestselling and P.K. Dick Award Phoenix Horizon trilogy: (R)EVOLUTION, (ID)ENTITY, and (CON)SCIENCE. Manney consults and lectures for organizations about the future of technology and humanity, and leads work on the New Mythos, empathy and ethics. She was a teleplay writer (Hercules–The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess, numerous TV pilot scripts) and film executive. Manney lives with her husband in Southern California and is a Yankiwi (US/NZ). Visit www.pjmanney.com.

Matthew Kressel

Matthew Kressel is a coder, author, and artist. He is three-time Nebula Award Finalist, a World Fantasy Award Finalist, and a Eugie Award Finalist. He is the author of the novels KING OF SHARDS, QUEEN OF STATIC, and many short stories. His work has been translated into eight languages and has appeared in various YEAR’S BEST anthologies. He is the creator of the Moksha submissions system, and he is the co-host of Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series in Manhattan. He lives in Ridgewood, New York with his wife and too many houseplants.

Cecil Castellucci

Cecil Castellucci is the award winning and New York Times Bestselling author of books and graphic novels for young adults including Shade, The Changing Girl, Boy Proof, The Plain Janes, Soupy Leaves Home, The Year of the Beasts, Tin Star, Female Furies and Odd Duck. Their newest graphic novel is Shifting Earth. Her short stories and short comics have been published in Strange Horizons, Tor.com, and many other anthologies. In a former life, she was known as Cecil Seaskull in the ‘90s indie band Nerdy Girl and has written three opera librettos. They are a two-time MacDowell Fellow. They live in Los Angeles and spend time Montreal.