Special Guests

Kyle Cassidy has been photographing American culture since the 1990’s. Leica camera calls him “utterly fascinating, fearless, and brilliant.” Kyle’s work is divided between serious, compassionate documentary and bizarrely creative half stories. His bestselling collection of portraits of gun owners, Armed America was named as one of the 10 best art books of 2007 by amazon.com. A series of strange coincidences has teamed him up with a number of fantasy and science fiction authors recently. He’s done collaborative projects with Michael Swanwick, Elizabeth Bear, Emma Bull, Caitlin R. Kiernan and Neil Gaiman as well as trotting across the country photographing authors in their work spaces for a project called Where I Write. His most recent book, War Paint, a collection of portraits of soldiers, comes out in April. You can find out more about him at kylecassidy.com.

Michael Dirda, a weekly book columnist for The Washington Post, received the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for criticism. He is the author of the memoir An Open Book and of four collections of essays: Readings, Bound to Please, Book by Book and Classics for Pleasure. His latest book, On Conan Doyle (2011), is part of  Princeton’s “Writers on Writers” series.  Dirda graduated with Highest Honors in English from Oberlin College and received a Ph.D. in comparative literature (medieval studies and European romanticism) from Cornell University. He is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, the online Barnes & Noble Review, and several other periodicals, as well as a frequent lecturer and an occasional college teacher. This spring he is teaching a course on the modern adventure novel at the University of Maryland.

Bill Fawcett has been writing and editing SF since his years at Mayfair Games in the early 80s. He has edited or co-edited over 40 Science Fiction anthologies including last year’s Nebula anthology. As “Quinn Fawcett”, he has coauthored the Mycroft Holmes and Madame Vernet mystery novels. His non-fiction books include two oral histories of the US Navy SEALs and a number of non-fiction books on mistakes in history. He is also a game and computer game designer. You can hear his podcasts at http://historymistakes.squarespace.com/ .

Neil Gaiman is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods, Anansi Boys (#1 NYT bestseller), and Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett); the Sandman series of graphic novels; and the short story collections Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things. He is also the author of books for readers of all ages including the #1 bestselling and Newbery Medal winning novel The Graveyard Book, the bestselling novels Coraline and Odd and the Frost Giants; the short story collection M is for Magic and the picture books The Wolves in the Walls, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, and Crazy Hair, illustrated by Dave McKean; The Dangerous Alphabet, illustrated by Gris Grimly; and Blueberry Girl, illustrated by Charles Vess. He is the winner of numerous literary honors, including the Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy Awards, and the Newbery Medal. Originally from England, he now lives in America. Visit him online at www.neilgaiman.com.

David G. Hartwell is a senior editor of Tor/Forge Books. His doctorate is in Comparative Medieval Literature. He is the proprietor of Dragon Press, publisher and bookseller, which publishes The New York Review of Science Fiction, and the president of David G. Hartwell, Inc. He is the author of Age of Wonders and the editor of many anthologies, including The Dark DescentThe World Treasury of Science FictionThe Hard SF RenaissanceThe Space Opera Renaissance, and a number of Christmas anthologies, among others. He is on the board of the IAFA, is co-chairman of the board of the World Fantasy Convention, and an administrator of the Philip K. Dick Award. He has won the Eaton Award, the World Fantasy Award, and has been nominated for the Hugo Award forty times to date, winning as Best Editor in 2006, 2008, and 2009.

Audrey Niffenegger was born in 1963 in the idyllic hamlet of South Haven, Michigan. Her family moved to Evanston, Illinois when she was little; she has lived in or near Chicago for most of her life. Miss Niffenegger trained as a visual artist at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and received her MFA from Northwestern University’s Department of Art Theory and Practice in 1991. She has exhibited her artist’s books, prints, paintings, drawings and comics at Printworks Gallery in Chicago since 1987. Her first books were printed and bound by hand in editions of ten. Two of these have since been commercially published by Harry N. Abrams: The Adventuress and The Three Incestuous Sisters. In 1997 Miss Niffenegger had an idea for a book about a time traveler and his wife. She began to work on the project as a novel, and published The Time Traveler’s Wife in 2003 with the independent publisher MacAdam/Cage. It was an international best seller and has been made into a movie.

Jody Lynn Nye lists her main career activity as ‘spoiling cats.’ When not engaged upon this worthy occupation, she writes fantasy and science fiction books and short stories. Since 1987 she has published 43 books and more than 100 short stories.  Over the last twenty or so years, Jody has taught in numerous writing workshops and participated on hundreds of panels covering the subjects of writing and being published at science-fiction conventions. She has also spoken in schools and libraries around the north and northwest suburbs.

Patrick O’Leary is a poet, novelist, songwriter and photographer. His first novel, Door Number Three (Tor) was chosen by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the best novels of the year. His second novel, The Gift (Tor) was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award and The Mythopoeic Award. His third novel  was The Impossible Bird (Tor). Other Voices, Other Doors (Fairwood Press) was his first collection. His short stories have appeared in Postscripts, Scifiction.com, Electric Velocipede, and Conjunctions 39: The New Wave Fabulists. The Black Heart (PS Publishing) is a collection of his newest stories. He will be publishing several poetry collections for the Ipad—shortly. He lives in Troy, Michigan with his wife, the artist, Sandy Rice. http://web.mac.com/paddybon/Site/Patrick_O’Leary_-_Books.html

A native of Berkeley Heights, N.J., Peter Sagal attended Harvard University and subsequently squandered that education while working as a literary manager for a regional theater, a movie publicist, a stage director, an actor, an extra in a Michael Jackson video, a travel writer, an essayist, a ghost writer for a former adult film impresario and a staff writer for a motorcycle magazine. He is the author of numerous plays that have been performed in large and small theaters around the country and abroad, and he has written a number of screenplays, including Savage, and Cuba Mine, an original screenplay that became, without his knowledge, the basis for Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. In 1997, Peter joined the panel of a new news quiz show on NPR, that made its debut on-air in January of 1998. In May of that year, he became the host of the show. Since then, Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me has become one of the most popular shows on public radio, heard by two and half million listeners a week, on 450 public radio stations nationwide and via a popular podcast.

A regular author/narrator on Great Britain’s  StarShipSofa.com, Lawrence Santoro began writing darkly fantastic tales at age five. In 2001 the Horror Writers Association nominated Larry’s novella God Screamed and Screamed, Then I Ate Him for a Bram Stoker Award.  In 2002, his audio adaptation and production of Gene Wolfe’s The Tree Is My Hat, gave him a second Stoker nod.  His Stoker-recommended short story Catching received Honorable Mention in Ellen Datlow’s 17th Annual Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror anthology in 2003.  In 2004, his  was cited in the anthology’s 18th edition.  In the 20th, his novella, At Angels Sixteen, from the anthology A Dark and Deadly Valley was similarly honored. Larry’s first novel, Just North of Nowhere, was published in 2007. A collection of his short fiction, Drink for the Thirst to Come, was released in October, 2011.

Jennifer Stevenson met Gene Wolfe when she invited him to be Special Guest at Chimera, a sercon she ran in Chicago in 1991. Since then she has become an author, but the fangirl’s still in there somewhere. She has published novels with Small Beer Press, Ballantine, Book View Cafe, and has just contracted for four books with Musa.

Peter Straub is the award-winning author of JuliaGhost StoryIn the Night Room,and A Dark Matter, and editor of the Library of America’s H.P. Lovecraft. He lives in New York City, where he and his family inhabit a brownstone on the Upper West Side. He continues to enjoy the crucial friendships of Ann Lauterbach, Thom Tessier, and several others, mainly writers and jazz musicians. At some point he became conscious of the central issues of his life, which recognition made it impossible to cast them into the patterns, however imaginative, of horror literature, as least as conventionally regarded. Horror itself, on the other hand, has not abandoned him, nor can it ever, a matter for which he feels the deepest gratitude. He is a member of HWA, MWA, PEN and the Adams Round Table, and though he is without “hobbies,” remains intensely interested in jazz, as well as opera and other forms of classical music.

Michael Swanwick has received the Hugo, Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, and World Fantasy Awards for his work. Stations of the Tide was honored with the Nebula Award and was also nominated for the Hugo and Arthur C. Clarke Awards. “The Edge of the World,” was awarded the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award in 1989. His books include In the Drift, an Ace Special; Vacuum FlowersGriffin’s EggStations of the TideThe Iron Dragon’s Daughter, a New York Times Notable Book, and Jack Faust. His stories have appeared in Omni, Penthouse, Amazing, Asimov’s, High Times, New Dimensions, Starlight, Universe, Full Spectrum, Triquarterly and elsewhere. Many have been reprinted in Best of the Year anthologies, and translated for Japanese, Dutch, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, French and Croatian publications. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Marianne Porter, and their son, Sean.

Sam Weller is the authorized biographer of Ray Bradbury. Weller’s book The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury was a Los Angeles Times best seller, winner of the 2005 Society of Midland Authors Award for Best Biography, and a Bram Stoker Award finalist. The companion book, Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews, was published by Melville House/Stop Smiling Books in 2010. With Mort Castle, Weller co-edited the forthcoming anthology Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury (William Morrow Paperbacks, July 2012). Weller is the former Midwest Correspondent for Publishers Weekly magazine. He has written for the Paris Review and the National Public Radio Program All Things Considered. Weller’s short fiction has appeared in numerous books and journals, including the 2008 anthology Who Can Save Us Now?: Brand New Superheroes and Their Amazing (Short) Stories, Rosebud, and others. His pop-cultural essays have appeared in Post Road, Annalemma, and F, among many other publications. Weller is a professor in the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago.

Gary K. Wolfe is contributing editor and senior reviewer for Locus magazine, where he has written a monthly review column since 1991 and currently sits on the board of the Locus Science Fiction Foundation. His critical work on science fiction and fantasy includes The Known and the Unknown: The Iconography of Science Fiction, Critical Terms for Science Fiction and Fantasy: A Glossary and Guide to Scholarship, Harlan Ellison: The Edge of Forever (with Ellen R. Weil)and Evaporating Genres:  Essays on Fantastic Literature. Wolfe received the Pilgrim Award from the Science Fiction Research Association and the Distinguished Scholarship Award from the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. In 2007, he received a World Fantasy Award for criticism and reviews. His essays have appeared in Science-Fiction Studies, Foundation, Extrapolation, Conjunctions, Modern Fiction Studies, The Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, and other journals, as well as in many collections and reference books. A graduate of the University of Kansas and the University of Chicago, Wolfe is Professor of Humanities at Roosevelt University in Chicago.