Learn about the faculty for the Austin SCBWI 2023 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference, listed below in alphabetical order.
e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, Author
e.E. Charlton-Trujillo is an award-winning author, filmmaker, and youth literacy activist described as a “force of nature” by Kirkus Reviews. They have written several books for teens and children, most notably the ALA winning and the Lambda Literary Finalist Fat Angie series and Prizefighter en Mi Casa. Their debut picture book, co-authored with NYT Bestseller Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Joe Cepeda, Lupe Lopez: Rock Star Rules was an Amazon Reviews 2022 Editor’s Pick among other lists. Their short fiction recently appeared in the Read Across America 2022 selection Living Beyond Borders: Growing Up Mexican in America. A Madrina for the Las Musas collective, Trujillo is also co-founder of the nonprofit Never Counted Out. Find out more about Trujillo at eecharlton-trujillo.com or on the socials @pinatadirector.
Read our Q&A with e.E.
Samantha M Clark, Author
Samantha M Clark is the award-winning author of THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST and ARROW (both published by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster) and AMERICAN HORSE TALES: HOLLYWOOD (Penguin Workshop/Penguin Random House), as well as the GEMSTONE DRAGONS chapter book series (Bloomsbury). She lives with her husband and two funny dogs in Austin, Texas, where she helps other writers as the Regional Advisor for the Austin chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Sign up for news and giveaways at www.SamanthaMClark.com. Follow her on Twitter @samclarkwrites, Instagram @samanthamclarkbooks, Facebook at SamanthaMClarkAuthor, and Pinterest at SamClarkWrites.
Read our Q&A with Samantha
Samantha M Clark
Melissa Coffey, Author
Melissa Coffey is the author of FRIDGE-OPOLIS, her debut picture book, illustrated by Josh Cleland. With a background in journalism, Melissa was a freelance writer/editor for Fortune 500 companies, CEOs and magazines for 20+ years before pursuing her passion as a children’s author. She now lives with her family in Austin, Texas and is represented by Charlotte Wenger of Prospect Agency. Visit her at melissacoffey.com.
Read our Q&A with Melissa
Carter Higgins, Author/Illustrator
Carter Higgins is the author of many books for young readers, including Everything You Need for a Treehouse, an NPR Best Book of the Year, This is Not a Valentine, a Kids’ Indie Next List selection, and the chapter book series, Audrey L & Audrey W. Her first book as both author and illustrator, Circle Under Berry, was named a Best Book of 2021 by Publisher’s Weekly, Smithsonian Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal. Carter is a creative storyteller who designs playful experiences around visual literacy and believes the wit of kids’ language is the best poetry of all. She is an Emmy-winning visual effects and motion graphics artist and spent a decade as an elementary school librarian. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @carterhiggins or online at carterhiggins.com.
Read our Q&A with Carter
Eliza Kinkz, Illustrator
Eliza Kinkz is a Tejana illustrator/author who still views the world through the bright colors of her crayon box. Her debut picture book was Goldies Guide to Grandchilding, written by Clint McElroy, and she recently was awarded the James Marshall Fellowship. Eliza happily lives with her family, and her breakfast tacos in Austin,TX.
Read our Q&A with Eliza
Maria Middleton, Senior Art Director, Candlewick
Maria T. Middleton designs books for kids. She began her career at HarperCollins, spent a decade creating award-winning books at Abrams, and then led the middle-grade team at Random House Children’s Books. As Senior Art Director at Candlewick Press, Maria currently works across a variety of children’s book genres. She’s a fan of quirky characters, hand lettered typography, serial commas, strong coffee, and the color red. Maria lives in Richmond, VA, with her husband and their pup, Wyla. You can find her online at mariamiddleton.com and follow her on Instagram @mariatmiddleton.
Read our Q&A with Maria
Sydnee Monday, Associate Editor, Penguin Random House
Associate Editor Sydnee Monday joined Kokila in May of 2018. She’s assisted on titles such as the New York Times bestselling picture book Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry and Vashti Harrison, National Book Award finalists Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay and The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor, and Maya and the Robot by Eve L. Ewing. Her growing list features children’s lit debuts from Keah Brown, Kiera Wright-Ruiz, Rinny Perkins, and more. Prior to Kokila, she worked at NPR, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, and Sankofa Bookstore in Washington, D.C. A graduate of Howard University, she mentors high school students in NYC with the Governor’s Committee on Scholastic Achievement. Follow her on Twitter (@sydneemonday) or Instagram (@sydneemonday).
Read our Q&A with Sydnee
Carmen Oliver, Author
Carmen Oliver is the author of many award-winning picture books for children including A Voice for the Spirit Bears: How One Boy Inspired Millions to Save a Rare Animal, a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard, Building an Orchestra of Hope: How Favio Chavez Taught Children to Make Music From Trash, a Junior Library Gold Standard (Oct 25, 2022), and The Twilight Library (Sept 6, 2022). She’s also the author of the Bears Make the Best Buddies series (Reading, Writing, Math, Science). In 2014, Carmen founded the Booking Biz, a boutique style agency that brings award-winning children’s authors and illustrators to schools, libraries, and special events. She also teaches writing at the Writing Barn and The Highlights Foundation and loves speaking at schools, conferences and festivals. She lives with her family outside of Austin, Texas.
Read our Q&A with Carmen
Rachel Orr, Agent, Prospect Literary Agency
Rachel Orr is celebrating her fifteenth year at Prospect Agency, where she represents both authors and illustrators in projects ranging from picture books through YA. She previously worked for eight rewarding years at HarperCollins Children’s Books and uses those editorial skills to help prepare her clients’ work for submission. Her clients include Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and Leeza Hernandez (ROXIE LOVES ADVENTURE), Cathy Carr (365 DAYS TO ALASKA), Samantha M. Clark (ARROW), Cori Doerrfeld (BENEATH), Susie Lee Jin (NOT AN EGG), Suzy Levinson (ANIMALS IN PANTS) and Molly Ruttan (SOMETHING WILD). Rachel lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, with her husband and two children, where she enjoys dancing, running and reading, of course.
Read our Q&A with Rachel
Linda Sue Park, Author
Linda Sue Park is the author of more than thirty books for young readers, including the Newbery Medal title A Single Shard and the NYTimes bestseller A Long Walk to Water. Her most recent titles are the historical fiction novel Prairie Lotus, and a novel in verse, The One Thing You’d Save. She is also the founder and curator of Allida Books, a HarperCollins imprint, which seeks to publish books centering the passions and strengths of creators from marginalized communities. Park serves on the board of advisors for We Need Diverse Books and the Rabbit Hole children’s literature museum project, as well as maintaining the kiBooka.com website for Korean diaspora creators.
Read our Q&A with Linda Sue
Linda Sue Park
Anna Sargeant, Editor, Sourcebooks
Anna Sargeant is an editor of children’s and middle grade nonfiction at Sourcebooks eXplore. Before entering the publishing industry, she was a teacher, tutor, curriculum developer, and freelance writer and editor. She is obsessed with the power of books and the gift of literacy. Anna loves watching films, eating tacos, being outdoors, traveling, and spending time with friends. She lives in Austin with her husband. You can find her evolving wishlist on #MSWL.
Read our Q&A with Anna
Saba Sulaiman, Agent, Talcott Notch Literary Services
Saba Sulaiman is a Senior Agent at Talcott Notch Literary Services, a boutique agency located in Milford, CT. She holds a BA in Economics and Middle Eastern Studies from Wellesley College and an MA from the University of Chicago, where she studied modern Persian literature. Being an immigrant who is constantly negotiating her own identity and sense of belonging in a place she now calls “home,” she is committed to championing books by writers from marginalized communities with compelling stories to tell; stories that demonstrate the true range of perspectives that exist in this world, and address urgent and often underexplored issues in both fiction and non-fiction with veracity and heart. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @agentsaba and learn more about her at sabasulaiman.com
Read our Q&A with Saba
Kelis Rowe, Author
Kelis Rowe is a stay-at-home mom and former homeschooler who writes Black young adult summer love stories. A lifelong James Taylor and Beyoncé fan, her first novel, Finding Jupiter, is a contemporary literary romance about a James Taylor and Beyoncé fan and a champion swimmer bonding through shared grief and falling in love. It incorporates journal pages of art and found poetry from the pages of classic novels including The Great Gatsby and Their Eyes Were Watching God. After Pitchwars competition success, Finding Jupiter sold in a 7-way Big 5 auction the same year she made her then 12 year old son a big brother! Kelis writes out of her suburban home near Austin, TX.
Read our Q&A with Kelis
Lindsay Leslie, Author
A diary keeper, a journalism major, a public relations executive, now a children’s author—Lindsay Leslie has always operated in a world of written words. She likes to bring her unique outlook on life, quirky humor, and play with words to the page in picture books. Lindsay is the award-winning author of SO YOU WANT TO BUILD A LIBRARY, DUSK EXPLORERS (an SCBWI Crystal Kite Award winner, Bank Street Best Book of 2021 with Outstanding Merit, and Amazon Editors’ Pick), NOVA THE STAR EATER, and THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, two kiddos, two fur-beasts, and a guinea pig.
Read our Q&A with Lindsay
Kristin Wauson, Author/Illustrator
Since she learned to hold a pencil, Kristin Wauson has been making pictures and stories. She grew up in the Texas Hill Country, inspired by fairy tales, C.S. Lewis, music, horses and classic Disney animation. A graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, and former graphic designer, Kristin came to kidlit after rediscovering picture books via her two sons. In 2015 she was awarded the SCBWI Austin Emerging Voice Illustrator Mentorship, and in 2019 she was nominated for the Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award. She’s a member of many groups including Puddle Jump Collective, The Big Dillustrators, and the 6 Ladies and a MANuscript Critique group. When she’s not perfecting her craft, you’ll find her cooking, or possibly upside down, doing yoga. Kristin loves whimsical stories with lots of heart and elements of magic. Her debut picture book, Mr. Thatcher’s House, released in 2022 from Sleeping Bear Press.
Read our Q&A with Kristin
Candy Wellins, Author
Candy Wellins is a lifelong writer and book lover. A former teacher, she has a BA in journalism and an M.Ed. in literacy education. She’s now a full-time mom to three wonderful children who keep her up-to-date and immersed in children’s literature. When not reading, writing or mothering, she loves running, traveling and naps! Her debut picture book Saturdays Are for Stella (Illustrated by Charlie Eve Ryan, PAGE STREET KIDS) was named a Kirkus Best Picture Book of 2020. Publishers Weekly called her debut picture book biography,The Stars Beckoned: Edward White’s Amazing Walk in Space (Illustrated by Courtney Dawson, PHILOMEL), “an introduction to a space pioneer that’s ideal for the youngest nonfiction readers.” She is also the author of Mabel’s Topsy-Turvy Homes (Beaming Books 2022) and A Geoduck Is Not a Duck (Little Bigfoot, 2024). Candy and her family make their home in Central Texas.
Read our Q&A with Candy
S.G. Wilson, Author
S.G. Wilson is the author of the middle grade series ME VS. THE MULTIVERSE. In an alternate reality, he’s worked as a journalist, penning articles for assorted magazines and co-authoring a biography of comedian Paul Lynde.
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Shannon Wright, Illustrator
Shannon Wright is an illustrator and cartoonist based out of Richmond, Virginia. Some of her clients include The Guardian, New York Times and NPR. Her debut graphic novel TWINS has received national recognition and awards. In her free time, Shannon makes personal and original work alongside her cat that invokes nostalgia rooted in her own childhood and life around her. She is represented by Hannah Mann at Writers House.
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Debbie Zapata, Author
Debbie Zapata is the author of UP AND ADAM, her debut picture book published by Kid Can Press and illustrated by Yong Ling Kang. Debbie enjoys helping others as a counselor and writing books for children that have heart and humor. She loves creating stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Debbie lives with her family in Austin, Texas.
Read our Q&A with Debbie