Learn about the faculty for the Austin SCBWI 2022 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference, listed below in alphabetical order.
Gloria Amescua, Author
Gloria Amescua’s debut book, Child of the Flower-Song People: Luz Jiménez, Daughter of the Nahua received a 2022 Pura Belpré Honor Award, a Junior Literary Guild Selection, and on ALA ALSC and other Best of Nonfiction/Information notable book lists. Gloria’s has published poetry in journals, anthologies and a national textbook series.
Read our Q&A with Gloria
Stacey Barney, Associate Publisher of Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House
Stacey Barney is Associate Publisher of Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Stacey has worked in children’s publishing for more than twenty years and has published numerous bestselling and award-winning authors including New York Times bestsellers Renée Ahdieh, Krystal Sutherland, Misty Copeland, Katherine Arden, Ellen Hopkins and Ayana Gray. She also edited the 2022 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor-winning Nina: A Story of Nina Simone, written by Traci N. Todd and illustrated by Christian Robinson in addition to the 2021 Caldecott Honor-winning The Cat Man of Aleppo, written by Irene Latham and Karim Shamsi-Basha and illustrated by Yuko Shimizu. In 2020, ALAN awarded Stacey the Bill Konigsberg Award for Acts and Activism for Equity and Inclusion through Young Adult Literature, noting her commitment to making books that are “real, accessible, complex and integral components to a just and connected world.” In 2021, Stacey was honored at the Black Women in Media Awards for her work, contribution and demonstration of excellence in literature and publishing.
Read our Q&A with Stacey
Patrice Barton, Illustrator
Patrice earned her BFA in Studio Art from UT in Austin TX, where she lives today with her family and good dog, Archer. She is the award winning illustrator of over thirty picture and chapter books for children including The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig (Knopf). Her picture book illustrations have twice been accepted into the Society of Illustrator’s Original Art Exhibit. She also received an “outstanding portfolio” certificate in the fifth grade from Sister Mary Pacella, which was a prime motivation for pursuing her dream job, illustrating children’s books.
Read our Q&A with Patrice
Minju Chang, Agent at BookStop Literary
Minju Chang is an agent with BookStop Literary. She represents authors and illustrators of fiction and nonfiction in all children’s categories from picture books through YA. Across genres and formats, Minju is drawn to stories with emotional impact and distinctive voices, especially those reflecting underrepresented and/or marginalized perspectives. She loves whimsical stories with a touch of magic and vivid settings that make a reader want to linger and explore. Some of her favorite themes include finding one’s voice and finding family and friends in unexpected places. She’s also hungry for stories that open her eyes to new worlds and experiences—a fascinating moment in history; a non-Western culture and country; subculture, etc. In particular, Minju is looking for more middle-grade fiction and graphic novels for ages 5 and up. She enjoys contemporary middle-grade that reflects the complexities of the world but also offers a spark of hope. In picture books, she loves quirky humor and irreverent voices but also has a soft spot for gorgeous, lyrical language and concept-driven projects with an important and timely message. She’d like to see more unusual approaches to nonfiction and is interested in a range of topics, from conservation to music history to government & civics. In YA, Minju gravitates toward stories about identity and empowerment—stories about young women tapping into their talents and strengths. She’d love to see a multigenerational story that pays tribute to the women in a character’s family tree. She’d also love to see more LGBTQIA+ characters in all genres (e.g. The Boy In the Red Dress, The Henna Wars, Check, Please!). She’s probably not the best fit for high fantasy and hard science-fiction.
Arree Chung, Author-Illustrator
Arree Chung is an award winning author, illustrator and international speaker living in San Francisco Bay Area. Arree travels to schools across the country to encourage children to write stories, make art and to share their creative ideas. Arree shares creative and writing techniques with parents and educators to help grow the next generation of creative thinkers and storytellers. Arreeʼs most popular books are NINJA! and MIXED. MIXED uses color theory to discuss diversity, acceptance and inclusion in a simple but powerful story.
Read our Q&A with Arree
Adrianna Cuevas, Author
Adrianna Cuevas is the author of the Pura Belpre honor book The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez, Cuba in My Pocket, and The Ghosts of Rancho Espanto. She is a first-generation Cuban-American originally from Miami, Florida. A former Spanish and ESOL teacher, Adrianna currently resides outside of Austin, Texas with her husband and son. When not working with TOEFL students, wrangling multiple pets including an axolotl, and practicing fencing with her son, she is writing her next middle grade novel.
Read our Q&A with Adrianna
Rebecca Glaser, Editor at Amicus Publishing
Rebecca Glaser is a children’s book editor, author, and publisher with more than 20 years’ experience in publishing. She serves as Associate Publisher of The Creative Company, leading the development of their varied educational imprints as well as a trade imprint called Amicus Ink, which publishes picture books and board books. Focusing on books for the youngest readers for much of her career, Glaser delights in finding new ways to explain the world to young children.
Evan Griffith, Author
Evan Griffith is the author of Manatee Summer (Harper, 2022) and Secrets of the Sea: The Story of Jeanne Power, Revolutionary Marine Scientist (HMH, 2021). He studied creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received his MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. He worked for several years as an editor at Workman Publishing, where he specialized in non-fiction for children and adults, and he continues to edit books on a freelance basis. Through his role as the youth programming specialist at The Writing Barn, he also teaches online writing classes for kids. He lives in Austin, Texas with a mischievous tuxedo cat and several overflowing bookshelves. Connect with Evan on Twitter (@Evan_Griffith) or at www.evangriffithbooks.com.
Read our Q&A with Evan
Leah Henderson, Author
Leah Henderson is the author of several critically acclaimed books for young readers including Daddy Speaks Love, A Day for Rememberin’, and Together We March. Her middle grade novels include The Magic in Changing Your Stars, an SCBWI Golden Kite Finalist and One Shadow on the Wall. Leah holds an MFA in Writing and is on faculty in Spalding University’s graduate writing program.
Read our Q&A with Leah
C.S. Jennings, Author-Illustrator
C.S. Jennings is the illustrator of over two-dozen books for kids; working with publishers like Penguin Group Books, Scholastic, Houghton Mifflin, and Sterling Publishing. His specialties are middle-grade, character design, humor in storytelling, and art direction. He illustrated the TLA Bluebonnet 2020-2021 Master List book, From an Idea to Disney. He’s the author of Animal Band; Hello, Texas!; and Too Close Panda (Penguin, 2023). A Texas native, he makes his home in Austin where he bikes and hikes, wandering the hill country looking for inspiration.
Read our Q&A with C.S.
Varian Johnson, Author
Varian Johnson is the author of several novels for children and young adults, including THE PARKER INHERITANCE, which won both Coretta Scott King Author Honor and Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor awards; PLAYING THE CARDS YOU’RE DEALT an ALA Notable Children’s Book and Kirkus Reviews Best Book; and the graphic novel Twins, illustrated by Shannon Wright, an Eisner Award Nominee and NPR Best Book. Varian received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he now serves as a member of the faculty. Varian lives outside of Austin, TX with his family, and can be found online at varianjohnson.com.
Aram Kim, Author-Illustrator and Art Director at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Aram Kim is a writer, illustrator, and designer of children’s picture books. She was born in Ohio, raised in South Korea, and now lives in Queens, NY, happily surrounded by diverse food and culture. By day, she is an Art Director at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group where she designed and oversaw many award-winning picture books including 2021 Caldecott Medal Winner We Are Water Protectors and 2021 Caldecott Honor Winner A Place Inside of Me. She has worked with both debut illustrators and established illustrators on a wide range of children’s books. As an author/illustrator herself of acclaimed picture books, she is closely connected with illustrators and enjoys learning from them and working with them. When she is not working as an art director, Aram writes and illustrates her own stories. Her published books include Cat on the Bus (Children’s Choice Reading List 2017, New York Public Library Summer Reading List 2018), No Kimchi for Me! (JLG Gold Selection 2017, Bank Street College’s Best Children’s Book of the Year 2018, A Baker’s Dozen Award 2018), Let’s Go to Taekwondo! ( JLG Gold Selection 2020), and Sunday Funday in Koreatown ( JLG Gold Selection 2021). Find more about Aram’s work at www.AramKim.com.
Read our Q&A with Aram
Rajani LaRocca, Author
Rajani LaRocca was born in India, raised in Kentucky, and now lives in the Boston area, where she practices medicine and writes award-winning books for young readers. Her middle grade novel in verse, Red, White, and Whole, is the winner of the 2021 New England Book Award, the 2022 Walter Dean Myers Award, and a 2022 Newbery Honor. She’s always been an omnivorous reader, and now she is an omnivorous writer of fiction and nonfiction, novels and picture books, prose and poetry. She finds inspiration in her family, her childhood, the natural world, math, science, and just about everywhere she looks. Learn more about Rajani and her books at www.RajaniLaRocca.com.
Read our Q&A with Rajani
Cynthia Levinson, Author
Cynthia Levinson writes (mostly) nonfiction books about social justice (mostly) for kids ages 5 and up. Her most recent publication, THE PEOPLE’S PAINTER, received five starred reviews and won the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal. Previous books have earned recognition from NCTE, YALSA, the Jane Addams Award, the Jewish Book Council, the NAACP, and others.
Read our Q&A with Cynthia
Joy McCullough, Author
Joy McCullough is an award-winning and New York Times-bestselling author of picture books and middle grade and young adult novels. She’s been long-listed for the National Book Award, been a finalist for the Morris Award, and won the Pacific Northwest and Washington State Book Awards. She lives in the Seattle area.
Read our Q&A with Joy
Sarah Rockett, Editor at Cherry Lane/Sleeping Bear Press
Sarah Rockett has been working in the children’s publishing industry for fifteen years and truly believes that picture books have the power to change the world. She loves traveling, spending time outdoors, and trolling her local bookstore. She lives in Michigan with her husband, young son, and lazy cocker spaniel.
Vanessa Roeder, Author-Illustrator
Vanessa Roeder is the author and illustrator of Lucy and the String (Dial Books, 2018), The Box Turtle (Dial Books, 2020), a Spring 2020 Kid’s Indie Next List pick and Indie bestseller, and the forthcoming book, The Stack (Dial Books, 2022). Vanessa lives in Austin, TX with her husband, 3 kids, and two dogs. When she’s not making messes in her studio, Vanessa enjoys coming up with terrible band names, beating her daughter’s Wordle score, and going on long walks mostly to impress her FitBit.
Read our Q&A with Vanessa
Maria Vicente, Agent at P.S. Literary Agency
Maria Vicente is a Senior Literary Agent and Advisor at P.S. Literary Agency representing an eclectic list of authors and illustrators. Maria has launched many literary careers in her eight years as an agent and teaches workshops to the larger writing community to help those beyond her client list achieve their publishing goals. She lives in New Brunswick, Canada, reading and selling books from the Atlantic Ocean shore. Learn more about Maria and find publishing resources at www.mariavicente.com.
Read our Q&A with Maria
Emma J. Virján, Author-Illustrator
Emma J. Virján is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator living in Austin, Texas.
Titles for her Pig in a Wig early reader series are quite long – What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig, What This Story Needs is a Hush and a Shush, What This Story Needs is a Munch and a Crunch, What This Story Needs is a Bang and a Clang and What This Story Needs is a Vroom and a Zoom. Titles for her Captain Cat early reader series are a little shorter – Captain Cat and the Pirate Lunch and Captain Cat Goes to Mars. Because Emma likes to draw so much, she has also illustrated If This Bird Had Pockets, a Poem in Your Pocket Day Celebration, poetry by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. Emma has worked in advertising and marketing as a graphic designer, art director and creative director. She can also operate a forklift. She loves to eat breakfast tacos, draw, tell stories and work in her garden. She often lets her dog sleep on the couch.
Read our Q&A with Emma
Emma J. Virján
Anne Wynter, Author
Anne Wynter is a children’s book author whose books include Everybody in the Red Brick Building (illustrated by Oge Mora), and the board books Hands On! and One Big Day (illustrated by Alea Marley). Her next book, Nell Plants a Tree (illustrated by Daniel Miyares) will be out in early 2023. Originally from Houston, Anne currently lives in Austin, TX with her family.
Read our Q&A with Anne
Anne Wynter | Photo: TJ Bright Photography
Learn from these publishing professionals at the Austin SCBWI 2022 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference.