Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Faculty Bios

Learn about the faculty for the Austin SCBWI 2015 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference, listed below in alphabetical order.

Jessica Lee Anderson, author

Jessica Headshot

Jessica Lee Anderson

Jessica is the author of Trudy (winner of the 2005 Milkweed Prize for Children’s Literature), Border Crossing (Quick Picks Nomination), as well as Calli (2013 Rainbow List Nomination). She’s published several educational books as well as fiction and nonfiction for a variety of magazines including Highlights for Children.

Jessica graduated from Hollins University with a Master of Arts in Children's Literature, and she instructed at the Institute of Children's Literature for five years before teaching at St. Edward's University.

She is a member of The Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels and hopes to be more sweetheart than scoundrel. She lives in Pflugerville, Texas with her husband, daughter, and two crazy dogs. Jessica's online at Read our Q&A


Chris Barton, author

Chris Barton

Chris Barton

Chris is the author of the picture books The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors (winner, American Library Association Sibert Honor), Shark Vs. Train (a New York Times bestseller), and Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer's Alphabet, as well as the young adult nonfiction thriller Can I See Your I.D.? True Stories of False Identities.

His 2015 publications include picture book biographies The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch and The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-Loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition.

Chris and his wife, novelist Jennifer Ziegler (Revenge of the Flower Girls), live in Austin with their family. You can find out more at his website, Read our Q&A.


Kristine Brogno, art director, Chronicle Books

Kristine Brogno

Kristine Brogno

Kristine is an award-winning art director and designer and is currently the Design Director of Children's Publishing at Chronicle Books in San Francisco.

She’s had the great honor of working with a broad range of children’s artists — from first-time book illustrators to seasoned veterans, including Carolyn Conahan, Ward Jenkins, Calef Brown, Tom Lichtenheld, Andy Rash, Melissa Sweet, Jen Corace and Meilo So, among many others.

When she’s not reviewing sketches and looking for the perfect typeface, you can find her exploring the Bay Area and beyond with her two sons. Read our Q&A


Stevie Fitzgerald, author and attorney

Stevie Fitzgerald

Stevie Fitzgerald

Stevie Fitzgerald is a native of Austin, Texas, and obtained her degree in English Literature before heading to law school. Now, Stevie lives and works in New York City as a Staff Attorney at the Authors Guild, where she reviews hundreds of author contracts every year.

She frequently speaks at conferences for authors, lawyers and agents alike. Stevie is also the co-author of the 4th edition of Business and Legal Forms for Authors and Self-Publishers to be released by Allsworth Press, June 2, 2015.

She is excited to return to her hometown to help authors navigate the complex world of publishing law.


Jill Grinberg, agent

Jill Grinberg

Jill Grinberg

Jill has worked in publishing for the past 20 years. She started in the publicity department at HarperCollins, where she serendipitously became publicist for (then) debut author Amy Bloom. Amy helped Jill recognize her passion for author advocacy and book development from the ground up and suggested agenting might well be her calling, for which Jill is eternally grateful.

Jill went on to become a founding partner of Anderson Grinberg Literary Management, and formed her own firm, Jill Grinberg Literary Management, in 2006.

JGLM represents a diverse list of quality adult and children's writers, including a great many award winning and bestselling authors. Jill began to build her children's book list back in 1997 when Garth Nix came to her with his new novel (more on that below).

Her list ranges from picture books to chapter books to middle grade novels to YA and teen crossover. Her authors include John Bemelmans Marciano, Jennifer Holm, Kirby Larson, Andy Griffiths, Jaclyn Moriarty, Catherine Murdock, Justine Larbalestier, Margo Lanagan, Melina Marchetta, Garth Nix, Scott Westerfeld, and Marissa Meyer. Read our Q&A


Bethany Hegedus, author

Bethany Hegedus

Bethany Hegedus

Bethany’s books include Truth with a Capital T (Random House) and Between Us Baxters (WestSide Books). Both novels were named to the Bank Street Books Best Books, with Between Us Baxters garnering a star for outstanding recognition.

Her debut picture book, Grandfather Gandhi, (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster) co-authored with Arun Gandhi, grandson of the Mahatma, and illustrated by Evan Turk has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus. Grandfather Gandhi has been named to the Texas Bluebonnet Master List for 2014-2015.

Bethany has served as the Hunger Mountain Young Adult & Children’s Editor since 2009. A graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults, Bethany is the Owner and Creative Director of The Writing Barn, a writing retreat, workshop and event space in Austin, Texas. A former educator, Bethany speaks and teaches across the country. Visit Bethany at Read our Q&A


C.S. Jennings, author/illustrator

CS Jennings

CS Jennings

C.S. is an Austin, Texas based children’s and editorial illustrator.

He brings top shelf know-how to the publishing, gaming, editorial, advertising, and entertainment industries. (He also was an animation lead for Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly.)

Author of Hello, Texas! (Sterling Publishing) and author-illustrator of the picture book Animal Band (Sterling Publishing); he’s also illustrated books for Penguin Group, Scholastic, and Stone Arch Books.

Find him online at Read our Q&A


Cynthia Leitich Smith, author

Cynthia Leitich Smith

Cynthia Leitich Smith

Cynthia is the New York Times and Publishers Weekly best-selling author of the Feral series, which includes Feral Nights, Feral Curse and Feral Pride, as well as the Tantalize series, which includes Tantalize, Eternal, Blessed, Diabolical. Two graphic novels, Tantalize: Kieren's Story and Eternal: Zachary's Story, both illustrated by Ming Doyle, complete the Tantalize series.

These adventure-fantasies are originally published by Candlewick Press in the U.S., Walker Books in the U.K. and Australia/New Zealand, and additional publishers around the globe. Her series are often noted for their diverse protagonists, humor, social conscience and compelling action.

Cynthia is also the author of several children's books, including Jingle Dancer, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu; Rain Is Not My Indian Name and Indian Shoes, illustrated by Jim Madsen; all published by HarperCollins.

Cynthia was named a Writer of the Year by Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers in recognition of Rain is Not My Indian Name. Cynthia has been twice featured at the National Book Festival. Most recently, she was named the first Spirit of Texas Young Adult author by the Young Adult Round Table of the Texas Library Association and the first young adult author to be honored with the Illumine Award by the Austin Public Library Friends Foundation. In 2013, the Austin chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators instituted the Cynthia Leitich Smith Mentor Award in her honor.

Cynthia is a member of the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. Her website at was named one of the top 10 Writer Sites on the Internet by Writer's Digest and an ALA Great Website for Kids. Her Cynsations blog at was listed as among the top two read by the children's/YA publishing community in the SCBWI "To Market" column. Read our Q&A


Tom Lichtenheld, author/illustrator

Tom Lichtenheld

Tom Lichtenheld

Tom is a children’s book author and illustrator. He doodled his way through school then worked as a sign painter, set designer, printer and advertising art director. After a successful career in advertising, he gradually made the switch to creating children’s books.

Tom’s books, many of which are New York Times bestsellers, are consistently praised for their humor, expressive characters, and rich – sometimes hidden – detail. He’s known for creating books that appeal to children and adults alike, and his wide portfolio of books offers something for every age.

Slated for 2015 release are STICK AND STONE (in collaboration with Beth Ferry), I WISH YOU MORE and FRIENDSHAPES (both in collaboration with Amy Krouse Rosenthal).

Tom lives in the Chicago area. In his spare time he likes to get other peoples’ kids all wound up then send them home to their parents. For more information, visit Read our Q&A.


Jennifer Nielsen, author


Jennifer Nielsen

Jennifer is the New York Times bestselling author of the Ascendance Trilogy, THE MARK OF THE THIEF, and the forthcoming A NIGHT DIVIDED.

She lives in the mountains of northern Utah with her husband, three kids, and a dog that won’t play fetch. You can find out more at her website, Read our Q&A


Aubrey Poole, editor, Sourcebooks

Aubrey Poole

Aubrey Poole

Aubrey got her start as an editor correcting her friends’ grammar in high school, an effort which naturally guaranteed instant popularity. She is now an associate editor at Sourcebooks, acquiring children’s books from picture books through young adult.

Her first YA novel, Send by Patty Blount, was a Junior Library Guild pick. Her middle grade novel This Journal Belongs to Ratchet by Nancy Cavanaugh received a Starred review from Kirkus, is a Florida State Book Award winner and an NCTE Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts. Nancy’s second novel, Always Abigail, is a 2015-16 nominee for the Texas Bluebonnet Award.

Aubrey hopes to continue shamelessly courting librarians with her middle grade series The Ninja Librarians, which also received a Starred review from Kirkus. Some of Aubrey’s authors include New York Times and USA Today bestseller Suzanne Brockmann, USA Today bestseller Juliana Stone, award-winner Mari Mancusi, award-winner Jen Calonita, Janet Gurtler, Natalie D. Richards, Anna Staniszewski and illustrator Tracy Dockray. Read our Q&A


Cory Putnam Oakes, author

Cory Oakes

Cory Putman Oakes

Cory is a children's book author from Austin, Texas.

Her first book, THE VEIL, a young adult fantasy, was published in 2011. Cory’s middle grade debut, DINOSAUR BOY, about a boy who is part stegosaurus, comes out in February 2015.

DINOSAUR BOY SAVES MARS (the second book in the Dinosaur Boy series) is due out in February 2016.

Cory is a former lawyer and when she's not writing, she enjoys cooking, running, and hanging out with her husband, Mark, and their two small kiddos.

Cory's website is Read our Q&A


Don Tate, author/illustrator

Don Tate

Don Tate

Don has illustrated numerous critically acclaimed books for children, including Hope's Gift (Penguin) and The Cart That Carried Martin (Charlesbridge). His first book as an author, It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw (Lee & Low, 2012), has received numerous awards such as an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor; a Kirkus Best Children’s Books List Selection; a Booklist Editors’ Choice, 2012.

Don is also one of the founding hosts of the blog The Brown Bookshelf – a blog dedicated to books for African American young readers with book reviews, author and illustrator interviews; and he is a team member of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, a grassroots organization created to address the need of more diversity in children's literature.

Don's current books are The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch (Eerdmans Publishing, 2015), written by Chris Barton; and Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton of Chapel Hill (Peachtree, 2015), written and illustrated by himself. Don lives with is wife and son in Austin, Texas. Find Don at Read our Q&A


Emma Virján, author/illustrator

Emma Virjan

Emma Virjan

Emma was born under an Aries moon on a Wednesday, her dad’s bowling night. This explains her attraction to hardwood floors.

She likes to draw, work in her garden and often lets her dog sleep on the couch.

Emma holds a BFA in Communication Arts from Texas State University.

She is the author-illustrator of Nacho the Party Puppy, Random House, 2008, and the forthcoming What This Story Needs Is A Pig In a Wig, HarperCollins, May 12, 2015.

She makes her home in Austin, Texas where she spends her days as an illustrator and graphic designer. Find out more about Emma at Read our Q&A


Andrea Welch, editor

Andrea Welch

Andrea Welch

Andrea is a Senior Editor at Beach Lane Books, a San Diego-based imprint of Simon & Schuster.

She has the pleasure of working with a long list of wonderful authors and illustrators, including Liz Garton Scanlon, Douglas Florian, and Denise Fleming.

Recent books she has edited include the New York Times bestselling LMNO Peas by Keith Baker, Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff, and the Brownie & Pearl series by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Brian Biggs.

Andrea acquires projects for children of all ages—especially those that are filled with heart, humor, and irresistible characters. Read our Q&A


Victoria Wells Arms, agent

Victoria Wells Arms

Victoria Wells Arms

Victoria started in publishing with an internship at Penguin, at Dial Books for Young Readers, and later became an editor at Putnam. Then one day she spotted an ad in Publishers Weekly for an editorial director at Bloomsbury, so she applied and soon was setting up Bloomsbury USA’s children’s division. Starting with three people (and a dog), Bloomsbury grew quickly, soon hitting the bestseller lists, acquiring major awards, and adding on another publishing house (Walker Books).

In 2013, Victoria opened her own agency, Wells Arms Literary, where she represents authors and illustrators of all kinds—some she published at Penguin or Bloomsbury, some have long careers elsewhere, and some are new to the industry. When she’s not reading, or attempting yoga, Victoria can generally be found in the kitchen, teaching her three daughters to cook. Read our Q&A


Jo Whittemore, author

Jo Whittemore

Jo Whittemore

Jo is the author of the tween humor novels Front Page Face-Off, Odd Girl In, D is for Drama, and the upcoming Colonial Madness and Confidentially Yours series. She also penned The Silverskin Legacy fantasy trilogy.

Jo is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and The Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels.

When she isn't writing, Jo spends her time with family and friends in Austin, dreaming of the day she can afford a chocolate house where she will live with the Tenth Doctor. Jo's website is Read our Q&A