Two books open on table with books on a shelf in the background
January 22, 2020

Renowned mystery writer Walter Mosley to headline UC Riverside’s 43rd annual Writers Week

Author: Jessica Weber
January 22, 2020

The 43rd annual UC Riverside Writers Week, California’s longest-running free literary event, will bring a diverse array of emerging and established authors to the Inland Empire Feb. 10-14.

This year’s event will see 25 authors participating in readings and Q&As over the five-day period, as well as a reading from current UCR MFA students and a special PEN Free Speech Forum with Jonathan Friedman, project director for campus free speech at PEN America.

“As always, we have a number of illustrious writers with longstanding reputations, like Walter Mosley, Norma Cantú, Jerry Stahl, Marilyn Chin, and our own Susan Straight and Laila Lalami, as well as celebrated young writers like Ishmael Beah, Wendy C. Ortiz, Lisa Teasley, Victoria Patterson, Rachel Howzell Hall, and Brandon Hobson, and a number of people at the beginning of very promising careers,” said Tom Lutz, professor and chair of the Department of Creative Writing and director of Writers Week.

Headlining the conference is Walter Mosley, author of the best-selling historical mystery series featuring detective “Easy” Rawlins, the first book of which was adapted into the film “Devil in a Blue Dress” starring Denzel Washington.

“He is dear to the hearts of people who love the literature of Southern California, and dear to those who love noir, detective fiction, science fiction, and fantasy — all genres that are important to us in creative writing at UCR,” Lutz said.

Mosley, who has written over 50 books as well as several film and TV projects, is also this year’s recipient of the LA Review of Books - UCR Department of Creative Writing Lifetime Achievement Award. The award will be presented during Mosley's presentation at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 10, in University Theatre, HUMN 400. Complimentary parking for this event will be available in Lot 6.

Writers Week is free and open to the public. Except for the headlining event, all presentations will be held in Screening Room 1128 of the CHASS Interdisciplinary Building, South. Complimentary parking permits will be available until 8 p.m. at the kiosk on West Campus Drive at the University Avenue entrance. Works by Writers Week authors will be available at the UCR Bookstore and at Cellar Door Books in Canyon Crest Towne Center.

“I’m so excited to be reading from ‘In the Country of Women’ at Writers Week 2020, as it always means a lot to present story on our campus,” said Susan Straight, a distinguished professor of creative writing. “I enjoy seeing our students come out for the events, but just as much, my friends and colleagues on staff here at UCR; this is my 32nd year of teaching here, and I’m just as proud of Writers Week now as I was when I first saw writers like Joyce Carol Oates, Carolyn See, and Gary Soto at the events.”

Writers Week 2020 is made possible by support from African Student Programs, Office of the Chancellor, California Center for Native Nations, Professor Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, UCR Department of Ethnic Studies, UCR Department of English, Ratliffe Family Foundation, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Clifford Trafzer, Distinguished Professor of History and Rupert and Jeanette Henry Costo Chair in American Indian Affairs.

For more information, please visit

Schedule of Events

Monday, Feb. 10

12:30 p.m. - Tom Lutz

1:30 p.m. - Norma Cantú, Stephen Minot Lecture

3 p.m. - Jerry Stahl

4:30 p.m. - Lisa Teasley

7 p.m. - Walter Mosley, LARB/UCR Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, 

in conversation with novelist Steph Cha

Tuesday, Feb. 11

12 p.m. - Marilyn Chin

1:30 p.m. - Angela Morales

3 p.m. - Karla Cordero

4:30 p.m. - Victoria Patterson

6:30 p.m. - Laila Lalami


Wednesday, Feb. 12

11 a.m. - Jake Skeets

12 p.m. - Cati Porter and Elizabeth Cantwell

1:30 p.m. - Susan Straight

3 p.m. - Ricco Siasoco

4:30 p.m. - Brian Hudson

6:30 p.m. - Ishmael Beah, D. Charles Whitney Reader


Thursday, Feb. 13

12 p.m. - PEN America Free Speech Forum with Jonathan Friedman 

1:30 p.m. - Wendy C. Ortiz

3 p.m. - Rachel Howzell Hall

4:30 p.m. - Sergio Troncoso

5:30 p.m. - MFA Reading


Friday, Feb. 14

12 p.m. - Diana Marie Delgado

1:30 p.m. - Joseph Rios

3 p.m. - Brandon Hobson

4:30 p.m. - Anna Journey

Author Bios

Ishmael Beah

Ishmael Beah born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, is a New York Times and international bestselling author of  “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier” and “Radiance of Tomorrow: A Novel.” His memoir has been published in over 40 languages and was nominated for a Quill Award in the Best Debut Author category for 2007. Time named the book one of the Top 10 Nonfiction books of 2007, ranking at number 3. His novel, written with the gentle lyricism of a dream and the moral clarity of a fable, is a powerful book about preserving what means the most to us, even in uncertain times. Already available in several foreign languages, The New York Times finds in his writing an “allegorical richness” and a “remarkable humanity to his characters.” His upcoming novel, “Little Family,” published by Riverhead Books, will be released on April 28, 2020.  He is based in Los Angeles, California, with his wife and children. 

Norma Cantú

Norma Cantú is the author, most recently, of “Cabañuelas: A Love Story” and “Meditación Fronteriza: Poems of Life.” She has published articles on a number or academic subjects as well as poetry and fiction. Her publications on border literature, the teaching of English, quinceañera celebration and the matachines, a religious dance tradition have earned her an international reputation as a scholar and folklorist. She has written and co-edited many books and edited a collection of testimonios by Chicana scientists, mathematicians and engineers. Her award winning “Canícula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera” chronicles her childhood experiences on the border. She edits the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo Culture and Traditions book series at The Texas A&M University Press. 

Elizabeth Cantwell

Elizabeth Cantwell is a poet and  teacher living in Claremont, CA, with her husband (screenwriter Christopher Cantwell)  and their two sons. She teaches Humanities at The Webb Schools, and her poetry has appeared in a variety of journals, including  DIAGRAM, The Cincinnati Review, The Los Angeles Review, Hobart, and  The Missouri Review. She is the author of a chapbook, “Premonitions”  (Grey Book Press), and two full-length books of poetry. Her first book of poems, “Nights I Let the Tiger Get You” (Black Lawrence Press), was a finalist for the 2012 Hudson Prize. Her second book, “All the Emergency-Type Structures,” was a finalist for the National Poetry Series and the regional winner of the 2018 Hillary Gravendyk Prize.

Steph Cha

Steph Cha is the author of "Your House Will Pay" and the Juniper Song crime trilogy. She’s an editor and critic whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, where she is the noir editor. A native of the San Fernando Valley, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two basset hounds.

Marilyn Chin

Marilyn Chin is an award-winning poet and the author of  “Hard Love Province,” “Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen,”  “Rhapsody in Plain Yellow,”  “The Phoenix Gone,” “The Terrace Empty”  and  “Dwarf Bamboo.” She has won the prestigious Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the National Prize for Literature that confronts racism and examines diversity, in Poetry category. The Award recognized her most recent book of poems, “Hard Love Province,” published in 2014.  She is currently a chancellor of the  Academy of American Poets. Marilyn was a member of the creative writing faculty at San Diego State University from 1987-2013. 

Karla Cordero

Karla Cordero is a descendant of the Chichimeca people from Northern Mexico, a Chicana poet, educator, and ARTtivist, raised along the borderlands of Calexico, CA. A three-time Pushcart nominee with fellowships from VONA, Macondo, CantoMundo, and elsewhere, she is the editor of Spit Journal, founder of Voice 4 Change, and CFO and Social Justice Equity Coordinator for the non-profit Glassless Minds. Her poems have appeared and forthcoming in The Boiler Journal, PANK, ANMLY, Tinderbox, The Break Beat Poets Volume 4. and LatiNext Anthology, among others. She is the author of the chapbook, “Grasshoppers Before Gods” (Dancing Girl Press 2016) and her first full length collection titled, “How to Pull Apart the Earth” (NOT A CULT. 2018) is a 2019 San Diego Book Award winner and awarding-winning finalist for the 2019 International Book Awards. She currently serves as a Professor of Creative Writing and English at MiraCosta and San Diego City College.  

Diana Marie Delgado

Diana Marie Delgado is the author of “Tracing the Horse” (BOA Editions) and the chapbook “Late Night Talks with Men I Think I Trust.” She is the recipient of numerous grants, including a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A graduate of Columbia University she currently resides in Tucson, where she is the Literary Director of the Poetry Center at the University of Arizona.

Jonathan Friedman

Jonathan Friedman is a fellow of the UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement and the project director for campus free speech at PEN America. He oversees PEN America’s advocacy, analysis, and outreach in the national debate around free speech and inclusion at colleges and universities. Prior to joining PEN America, Friedman was an adjunct professor at New York University and Columbia University, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in comparative and international education, higher education, and social theory. Friedman holds a Ph.D. in International Education from New York University, and has received awards for his teaching, research, and leadership. 

Rachel Howzell Hall

Rachel Howzell Hall is the author, most recently, of “They All Fall Down.” She is best known for her critically acclaimed Detective Elouise Norton series — “Land of Shadows,” “Skies of Ash,” “City of Saviors,” and “Trail of Echoes.” She is also the author of “A Quiet Storm,” “The View from Here” and “No One Knows You’re Here.” Currently, she serves on the Board of Directors for the Mystery Writers of America and has participated as a mentor in the Association of Writers & Writing Programs’ Writer-to-Writer program. Rachel lives with her husband and daughter in Los Angeles. 

Brandon Hobson

Brandon Hobson earned a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Oklahoma State University and is the author, most recently, of the novel “Where the Dead Sit Talking,”  which was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award. His next novel will be published by Ecco/Harper Collins. He is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at New Mexico State University and a Writing Mentor at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Hobson is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation Tribe of Oklahoma.  

Brian Hudson

Brian Hudson is a citizen of Cherokee Nation from Bushyhead, Oklahoma. He has published in the genre of Indigenous science fiction, including the novelette “Digital Medicine” and in the collection “Mitewacimowina: Indigenous Science Fiction and Speculative Storytelling.” In addition to creative work, he has published critical work on animals in Native literature, and he currently teaches Native studies, writing, and digital storytelling in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Anna Journey

Anna Journey is the author of the essay collection “An Arrangement of Skin” (Counterpoint, 2017) and three books of poems: “The Atheist Wore Goat Silk” (LSU Press, 2017), “Vulgar Remedies” (LSU Press, 2013), and “If Birds Gather Your Hair for Nesting” (University of Georgia Press, 2009), which was selected by Thomas Lux for the National Poetry Series. She is an assistant professor of English at the University of Southern California.

Laila Lalami

Laila Lalami was born in Rabat and educated in Morocco, Great Britain, and the United States. She is the author of four novels, including “The Moor’s Account,” which won the American Book Award, the Arab-American Book Award, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and “The Other Americans,” which was a Los Angeles Times bestseller, a best-of-2019 selection from a dozen outlets, and a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction. Her essays and criticism have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, Harper’s, the Guardian, and The New York Times. She has received fellowships from the British Council, the Fulbright Program, and the Guggenheim Foundation and is currently a tenured professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside. She lives in Los Angeles. Her new book, a work of nonfiction called “Conditional Citizens,” will be published by Pantheon in Spring 2020. You can pre-order it here.

Tom Lutz

Tom Lutz is the author of “Born Slippy: A Novel.” He is the founding editor of Los Angeles Review of Books and a distinguished professor of creative writing at UCR. His other work includes two books of travel essays, “Drinking Mare’s Milk on the Roof of the World” and “And the Monkey Learned Nothing”; the cultural histories “Crying” and “Doing Nothing”; and the literary histories “Cosmopolitan Vistas” and “American Nervousness, 1903.” 

Angela Morales

Angela Morales, a graduate of the University of Iowa's nonfiction writing program, is the author of  “The Girls in My Town,” a collection of personal essays. Her work has appeared in  Best American Essays 2013,  Harvard Review,  The Southern Review, The Southwest Review,  The Los Angeles Review, Arts and Letters, The Baltimore Review, The Pinch, Hobart, River Teeth, Under the Sun, and Puerto del Sol, and The Indianola Review.  She is the winner of the River Teeth Book Prize, 2014, and has received fellowships from Yaddo and MacDowell Colony. Her book is the 2017 winner of the  PEN Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. Currently she teaches composition and creative writing at Glendale Community College and is working on her second collection of essays. She lives in Pasadena, CA with her husband Patrick and their two children, Mira and Leo.

Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley is one of the most versatile and admired writers in America. He is the author of more than 50 critically-acclaimed books including the just released “Elements of Fiction,” a nonfiction book about the art of writing fiction; the “Down the River and Unto the Sea” (which won an Edgar Award for “Best Novel”) and the bestselling mystery series featuring “Easy Rawlins.” His work has been translated into 25 languages and includes literary fiction, science fiction, political monographs, and a young adult novel. His short fiction has been widely published, and his nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times and The Nation, among other publications. He is also a writer and an executive producer on the John Singleton FX show, “Snowfall.”

In 2013 he was inducted into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame, and he is the winner of numerous awards, including an O. Henry Award, The Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award, a Grammy, and PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Mosley lives in New York City and Los Angeles.

Wendy C. Ortiz

Wendy C. Ortiz is the author of “Excavation: A Memoir,” “Hollywood Notebook,” and the dreamoir “Bruja.” In 2016 Bustle named her one of “9 Women Writers Who Are Breaking New Nonfiction Territory.” Her work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, The Rumpus, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the National Book Critics Circle Small Press Spotlight blog. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Joyland, StoryQuarterly, FENCE, and McSweeney’s, among many other places. Wendy is a psychotherapist in private practice in Los Angeles. 

Victoria Patterson

Victoria Patterson’s latest story collection, “The Secret Habit of Sorrow,” was published in 2018. The critic Michael Schaub wrote: “There’s not a story in the book that’s less than great; it’s a stunningly beautiful collection by a writer working at the top of her game.” Her novel “The Little Brother,” which Vanity Fair called “a brutal, deeply empathetic, and emotionally wrenching examination of American male privilege and rape culture,” was published in 2015. She is also the author of the novels “The Peerless Four” and “This Vacant Paradise,” a 2011 New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Her story collection, “Drift,” was a finalist for the California Book Award and the Story Prize and was selected as one of the best books of 2009 by the San Francisco Chronicle. She lives in South Pasadena, California with her family.

Cati Porter

Cati Porter is a poet, editor, essayist, arts administrator, wife, mother, daughter, friend. She is the author of eight books and chapbooks, including “The Body at a Loss” (CavanKerry Press, 2019). Her poems have won prizes from So to Speak: A Feminist Journal of Language and Art and Gravity & Light, been a finalist for competitions offered by Crab Creek Review, Elixir Press, and elsewhere, and has appeared in Verse Daily, Contrary, West Trestle, The Nervous Breakdown, and others, including about a half dozen anthologies. She is also the executive director of Inlandia Institute, an inland southern California literary nonprofit, and founder and editor of Poemeleon: A Journal of Poetry. 

Joseph Rios

Joseph Rios is the author of “Shadowboxing: Poems and Impersonations” (Omnidawn). He is from Fresno’s San Joaquin Valley. He’s been a gardener, a janitor, a packing house supervisor, and a handyman. He is a recipient of scholarships from the Community of Writers Workshop at Squaw Valley and CantoMundo. He is a VONA alumnus and a Macondo Fellow. In 2015, he received the John K. Walsh residency fellowship from the University of Notre Dame. In 2016, his debut poetry collection was chosen by Claudia Rankine as a finalist for Omnidawn’s first book prize. He was named one of the notable Debut Poets by Poets & Writers Magazine for 2017 and was a finalist for a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent fellowship. He is a graduate of Fresno City College and the University of California, Berkeley. He lives in Los Angeles.

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a writer, educator, and activist. He received his MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and has taught at Boston College, Columbia University, and the Massachusetts College of Art. Ricco has received fellowships from The Center for Fiction, Lambda Literary, and The National Endowment for the Humanities. He is a board member of Kundiman, a national literary organization dedicated to Asian American literature. Ricco lives in Los Angeles. “The Foley Artist” is his first book. 

Jake Skeets

Jake Skeets is Black Streak Wood, born for Water’s Edge. He is Diné from Vanderwagen, New Mexico. He is the author of  “Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers,” a National Poetry Series-winning collection of poems. He holds an MFA in poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Skeets is a winner of the 2018 Discovery/Boston Review  Poetry Contest and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Skeets edits an online publication called  Cloudthroat  and organizes a poetry salon and reading series called Pollentongue, based in the Southwest. He is a member of Saad Bee Hózhǫ́: A Diné Writers’ Collective and currently teaches at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona.

Jerry Stahl

Jerry Stahl is a writer of memoir (“Permanent Midnight,” “OG Dad”), novels (“Perv,” “I Fatty,” “Pain Killers,” “Happy Mutant Baby Pills,” “Bad Sex on Speed”), television (“Twin Peaks,” “Hemingway and Gellhorn,” “CSI,” “Maron,” “Escape at Dannemora,”) and film (“Permanent Midnight,” “Bad Boys II,” “Urge,” and “Chuck”), and other works. 

Susan Straight

Susan Straight was born in Riverside and still lives here with her family. She has published ten books and numerous articles and stories. “Highwire Moon”  was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2001; “A Million Nightingales”  was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2006. Her short stories have appeared in  Zoetrope, The Ontario Review,  The Oxford American,  The Sun,  Black Clock, and other magazines. “The Golden Gopher,” from  Los Angelas Noir, won the Edgar Award in 2007; “El Ojo de Agua,” from  Zoetrope, won an O. Henry Award in 2007.  Her essays have appeared in the  New York Times,  Reader’s Digest,  Family Circle,  Salon,  The Los Angeles Times,  Harpers,  The Nation, and other magazines. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to work on  “Highwire Moon,” and a Lannan Prize was an immense help when working on  “Take One Candle Light a Room.” Her latest is “In the Country of Women.”

Lisa Teasley

Lisa Teasley is the author of the acclaimed novels  “Heat Signature”  and  “Dive,” and the award-winning story collection,  “Glow in the Dark,” published by Bloomsbury. Her frequently anthologized essays, stories, and poems have appeared in publications and media such as National Public Radio, The  Washington Post, the  Los Angeles Times,  Essence,  Zyzzyva,  Joyland, and  Black Clock. She is writer and presenter of the BBC television documentary “High School Prom” and senior fiction editor at  Los Angeles Review of Books. A painter as well, she is represented by the Marie Baldwin Gallery. 

Sergio Troncoso

Sergio Troncoso is author of “A Peculiar Kind of Immigrant’s Son,” a collection of linked short stories on immigration which Junot Díaz called “a masterwork.” Troncoso also wrote “From This Wicked Patch of Dust,” which Kirkus Reviews named one of the best books of 2012 in a starred review. The novel also won the Southwest Book Award. Troncoso wrote “Crossing Borders: Personal Essays,” winner of the Bronze Award for Essays from Foreword Reviews. He is also the author of “The Nature of Truth,” hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “impressively lucid.” Publishers Weekly called his first book, “The Last Tortilla and Other Stories,” “richly satisfying.” He is currently vice president of the Texas Institute of Letters. He has served as a judge for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the New Letters Prize for Essays. His work has recently appeared in New Letters, The Yale Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Texas Monthly. Visit his website at


Media Contacts