Episode 118: Fierce Reads Nonfiction Panel

AWM Author Talks
AWM Author Talks
Episode 118: Fierce Reads Nonfiction Panel

This week, we present the Fierce Reads Nonfiction Panel, a discussion of the various forms of nonfiction writing with five authors who work in the genre. In order of appearance, the writers are Achut Deng and Keely Hutton, Alex Graudins, Ashley Woodfolk, and Jessica Vitkus.

Quick note: Alex Graudins is a cartoonist and presented a slideshow of her work during her segment. If you would like to watch this, it is available on the American Writers Museum’s YouTube channel.

This conversation originally took place October 25th, 2022 and was recorded live via Zoom.


About the panelists:

ACHUT DENG was born in South Sudan and came to America as a refugee when she was sixteen years old, a story she recounts in her memoir, Don’t Look Back: A Memoir of War, Survival, and My Journey from Sudan to America. She is now an American citizen and works in human resources at a meat-packing plant in South Dakota, where she also resides. She is the mother of three sons.

KEELY HUTTON is a children’s book author and former English teacher. She worked closely with Ricky Richard Anywar to tell his story in her debut novel, Soldier Boy. Booklist named Soldier Boy one of the top ten first novels in 2017 and one of the top ten historical novels for youth in 2018. Her second novel, Secret Soldiers, was a 2020 Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year and 2020 Children’s Book Council Notable Social Studies Book for Young People. Keely lives in Rochester, NY with her husband, two sons, and adorable dog, Maximus. Hutton assisted Deng in the writing of Don’t Look Back.

ALEX GRAUDINS is the cartoonist behind Science Comics: The Brain and History Comics: The Great Chicago Fire. Currently hiding out in li’l Rhode Island, she holds a BFA in Cartooning from the School of Visual Arts and has done work for sites like The Nib and CollegeHumor. She has a penchant for memoirs and narratives that tackle the topics of anxiety and friendship. Her most recent title is the graphic memoir Improve: How I Discovered Improv and Conquered Social Anxiety.

ASHLEY WOODFOLK has loved reading and writing for as long as she can remember. She graduated from Rutgers University and worked in children’s book publishing for over a decade. Now a full-time mom and writer, Ashley lives in a sunny Brooklyn apartment with her cute husband, her cuter dog, and the cutest baby in the world. Her books include The Beauty That Remains, When You Were Everything, Blackout, Nothing Burns As Bright As You and the Flyy Girls Series. Her latest book is Opening My Eyes Underwater: Essays on Hope, Humanity, and Our Hero Michelle Obama, a collection of essays based on Michelle Obama quotes.

JESSICA VITKUS is a writer and television producer living in New York City. She has written craft stories and developed craft projects for Martha Stewart magazines and television, and has worked as a writer/producer for MTV News, Pop-Up Video, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and Late Night with Stephen Colbert. Her most recent book is Crafting Change: Handmade Activism, Past and Present, an informative and inspiring exploration of craftivism.

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