Night of Nonfiction: Debut Author Readings & Discussion



Hear the story. Then hear the story behind the story.

Enjoy an evening of readings by a selection of debut creative nonfiction authors with recent or forthcoming memoirs, essay collections, and other book-length CNF. Kicking off the night, we'll hear from our 2020 contest winner Claire O'Brien, who will read her award-winning essay “Dead Weight.”

After these writers share their stories, we'll invite the authors readers back to the stage for a discussion about their writing process and how they made the transition from unpublished to published. Bring your questions, too: An audience Q&A follows the panel.

Following the panel, the book sale table will re-open and authors with books available may be available for signings.

The Panel At-a-Glance

  • Lilly Dancyger – Negative Space (Sante Fe Writers Project; May 2021)
  • Greg Mania – Born to Be Public: A Memoir (CLASH Books; August 2020)
  • Jeannine Ouellette – The Part That Burns (Split/Lip Press; January 2021)
  • Carol Smith – Crossing the River: Seven Stories That Saved My Life: A Memoir (Abrams; May 2021)

Books will be on sale during HippoCamp, but you can also visit our Debut Author storefront now.

Panel moderator: Lara Lillibridge, Hippocampus Magazine's interviews editor
Introductions: Donna Talarico



  • Greg Mania

    Pronouns: he/him

    Greg Mania is a writer, comedian, and award-winning screenwriter based in New York City. His words have been published in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, O, The Oprah Magazine, PAPER, among other international online and print platforms. His debut memoir, Born to Be Public, is out now from CLASH Books.

  • Lara Lillibridge

    Lara Lillibridge is the author of Mama, Mama, Only Mama, Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home, and co-editor of the anthology Feminine Rising: Voices of Power and Invisibility. Lillibridge received HippoCamp's Literary Citizenship Award in 2019 and is a mentor for AWP’s Writer to Writer program.

  • Claire O'Brien

    After 15 years as a forensic expert, Claire hung up her crime scene gear to write. Soon she was leading the copywriting team at a major travel brand. Now, when not crafting headlines from her home in Costa Rica, she's pursuing an MFA at Queens University of Charlotte. Her essay...

  • Lilly Dancyger

    Pronouns: she/her

    Lilly Dancyger is a contributing editor at Catapult, and assistant editor at Barrelhouse Books. She's the author of Negative Space, a reported and illustrated memoir selected by Carmen Maria Machado as a winner of the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards; and the editor of Burn It Down, a critically...

  • Carol Smith

    Carol Smith is a Seattle writer and reinvented print journalist currently working as an editor for NPR-affiliate KUOW Public Radio. She fell in love with the intimacy of radio as a narrative medium after the closure of her long-time newspaper the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. She has been a PEN Literary Finalist...

  • Jeannine Ouellette

    Pronouns: she/her
    Artistic Director, Elephant Rock

    Jeannine Ouellette is the author of the The Part That Burns (Split/Lip Press, 2021), which was a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Award in Women's Literature, received a starred review from Kirkus, was hailed by the Rumpus as a book to read in 2021, and praised by Dorothy...