We bring world-class memoir teachers to our biannual courses.

We’re proud to share the caliber of our faculty, the best-selling memoirists and industry experts who’ve taught classes for our programs. And there will be many more to come! Check out who’s taught for Magic of Memoir.

Kiese Laymon

Author of Heavy

Classes taught: The Heart of Memoir

Kiese Laymon is a Black southern writer from Jackson, Mississippi. He’s the author of Long Division, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and the best-selling memoir, Heavy, which won the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. The audiobook, read by the author, was named the Audible 2018 Audiobook of the Year.

Piper Kerman

Author of Orange Is the New Black

Classes taught: Women Writing Memoir and Mastering Craft

Piper Kerman is the author of the memoir Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, which was adapted into an Emmy Award-winning original series for Netflix. Piper speaks regularly about criminal justice reform and teaches writing in state prisons.

Carmen Maria Machado

Author of In the Dream House

Classes taught: The Courage to Write Fearlessly

Carmen Maria Machado is the author of the bestselling memoir In the Dream House and the short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Granta, Vogue, Guernica, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the Guggenheim Foundation, Yaddo, Hedgebrook, and the Millay Colony for the Arts.

Stephanie foo

Author of What My Bones Know

Classes taught: The Courage to Write Fearlessly

Stephanie Foo is the author of What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma. She has written for Vox, The New York Times and The Atlantic. She worked as a radio producer for This American Life and Snap Judgment, and her stories aired on Reply All, 99% Invisible, Radiolab

Lidia Yuknavitch

Author of The Chronology of Water

Classes taught: Day of Memoir Magic

Lidia Yuknavitch is the author of The Chronology of Water as well as four other books. She is known for her TED talk “The Beauty of Being a Misfit,” which has been viewed over 2.5 million times, and her book The Misfit’s Manifesto. She founded the workshop series Corporeal Writing in Portland Oregon, where she teaches both in person and online.

Ashley C. Ford

Author of Somebody’s Daughter

Classes taught: The Heart of Memoir

Ashley C. Ford’s New York Times best-selling memoir, Somebody’s Daughter, was published by Flatiron Books in June 2021. Ford is the co-host of The HBO companion podcast Lovecraft Country Radio. Ford has written or guest-edited for ELLE Magazine, Slate, Teen Vogue, New York Magazine, The New York Times, Domino, Cup of Jo, and various other web and print publications. 

Firoozeh Dumas

Author of Funny in Farsi

Classes taught: Women Writing Memoir

Firoozeh Dumas is an award-winning author and humorist best known for her New York Times bestsellers Funny in Farsi and Laughing Without an Accent. She has written for the New York Times, and many other publications, and recently finished her first screenplay. 

Mychal Denzel Smith

Author of Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching

Classes taught: The Courage to Write Fearlessly

Mychal Denzel Smith is the author of the New York Times bestseller Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching and Stakes Is High, winner of the 2020 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction. mith is host of the podcast “Open Form” on LitHub Radio. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Harper’s, Artforum, Oxford American, New Republic, The Nation, and more.

Joshua Mohr

Author of Model Citizen

Classes taught: The Heart of Memoir and Your Voice, Your Moment

Joshua Mohr is the author of the memoirs Model Citizen and Sirens, as well as five novels including Damascus, which The New York Times called “Beat-poet cool.” He’s also written Fight Song and Some Things that Meant the World to Me, as well as “Termite Parade,” an Editors’ Choice in The New York Times. He is the founder of Decant Editorial.

Anna Qu

Author of Made in China

Classes taught: The Heart of Memoir

Anna Qu is a Chinese American writer. Her critically acclaimed debut memoir, Made In China: A Memoir of Love and Labor, was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice pick. Her work has appeared in Threepenny Review, Lumina, Kartika, and Kweli, among others. She teaches at New England College and Monmouth University.

Elizabeth Nyamayaro

Author of I Am a Girl from Africa

Classes taught: Women Writing Memoir

Elizabeth Nyamayaro, a former Senior Advisor at the United Nations on Gender Equality and the founder and CEO of AfricaYouth.org, spent her childhood in an African village that was ravaged by both famine and HIV/AIDS. Born in Zimbabwe, Elizabeth is the author of I Am A Girl From Africa

Gina Frangello

Author of Blow Your House Down

Classes taught: Women Writing Memoir

Gina Frangello’s fifth book, the memoir Blow Your House Down: A Story of Family, Feminism, and Treason, has been selected as a New York Times Editor’s Choice. She is also the author of four books of fiction and the Creative Nonfiction Editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Lilly Dancyger

Author of Negative Space

Classes taught: Women Writing Memoir

Lilly Dancyger is the author of Negative Space, selected by Carmen Maria Machado as a winner of the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards; and the editor of Burn It Down, an anthology of essays on women’s anger. 

Wendy C. Ortiz

Author of Excavation

Classes taught: Build Your Memoir from the Ground Up

Wendy C. Ortiz is the author of Excavation, Hollywood Notebook, and Bruja. Her work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, The Rumpus, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and her writing has appeared in the New York Times, and McSweeney’s. She’s a psychotherapist in private practice in Los Angeles.

Dani Shapiro

Author of Inheritance

Classes taught: Spring Forward into Memoir

Dani Shapiro is the author of six novels including Family History, Black & White, and most recently Signal Fires, and the best-selling memoirs Slow Motion, Devotion, Hourglass, and Inheritance. She has also written for magazines such as The New Yorker, The Oprah Magazine, Vogue, and Elle.  She hosts the podcast Family Secrets.

Porochista Khakpour 

Author of Sick

Classes taught: Build Your Memoir from the Ground Up

Porochista Khakpour is the author of two award-winning novels, Sons and Other Flammable Objects and The Last Illusion, and a memoir, Sick. Her writing has appeared in The NY Times, the LA Times, Elle, Slate, and Salon, and elsewhere. Her most recent book is a collection of essays, Brown Album. She teaches writing at around the country and lives in New York City.

Nadia Bolz-Weber

Author of Shameless

Classes taught: Women Writing Memoir

New York Times bestselling author Nadia Bolz-Weber has been called “a pastor for America’s outsiders.” She’s the author of Pastrix, Accidental Saints, and Shameless, as well as a Lutheran minister and public theologian. 

Sue William Silverman

Author of How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences

Classes taught: Memoir Boot Camp

Sue William Silverman is the award-winning author of How to Survive Death and Other InconveniencesLove Sick; Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You; The Pat Boone Fan Club; and Fearless Confessions. She teaches in the MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. 

Elizabeth Gilbert

Author of Eat, Pray, Love

Classes taught: Your Voice, Your Moment

Elizabeth Gilbert is a journalist and best-selling author. She is best known for her 2006 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, which has sold over 12 million copies and has been translated into over 30 languages. She is also the author of the novels, Stern Men and City of Girls, and the memoir Committed.

Claire Bidwell Smith

Author of The Rules of Inheritance

Classes taught: Memoir Boot Camp

Claire Bidwell Smith is an internationally renowned author, speaker, and grief expert. She is the author of The Rules of Inheritance; After This: When Life Is Over Where Do We Go?; and Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief.

Jacqueline Woodson

Author of Brown Girl Dreaming

Classes taught: Memoir Boot Camp

Jacqueline Woodson is the award-winning author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, Brown Girl DreamingShe’s also the author of Red at the Bone, Another Brooklyn, and dozens of books for young readers.

Reyna Grande

Author of The Distance Between Us

Classes taught: Memoir Boot Camp

Reyna Grande is the author of the bestselling memoir, The Distance Between Us, about her life before and after she arrived in the US from Mexico as an undocumented child immigrant, and its sequel, A Dream Called Home.

Terese Marie Mailhot

Author of Heart Berries

Classes taught: Memoir Boot Camp

Terese Marie Mailhot is from Seabird Island Band. She is the New York Times bestselling author of Heart Berries, which was named Best Book of the Year by NPRLibrary Journal, and Harper’s Bazaar. She teaches creative writing at Purdue University. 

Faith Adiele

Author of Meeting Faith

Classes taught: Building Your Memoir from the Ground Up

Faith Adiele speaks and teaches around the world. She is the author of Meeting Faith, her memoir about leaving Harvard to become Thailand’s first Black Buddhist nun. She is the creator of the PBS documentary, My Journey Home, and author of The Nigerian-Nordic Girl’s Guide to Lady Problems and Coming of Age Around the World.

Marion Roach Smith

Author of The Memoir Project

Classes taught: Building Your Memoir from the Ground Up

Marion Roach Smith is the author of four books, including The Memoir Project, A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life. A former staffer at The New York Times, she has been a commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered and a talk show host on Sirius Satellite Radio. She currently runs a writing lab called The Memoir Project. 

Regina Brooks

Literary Agent

Classes taught: Day of Memoir Magic

Regina Brooks is the founder and President of Serendipity Literary Agency. Regina has over a decade of experience in senior positions at major publishing houses. She is a graduate of the Howard University Publishing Institute in Washington DC and the author of Never Finished Never Done, Writing Great Books for Young Adults, and You Should Really Write a Book.

Jonathan Kirsch

Literary Lawyer

Classes taught: The Courage to Write Fearlessly

Jonathan Kirsch is attorney, author of 13 books, and a contributor of book reviews to the Washington Post. He earned his BA from UC Santa Cruz and his JD from Loyola University School of Law. He served as a book review columnist for the LA Times for 3 decades and is a former Adjunct Professor for NYU’s Professional Publishing Institute. Kirsch does legal reviews of memoir manuscripts and is the legal counsel for the Independent Book Publishers Association. 

Mark Nepo

Author of The Book of Awakening

Classes taught: Spring Forward with Your Memoir Writing

Mark Nepo is a poet and spiritual adviser who has taught in the fields of poetry and spirituality for over 40 years. Nepo is best known for his New York Times #1 bestseller, The Book of Awakening. He has published 23 books and recorded 15 audio projects.

Larry Smith

Author of The Six-Word Memoir series

Classes taught: Memoir Boot Camp

Larry Smith is the founder of the Six-Word Memoir® project, editor of the bestselling series of books, and sought-after speaker. His most recent collection is Six Words Fresh Off the Boat: Stories of Immigration, Identity, and Coming to America. Larry’s online projects have been the inspiration for a dozen books, three graphic novels, and an anthology.

Jane Friedman

Author of The Business of Being a Writer

Classes taught: Day of Memoir Magic

Jane Friedman has more than 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in business strategy for authors and publishers. She’s the co-founder and editor of The Hot Sheet, a paid newsletter for authors, and has previously worked for Writer’s Digest and the Virginia Quarterly Review.