The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Conference Schedule 2019

Conference Schedule 2019

Saturday, February 23, 2019, 1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.

The Art of Contemporary Nonfiction Panel with Fernanda Santos, Yvette Johnson, Mike Conklin, Walonda Williams

Date(s): Saturday, February 23, 2019, 1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.
Carson Ballroom, Old Main (view map)
Genre and Form(s): Creative Nonfiction, Journalism
Tags: n/a

About the Session

In a world where the boundaries between fact and fiction are constantly blurred, where does creative nonfiction fit in at this moment in history? How do writers bring the story of the individual to life? What are the intricacies of writing characters who are real people? How does writing the factual impact the creative process? Spanning journalism, memoir, research, and essays, Fernanda Santos, Yvette Johnson, and Mike Conklin will discuss the unique challenges, complexities, and ultimate rewards of writing the real.

Meet the Presenter(s)

Desert Nights Rising Stars Writers Conference Faculty 2019 Fernanda Santos
Fernanda Santos teaches narrative journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She joined Cronkite after 12 years at The New York Times, including five as its Phoenix Bureau chief. Her first book, The Fire Line: The Story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, received the Western Writers of America 2017 Spur Award for Best First Nonfiction Book and was one of two finalists in the Contemporary Nonfiction category. Santos, who is from Brazil, has reported in three languages, throughout Latin America and United States. She is a recipient of the Kiplinger, International Reporting Project and Casey Children and Family fellowships, and co-author of “Latinos in the United States,” a reference guide by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
Desert Nights Rising Stars Writers Conference Faculty 2019 Yvette Johnson
Yvette Johnson is an accomplished writer, filmmaker, speaker, and the Executive Director of the Booker Writer Project which facilitates workshops on unconscious bias. Her memoir, The Song and the Silence, was published in 2017. Of her book, the Library Journal wrote, “This rich complex family history will appeal to anyone desiring a greater understanding of the consequences of intolerance.” Johnson co-produced the documentary, Booker's Place: A Mississippi Story, which premiered at the internationally recognized Tribeca Film Festival. The film also won several industry awards including the 2013 International Cinema in Industry: Documentary Gold Award, the 2013 FOCAL International Award for Best Use of Footage in a Factual Production, and the 34th Annual Telly Silver Award for Social Issues.
Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference Fellow 2019 Mike Conklin

Mike Conklin is a career journalist, whose feature, news and daily column writing was familiar to Chicago Tribune readers for three-plus decades. His assignments were local, national and international, often appearing in Tribune Syndication distributed to over 300 newspapers. Other work appeared in the New York Times, Encyclopedia of Chicago, Encyclopedia of American Journalism, History Magazine, textbooks, and a variety of other publications. 

Conklin left The Tribune to join the full-time faculty at DePaul University, where he taught, served as student newspaper advisor, and helped found the school’s Journalism Department. He also taught communication at Xiamen University in China and writing as an adjunct at Cornell College (Ia.), Lake Forest College (Ill.), and University of Illinois-Chicago. Other projects have included editing, writing, and contributing to five nonfiction books, publishing two fiction novels, and peer reviewing for Northwestern University Press. Currently he is working on a nonfiction Dust Bowl novel. Conklin lives in Arizona in the winter, where he teaches writing and consults as a volunteer in the Scottsdale Public Library and Phoenix Public School systems.

Piper Writers Studio Instructor Walonda Williams

Proud to be a Phoenix resident for five years, Walonda Williams hails from Detroit, Michigan, where she graduated with a BFA in theater from Wayne State University. Williams recently completed her MBA, specializing in project management, from Strayer University. Through flash memoir, poetry, short stories and staged-plays, Williams provides an otherworldly perspective and employs organic process, unleashing the marginalized voice. She trusts that transformative writing can shift painful pasts into dynamic action.