The Virginia G. Piper
Center for Creative Writing

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Piper Writers Studio Instructors

Expert writers with a passion for community

Our instructors are at the heart of what we do. 

To meet current instructors for the Piper Writers Studio, select a name from the list below.

For more information, you can meet past instructors or view upcoming classes and workshops

Meet Our Current Instructors

Photograph of Ilona Andrews

“Ilona Andrews” is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team. Ilona is a native-born Russian and Gordon is a former communications sergeant in the U.S. Army. Contrary to popular belief, Gordon was never an intelligence officer with a license to kill, and Ilona was never the mysterious Russian spy who seduced him. They met in college, in English Composition 101, where Ilona got a better grade. (Gordon is still sore about that.) Gordon and Ilona currently reside in Texas with their two children and many dogs and cats. They have co-authored several bestselling series, including the #1 NYT bestselling urban fantasy of Kate Daniels, rustic fantasy of the Edge, paranormal romance of Hidden Legacy, and Innkeeper Chronicles, which they post as a free weekly serial. For complete list of their books, fun extras, and Innkeeper installments, please visit their website at Ilona-andrews.com.


Photograph of Sean Avery

Sean Avery (pronouns he/they) is a rapper, poet and teaching artist from Avondale, Arizona. Their work integrates Hip-Hop music, poetry, and theater to explore how Black masculinity is projected onto their body. They strive for an authentic performance of self, hoping to inspire others to examine their own identities.

Avery's work has been featured on Afropunk, Blavity, the 2015-2016 Wisconsin Film Festival, the 2020 Tucson Poetry Festival, Write on Downtown, and the 2018-2019 Chicago Hip-Hop Theater Festival. They've shared the stage with performers such as Saul Williams, Lemon Anderson, and J. Ivy.

Currently, Avery teaches throughout the Phoenix area at schools and nonprofits. Their album and play skinnyblk, and all of their work, can be found at superseanavery.com.


Photograph of Leah Newsom

Leah Newsom is a fiction writer born and raised in Arizona. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Arizona State University and is the Founding Editor of Spilled Milk Magazine. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in PANK, JukedPassages North, and more.