Amtrak is excited to announce the selection of the second group of writers selected to participate in the #AmtrakResidency program. Over the next year, they will work on writing projects of their choice in the unique workspace of a long-distance train. The residents offer a diverse representation of the writing community and hail from across the country. Meet our residents below:
Abigail Taylor-Sansom is a New York City actor, playwright, and screenwriter. Her plays have received over thirty productions or workshops at theaters throughout the United States and Canada. Her play Fine Art is published and licensed by Heuer, and a monologue from Don’t Call Us (We’ll Call You) will be anthologized in a collection by Smith & Kraus in 2016. Taylor-Sansom is a proud graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the School of Drama at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She is enrolled in the 2016-2017 Professional Program in Screenwriting at UCLA. Follow her #AmtrakResidency on Twitter and Instagram at @tay_sans.
Alexandra Petri is a columnist for the Washington Post where she writes for the opinion page and the ComPost blog, which offers a “lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.” Her writing also has appeared in the Chicago Tribune and Newsday. Petri’s work for the stage includes Rare Medium Well Done, One Room Over and Miss Emma’s Matchmaking Agency for Literary Characters. Her plays have been performed in theaters and at festivals across the country. In 2015 she released a collection of essays, A Field Guide To Awkward Silences. She tweets at @petridishes.
Anne Britting Oleson is a Maine-based writer of poems, short stories, book reviews and essays, and she also takes photographs. Her work has appeared in publications including the Cimarron Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review and Aurorean. As a member of Simply Not Done, a women’s reading, writing and teaching collaborative, she has participated in public readings in New York City and across New England. Her recent work includes a poetry collection, Counting the Days, and a novel, The Book of the Mandolin Player, which chronicles life in a small Maine town. When not writing, Oleson enjoys biking, hiking and discovering new music.
Brian Sonia-Wallace is a Los Angeles-based poet and entrepreneur working on revitalizing poetry for the 21st Century. As RENT Poet and co-director of Melrose Poetry Bureau, Sonia-Wallace has paid his rent since 2014 writing poems for strangers on his trusty typewriter, and anthologized the experience in his first book of poetry, I Sold These Poems, Now I Want Them Back. Sonia-Wallace is a 2016 Artist-in-Residence for the City of Los Angeles and a 2015 Doris Duke Impact Award nominee. He tweets @rentpoet.
Brianna Albers is a poet, writer, and storyteller, located in the Minneapolis suburbs. In 2016, she founded Monstering, a literary and cultural arts magazine for women and femmes with disabilities; she currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief. Her work can be found in Guernica Magazine, Word Riot, and Winter Tangerine Review, among others. She was named one of 30 up-and-coming writers under 30 years of age by Phosphene Literary Journal, and her début chapbook, Why I’m Not Where You Are, was a finalist in Where Are You Press’ “Where Are You Poet” contest; it was published in 2016 via Words Dance Publishing. Follow her on Twitter at @bhalbers.
Charles Beale is a film actor, producer, writer and director based in Los Angeles, California. His recent projects include the short films AA and Code; having written and directed both. Currently, he is producing another science fiction short film, as well as the pilot issue for a new comic book series he is writing. Beale has produced, directed, and acted in a number of award winning short films, including the 2011 Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts 24 Hour Film Challenge in which his team placed first. Follow him on Instagram at @Charlesirvingbeale and Twitter at @Chucklesthekid.
Rachel Monroe is based in the West Texas town of Marfa where she is a freelance writer, occasional radio host and a volunteer firefighter. Her writing focuses on crime, utopias, small towns, emergencies, and border issues. Monroe’s work has been featured in the New York Times Magazine, New York Magazine, Oxford American, Texas Monthly and the Guardian. New York Magazine recently named Monroe “one of 56 women journalists everyone should read.” Her radio work includes more than a dozen interviews with writers for Marfa Public Radio. She tweets at @rachmonroe.
Lucile Scott is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor. She has reported on national and international health and human rights issues for over a decade, and has traveled to numerous countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean as part of this work. Most recently, she worked as a writer and editor at the United Nations. In addition, she has written and/or directed plays that have been featured at numerous New York City venues, as well as at the Edinburgh and Hollywood Fringe Festivals. She hails from Lexington, Kentucky, and moved to New York after graduating from Northwestern University. Currently, she is searching for ‘purple’ America, or our commonalities in this red v. blue election year, and you kind find out more about her exploits on Facebook and Instagram using #SearchingForPurpleAmerica. You can find her on Twitter at @lucilebscott.
Natalie Zutter is a playwright, aspiring TV writer, and pop culture critic based in New York City. While her childhood dream was to be an astronaut, she nonetheless shot for the moon and fell among the proverbial stars as a Staff Writer at the sci-fi/fantasy website Tor.com, in a metaphorical rocket at the top of the Flatiron Building. A graduate of NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study (with a concentration in Serialized Storytelling and Internet Culture) and current member of the EMG Playwriting Workshop, Natalie writes plays about female superheroes, sex robots, and time travel. Follow her journey on Twitter @nataliezutter and Instagram at @zutsuit.
Petrina Crockford is a novelist based in Los Angeles, CA, where she’s a Provost’s Fellow in USC’s Creative Writing & Literature Program. She was the 2015 Gerald Freund Fellow at the MacDowell Colony, and she’s received honors from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Rolex Mentor and Protege Literature Prize. She studied English Literature and photography at Yale and writing at Johns Hopkins. She’ll be crossing the Southwest as she finishes her novel. You can find her on Twitter at @LaPetra21.
Maxwell Ivey was born into a family of carnival owners in Texas. He lost most of his vision by age twelve, but his natural gusto for life lead him to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, graduate college, and participate in the family business until his father’s death lead to the closure of their small show. Face with his own mortality he was treated for sleep apnea and later had gastric surgery losing over 250 pounds. He started his own business helping people buy and sell amusement equipment. He has inspire many by his ability to overcome the challenges of running a website, writing a blog, recording videos, and managing the myriad of social media networks. This lead to starting a second business offering life coaching and a second website to share his experiences of being a blind entrepreneur. He has written two self help books, appeared on dozens of podcasts and radio shows, and has become internationally known as The Blind Blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @maxwellivey.
As writers and filmmakers, Laura Boersma and John Stewart Muller have been working together over 16 years creating everything from feature films, to episodic series, to national commercials, to branded content. In 2008, they released their award-winning debut feature, Fling, which they both wrote and produced and John directed. Fling enjoyed a successful festival run, was released theatrically, and is currently available worldwide on a multitude of platforms. It has reached 15 million views on YouTube alone. Their latest feature, the stylish psychological thriller Indiscretion, was acquired by A&E Networks for worldwide release and premiers July 23 on Lifetime. Written and produced by Laura and John (who also directs), Indiscretion stars Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino, Cary Elwes, Christopher Backus, and Katherine McNamara. Laura and John are currently in development on multiple film and episodic projects through their Santa Monica-based production company, Granfalloon Productions. Laura is also a contributing writer to MovieMaker Magazine. You can find them on Twitter at @lauraboersma and @johnsmuller.
Erlina Ortiz is resident playwright with Power Street Theatre Company (PSTC) in Philadelphia. Upon graduating from Temple University with a degree in theatre, Erlina had her first two full length plays produced with PSTC in 2013 and 2014. She Wore Those Shoes, a movement play about rape culture in the military will have a full production at the Iron Factory October 2016 with PSTC. As a young emerging Latina-American playwright, Erlina’s voice is unique and important to the growing landscape of theatre in America and will only continue to become more relevant.
Hollie Overton is a Texas native who now calls LA home. A TV writer whose work includes “Cold Case,” and “The Client List,” Hollie is currently a Co-Producer on Freeform’s “Shadowhunters.” Hollie’s debut thriller, BABY DOLL was recently published in the US, UK and eleven other countries. For more info, visit Hollie at www.hollieoverton.com or connect on twitter @hollieoverton.
Grace Anne Stevens is an inspirational and motivational speaker specializing in encouraging all people to find their truth and live their authentic life. Grace has written two books; No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, and Musings on Living Authentically. She is presently writing a children’s book, The Alphabet of Self, which will introduce the concepts of parts to children. Grace writes each week on The Huffington Post with her blog/columns where she continues to share her thoughts and experiences on living authentically.After four decades in high tech, she returned to school at the age of fifty-eight and earned an MA in Counseling Psychology at the age of sixty-two. Grace transitioned gender at the age of sixty-four successfully in two vastly different workplaces, the technical and counseling worlds. Grace strongly believes, “We are all so much more than just gender.”
Jeffrey Sweet‘s plays and musicals have been produced in New York, Chicago and on stages around the country and internationally, winning a lot of awards that aren’t quite the Pulitzer. Among the actors who have appeared in them are Amy Morton, Jon Cryer, Jack Klugman, William Petersen, Ed Asner, Helen Hunt, Nathan Lane, Judy Kaye, Richard Kind, Jill Eikenberry, Austin Pendleton and many other fine people. In February, Jeff McCarthy and Nambi E. Kelley will star off-Broadway in his play, Kunstler, about the famed attorney. Among his books are The O’Neill (about the O’Neill Center) and Something Wonderful Right Away (about Second City). (He’s written a lot of TV, too.) He also appears in a solo show, You Only Shoot the Ones You Love, wherever anybody turns on a light.
Krithika Varagur is a writer and journalist in New York. She’s an editor of the Huffington Post’s solutions journalism initiative, What’s Working, and reports on counterextremism, beauty and diversity, and social impact. Her work has also appeared in Vogue India, i-D, the New York Times, McSweeney’s, and the Harvard Lampoon. She is an amateur mycologist and tweets as @krithikaltheory.
Sarah Federman, PhD could think of no better place edit her book about railroads than on a train. Her book addresses the role of the French National Railways (SNCF) in the transport of deportees during World War II and the conflict existing today in the United States over whether the company has made amends. In telling this story, the book follows the lives of four French Jewish citizens who all happened to find themselves on the last trains to Auschwitz—trains that left after D-Day. Sarah’s work raises larger questions about the role of corporations in mass violence. She conducted extensive research in the U.S. and France, including 120 interviews (80 with survivors), archival work, pro bono work for the U.S. government, and much more. Sarah received her PhD in conflict resolution from George Mason University (GMU). The Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah, Carey Institute for Global Good, and Kathryn Davis Foundation, also funded this work. Follow her on Twitter @SarahFederman.
Shannon Dell is a travel writer whose work has been featured in publications such as Matador Network, BBC Travel, and Business Insider. She spends most of her time gallivanting around Colorado, writing about everything from flattened fauna to spiritual midwifery to the raw humanity of travel. When she’s not writing, she’s sharpening her social media skills for Matador Network and impulsively overloading her calendar with more travel plans than she can keep up with. One step at a time, she’s making her way around the world fueled by her passion for finding the quirks in every crack of the globe. Follow her on Twitter at @Strange_and_New.
Susan Piver is the New York Times bestselling author of The Hard Questions, the award-winning How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life, and The Wisdom of a Broken Heart. Her latest book, Start Here Now: An Open-Hearted Guide to the Path and Practice of Meditation was published in September, 2015. She is at work on her next book, “The Four Noble Truths of Love.” Susan has been a student of Buddhism since 1993, graduated from a Buddhist seminary in 2004 and was authorized to teach meditation in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage in 2005. In 2011, she launched the Open Heart Project, a completely virtual meditation center that lives entirely in the cloud. There are close to 20,000 members all over the world.
Tamara Lush is a romance novelist based in St. Petersburg, Florida. Her most recent work is Tell Me a Story, a serial novel in five episodes. Her first two books, Hot Shade and Into the Heat, were published by Boroughs Publishing Group. Tamara is also a correspondent with The Associated Press. She is a graduate of Emerson College. You can follow her on Twitter at @tamaralush.
Tiffany Quay Tyson lives and writes in Denver, Colorado. Her debut novel, Three Rivers, was published in 2015 by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press. It was a finalist for both the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction and the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction. Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Tiffany worked for a brief post-college stint as a newspaper reporter in the Mississippi Delta, where she received the Frank Allen Award for Journalism. She went on to work for PBS stations and literacy nonprofits in Texas and Colorado, and was awarded a Heartland Emmy for co-writing an episode of a children’s television program. She serves on the faculty of the Lighthouse Young Writers Program in Denver and is currently working on her second novel. Tiffany tweets @tqtyson.
A versatile journalist and interviewer, Tobi Elkin is innately curious about people, places, and ideas and enjoys finding the connections between them. She takes a special interest in intergenerational stories and creativity—where it comes from, and what sustains it. She has written for AOL, The Associated Press, Modern Loss, Narratively, Robb Report, The Huffington Post, and The Lo-Down, a hyper-local news and culture site that covers New York City’s Lower East Side. Tobi is a volunteer with the Seward Park Conservancy which is committed to improving Seward Park, designated the oldest municipal playground in the U.S., and serves as a public member of her local community board. Tobi is delighted to participate in the #AmtrakResidency program. She tweets @TobiElkin.