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Teachers

Meet Our Teachers

Hugo House teachers are at the core of our goal to help writers become better writers. Our teachers are writers; they are selected on the basis of their active engagement in the literary world as well as their love of teaching.

  • Headshot of Lauren Davis

    Lauren Davis

  • Headshot of Holly Day

    Holly Day

  • Headshot of Jennifer De Leon

    Jennifer De Leon

  • Hugo House logo

    Tamara Dean

  • Headshot of Claire Dederer

    Claire Dederer

  • Headshot of Risa Denenberg

    Risa Denenberg

  • Headshot of Nicola DeRobertis-Theye

    Nicola DeRobertis-Theye

  • Headshot of Cara Diaconoff

    Cara Diaconoff

  • Headshot of Nicole Dieker

    Nicole Dieker

  • Headshot of Anna Dorn

    Anna Dorn

  • Headshot of Mark Doty

    Mark Doty

  • Headshot of Scott Driscoll

    Scott Driscoll

  • Headshot of Zoser Dunbar

    Zoser Dunbar

  • Headshot of Andrea Dunlop

    Andrea Dunlop

  • Headshot of Cassidy Dyce

    Cassidy Dyce

  • Headshot of Rajnii Eddins

    Rajnii Eddins

  • Headshot of Suzanne Edison

    Suzanne Edison

  • Headshot of Omar El Akkad

    Omar El Akkad

  • Headshot of Allison Ellis

    Allison Ellis

  • Headshot of Katie Lee Ellison

    Katie Lee Ellison

  • Headshot of Jonathan Escoffery

    Jonathan Escoffery

  • Headshot of Melissa Febos

    Melissa Febos

  • Headshot of Dedi Felman

    Dedi Felman

  • Headshot of Melanie Figg

    Melanie Figg

Headshot of Lauren Davis

Lauren Davis

Lauren Davis is the author of The Milk of Dead Mothers (YesYes Books, forthcoming), and the poetry collections Home Beneath the Church (Fernwood Press) and When I Drowned (Aldrich Press). She holds an MFA from the Bennington College Writing Seminars.

Headshot of Holly Day

Holly Day

Pronouns: she/her

Holly Day has worked as a freelance writer for over 30 years, with over 7,000 articles, poems, and short stories published internationally, including in Analog SF, Harvard Review, and Maintenant. She has had several dozen books and chapbooks published by both major and independent publishers, most recently, the nonfiction books, Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, Tattoo FAQ, and History Lover’s Guide to Minneapolis; and the poetry books, A Book of Beasts, The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body, Bound in Ice, and Cross-Referencing a Book of Summer. Her writing has been nominated for a National Magazine Award, a 49th Parallel Prize, an Isaac Asimov Award, multiple Pushcart awards, and a Rhysling Award, and she has received two Midwest Writer’s Grants, a Plainsongs Award, the Sam Ragan Prize for Poetry, and the Dwarf Star Award from the Science Fiction Poetry Association.

Headshot of Jennifer De Leon

Jennifer De Leon

Hugo House logo

Tamara Dean

Pronouns: she/her

Tamara Dean is passionate about helping writers tell their stories. Her work has appeared in The American Scholar, Creative Nonfiction, The Guardian, Orion, Seneca Review, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. She's also the author of The Human-Powered Home. More at www.tamaradean.media

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Claire Dederer

Claire Dederer is the bestselling author of two critically acclaimed memoirs: Love and Trouble and Poser. Her new nonfiction book, Monsters, is based on her viral Paris Review essay "What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men?" Monsters will be published by Knopf in April 2023. Claire's writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Nation, Vogue, Slate, and many other publications. She is the recipient of a Lannan Foundation residency and is currently on the faculty of the Creative Writing MFA at Pacific University.

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Risa Denenberg

Pronouns: she/her

Risa Denenberglives on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state where she works as a nurse practitioner and volunteers with End of Life Washington. She is a co-founder and editor at Headmistress Press, publisher of lesbian/bi/trans poetry and curator of The Poetry Café, an online meeting place where poetry chapbooks are celebrated and reviewed. Her poetry and poetry book reviews have been published widely.

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Nicola DeRobertis-Theye

Nicola DeRobertis-Theye’s debut novel The Vietri Project will be published in March 2021 by Harper. She was an Emerging Writing Fellow at the New York Center for Fiction, and her work has been published in Agni, Electric Literature, and LitHub. A graduate of UC Berkeley, she received an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she was the fiction editor of its literary magazine Ecotone. She has taught creative writing at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington and the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts. A native of Oakland, CA, she now lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Cara Diaconoff

Pronouns: she/her

Cara Diaconoff is the author of Unmarriageable Daughters: Stories and a novel, I’ll Be a Stranger to You. Her fiction has appeared in Indiana Review, The Adirondack Review, and elsewhere. She teaches writing and literature at Bellevue College. For more information check out Cara's LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/caradiaconoff/.

Headshot of Nicole Dieker

Nicole Dieker

Nicole Dieker teaches writing, freelancing, and publishing classes (including Hugo House online classes) and works one-on-one with authors as a developmental editor and copyeditor. She’s been a full-time freelance writer since 2012, and spent five years as a writer and editor for The Billfold, a personal finance blog where people had honest conversations about money.

Nicole’s debut novel, The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1: 1989–2000, published in May 2017; The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 2: 2004–2016 followed in May 2018. The two books are a Millennial-era Little Women that follow three sisters from childhood to adulthood.

Visit NicoleDieker.com to learn more — including Nicole’s thoughts on writing, money, teaching and the process of taking your work from good to excellent.

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Anna Dorn

Anna Dorn is an author, editor, and teacher living in Los Angeles. She has published three books: Exalted (Unnamed Press, 2022), Bad Lawyer (Hachette, 2021), and Vagablonde (Unnamed Press, 2020).

Headshot of Mark Doty

Mark Doty

Mark Doty is the author of nine books of poetry, including Deep Lane (April 2015), Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, which won the 2008 National Book Award, and My Alexandria, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the T.S. Eliot Prize in the UK. He is also the author of four memoirs: the New York Times-bestselling What Is the Grass, Dog Years, Firebird, and Heaven’s Coast, as well as a book about craft and criticism, The Art of Description: World Into Word. Doty has received two NEA fellowships, Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships, a Lila Wallace/Readers Digest Award, and the Witter Byner Prize.

Headshot of Scott Driscoll

Scott Driscoll

Scott Driscoll is an award-winning instructor (UW, Educational Outreach Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Arts and Humanities 2006), and his debut novel, Better You Go Home, was selected as the Foreword Reviews First Book Contest winner. He was the 1989 winner of the University of Washington’s Milliman Award for Fiction.

Headshot of Zoser Dunbar

Zoser Dunbar

Zoser is a singer/songwriter and music bender whose music has no boundaries.  With a soulful voice, thoughtful lyrics, and a guitar, his music shifts seamlessly between pop, hip-hop, R&B, and folk.  The writing is personal, the music idiosyncratic, all to capture the feelings and mood of each song. With influences ranging from Ed Sheeran to Childish Gambino, a simple six-string, and mic, Zoser transforms into a “beat box,” lending percussive bass to funky and melodious rhymes.  He made his recording debut in 2019 with the EP release “Genesis” followed by the EP “Evolve” in 2020,  independently recorded and released.  Zoser is currently the Co-Chair of the Totem Star Leadership Collective, a non-profit music and mentorship program for underserved youths.

As an emerging Seattle artist, Zoser began playing guitar when he was just 10-years-old. By the age of 12, he began penning his own lyrics and performing to local audiences in his hometown of Augusta, Georgia. 2 years later, as a mentee of the 100 Black Men of America, he represented the August chapter and performed at the National Convention. Zoser remained a fixture on the local musical scene until relocating to Seattle where he graduated from West Seattle High School. 

While in high school, Zoser was a gold medalist in the Seattle King County NAACP ACTSO competition where he went on to represent the branch at the National convention and was later inducted into the Washington Young Laureates program. Shortly after adjusting to the Seattle music scene, he went on to be a semi-finalist for” SoundOff! 2019”, PNW local music competition, and selected to participate in the More Music at The Moore, a Musician in Residency and Young Emerging Artists program.

By culling and synthesizing seemingly disparate musical forms and influences, Zoser has crafted a sound that is wholly and undeniably his own. The result is something spectacular to behold: a voice that conveys a world-weary ache and a bright optimism, and a sense of musicality that is both rhythmic and infectiously melodic. He is a singer, a storyteller and something of a revelation – not necessarily a soul singer but something rarer and more precious – a singer with soul.

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Andrea Dunlop

Andrea Dunlop is an author and consultant based out of Seattle, WA with over a decade of experience in book publishing.

She began her career as an in-house publicist for Doubleday (Random House) where she worked with bestselling authors such as Tina Brown, Jonathan Lethem, Linda Fairstein, and many others.

After moving back to Seattle in 2009, she took over as publicity manager for Kim Ricketts Book Events promoting a wide range of cookbook and literary events with authors such as Laurie David, Rene Redzepi, and Steven Johnson. Next, she spent five years with an editorial and book production firm as their executive director of social media and marketing, working with both traditionally and self-published clients and spearheading the company’s marketing efforts.

Andrea is the author of three novels including Losing the Light (February 2016), She Regrets Nothing (February 2018), and the forthcoming We Came Here to Forget (July 2019) all from Atria/Simon&Schuster. Her books have been featured in Town & Country, Bustle, InStyle, US Weekly, Vanity Fair, and elsewhere. In addition to her writing and social media work, Andrea is an accomplished speaker and has presented at book and publishing conferences nationwide including The San Francisco Writers Conference, The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Conference, The Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference, and many others.

She lives in Seattle, WA with her husband and daughter.Andrea is the author of three novels including Losing the Light (February 2016), She Regrets Nothing (February 2018), and the forthcoming We Came Here to Forget (July 2019) all from Atria/Simon&Schuster. Her books have been featured in Town & Country, Bustle, InStyle, US Weekly, Vanity Fair, and elsewhere. In addition to her writing and social media work, Andrea is an accomplished speaker and has presented at book and publishing conferences nationwide including The San Francisco Writers Conference, The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Conference, The Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference, and many others.

She lives in Seattle, WA with her husband and daughter.

Headshot of Cassidy Dyce

Cassidy Dyce

Pronouns: She/Her

Cassidy Dyce is a writer currently living in Seattle, Washington. After graduating from Christopher Newport University with a BA degree in English, she worked as the writer's assistant for Kwame Alexander, Author, and Recipient of the Newbery Medal. Her work is featured in NPR's Morning Edition and ABC's miniseries, WordPlay. In her first year of moving to Seattle, Cassidy was accepted into the Hugo House Fellowship Program, where she completed the first draft of her WIP Caricatures. Recently, she joined Seattle Arts and Lecture's Writers-in-Schools (WITS) residency, where she has the privilege to venture into Public Schools and partner with Teachers to reintroduce the love of literature and creative writing to students. Her graphic novel series, Brainstormers, Co-authored with Kwame Alexander, will hit shelves in 2025.

Headshot of Rajnii Eddins

Rajnii Eddins

Originally from Seattle, Washington, Spoken Word Poet/ Emcee and Teaching Artist Rajnii Eddins has been engaging diverse community audiences for over 27 years. He was the youngest member of the Afrikan American Writers Alliance at age 11 and has been actively sharing with youth and community in Vermont since 2010. His latest work Their Names Are Mine aims to confront white supremacy while emphasizing the need to affirm our mutual humanity.

Headshot of Suzanne Edison

Suzanne Edison

Suzanne Edison, MA, MFA is a poet, educator and former therapist. She has led workshops for parents and medical professionals on the effects of chronic illness on families at Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH), NIH, and at national conferences for the Cure JM Foundation. She created a writing group for parents of kids with chronic illness at SCH, and the workshop “Teens Writing from the Heart of Illness & Healing” at Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Her recent chapbook, The Body Lives Its Undoing, was published in 2018 by The Benaroya Research Institute. It is an exploration in poetry and visual art about autoimmune diseases based on interviews with researchers, doctors, patients and caregivers.

Suzanne is the recipient of grants from Artist Trust, 4Culture of King County, Seattle Office of Arts and Culture and will be a Hedgebrook fellow in Fall of 2019.

Some of Suzanne’s work can be found in her first chapbook, The Moth Eaten World, and in the following journals and anthologies: Michigan Quarterly Review; Naugatuck River Review; JAMA; CMAJ; The Healing Art of Writing, Vol. I; The Examined Life Journal; Face to Face: Women Writers on Faith, Mysticism and Awakening. Her work can be read online in various other journals and on her website. www.seedison.com

Writers I Return To: Louise Gluck, Wislawa Szymborska, Rachel Zucker, Seamus Heaney, Galway Kinnell

Favorite Writing Advice: Read, write, read, write

Headshot of Omar El Akkad

Omar El Akkad

Pronouns: He/Him

Omar El Akkad is an award-winning journalist and author whose debut novel, American War, was listed as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, GQ, NPR, Esquire, and was selected by the BBC as one of a hundred novels that changed our world. His second novel, What Strange Paradise, won the Giller Prize and the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award.

Headshot of Allison Ellis

Allison Ellis

Pronouns: she/her

Allison Ellis’ writing has been published in The New York Times, The Ploughshares blog, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, Amazon Original Stories, SELF, Marie Claire, Redbook, and The Washington Post. In 2016, her essay, “Hold On” won the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Award in the short nonfiction category, and her forthcoming memoir, Ready About is the 2021 recipient of the First Pages Prize/Sandra Carpenter Prize for Creative Nonfiction. She holds an MFA from Bennington Writing Seminars (2021) and a BA from Smith College in American Studies. Read more of her work at allisonellis.com

Headshot of Katie Lee Ellison

Katie Lee Ellison

Pronouns: she/her
Headshot of Jonathan Escoffery

Jonathan Escoffery

Jonathan Escoffery is the author of If I Survive You, a debut collection of linked stories forthcoming in September 2022 from MCDxFSG, as well as the forthcoming novel, Play Stone Kill Bird. Both books will be published in the UK and Commonwealth by 4th Estate Books, in Canada by McClelland and Stewart, and will be published in translation in France by Albin Michel and in Germany by Piper Verlag.

Escoffery is the winner of The Paris Review’s 2020 Plimpton Prize for Fiction and is the recipient of a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts (Prose) Literature Fellowship. His story “Under the Ackee Tree” was among the trio that won the Paris Review the 2020 ASME Award for Fiction from the American Society of Magazine Editors, and was subsequently included in The Best American Magazine Writing 2020. His most recent stories have appeared in The Paris Review, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, Zyzzyva and American Short Fiction.

 Escoffery has taught creative writing and seminars on the writer’s life at Stanford University, the University of Minnesota, the Center for Fiction, Tin House, Writers in Progress, and at GrubStreet in Boston, where, as former staff, he founded the Boston Writers of Color Group, which currently has more than 2,000 members. He has received support and honors from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, Aspen Words, Kimbilio Fiction, the Anderson Center, and elsewhere. 

 For Writers of the World, Jonathan reflected on his love of the short story form: “I first fell in love with story’s ability to transport, to expand the borders of my reality. I recall crouching beneath my parents’ kitchen counter as a child, losing Sunday afternoons reading. That words printed between book covers could take me to far off worlds, on journeys that left me forever changed, was, to me, nothing short of magic. I also sensed perfection in the economy of these world-altering journeys; their being beautifully bound to fit in my palms. Later, I came to understand that great literature does not simply transport, but that it also helps me understand myself, and that—at its best—it helps me to better articulate my experiences and helps me further understand those of others.”

 He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota’s Creative Writing MFA Program (Fiction) and attends the University of Southern California’s Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature Program as a Provost Fellow. He is a 2021-2023 Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.

Headshot of Melissa Febos

Melissa Febos

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Dedi Felman

Dedi Felman is a writer/director born and raised in the wilds of NJ. A member of the inaugural class of the HBO Access Writing Fellowship, she attended the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting and teaches TV writing for Script Anatomy. Previously, Dedi worked in publishing as a senior editor at Simon & Schuster and an executive editor at Oxford University Press. Titles she’s developed have been The New York Times and The Washington Post bestsellers and have won the Bancroft Prize, the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize, and the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism prize, and been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She continues to freelance consult on book projects at Book Doctor West. Her espionage drama short, "Allegiance", was a finalist at the USA Film Festival and voted a Kickstarter "Project We Love." She is currently working on two features, American Holler, a heist movie, and a contained sci-fi drama, The Immortalists.

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Melanie Figg

Pronouns: she/her

Melanie Figg is a poet and essayist, currently working on a hybrid memoir. Her award-winning poetry collection, Trace, was named one of the year’s "Best Indie Books" by Kirkus Reviews. She's received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council, and others, and has had work published in dozens of literary journals, including The Iowa Review, Nimrod, The Rumpus, Hippocampus, and the American Journal of Poetry. As a certified professional coach, Melanie offers women’s writing retreats and works remotely with writers on their manuscripts as well as their creative process.

Website: melaniefigg.net