#SpineSquad

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (they/them) is an Assistant Agent at The Rights Factory literary agency. The authors below are represented by Emmy, and together they form the #SpineSquad, who are out to bring some incredible books into the world. For more information on Emmy’s agenting work, check out their MSWL page!


Aaron Chan is a musician, filmmaker, and writer born and raised on unceded Coast Salish territories (Vancouver). He holds a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, and his writing has been published in literary magazines and publications including Plenitude, filling Station, Polychrome Ink, and Xtra. His piece “A Case of Jeff” won subTerrain‘s Lush Triumphant Literary Award in Creative Non-Fiction, and he has published a poetry chapbook, Romantic Hopeless. His first book, This City Is a Minefield (Signal 8 Press), is a collection of memoir and personal essays. Aaron also likes cats and vegan cheesecake.


Adan Jerreat-Poole is a reader and writer who loves all things fantastical and feminist. They are a PhD candidate at McMaster University studying disability and queerness in popular culture. Their short fiction has appeared in The New Quarterly, Qwerty Magazine, Soliloquies, and The Steel Chisel. Their debut young adult fantasy novel, The Girl of Hawthorn and Glass, is forthcoming with Dundurn Press (September 2020). Adan lives in Kingston, ON, on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee nations. They have a cat named Dragon.


A. J. Vrana is a Serbian-Canadian academic and writer from Toronto, Canada. She lives with her two rescue cats, Moonstone and Peanut Butter, who nest in her window-side bookshelf and cast judgmental stares at nearby pigeons. Her doctoral research examines the supernatural in modern Japanese and former-Yugoslavian literature and its relationship to violence. When not toiling away at caffeine-fueled, scholarly pursuits, she enjoys jewelry-making, cupcakes, and concocting dark tales to unleash upon the world.


Alex O’Connell (she/her) is a writer, teacher, and triple Gemini. She has worked as a swim instructor, nanny, cashier, camp counselor, and teacher. She holds a BA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from Fordham University, and is currently pursuing a PhD in English at Syracuse University. Alex writes YA stories that focus on sexuality, mental health, and the weirdness of intimacy, friendship, and angst. She grew up in Illinois and currently lives in Syracuse, where she spends a bit too much time thinking about werewolves and hairless cats. She thanks you for reading this bio.


Anton Prosser is a writer living in Austin, Texas. He studied Czech and Russian at the University of Texas. His unsupervised reading time as a child nurtured a love of science fiction, fantasy and all types of genre fiction. When not writing, Anton can be found reading on the couch, watching movies at the Alamo Drafthouse or making desserts. He lives with his husband, a cat and two Roombas.


CM Harris (she/her) is the author of novels Maiden Leap (forthcoming 2020), Enter Oblivion, and The Children of Mother Glory.

Her short stories and essays appear in O Magazine, Escape Artists’ Pseudopod podcast, SALiT Magazine, Harrington Literary Quarterly, Queer Voices: Poetry, Prose, and Pride, horror anthology Coppice & Brake, and the forthcoming issue of Meniscus Literary Journal. Her screenplay The Cost of Glory received a Gold Award for Best Concept Script and a Silver Award for Best Feature Script from the Queen Palm Film Festival.

CM Harris lives in Minneapolis with her wife and their twins. She is also the lead singer of indie rock band Hothouse Weeds.


Carly Bergey, M.A., CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist, singer and writer. Her professional interests include voice care, therapy and coaching. She offers these services through her private practice, Lark Voice and Speech, and teaches and supervises graduate speech-language pathology students at Moravian college. How we speak ourselves into our lives, literally and figuratively is the foundation for much of her written work. She lives in eastern Pennsylvania with her family (human and canine).


Holly Brians Ragusa, poet, author, family ringleader and life learner, embraces words, her fellow planetary stakeholders and meaning. Writing and volunteering for arts, historical and educational nonprofits, supporting global causes and local endeavors, she is moved to put words into action. Author of the hybrid true crime/memoir, Met The End, with Op-Eds in the Cincinnati Enquirer, essay in The Athena Review, her poetry has been published in Willowdown Books Nature Anthology and La Piccioletta Barca. Living in Over The Rhine with the love of her life, two creative grown daughters, her lovely Mom, and some furry family, she is born, released and restored to Cincinnati Ohio.


Jacqueline Rohrbach is an asexual/aromantic author of queer romance and speculative fiction. Her books focus on offbeat characters caught up in strange, sometimes absurd situations where they have to grow with each other in order to save the day. She loves her cinnamon roll alphas with extra icing, her sarcastic ladies with the spine to back their spunk, and her antiheroes with the softest of soft spots for the love of their life. Currently, she’s the author of five full-length novels and three novellas. When she’s not writing, you can find her walking with her two dogs, Mulder and Nibbler or trying to catch a nap.


Jodee Rose is an artist and writer. She graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and spent 10 years of her life substitute teaching before being hired full time. Her career in teaching was cut short by chronic illness. Diagnosed in 2014 with Behcet’s Disease, she finally began treatment and turned to writing while mostly bed bound. When she is not writing or creating art, she engages in activism for the disabled, fat, and LGBTQIA+ communities, of which she is a part. She currently lives in Montana with her spouse of 20 years and her grumbly black cat, Maggie Mae.

Her Illustrated Humor Blog, “I’d Like Cheese on My Entire Family!” won Blog of Note from Blogger.com and two Voice of the Year awards from BlogHer.com.


Jordan D’Amico is a Toronto-based writer who is definitely still in his twenties and not almost thirty like his birth certificate would have you believe. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Rights (which is most certainly not human resources like a lot of people think) and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Public Relations (sure, that’s like marketing).

He doesn’t have a pen name, but if he did it would probably be Stockard Channing Tatum O’Neal. The novel he’s currently working on would be a great Netflix series produced by Mindy Kaling.


Jules Devito has a BA in English with a focus on Elizabethan and Jacobean tragedy. Her work has appeared in HitRECord’s “Tiny Book of Tiny Stories” and the “Little Red Riding Hood: Redux” compilation, a feminist retelling. She contributed to the Emmy-winning TV series HitRECord on TV. She is a single Mom by choice, and lives by the sea on the Beautiful Island of Long with her son Callum, her Mom, rescue sighthounds, fish, and birds. When she’s not writing and Momming, she’s a licensed massage therapist, dance teacher, and wildlife rehabber.


Katherine Matuszak is a writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She works full-time as a Copywriter for In-Shape Health Clubs and is a regular contributor to local lifestyle magazine 65 Degrees. She has a BA in Creative Writing from CSUEB, and her short fiction has appeared in blink-ink and Occam’s Razor. When she’s not writing, she’s playing roller derby with the Undead Bettys.


Kelly Ohlert is an adult fiction author with a focus on romantic comedy. She loves books about… well, love! Since laughter is the best medicine, she’s only doing her civic duty to heal human souls by incorporating humor as well. She’s a lifelong avid reader, and as a busy mom has an enthusiastic appreciation for audio books and multi-tasking. 
Kelly grew up in the Chicago area, but moved to attend Western Michigan University. She stuck around Michigan, hopping among its cities. Her meet cute involved ‘borrowing’ that hot guy’s baseball cap, and it’s been love ever since. She, her husband (the aforementioned ball cap owner), and their two young daughters reside in the Lansing area, with their menagerie of fur babies. 
Cheers!


As a disabled writer living in Toronto, Canada, K. J. Aiello writes non-fiction and #OwnVoices speculative fiction that incorporates aspects of her experiences with invisible disability. She holds a BA Hons from the University of Toronto in political science, neuroscience, and psychology – all of which she draws on to inform her novels. Aside from her longer work, Aiello’s bylines can also be found in The Globe and Mail, This Magazine, West End Phoenix, The Loop, eTalk, and Dreamers Creative Writing. Aiello is a passionate advocate for disability justice, and when she’s not writing, she can often be found thinking about her favourite animal… dragons!


A fan of everything spooky and indulgent, Kit Mayquist is a trans male writer who can be found in the historic shadows of Boston, MA, hunched over his desk with a sullen Persian cat in his lap and surrounded in antiques. His short-fiction piece, INDELICATE has been featured in Mythridate Magazine, where he is also an editor. He has a MA degree in Medieval History from the University of Iceland, and a BA from Portland State University (and if you ask him, yes, Stumptown will always have the best coffee).


L.C. Perry is a young black queer author who’s both socially awkward and distractingly imaginative. She has a BA in Creative Writing from Emory University and is a proud binge-watcher of anime and horror movies. She also knows too many Spongebob quotes, can’t dance to save her life, and has an unhealthy obsession when it comes to vanilla almond milk and caramel cake. Her goal as a writer is to continue writing YA while elevating underrepresented voices. Her areas of expertise are the Fantasy, Dystopian and Contemporary genres for the YA audience.

When she isn’t writing, reading, or binge-watching, she’s visualizing original stories inside her head—with the help of music, of course.


Lynne Schmidt is a mental health professional and an award winning poet and memoir author who also writes young adult fiction. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks, Gravity (Nightingale and Sparrow Press 2019), and On Becoming a Role Model (Thirty West 2020). Her work has received the Maine Nonfiction Award, Editor’s Choice Award, and was a 2018 and 2019 PNWA finalist for memoir and poetry respectively. Lynne is a five time 2019 Best of the Net Nominee, and has recieved honorable mention for the Charles Bukowski Poetry Award, the Doug Draime Prize for Poetry, and Joy of the Pen. In 2012 she started the project, AbortionChat, which aims to lessen the stigma around abortion. When given the choice, Lynne prefers the company of her three dogs and one cat to humans.


Marie Hoy-Kenny is a writer and theatre enthusiast from Ontario, Canada, where she lives with her guitar-playing husband, two creative and spirited young children, and mischievous poodle. Marie has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a Master of Science in Education. She writes young adult and middle grade novels and has had several stories and poems published in literary magazines. Her middle grade ghost novel is inspired in part by the (supposedly) haunted schools she has worked at.


Marissa Eller is a novelist and a college writing tutor. She holds a BA in English from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and an MFA in Writing from Lindenwood University. She resides in Hickory, North Carolina with her family and two rescue cats, all of whom she couldn’t love more if she tried.

An avid reader of YA and a devoted supporter of the #OwnVoices movement, threads of her own life are woven into her fiction. Her writing focuses on the depth of human emotion, and the power words have to change a life.

When not writing or helping students, she can be found thinking entirely too much about her favorite TV shows, obsessing over a band she’s loved since she was fifteen, or enjoying an afternoon nap.


Meg Camero has been writing for years, but didn’t “get good” until she went to the University of South Florida, where she graduated in 2012 with her Bachelor of the Arts in Creative Writing , and in 2018 with a Masters in Secondary English Education. She currently works at a rural library which is why she is obtaining a second Masters in Library Information Science. 

Meg writes YA novels, focusing on various topics, to include mental health issues, sexuality, and other aspects of coming of age.

In her free time, Meg can be found drinking way too much coffee, talking to her cat, Ophelia, annoying her children, or screaming at her teammates in Overwatch. If she isn’t doing any of these things, she is most likely in the middle of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign with her girlfriend and her meta.


Melissa McKinnon is the pen name under which both Niki Beck and Robin Blanchard write mainly young adult and middle grade novels. Both Robin and Niki are in their mid-30s, forever stuck in the 1990s and early 2000s, and fancy themselves professional fangirls and shippers. They are also kill your darlings enthusiasts, unapologetic feminists, and never shy away from their fanfiction roots.

They are both voracious readers, workaholics, and are easily susceptible to becoming obsessed with the newest Netflix, Prime, or Hulu original. Together they form one well-rounded novelist and screenwriter capable of anything, depending on their caffeine intake.


The Rev. Michelle Wahila hails from Endicott, New York. She graduated with honors from Grove City College in 2002 and received her Master’s of Divinity from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in May 2005, and was ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in November 2005. Unique in her field, Michelle is an award-winning wedding officiant, celebrant trainer, preacher and speaker. Her work has been featured in Rock n Roll Bride, Offbeat Bride, H and H Wedding, Green Wedding Shoes, Magnolia Rouge, Trendy Bride, Unconventional Wedding and various other international wedding blogs. Though based in Paris, she travels throughout Europe and the United States to perform ceremonies. Michelle is married to her high school sweetheart, Kevin. They are the proud parents of two boys, one resident-cat, and one foster kitten. Michelle is passionate about long distance running and sipping coffee in her favorite Parisian café.


Morgan Routh is a bestselling author and English Language Arts teacher.

Starting from the indie world, she has published novels and novellas in YA and Adult, including the Dorm Life Series, Summerside, and Summer Isle. In 2018 and 2019, her books became Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers. She specializes in LGBTQIA+ fiction, mainly homoromantic asexual/demisexual spectrum literature.

Morgan has a BA in English with a concentration of interdisciplinary linguistics. She loves researching STEM topics, art history, and grammatical theory, which she blends into everything that she writes.


Quinlan Grim is a writer, traveler, and freelancer from Northern California. She has a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Global Studies. She currently lives in Wroclaw, Poland, where she spends her time reading, studying, and working as a content writer. Fiction is her first love, and she’s particularly fond of spooky stories in woodsy settings reminiscent of home in the Sierra Nevada mountains.


Roxana Arama grew up in Galați, Romania, studied computer science in Bucharest, and worked for Xbox in Redmond, Washington. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College and is a reader for the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest. Her writing has placed in the San Antonio Writers’ Guild Annual Writing Contest, the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest, and the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Awards, and has been published in outlets including The Write Launch, Dilema Veche (Romania), European Weekly, SIFF’s Reel News, and Goddard’s The Pitkin Review, where she later served as an editor. She maintains a nonfiction website called Rewriting History: How writers turn history into story, and story into history at www.roxanaarama.com. She lives in Seattle with her family. Hobbies include hiking, video games, and piano.


Stacey Polishoook has always been passionate about telling stories. From acting to singing to puppetry to stage combat, performing managed to naturally transition from the stage to the page.

With a degree in Theater and Comparative Religion from Vassar College, Stacey is fascinated by history, anthropology, and understanding why humans do the things they do (both good and bad). She loves writing speculative fiction to explore truths of the human condition in a world of fantasy.

When not writing, you can find Stacey planning her next global traveling adventure (23 countries visited and counting!), reading, singing karaoke with friends, and petting every dog she meets.


Steph P. Bianchini’s main cultural influences are Japanese manga and Latin classics, but SFF always had a special place in their heart. 

After having studied in Italy and Hong Kong and lived in three continents (including one year on an ocean-crossing sailboat), they eventually settled down in Scotland, where skies are dark and the Arctic Sea is near. They’re a historian by education and specialise in the Antiquity and the Renaissance times, with selected incursions into the history of East Asia. 

They moonlight as a number-cruncher and a social scientist, while publishing speculative fiction and poetry under a different byline. A member of SFWA and HWA, they’re EIC of the genre magazine Frozen Wavelets. Among their recent non-fiction works, an article about historical witchcraft in Modern Europe and an analysis of the trope of unrequited love in Japanese anime and manga.


Tamara Goranson, Ph. D., R. Psych. is passionate about writing historical fiction and creating feminist revisionist retellings. Her Vinland Vikings trilogy tells the story of the first Vikings to explore North America in the 11th century.

In addition to writing alternate histories, Tamara works as a Clinical Psychologist in private practice where she specializes in treating trauma survivors. Tamara weaves her knowledge of posttraumatic stress into the colourful adventure stories she spins about the Norse in order to give voice to the trials and tribulations the Vikings must have faced while exploring new worlds.


Viggy Parr Hampton, MPH is a health care researcher and writer. She has published scientific papers and articles on topics ranging from in vitro meat to hospital facility planning. Her fiction has been published in After Dinner Conversation and her art was featured on the cover of the Fall 2019 Tulane Review. In her spare time, she likes to paint and play with her German shepherd/poodle mix, Tater Tot.


Image above courtesy of the talented Aadorah, who can be found on Instagram!