Keynote Speakers

In addition to our world-class teaching staff, we’ve brought in some excellent public speakers to deliver addresses at our meals and meetings.

Friday Breakfast: Larry Brooks, “Opening Keynote”

Larry Brooks is the author of three books on writing fiction, including the bestseller Story Engineering and the award-winning Story Physics. He is also the USA Today best-selling author of six critically acclaimed thrillers and the creator of the award-winning website, named six years running by Writer’s Digest magazine in their annual “101 Best Websites for Writers” list.

Friday Lunch: Jennifer Lauck, “What I Wish I Had Been Told as a Writer”

Jennifer Lauck is the New Your Times bestselling author of Blackbird, Still Waters, Show Me the Way, and Found. Her fifth book, Breathing Just a Little is due out in the fall of 2018 with Algonquin Press. She teaches immersion literary studies in Portland at the Blackbird Studio for Writers (, and consults as well.





Friday Dinner: Christopher Moore, “A Life in Letters”

Christopher Moore is this year’s recipient of the Willamette Writers Lifetime Achievement Award.

Christopher Moore is the author of sixteen novels, including the international best-seller Lamb, and the upcoming comic crime novel, Noir. He grew up in Mansfield, Ohio, the son of a highway patrolman and a home appliance salesperson, and was mediocre student and athlete in school. He attended Ohio State University where he studied anthropology and Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California, where he studied ramen noodles and alcohol. Before publishing his first book, Practical Demonkeeping, in 1992, Chris worked at a wide variety of jobs, including grocery night stocker, roofer, insurance broker, radio DJ, hotel night auditor, photographer and waiter  — all experiences he’s worked into his novels over the years.

Since selling Practical Demonkeeping, a “comedy of horrors”, Chris has gone on to write novels about Native American Trickster Gods, Vampires, Cargo Cults, Sea Monsters, the life of Christ; Whale researchers, French Impressionists, the Job of Death, Shakespeare, Medieval England, Venice, Christmas Zombies, and San Francisco street life in the post-war 1940s — all of which he researched extensively, traveling and studying all over the world.

Chris last seven books have been top ten New York Times bestsellers although he doesn’t get nominated for too many awards because no one is sure what he’s up to. His books are in print in 30 countries and all  have been optioned or bought for film at one time or another, but none has yet made it to the screen. Chris lives in San Francisco with his wife of 20ish years

Saturday Breakfast: Debby Dodds, “Be Careful What You Wish For”

Debby Dodds is the author of the novel Amish Guys Don’t Call (Blue Moon Publishers, June 2017) and has stories in ten anthologies including the NY Times best-selling My Little Red Book (Twelve/ Hachette) and She Writes. “My Mom and The Dead,” a story about taking her mom to a Grateful Dead concert, appears in the anthology series Thin Threads. She was interviewed on CBS Sunday Morning on 4/21/13 for a piece featured in the Amazon and Barnes and Nobel bestselling, The Things That You Would Have Said (Penguin, 2012). She’s was the Fiction Editor for The Living Dead magazine. She’s also been published in The Sun, xoJane, Portland Family Magazine,,,, and twice in Hip Mama. Her humorous essay, Why Sarah Palin Needs Me as Her SAT Tutor, was an editor’s pick on She won “Fan Favorite” in The Attic’s contest at Wordstock. She recently won First Prize in Portland’s Wizard World 2017 Fiction Writing Contest.
Debby is a new addition to the Willamette Writers Board where she serves as the Community Outreach Director.

Saturday Lunch: Steven Barnes


Steven Barnes is a NAACP Image Award winning, Hugo and Nebula award nominated author of over thirty novels. His television work includes TWILIGHT ZONE, OUTER LIMITS, STARGATE SG-1, and ANDROMEDA. Creator of the Lifewriting system of creative performance, he lives in Southern California with his wife, British Fantasy Award winning author Tananarive Due.






Saturday Dinner: Stephen Tobolowsky, “What is Hidden”

Stephen Tobolowsky, is one of the leading character actors in entertainment today. He has appeared over 250 movies and television shows. He was nominated for a Tony Award as Best Featured Actor in 2002.

He is best known for roles in Groundhog Day, Memento, Thelma and Louise, Silicon Valley, Californication, Glee, The Goldbergs, and Norman Lear’s new One Day at a Time for Netflix.

He wrote and performed Stephen Tobolowsky’s Birthday Party that premiered at the HBO Comedy Festival. He wrote True Stories with David Byrne and Beth Henley. His storytelling concert film The Primary Instinct was released in 2016 on HULU and is available on iTunes.

Stories from his notable podcast “The Tobolowsky Files” have been heard across the country on NPR and PRI radio stations, and can be heard anytime on and on iTunes.

His first book of stories, The Dangerous Animals Club, was published by Simon and Schuster in 2012. His second book, My Adventures with God, was released this April.

Fun Fact: He played guitar with Stevie Ray Vaughn when Stevie was 14 and cut the first studio recording Stevie ever performed.

Sunday Breakfast: Jason Brick, “Don’t Screw This Up”

Jason Brick is a freelance journalist, ghostwriter, public speaker, and author of Wrestling Demons which was released by Not a Pipe Publishing this June. His other books include the Farkas Foxtrots series and several books about writing a career. He lives in Oregon.

Jason is the conference chair of the 2017 Willamette Writers Conference.




Sunday Lunch: Lidia Yuknavitch, “Closing Keynote Remarks”

Lidia Yuknavitch’s previous novels include The Book of Joan and The Small Backs of Children (winner of the Oregon Book Award), both national bestsellers, and Dora: A Headcase. Her widely acclaimed memoir, The Chronology of Water, was a finalist for a PEN Center USA Award, and winner of the PNBA Award, and was named one of 80 Books Every Person Should Read by Esquire. Her writing has appeared in GuernicaMs., and The Rumpus, among many other places, and her TED Talk, “The Beauty of Being a Misfit,” has been viewed two million times. She founded the workshop series Corporeal Writing in Portland, Oregon, where she also teaches women’s studies, writing, film studies, and literature. She received her doctorate in literature from the University of Oregon. She lives in Portland with her husband, filmmaker Andy Mingo, and their Renaissance man son, Miles. She is a very good swimmer.