2018 Speakers

Molly Barton is the CEO and co-founder of Serial Box, called “the HBO of reading” by National Public Radio and a “Must Have App” by Buzzfeed. Previously the global digital director at Penguin, she reported to the worldwide CEO and led the ebook and audio business, digital product innovation and content strategy. She served on the board of Pearson’s investment portfolio companies in New York, London and Melbourne. Awarded Innovation Funding from Pearson, Molly also founded Book Country, the writer collaboration and self-publishing platform for genre fiction writers. @MolBarton

Kara Carnduff joined the Penguin Canada team as marketing lead in June 2017, driving marketing strategy and execution for all titles across the imprint. Within this role, she gets to work on a wide range of books, from blockbusters such as John le Carré’s A Legacy of Spies, to lifestyle titles such as Lauren Toyota’s Hot for Food Vegan Comfort Classics, and literary gems such as Eliza Robertson’s Demi-Gods. Prior to this role, Kara was a director at a marketing agency. Kara graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Journalism, and started her career in corporate communications with the Department of National Defence in Ottawa.

Lisa Charleyboy (Tsilhqot’in from Tsi Deldel First Nation) is an award-winning writer, editor, storyteller and host. She keeps her finger on the pulse of Indigenous issues through projects like the CBC Radio One series New Fire, and the APTN documentary television series Urban Native Girl, Charleyboy also has edited three anthologies with Annick Press, with #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women released just last fall.

Diane Davy is president of Castledale  Inc., a consulting company specializing in the business of the cultural sector. Her areas of expertise include strategic business planning, corporate management, marketing strategies, revenue generation, board governance, training and other related topics. She frequently works on policy and programming research that impacts the sector. She teaches the Business of Book Publishing at the Humber Creative Book Publishing course and serves as the executive director of WorkInCulture, a not-for-profit organization specializing in entrepreneurial skills training for the arts and culture sector.

Ron Eckel, literary agent at CookeMcDermid and co-owner of Cooke International, is a graduate of Simon Fraser University’s Master of Publishing program and 20-year veteran of Canadian publishing. Ron worked with Penguin Group Canada, Westwood Creative Artists, and Random House of Canada Limited before joining CookeMcDermid and Cooke International. Ron’s client list at CookeMcDermid includes bestselling author Scaachi Koul, CBC Radio columnist and pop-culture critic Jesse Wente, and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame Rush bassist Geddy Lee. Ron devours equal amounts of fiction and non-fiction but is particularly drawn to contemporary literature, SFF and horror, and any biography, authorized or not, of the Ramones.

Liz Gately started her own foreign scouting company in November of 2010, after four years as a scout with Barbara Tolley & Associates and a stint as an agent at Anderson Grinberg/Anderson Literary. Liz Gately Book Scouting was the first new foreign scouting company in New York in over a decade, and it quickly grew to work for sixteen publisher clients around the world, among them Headline in the UK, Suhrkamp in Germany, Meulenhoff Boekerij in the Netherlands, and Sony Pictures Television.

Cynthia Good is the former director of the Creative Book Publishing program at Humber College. She founded the publishing program at Humber after 20 years with Penguin Books, where she was editorial director and then president and publisher. After 12 years at Humber, Cynthia was named professor emerita. She also has an honorary degree from Mount Allison.

Erin Grittani is the assistant general manager at Toronto’s iconic Glad Day Bookshop. Glad Day is a community hub in the Church-Wellesley Village offering a safe space for the queer & trans community. It is Toronto’s oldest indie bookshop and the world’s oldest LGBTQ bookshop. It has now evolved into a restaurant, bar and café with a wide range of events, in addition to catering to bibliophiles. Previously, she was a manager with Mabel’s Fables, working directly with schools, educators, and families to empower kids through literature. Erin’s professional background has been focused on growth through community development, having run camps, event centers, youth programs, and yoga studios.

Kevin Hanson is the president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Canada. He joined the company as president in 2005 and in 2013, he was named the company’s first Canadian publisher. Kevin came to Simon & Schuster from HarperCollins Canada, where he had held the position of vice president, sales and marketing since 2002. A graduate of the University of Alberta, Kevin also holds a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Toronto.

Award winning author Jennifer Hayward has been a fan of romance since filching her sister’s novels to escape her teenaged angst. Her career in journalism and PR, including years of working alongside powerful, charismatic CEOs and traveling the world, has provided perfect fodder for the fast-paced, sexy stories she likes to write, always with a touch of humour. Jennifer is the winner of Harlequin’s 2012 So You Think You Can Write global writing contest, a finalist in the New Jersey Romance Writers Golden Leaf contest and a Romantic Times Magazine Reader’s Choice award recipient. A native of Canada’s East Coast, Jennifer lives in Toronto with her Viking husband and young Viking-in-training.

Zareen Jaffery joined Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in February 2011, continuing her focus on commercial and literary young adult and middle grade fiction, as well as teen nonfiction. In 2016, she began acquiring for Salaam Reads, an imprint that focuses on publishing books about Muslim children and families. Her projects with Salaam Reads include middle grade novels Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan and The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi, as well as a debut young adult novel, and Morris Award finalist, Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali. Zareen served for two years as a member of the Children’s Book Council (CBC) Diversity Committee, and was appointed co-chair of the Diversity within ALSC (Association for Library Services to Children) Task Force. Zareen is a graduate of New York University.

Ann Jansen joined Penguin Random House Canada in 2017 as audiobooks producer, launching an ambitious audiobooks program. She oversees production of the company’s audio projects and directs select titles. Ann previously worked at the CBC where she was instrumental in growing coverage of books on all platforms. She led CBC Books during its online launch, and was senior producer of the highly influential book program Canada Reads. Ann co-founded and co-produced Between the Covers, a serialized book-reading show. For the CBC, she commissioned fiction from notable authors such as Carol Shields, Olive Senior and Thomas King, and directed award-winning radio plays, including an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Chelene Knight was born in Vancouver and is a graduate of The Writer’s Studio at SFU in multiple genres. In addition to being a workshop facilitator for teens, she is also a regular literary event organizer and host. She has been published in various Canadian and American literary magazines. Chelene is currently the managing editor at Room magazine. Braided Skin, her first book, has given birth to numerous writing projects including her second book, Dear Current Occupant. She was also one of the judges for the 2017 Vancouver Writers Festival Contest. Chelene is now working on a novel set in the Strathcona neighbourhood of Vancouver.

Veronica Santiago Liu has been involved in community arts organizing for 23 years, most recently as founder and general coordinator of the collectively managed nonprofit Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria. Veronica has received individual grants for writing, the development of an arts and music fair, oral history, and various publishing projects, and she sits on the advisory board for Healthy Families Washington Heights, the community advisory board for freeform radio station WFMU, and the Diversity Task Force of the American Booksellers Association. She is a contributing editor at Seven Stories Press.

Nathan Maharaj is the senior director of eBook and audiobook merchandising for Rakuten Kobo. A lifelong bookseller, Nathan got his start in high school at his local Chapters bookstore in Mississauga in the late 90s. He later took on a category management role at Indigo’s head office, including several non-fiction categories and audiobooks. He has been with Kobo since its inception in 2009. Today, his team connects readers with ebooks and audiobooks in 7 languages and dozens of countries.

Patricia Massy is of Cree, Métis and English descent, and a member of the As’in’i’wa’chi Ni’yaw Nation (Kelly Lake Cree Nation). She has worked and traveled with the carnival, been a long-haul mover, fundraiser, project coordinator with the federal government and support worker in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. She is the owner of Vancouver’s Massy Books, a 100% Indigenous-owned and -operated bookstore that sells all genres of books specializing in Indigenous studies, literature and art. She believes books connect us to our humanity and couldn’t imagine doing anything else!

Anne McClelland is executive director of the Book and Periodical Council. Prior to joining the BPC in 2001, Anne was both executive and administrative director of the Writers’ Development Trust. She began her publishing career in sales and marketing with McClelland & Stewart.

Ryan McMahon is an Anishinaabe comedian, writer, media maker and community activator based out of Couchiching First Nation in Treaty 3 Territory. Ryan has recorded five national comedy specials since 2010, appeared at the Just for Laughs festival, and later this year,  is showcasing for HBO. Ryan has just completed his first book, The Great NDN Paradox (Arsenal Pulp Press/Robin’s Egg Books), and is currently shopping his second book, 2167 – Future Reason for a Country. He is the CEO of the Makoons Media Group, and is currently building the world’s only independent Indigenous media platform committed to digital publishing and the internet.

Serah-Marie McMahon is the children’s buyer and bookseller at Type Books. She is the founder of the now defunct WORN Fashion Journal and edited The WORN Archive, published by Drawn & Quarterly. Her book about all the ways that clothing can kill you will be out in 2019 from Owlkids. She once yelled the French word for “seal” in front of Herve Tullet. He thought it was funny.

David Molenhuis is a member of the Between the Lines publishing collective and works as its publicist and accounts and IT manager. He is a writer and former chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. In 2014 he co-edited Mess: The Hospital Anthology (Tightrope Books) with long-time creative collaborator and patient advocate Julie Devaney and is the author of the forthcoming book Fired Up about Student Rights (Between the Lines).

Alice Moore has worked with children and youth in public libraries in Toronto and New York. She is currently a collections specialist for youth materials, including print, music, and e-resources at the Toronto Public Library and is a passionate advocate for youth and YA reading.

Eric Obenauf  founded the publishing company Two Dollar Radio with his wife, Eliza. Their publications have been honored by the National Book Foundation, named Notable Books at the New York Times, finalists for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and placed on best-of-year lists at O, The Oprah Magazine, the Washington Post, NPR, and others. He was included in Publishers Weekly‘s ’50 Under 40’ list, and was a finalist in the magazine’s 2016 “Star Watch” program. Two Dollar Radio runs The Flyover Fest, a multidisciplinary festival featuring artists working in music, literature, and film over the course of 3 days in Columbus, Ohio, and in 2017 opened a bookstore/bar/plant-based cafe and event space called Two Dollar Radio Headquarters.

Sarah Raughley grew up in Southern Ontario writing stories about freakish little girls with powers because she secretly wanted to be one. She is a huge fangirl of anything from manga to SF/F TV to Japanese role playing games, but she will swear up and down that she was inspired by Jane Austin at book signings. On top of being a YA writer, Sarah has a PhD in English, which makes her a doctor, so it turns out she didn’t have to go to medical school after all.

Megan Reid is the director of literary scouting and development at FX Networks. Before moving to television, she served as a literary scout for over a dozen international publishers at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates and was an acquiring editor at Simon & Schuster’s Touchstone and Emily Bestler Books imprints. Her writing has appeared in Boston magazine, ElleRefinery 29, and Fast Company, and her first book will be published by Balzer + Bray in 2019. She lives in Brooklyn.

Nathan Ripley is the pen name of literary fiction writer and journalist Naben Ruthnum. His stories and essays have appeared in The WalrusHazlittSight & Sound, and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, among other places. He lives in Toronto. Visit him at NabenRuthnum.com or follow him on Twitter @NabenRuthnum.

David A. Robertson is an award-winning writer. His books include When We Were Alone (Governor General’s Literary Award winner, McNally Robinson Best Book for Young People winner, TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award finalist), Will I See? (winner of the Manuela Dias Book Design and Illustration Award Graphic Novel Category), and the YA novel Strangers. David educates as well as entertains through his writings about Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, reflecting their cultures, histories, communities, as well as illuminating many contemporary issues. David is a member of Norway House Cree Nation. He lives in Winnipeg.

Rob Sanders is owner, publisher and founder of Greystone Books Ltd. He has been president of eBOUND Canada, board member of the National Reading Campaign, president and board member of the Association of Canadian Publishers, president and board member of Livres Canada Books, and a member of the Advisory Board of the German Book Office in New York City. Currently he is a board member of Frankfurt 2020.  He lives in Vancouver, Canada.

Itah Sadu is an award-winning storyteller, author and co-owner of A Different Booklist bookstore in Toronto, specializing in African and Caribbean literature and diverse resources from around the world. Itah is a former vice president of the Black Business and Professional Association and a former board member of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. She is currently a Harry Jerome Scholarship Trustee and a board member of the Watah School. 

Alex Snider grew up in Winnipeg and moved to Toronto in 2005. She attended the University of Toronto, where she majored in Indigenous Studies and minored in Literature and Classics. Opening a bookstore was always a dream, and after working at various other stores, she had the opportunity to open Queen Books in her neighbourhood of Leslieville with her business partner and reading soul mate, Liz Burns.

Michael Stover is the director and GM of ACX at Audible. He has overseen ACX, the Audiobook Creation Exchange, since its inception in 2011. ACX is a unique online marketplace that makes it easy to find and collaborate with professional audiobook producers to get audiobooks in stores at Audible, Amazon and iTunes. With over 15 years of experience creating and growing immersive entertainment and educational-focused technology products, Michael is passionate about serving one of the largest online creative communities in the world.

Christen Thomas is executive director of the Literary Press Group, a national association of 60 literary book publishers. Christen is currently serving as Chair of the Book and Periodical Council, Treasurer of eBOUND Canada, and is a published poet.

Malle Vallik is the editorial director of author engagement for Harlequin, responsible for positioning Harlequin as a desired publisher for authors. Her responsibilities have included: author social media and brand training; launch of Carina Press, the first digital-first imprint by a large publisher; lead eBook revolution in 2007 as first publisher to offer 100% frontlist in digital; and developed original serial content. She is the editorial liaison with several production companies including Lifetime Movie Network and Brain Power Studio. As an editor, Malle acquired and edited for several Harlequin series. She has written seven romance novels as Molly Linholm.

From facilitating international artist residencies in South Africa, Hawaii, India, Belize, the UK and Costa Rica to being heralded as YWCA Woman of Distinction in the Arts, the creative endeavors of African-Jamaican d’bi.young anitafrika are globally celebrated. A triple Dora award-winning published playwright-performer, director-dramaturge and emerging scholar, anitafrika is also the creator of the intersectional, decolonialist praxis, the Anitafrika Method. She is the founding Artistic Director of the Watah Theatre and the Anitafrika Retreat Centre where she teaches artists from around the world. Addressing issues of gender, sexuality, race, class and the human experience through her vast field of artistic knowledge, anitafrika is about to embark upon postgraduate studies in London UK where she will be researching the use of theatre to address generational trauma in the Black body. You can support her funding campaign at gofundme.com/dbimafund.