The Creative Council is a group of literary and publishing professionals who help to support and broaden Aspen Words’ reach throughout the national and international literary community. 

Barer webJulie Barer is a partner at The Book Group, a boutique literary agency in New York City, where she represents a variety of writers across a literary spectrum, with a special emphasis on fiction. Her clients include Celeste Ng (“Little Fires Everywhere”), Joshua Ferris (“To Rise Again at a Decent Hour”), Madeline Miller (“Song of Achilles”), Nicole Dennis Benn (“Here Comes the Sun”), Cristina Henriquez (“The Book of Unknown Americans”), Paula McLain (“The Paris Wife”), Kevin Wilson (“The Family Fang”), Bret Anthony Johnston (“Remember Me Like This”) and many others. Julie is particularly interested in representing a diversity of voices from around the world.

desanti_carole-(C) Sigrid Estrada

During her 30-year career in editorial acquisitions at The Penguin Group (now Penguin Random House), Carole DeSanti has stood as a champion of outstanding, original and progressive voices in fiction and nonfiction, while also achieving a singular mixture of critical and commercial success in the industry. Her publishing credits include Dorothy Allison’s contemporary classic and National Book Award finalist “Bastard out of Carolina”; Booker Prize finalist and Los Angeles Times Book Award winner Ruth Ozeki’s “A Tale for the Time Being”; the New York Times best-selling novels of Terry McMillan; and CNN co-anchor Alisyn Camerota’s “Amanda Wakes Up,” among many others. Nonfiction highlights include George Hodgman’s NBCC-nominated memoir “Bettyville” and David Servan-Schreiber’s path-breaking “Anticancer: A New Way of Life.” DeSanti’s own novel, “The Unruly Passions of Eugenie R.,” was published in 2012. DeSanti is a member of PEN, The Authors’ Guild and Poets & Writers and serves on the Creative Advisory Council of Hedgebrook. She is at work on a second novel, “Plunder: The Exploits and Adventures of the Notorious Pyrates Anne Bonny and Mary Read.”

Habbib web photo
Alia Hanna Habib
is an agent at the Gernert Company. She represents narrative nonfiction, memoir and fiction and has a particular interest in books on pressing social and political issues. She graduated from Barnard College and has a graduate degree in the nineteenth-century novel. Prior to becoming an agent, she was a publicist at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Jenna JohnsonJenna Johnson is an Executive Editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux working in both fiction and nonfiction, with particular interest in overlooked stories from around the world, religion, cultural history and biography, natural history and ecology, and food. Among her titles are Samantha Hunt’s “The Dark Dark” and “Mr. Splitfoot,” National Book Award Finalist “The Turner House” by Angela Flournoy, national bestseller and NBF 5 Under 35 honoree “We the Animals” by Justin Torres, Booker shortlisted “Pigeon English” by Stephen Kelman, Man Asian Prize Winner “Three Sisters” by Bi Feiyu, National Jewish Book Award winner “The Lion Seeker” by Kenneth Bonert, and James Beard Winner “Save the Deli” by David Sax. Before FSG, she worked at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and in advertising and public relations. She holds a B.A. in History from Columbia and an M.A. in Religious Studies from NYU.

chinelo-okparanta-webChinelo Okparanta is the author of Under the Udala Trees (2015) and Happiness, Like Water (2013). One of Granta’s six New Voices for 2012, she was a finalist for the 2014 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative and was short-listed for the 2013 Caine Prize in African Writing. She is a 2014 O. Henry Award winner, a 2016 Jessie Redmon Fauset Fiction Book Award Winner, as well as a two-time Lambda Literary Award winner for Lesbian Fiction. Her work was nominated for the 2016 NAACP Image Awards in Fiction as well as for the 2016 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award in Fiction. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, and The Kenyon Review, among others.

Phillips, Rowan Ricardo (c) Sue KwonRowan Ricardo Phillips is the author of two books of poetry, “The Ground” and “Heaven,” both published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux; a collection of essays, “When Blackness Rhymes with Blackness,” and a translation, from the Catalan, of Salvador Espriu’s “Ariadne in the Grotesque Labyrinth.” He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Award, the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize for Poetry, and the GLCA New Writers Award for Poetry. Phillips is also the sports columnist for The Paris Review Daily; one of his essays on basketball will be collected next year in the Library of America’s anthology Basketball: Great Writing About America’s Game. His book on tennis, “The Circuit,” will be published by FSG in 2018.

Raissian Katie_PW webKatie Raissian is an editor at Grove Atlantic, where she edits literary fiction and nonfiction. She is also editor and publisher of Stonecutter, a print magazine of art and literature which focuses on publishing international writers and artists alongside US-based ones. Stonecutter has featured work by John Ashbery, Cathy Linh Che, Mark O’Connell, Renee Gladman, Ricardo Piglia, Nicole Sealey, Newsha Tavakolian, Sara Baume, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Lydia Kiesling, and Sally Rooney, to name but a few. Now residing in Queens, Katie is originally from Cork, Ireland.

Shapiro (C) Michael MarenDani Shapiro is the bestselling author of the memoirs “Hourglass,” “Still Writing,” “Devotion,” “Slow Motion,” and five novels including “Black & White” and “Family History.” Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, One Story, Elle, The New York Times Book Review, the op-ed pages of The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and has been broadcast on “This American Life”.  She has taught in the writing programs at Columbia, NYU, The New School and Wesleyan University; she is co-founder of the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy. A contributing editor at Condé Nast Traveler, Shapiro lives with her family in Litchfield County, Connecticut. 

WME_ElizabethSheinkman_webElizabeth Sheinkman is a native New Yorker whose publishing career has spanned both sides of the Atlantic, in the US Elizabeth worked with the editorial department of Oxford University Press and Alfred A. Knopf before joining the Elaine Markson Literary Agency in 1996. In 2004 she moved to London to set up their UK office as Partner and Director of the company, and expanded their business globally upon joining Curtis Brown UK in 2006 as a Senior Agent and Director. In 2012 she moved to WME where, among others, she represented a broad range of award-winning and best-selling authors.


Lauren Wein is an executive editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, where she focuses on literary fiction, narrative nonfiction, and translation. Before arriving at HMH in 2011, she spent fifteen years as editor and rights director at Grove/Atlantic. Among the authors she has worked with are Robert Stone, Amos Oz, Stephanie Kallos, Elisa Albert, Elinor Lipman, and Francisco Goldman. A graduate of Cornell University, where she focused on modern and biblical literature, she lives in New York City with her husband and daughters.


Tobias Wolff’s books include: the memoirs “This Boy’s Life” and “In Pharaoh’s Army;” the short novel “The Barracks Thief;” the novel “Old School,” and four collections of short stories. He is also the editor of several anthologies, among them “Best American Short Stories 1994,” “A Doctor’s Visit: The Short Stories of Anton Chekhov,” and others. His work is translated widely and has received numerous awards, including the PEN/Faulkner Award, Los Angeles Times Book Prize, both the PEN/Malamud and the Rea Award for Excellence in the Short Story. The former Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods Professor of English at Stanford University, Wolff lives in Northern California.