The Writing Academy Explores Trauma with Guest Panel

On November 21, 2020 the Writing Academy will welcome a special guest panel to explore writing about trauma. With the tumultuous year many of us experienced, now may be the right time to learn how writing about trauma can be beneficial.

This special guest panel is scheduled to include: Emily August, Gar McVey-Russell, Mercedes Lewis, and RJ Samuel. They will be joined by moderator writer Cheryl Head.

The photo depicts author Emily August, an assistant professor of literature at Stockton University. She is smiling and wearing glasses.
Emily August

Emily August is an Assistant Professor of Literature at Stockton University, where she teaches courses in British literature and culture of the long nineteenth century, including seminars in medicine and literature, detective fiction, horror fiction, and literatures of crime and criminality. Her scholarly research examines nineteenth-century literary, clinical, and visual representations of the body, and the role of the sciences in perpetuating bodily violence. She also teaches courses in creative writing.

Her poems explore domestic violence and intergenerational trauma, investigating how violence is learned, inherited, and passed down, and how the body records the traumas to which it is subjected. Her poems have appeared in Callaloo, Cimarron Review, Missouri Review, Ninth Letter, Southern Humanities Review, and other journals.  

Gar McVey-Russell

Gar McVey-Russell’s first novel, Sin Against the Race (gamr books, 2017) was listed on The Advocate’s Best Books We Read in 2018: LGBTQ Novels. His short story, Tom of Boalt Hall, was a finalist in the Saints and Sinners LGBTQ Festival Fiction Open and appears in their 2020 anthology. His fiction has also appeared in Sojourner: Black Gay Voices in the Age of AIDS (1993) and Harrington Gay Men’s Fiction Quarterly (vol. 7, Num. 3, 2005). Non-fiction has appeared in CHILL MAGAZINE and THE GOOD MEN PROJECT. He publishes a blog, the gar spot

Gar is married and lives in Oakland, California, where he listens to a lot of jazz.




The image depicts author Mercedes Lewis. She is smiling and wearing glasses.
Mercedes Lewis

Mercedes Lewis is always happy to volunteer for GCLS in just about any capacity. She has been with the organization since 2005, has never missed a Con, and was instrumental in creating the original ConVirgin program. She is also responsible for the annual, sometimes themed, duck. 

She loves to read, although of late, finding time to do so has been a challenge. Mercedes is published in the erotic anthology Women in Uniform; a poetry anthology, Roses Read; a book curated for charity, Our Happy Hours; and her own volume of poetry, Glimpses of a Fractured Soul.

Mercedes wants to get all she can out of the Cons, and life, because she has heard that no-one gets out of life alive.


The image depicts author RJ Samuel. She is smiling.
RJ Samuel

RJ Samuel is the Indian-Irish-American author of five critically acclaimed novels set in Ireland, India, France, and America – ‘Heart Stopper’, The Vision Painter series (‘Falling Colours’, ‘Casting Shadows’) which received an Honorable Mention in the 2013 Rainbow Awards, and ‘A Place Somewhere’, which was a finalist for the Ann Bannon Popular Choice and the Tee Corinne Cover Design Awards.

Her latest, An Outsider Inside, set in Ireland and France, tells the story of an Irish-Indian lesbian activist who finds the troubling manuscript left behind by a missing Indian woman. Described in Curve Magazine as ‘throwing down a time marker, because who you were before is not who you are when you’ve finished it,’ An Outsider Inside was named ‘Best Lesbian Novel in 2017’ by The Lesbian Review, received a Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention, and was the 2017 Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award Winner and Tee Corinne Cover Design Award Winner. 





Cheryl Head

Cheryl Head spent twenty years in public television and radio before turning to fiction writing. Her first novel, Long Way Home: A World War II Novel, is a story of the experiences of black soldiers in America’s segregated war-time army, and was shortlisted by Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the African-American Fiction, and Historical Fiction categories.

Head writes the award-winning, Charlie Mack Motown Mysteries (Bywater Books) whose female PI protagonist is queer and black. Head is a member of the national board of Bouchercon. In 2019, she was named to the Hall of Fame of the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival.




Check out these resources for more information.

Poets & Writers: The Heart-Work

Writer’s Digest: 7 Tips for Writing ABout Trauma

Harvard Health Publishing: Writing About Emotions May Ease Stress and Trauma

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