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Debut YA Author Panel: Writing "Dark" Topics

Saturday, June 22, 2019 - 5:00pm

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This event is free and open to the public.

East City Bookshop presents debut young adult authors Nikki Barthelmess (The Quiet You Carry), Sarah Carlson (All The Walls of Belfast), Laura Sibson (The Art of Breaking Things), Alexandra Villasante (The Grief Keeper), and C.H. Armstrong (ROAM). Moderated by Erin Stewart (Scars Like Wings). The panel will discuss the challenges and rewards of writing about so-called "dark" topics such as addiction, abuse, sexuality, immigration, and more. A signing will follow the conversation.


C.H. Armstrong writes issue-driven young adult and women’s fiction, and freelances part time as a magazine columnist. An assignment to cover the twenty-year anniversary of a local soup kitchen, piqued her interest in the homeless community, and inspired Roam.

Nikki Barthelmess is a journalist published everywhere from lifestyle blogs to survivalist magazines. She entered foster care in Nevada at twelve, and spent the next six years living in six different towns. During this time, Nikki found solace in books, her journal, and the teachers who encouraged her as a writer. She graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno. Nikki lives in Los Angeles with her husband and her pride-and-joy Corgi pup. The Quiet You Carry is her debut novel.

Sarah Carlson is a YA author focused on exploring contemporary issues facing youth today. She is a member of SCBWI. All the Walls of Belfast is her debut novel. Currently, She lives near Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and two small children. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, a Masters of Science in Education, and an Education Specialist degree in School Psychology.

After a career in undergraduate counseling, Laura Sibson pursued an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When she’s not writing in a local coffee shop, you can find her running the neighborhood streets or hiking with her dog. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and their two sons. The Art of Breaking Things is her debut novel.

Alexandra Villasante has always loved telling stories—though not always with words. She has a BFA in Painting and an MA in Combined Media (that’s art school speak for making work out of anything). Born in New Jersey to immigrant parents, Alex has the privilegio of dreaming in both English and Spanish. When she’s not writing, painting or chasing chickens around the yard, Alex plans conferences and fundraisers for non-profits. She lives with her family in the semi-wilds of Pennsylvania. You can find Alexandra on twitter and Instagram at @magpiewrites or on her website,


Erin Stewart grew up in the woods of Northern Virginia catching fireflies and creating her first characters as imaginary friends. She now makes her home in Utah with her husband and their three children. Erin loves using her background in journalism to research and write fiction that feels like real life. A heart failure survivor and adoptive mother, she believes life throws plot twists and people in our path for a reason—always. Scars Like Wings is her debut novel.

Roam Cover Image
ISBN: 9781771681513
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Central Avenue Publishing - February 5th, 2019

The Quiet You Carry Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635830286
Availability: Get It In 1-5 Days
Published: Flux - March 5th, 2019

All the Walls of Belfast Cover Image
ISBN: 9781684422524
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Turner - March 12th, 2019

The Art of Breaking Things Cover Image
ISBN: 9780451481115
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - June 18th, 2019

The Grief Keeper Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525514022
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers - June 11th, 2019

Scars Like Wings Cover Image
ISBN: 9781984848826
Availability: Get It In 1-5 Days
Published: Delacorte Press - October 1st, 2019