Faculty & Staff

Josh Wood

Josh Wood

Director, Creative Writing Conservatory

Teaches: Core Classes, Comedy Writing Workshop, Irish Literature, Performance Poetry

josh.wood@ocsarts.net

Josh Wood holds a Master's of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and a master's degree in English, both from Chapman University, and a bachelor’s degree in literature with a creative writing emphasis from Sonoma State University. Mr. Wood advises the conservatory’s award-winning art and literary journal Inkblot and lead the performance poetry team Yawp.

He has received a John Fowles Center for Fiction Award, and been a finalist for Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers, The North American Review's James Hurst Poetry Prize, and the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. Mr. Wood’s writing appears in VOLT, DIAGRAM, SpiralOrb, The Berkeley Poetry Review, OccuPoetry, and elsewhere. Previously, he was an editor for Dirtcakes, a journal dedicated to exploring themes suggested by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals to end extreme poverty.

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Sean Abbley

Sean Abbley

Instructor

Teaches: TV Writing

sean.abley@ocsarts.net

Sean Abley is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, journalist and novelist. He has over 30 published plays with titles like Horror High: The Musical, The End of the World (With Prom to Follow), The Adventures of Rose Red (Snow White’s Less-Famous Sister), and Attack of the Killer B’s. His screenwriting includes episodes of Sabrina: The Animated Series, So Weird, Digimon, and all the video material for the Universal Studios attraction Men In Black: Alien Attack. He has an MFA in Playwriting from the Playwrights Lab at Hollins University.

Jon Bernstein

Jon Bernstein

Instructor

Teaches: Core Screenwriting, Adv. Screenwriting

jon.bernstein@ocsarts.net.

Jon Bernstein is a screenwriter and teacher. His screenplays include Disney's Meet the Robinsons, Beautiful—directed by Sally Field and starring Minnie Driver—and Ringmaster, starring Jerry Springer. He received the UCLA Extension Writers' Program 2017 Outstanding Instructor award.  He wishes he could have gone to OCSA, but teaching here is the next best thing.

Karen Blackstone

Karen Blackstone

Instructor

Teaches: Confessional Poets, Goth Girls, Nerd Lit., Psychology for Writers, The Romantic Poets, Young Adult Fiction

karen.blackstone@ocsarts.net

Karen Blackstone holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Chapman University and a master’s degree in English and comparative literature from California State University, Fullerton. She is a Fellow of the University of California, Irvine Writing Project and a frequent presenter with the Orange County Reading Association.  

Her writing has appeared in the Orange County Register and the LA Times. In addition to teaching at Orange County School of the Arts, Mrs. Blackstone has taught writing for more than 25 years at Chapman University, California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton College, and University of California, Irvine. 

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Christine Brubaker

Christine Brubaker

Instructor

christine.brubaker@ocsarts.net

Christina Brubaker is a graduate of the MFA program at Chapman University, where she was awarded a Chapman University Creative Writing Fellowship to pursue her degree. She is a reader for TAB: The Journal of Poetry & Poetics. Her writing, both prose and poetry, strives to meld literature with her love of horror and suspense. She currently teaches courses in Horror Writing.

Kat Eason

Kat Eason

Instructor

Teaches: JRR Tolkien Study, Monster Mash-Up

kat.eason@ocsarts.net

Kat Eason earned her MA in English from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Now she teaches first-year writing students at UCI about Aristotelian ethics and Beowulf, with a dash of zombie apocalypse on the side. Her novels include the On the Bones of Gods trilogy and How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse, which is forthcoming from DAW in 2019. Her short fiction has appeared in Cabinet-des-Fées, Jabberwocky 4, Crossed Genres, and Kaleidotrope.

Mike Gravagno

Mike Gravagno

Instructor

Teaches: Poetry, Writing for Alternative Mediums

mike.gravagno@ocsarts.net

Mike Gravagno is an amateur multi-hyphenate: a pop-culture critic, poet, nonfiction writer, copywriter, and podcaster. Mr. Gravagno received a BA in Creative Nonfiction from Columbia University, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Chapman University, where he assisted the interdisciplinary graduate journal, Anastamos, as the poetry/multimedia editor. Believing community is the key to everything, Mr. Gravagno hosts the monthly reading series Writers Block Live! and quarterly reading series Poetry on the Rocks. His poetry, nonfiction, and reviews have been published in Columbia’s C.O.R.E. blog, Calliope, TAB, The Gordian Review and the Moon Tide Press poetry anthology, Lullaby of Teeth

Mark Hausmann

Mark Hausmann

Instructor

Teaches: Poetry, Writing for Alternative Mediums.

mark.hausmann@ocsarts.net

Mark Hausmann earned his MFA and MA in English from Chapman University, where he now teaches composition and ESL. He won Chapman’s John Fowles Center for Creative Writing Award for Poetry in 2017, for his collection Tin Cans & String. In May 2018, he had a book review published by Tupelo Quarterly.  He writes both poetry and fiction.

Jenny Howard

Jenny Howard

Instructor

jennifer.howard@ocsarts.net

Jennifer Howard holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Chapman University, where she was accepted as one of the university’s first Creative Writing Fellows. While earning her bachelor's degree at University of Southern California in theater, with minors in screenwriting and music, she received grants to help produce two of her original plays Sparrows and Violetta Dying. She has published fiction in The Saturday Evening Post and The Storyteller. Ms. Howard currently teaches Core & Advanced Short Story Workshop, The Hero’s Journey, and courses in publication.

Jaide Mandas

Jaide Mandas

Administrative Assistant

jaide.mandas@ocsarts.net

Jaide Mandas is an alum of Creative Writing. In 2016, she earned her BA in Creative Writing from Full Sail University, with a special emphasis in comic book writing, receiving the Director’s Award for Horror, Mystery, and Suspense. Her graphic story appears in the anthology Elements in 2017.

Kathryn Morris

Kathryn Morris

Instructor

Teaches: Community Arts Outreach, Nature Writing, Star Wars Study

kathryn.morris@ocsarts.net

Kathryn Morris is an OCSA alumna with a BA in Psychology and Social Behavior and minor in Educational Studies from UCI, and a teaching credential from CSULB. She recently taught Creative Writing for CSArts Academy’s summer program. She also teaches at TREE Academy, a small private school in Los Angeles. Her main interests are in poetry, short stories, and novels, with a focus on fantasy, science fiction, and nature writing.

Kyoko Nakamura

Kyoko Nakamura

Instructor

Teaches: Core Creative Non-Fiction, Adv. Creative Non-Fiction

kyoko.nakamura@ocsarts.net

Kyoko Nakamura received her MFA in Creative Writing from Chapman University, where she was awarded a fellowship based on her creative writing portfolio. She also holds a BA in French Language and Literature from the University of Florida. Her writing is primarily nonfiction and autobiographical fiction. Currently she is writing articles on the challenges posed by the technological advancement of artificial intelligence.

Marcus Omari

Marcus Omari

Instructor

Teaches: Performance Poetry

marcus.omari@ocsarts.net

Marcus Omari is a dedicated poet, writer, performer and six-time National Speech & Debate Award winner. Marcus has been a featured poet on Verses & Flow, a collaboration between Lexus and TV One to highlight poetry and music. He has authored several poetry chapbooks and contributed poetic vocals for various multi-genre music albums. A founding member of the San Diego Slam Poetry Team, Marcus now lives in Santa Ana, where he leads a team of dedicated poetic artists to organize, host, perform, and instruct various literary events in Southern California.

Joanna Nelius

Joanna Nelius

Instructor

joanna.nelius@ocsarts.net

Joanna Nelius graduated with an MFA from Chapman University, where she helped co-found a new interdisciplinary graduate journal, Anastamos. She is an assistant fiction editor for Hugo-nominated speculative fiction magazine, Abyss & Apex, and also a video game journalist. She has written editorials, reviews, and narrative analysis pieces for indie websites like Ultimate Game Database and Only Single Player. Currently, she is working with a group of journalists to launch a new kind of gaming website, because gaming journalism isn’t dead – it just needs a face-lift. Some of her favorite games are Oxenfree, Life is Strange, Dead Space, and SOMA. She currently teaches Video Game Writing.

Derrick Ortega

Derrick Ortega

Instructor

derrick.ortega@ocsarts.net

Derrick Ortega received an MFA in Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts from University of California, Riverside and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Chapman University. Mr. Ortega writes fiction as well as poetry, and his work is rooted in the space of reentering society, especially after experiencing trauma. His poetry has appeared in Letter [r] Press, Fact-Simile Editions, and elsewhere. He has taught courses in Speculative Literature, Sci-Fi & Time Travel, and The Lost Generation.

Tira Palmquist

Tira Palmquist

Instructor

Teaches: All Playwriting-Related Courses, Women in Science Fiction, Zombie Literature

tira.palmquist@ocsarts.net

Tira Palmquist plays include Two Degrees, Ten Mile Lake (Serenbe Playhouse), Age of Bees (MadLab Theater, Tesseract), And Then They Fell, and others, all of which have been featured at numerous festivals, including the New American Voices festival in the United Kingdom, the Caltech 2014 Mach 33 Festival, the 2014 Great Plains Theater Conference, and the Denver Center’s New Play Summit 2016. Her work has been developed by Seven Devils, Inkwell, 9Thirty Theater, The Road Theater, EST-LA, and the Theatricum Botanicum Seedlings program. 

Ms. Palmquist is the Creative Writing Conservatory’s dramaturge. She supervises the student writers in our One Act Play Festival, hosted in conjunction with the Acting and Production & Design Conservatories.

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Nikkia Pannell

Nikkia Pannell

Instructor

Teaches: Flash Fiction, Mystery Writing

nikkia.pannell@ocsarts.net

Nikkia Pannell earned her MA from Chapman University, completing her Master’s Thesis based on Edgar Allan Poe’s literature and historical context. She also holds English and Comparative degrees from UC Santa Barbara and has over ten years’ experience teaching all ages.

Tim Powers

Tim Powers

Master Teacher

Teaches: Novel Workshop, Origins and Sources of Fiction, Poetry Workshop, Science Fiction Writing, Supernatural Writing

tim.powers@ocsarts.net

Mr. Powers is one of the founders of the Creative Writing Conservatory. His lifetime of exotic knowledge is dispensed in a number of ever-popular courses. He is the author of more than a dozen novels, translated into more than 20 languages. Along with his lifelong creative collaborator James P. Blaylock, the former Creative Writing Conservatory director, Mr. Powers is an originator of the Steampunk genre, and he has been featured widely in discussion of it.

He is a three-time World Fantasy Award Winner, two-time recipient of the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award, and a Prix Apollo Award Winner (France). His novel, On Stranger Tides, is the literary basis of the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. 

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Julia Walton

Julia Walton

Instructor

julia.walton@ocsarts.net

Julia Walton’s debut Young Adult novel, Words on Bathroom Walls, is slated for publication by Random House for July 2017. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Chapman University, where she was awarded the James L. Doti Outstanding Graduate Student Award. When she’s not reading or baking cookies, she’s indulging in her profound love of Swedish Fish, mechanical pencils, and hobbit-sized breakfasts. 

Advisory Board

Jim Blaylock

Jim Blaylock

MFA Director

Chapman University

James P. Blaylock is a professor at Chapman University and is currently the MFA program director for the graduate program in creative writing. In 2000, he developed the Creative Writing Conservatory at the Orange County School of the Arts and directed the conservatory for the following 13 years.

In 2012, he received the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program Teacher Recognition Award in Washington D.C. Mr. Blaylock’s short stories, novels, and collections have been published around the world, and he is also a two-time winner of the World Fantasy Award. He was one of the literary pioneers of the Steampunk movement, along with Tim Powers and K.W. Jeter. His short story “Unidentified Objects” was nominated for an O. Henry Award in 1990. Despite his close association with Steampunk, most of his work is contemporary, realistic fantasy set in southern California. In April, 2016, his novel The Rainy Season was chosen by Orange Coast Magazine as one of the ten quintessential Orange County novels.

“In my 40 years of teaching creative writing and directing creative writing programs, my thirteen years of directing the Creative Writing Conservatory at OCSA was simply the most productive, energizing, engaging teaching that I've had the pleasure to do.  The conservatory does stellar work, and the students are as good as they get.”

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Patricia Decker

Patricia Decker

Director of Recruitment

New York University Tisch School of the Arts

   

Jamie-Lee Josselyn

Jamie-Lee Josselyn

Recruiter

University of Pennsylvania, Writer’s House

   

Patty Seyburn

Patty Seyburn

Professor of Poetry

California State University, Long Beach

Patty Seyburn’s fourth collection of poems, Perfecta, was published by What Books Press in the fall of 2014. Her third book, Hilarity, won the Green Rose Prize given by New Issues Press (Western Michigan University, 2009). Her two previous books of poems are Mechanical Cluster (Ohio State University Press, 2002) and Diasporadic (Helicon Nine Editions, 1998), which won the 1997 Marianne Moore Poetry Prize and the American Library Association’s Notable Book Award for 2000. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, most recently The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry, Poetry in Michigan/Michigan in Poetry, and Irresistible Sonnets. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals including The Paris Review, Poetry, New England Review, Field, Slate, Crazyhorse, Cutbank, Quarterly West, and Boston Review.

She won a 2011 Pushcart Prize for her poem, “The Case for Free Will,” published in Arroyo Literary Review. Seyburn grew up in Detroit, MI. She earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University, an MFA in Poetry from University of California, Irvine, and a doctoral degree in poetry and literature from the University of Houston. She is an associate professor at California State University, Long Beach and co-editor of POOL: A Journal of Poetry, (www.poolpoetry.com).

“The Creative Writing Conservatory at OCSA does a brilliant job of creating an environment where the imagination soars, personal expression becomes transformed into art, and the voice of the individual is encouraged, crafted, nurtured, and heard.”

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