SBWC to Feature Wambaugh, Cussler, Berg

Acclaimed authors Joseph Wambaugh, Elizabeth Berg, Clive Cussler, Fannie Flagg and Ray Bradbury are among the scheduled speakers for the 31st Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference, June 20-27 at Westmont College.

More than 350 writers are expected at the conference, which features workshops, competitions, panel discussions and speakers. While most events are open only to registered conferees, the afternoon and evening presentations by the above speakers and others are open to the public. Admission is $7 for each event.

“Our focus is to give fledgling writers the best opportunities to improve their craft and to help them find the best paths to bring their work to publication,” said Mary Conrad, director of conference business and information.

Wambaugh’s many best-sellers include “The Onion Field,” “The New Centurions” and “The Blooding.” He recently published his 16th book, “Fire Lover,” known for its true story of the 1991 arrest of a former arson investigator who became a serial arsonist. Published just before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, the book offers a timely tribute to the New York City firefighters who died in action.

Berg has written a dozen novels, including “Ordinary Life” and “True to Form.” The American Library Association selected her “Durable Goods” and “Joy School” as Best Books of the Year. “Talk before Sleep” was an American Booksellers Book of the Year finalist and a national best-seller. Berg also won the 1997 New England Booksellers Association award in fiction. In 2000, her novel “Open House” was selected for Oprah’s Book Club. Berg’s latest novel is “Say When.”

Cussler began writing novels in 1965, recently publishing “Valhalla Rising” and “Fire Ice.” His two dozen novels, including “Raise the Titanic” and “Deep Six” have sold millions of copies. In addition to serving as chairman of National Underwater and Marine Agency, he is a fellow in both the New York Explorers Club and the London Royal Geographic Society. Cussler also has worked as a copywriter and creative director for one of the world’s largest ad agencies.

Flagg has been described as “a storyteller with a big heart, an engaging sense of humor, and plenty of ambition.” Her novel “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop CafĂ©,” which was later made into a blockbuster film, was first honed at the SBWC. She earned the Scripters Award as well as nominations for an Academy Award and the Writers Guild of America Screen Award. Her latest book is “Standing in the Rainbow.”

Opening night speaker Bradbury, author of “The Martian Chronicles,” has written mystery novels, short stories, poems and plays. Last April, he received a star on the world-famous Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to literature, science-fiction films and television. He has been the opening night speaker at SBWC since its inception.

For the entire SBWC schedule, visit www.westmont.edu and click on the SBWC icon. For more information, contact Mary Conrad at (805) 684-2250.