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PEN Out Loud: Venita Blackburn x Steph Cha

A technically-skilled and poignant writer, Venita Blackburn joins luminary noir writer Steph Cha to discuss her debut novel, Dead in Long Beach, California. A “bonafide knock-out,” Blackburn’s layered tale follows a woman– writer, sister, aunt– as the death of her brother begins to unravel the reality she knows and as she dives deeper into one she creates. A story as beautiful as it is haunting, Dead In Long Beach is an exploration of harm, healing, and the mania of grief which could only come from Blackburn’s gripping storytelling.

Join us for a conversation with the author, followed by a Q&A and book-signing.


Venita Blackburn is the author of the story collections Black Jesus and Other Superheroes, which won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize and was a finalist for the 2018 Young Lions Fiction Award and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, and How to Wrestle a Girl, which was a finalist for the 2022 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction and the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker online, The Paris Review, Pleiades, Bat City Review, and American Short Fiction. She is a faculty member in the creative writing program at Fresno State University and the founder and president of Live, Write, an organization devoted to offering free creative writing workshops for communities of color.

Steph Cha is the author of Your House Will Pay, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the California Book Award, and the Juniper Song crime trilogy. She’s a critic whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, where she served as noir editor, and is the current series editor of the Best American Mystery & Suspense anthology. A native of the San Fernando Valley, she lives in Los Angeles with her family.

This free, in-person program will be co-presented by Second Home Hollywood, with book services by Reparations Club.