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Meet Author Panel

These young writers serve as advisors to Write It — sharing their ideas and feedback with young people everywhere on our message boards, as well as advising us behind the scenes. The panelists are award-winning alumni of The Alliance for Young Artists and Writer’s awards program — also know as the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

The panel includes:
Carly Addison
Brittany Cavallaro
Anna Chandler
Diona Dolabaille
Lauren Fraley
Margaret Ross
Sara Saylor
Carina del Valle Schorske
Tanner Vea
Jessica Zamboky

Read on to hear these talented artists describe their backgrounds, passions, and interests in their own words…


Carly Addison
Carly Addison

Give me a piece of paper and a pencil, and I’ll fill it up. There is nothing that annoys me more than a blank piece of paper, sitting there, taunting, waiting to be filled, unless I have a really good idea and no paper.


I was born and raised in Phenix City, AL, a little town in east-central Alabama. I went to Central High School, where I had a wonderfully eclectic group of friends. I’m currently a student at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, studying to be an English major.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been surrounded by books of all sorts. I learned to read before I got into kindergarten. Nothing spectacular, just books like Fox in Socks and Sticky Stanley. My taste in books has broadened considerably, even though I still enjoy Dr. Seuss every once in a while. I’m partial to fantasy in both writing and books, but my writings lately have been delving into realistic fiction.

The first character that I ever wrote about was a brown-haired, ten-year-old boy named Timmy who could run really fast and fight bears. Hey, I was in first grade, and to a first grader, a ten-year-old is invincible. However, my spelling was atrocious. And that’s pretty much where my writing career stalled. Until seventh grade, when I decided to write a book. In ninth grade, with five out of six parts of the story done, my teacher pulled me out of computer class and told me she wanted me to enter Scholastic and asked if I had anything that I could enter. Oh, and this was two days before the deadline. I took the second part of my story and cut it down from over 20,000 words to about 3,000 words. I won the Gold Key in Sci-Fi/Fantasy that year.

Brittany Cavallaro
Brittany Cavallaro

I was born and raised in Springfield, Illinois. My education was about as patchwork as the fields of corn and soybeans surrounding our town: 10 years of Catholic school, writing classes at Northwestern, and the final two years of high school as a creative writing major at the Interlochen Arts Academy.


I started writing limericks about television shows in 4th grade, novels about bottomless pits in 5th. I’ve known since then that if I were lucky, I’d spend the rest of my life telling stories. At Interlochen, I experimented with different genres and even dabbled a little in other art forms: editing a short film is just like revising a short story; collaborating with a cellist — his melodies, your prose poems — brings out layers in your work you weren't even aware of. I took as many writing workshops as academic classes, and my to-do list at night was a mix of nonfiction essays to write, chemistry problem sets to puzzle out, and Supreme Court cases to pore through.

Scholastic gave me an amazing opportunity with the Art & Writing Awards. My senior year, I won their Gold Portfolio Award — $10,000 to put towards college, workshops to attend in SoHo, and a beautiful awards ceremony in Carnegie Hall. Through NFAA’s ARTS program, I attended a week-long conference in Miami my senior year of high school and was a finalist to be a Presidential Scholar in the Arts.

After graduation, I took a semester off with Middlebury College’s February admissions program: I did some traveling and wrote outside of an academic context for the first time in years. Now, as a member of the class of 2008.5 (we “Febs” are very proud of that .5!), I honestly couldn't be happier. I’m an American literature major with a focus in writing, and I’m thinking of picking up a minor in film and media culture. Here at Middlebury, I work on the editorial board of Sweatervest, the college’s literary magazine. I also co-edit Bridge, Middlebury’s underground music and culture magazine: Our first issue will be coming out in the spring, and I couldn't be more excited! Next year, I plan to study the full year abroad at either Oxford or Edinburgh.

I’m really grateful to Scholastic for this opportunity. I can't wait to start reading and helping out with your work.


Anna Chandler
Anna Chandler

From the time I could talk, I dictated stories for my parents to write down. My debut novel dates back to kindergarten: the aptly named “Katity the Caterpillar,” a literary journey soaring through about eight pages of four-to-five-word sentences and crayoned illustrations of various bugs and five-petal flowers.


Around the same time, while learning the ins and outs of proper sentence composition and spelling, I began writing stories on the Corona typewriters I found in my grandmother’s basement. Less than a dozen typewriters, an old Macintosh with the black-and-green-screen, three computers and an inconceivable amount of notebooks and journals and scraps of paper later, writing has remained something I can’t not do… it’s always been there, a habit I can take refuge in. I journal and write about things I see and dream about — my weirdest, most nonsensical of dreams serve as great fodder for stories. I obsess over particular images or forms for weeks to months at a time: bones, World War II settings, lists. I worry too much about being a style vampire. I always keep a book with me most everywhere I go and a bag stuffed with bits of paper littered with potential starting lines or interesting couples of adjectives and nouns.

I owe everything I know about the tactics of writing well to the Fine Arts Center, a school I attended for half of the day in 11th and 12th grade. In a portable behind an elementary-school-on-the-rough-side-of-town-turned-art-school, I found inspiration, enlightenment, the best teacher I’ve ever had – one that helped me refine and cultivate my art — and my best friends, people with whom I could trade work, critique constructively, and have spontaneous movie marathons with any night of the week.

As a freshman at Savannah College of Art and Design, I plan to study Art History and writing, meanwhile composing on guitar, bass, harmonica, tambourine & keyboard, creating three-dimensional found art, and clipping coupons in attempt to survive as a starving artist.


Diona Dolabaille
Diona Dolabaille

I was born and raised in and around Toronto, Ontario, Canada. By age 6, after writing and illustrating a small story which was bound into a little laminated booklet, I had decided that I would be an author when I grew up. I wrote my first small collection of poetry in the 2nd grade and my first song in the 4th. Since then Iíve written scores of poems, composed more than 50 songs, and authored stories, essays, and scripts.


My work has been published three times so far: a poem written in memory of my late grandfather was printed in a book that was released Canada-wide, my personal essay "A Rare Encounter," for which I was awarded a Gold Award at the 2004 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, appeared in Scholasticís Best Teen Writing of 2004, and a short essay of mine was published in a national anthology of teen-authored essays in December 2005.

I take advantage of every chance I get to sing, dance, and act I am currently completing my Bachelor of Arts degree at Ryerson University in Toronto, where I am studying Radio and TV Arts. My career focus is creating and performing music; however, writing will always be a passion of mine, and I donít ever expect to stop creating new pieces, whether musical or non-musical. Iím eager to share my work, and honored that other authors would like to share their work with me.


Lauren Fraley
Lauren Fraley

Born and raised in Covington, Kentucky, I am currently a resident of Morningside Heights in New York City. I grew up as a self-admitted bookworm, reading regional favorites like the agriculture essayist Wendell Berry, Robert Penn Warren, Nikki Giovanni, and James Baker Hall. After much prodding by my determined English teachers, I began to submit and publish my poetry and personal essays in my last two years of high school. Quickly overcoming my bashfulness at sharing my work, I attended Kentucky Governor’s School of the Arts and studied poetry rigorously under past state Poet Laureates in 2002.


I quickly went from a closet poet to a workshop leader. Incorporating many of the techniques and ideas I had learned in workshops at Governor’s School, I began to hold weekly writing sessions for residents at the teen runaway shelter where I was employed as a counselor. In 2004, after packing my bags and bidding thoroughbreds, fences, and southern drawls adieu for the time being, I headed for NYC to attend Columbia University.

My relationship with Scholastic began when I was awarded a $10,000 college scholarship from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, which afforded me the financial resources to study English and history at Columbia University.

The epic change of scenery from Kentucky to my current home in Manhattan has done nothing but encourage me to continue writing as I try to overcome the sensory overload that is very New York, New York! When I’m not in the library working on coursework or on a collection of poems, I’m out-and-about in the city.


Margaret Ross
Margaret Ross

My life thus far can be separated into the period before I read Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient and the period after. Growing up, I was always the family bookworm but until I turned 13, I read books only for the stories. During the summer before 9th grade, I read The English Patient and everything changed. Michael Ondaatje’s sentences shook me deeply, and I began to think about the craft of writing and the beauty that could be created with words.


For two years, I carried my copy of The English Patient around with me wherever I went and soon I began writing myself. At first, I only scribbled words and phrases in the margins of my math notebook but later I began to write poetry and fiction. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to have had great teachers who have advanced my writing. I have received several literary prizes, including an American Voices Award from Scholastic and have been lucky enough to have my work published in Scholastic’s The Best Teen Writing 2005 and in The New Yorker.

I had the pleasure of editing the literary magazine at my high school in New York City. Now, as a freshman at Middlebury College, I am hoping to take as many English classes as I can and to become involved in the literary magazines here. I am a firm believer that in order to write, you must be passionate about the world around you, and my extra-literary passions lie in the realm of entomology—insects turn up frequently in my writing.


Sara Saylor
Sara Saylor
I am from Charleston, South Carolina, where I studied creative writing for seven years at the Charleston County School of the Arts. I’m currently studying English, Spanish, and Russian at the University of South Carolina, where I edit The Lettered Olive, a national journal of

undergraduate writing. My novella, Here They All Unite, was published by Booksurge in 2003, and I had the pleasure of editing The Best Teen Writing 2004 for Scholastic this past fall. When I’m not studying or writing, I enjoy tutoring, dancing, visiting the beach, and adventuring to different parts of the world — most recently, I studied fiction in St. Petersburg, Russia, and ended up bringing home a Russian kitten. Fiction writing has always been my favorite passion; after college, I hope to work for anyone who will pay me to write, translate, teach, or just generally surround myself with good books.


Carina del Valle Schorske
Carina del Valle Schorske

Every time I find myself making the ridiculous assertion that I am a writer, I think of Bob Dylan in response to the question “do you consider yourself a poet?” Sucking a little hungrily on a cigarette, he quips “I’m more of a song and dance man.”


I, too, dislike the loaded, messianic sound of the word “poet.” There is no way in which my literacy is different than your literacy — it needs no title. But a song and dance man. I could roll with that. Both imply the necessity of the audience, not so much a desire to please as a desire for contact, and I have always thought of writing as the most explicit cry for contact possible.

I have always been perhaps overly warm and intimate with the world. I grew up on the California coast, just north of San Francisco, that last frontier of eccentricity. I was bred by a series of disconnects — between private school and financial aid, between my skin color and my genetic reality, between my horizon-wide suburban experience and my parents’ urban roots, between my restless intellectualism and my addict’s feel for pop culture. I was a mutt, no doubt, and more so because people refused to recognize me as one. So I found myself speaking loudly across what seemed a great distance. It was really just a desperate desire for conversation, but my voice came out a little shrill.

It occurs to me now that writing helped me develop an appreciation for the role of silence in a conversation. Writing allows your reader to take your voice in snatches, in sweeps, in digestible swallows. The reader, after all, is not the Wailing Wall of Jerusalem. The reader is the man next to you, also wailing, with a voice box of his own.

So now where am I? It is hard to say any particular place, other than Yale University, thanks in large part to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, which recognized my creative writing portfolio with a $10,000 scholarship my senior year. Certainly a word sent home. It was with a touch more faith in the possibility of communication that I entered my freshman year, a new life on a new coast.

It is the summer after my first year there, and I find myself feeling conversational about it. And about how the year itself was conversational. I certainly took straight writing classes — poetry writing with the former poet laureate, Louise Glück, memoir writing with Anne Fadiman — but found them exciting mostly insofar as they referred to other disciplines, to one another, to an outside world. Art and politics, poetry and pop music, they are creatures that interbreed.

So please, drop me a line. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say in that silence so key to conversation. As Jay-Z says, don’t worry about me: “I’m not a biter, I’m a writer.”


Tanner Vea
Tanner Vea

My name is Tanner, and — besides writing — I enjoy hummus/lettuce/tomato on 12-grain, humming so loud my sinuses vibrate, and building art out of wires and diodes.


I’ve lived most of my life in the Seattle area. In kindergarten, I wore turtlenecks and baggy cardigans. In 1st and 2nd grade, I was protective of my markers. In 3rd and 4th and 5th grades, I was frightened of speaking on the telephone. Somewhere along this timeline, I wrote a story about a magical journey. I think it involved a boy who had special keys. This may have been the beginning of my life as a creative writer. In 6th and 7th and 8th grades, I played saxophone and hated P.E. In 9th and 10th and 11th and 12th grades, I worked in a jungle-themed restaurant, where for the most part, I got over my social anxieties. For a while, in high school, I thought I would definitely be an architect, then an actor. Now I admit to not having a clue.

I fled my home for Bard College, in the Hudson Valley. It’s a nice place, full of big trees and hugged by the big river. Here, I study media and culture — which is a polite way of saying I can’t decide on a major. I also write fiction and poetry.

One function writing serves in my life is to help me to gather worldly details in one consolidated place, to make it easier for me to understand. I am also interested in the ability of writing to give voices to underrepresented groups and individuals. I believe that honest, empathetic representation is a good method for working toward solutions for many human rights issues. I also believe that the intentional breaking of conventions can lead to the creation of meaning.

Outside of classes, I tutor student essayists, answer the phone at the Information Desk, monitor the Game Room, and go to the diner.

The first time I spoke in sentence form, I told my mom to “Come here, sit down, read a book.” I am no longer quite so witty.


Jessica Zamboky
Jessica Zamboky

I’ve lived all my life in a small town near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, attending the same school since kindergarten: Lakeview Christian Academy. In a high school of roughly twenty-five students, I never took praise about my writing too seriously, because it really wasn't so hard to shine in such a small environment. The recognition I’ve received through the Scholastic program has helped me realize that writing could be more than just a spare-time hobby for me.


I have always been a voracious reader. My first friends were Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, magnificent pioneers in the realms of imagination who have inspired me to craft my own fantasy stories. I also write poetry and some other short fiction, but I have always been most comfortable in my fantasy worlds.

Writing is not my only passion; I also love music and languages. I’ve played the piano and guitar for years, and I recently started teaching private lessons. I first fell in love with languages when reading The Lord of the Rings; my interests grew from Sindarin Elvish to modern languages like Spanish and Italian.

As a senior in high school this fall, I am hoping to study English and music at Geneva College after I graduate. I know that writing will always be an integral part of my life.