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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Tom Beecher

Tom Beecher

Instructor

Teaches: Advanced Screenwriting, Art Outreach, TV Writing

tom.beecher@ocsarts.net

Tom Beecher earned an master’s degree in writing for screen and television from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts and graduated from the Second City Training Center's Comedy Writing Program. Mr. Beecher has developed projects at major studios, including Disney and Sony, and has written for Participant Media and Considered Entertainment. He also serves as a creative consultant to Twin Padres Entertainment. 

Mr. Beecher teaches a number of television and screenwriting courses in the Creative Writing Conservatory; as the main instructor of this form, he oversees student writers in the Cineplex Film Festival, which pairs students from this conservatory and the Film & Television Conservatory. 

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John Blaylock

John Blaylock

Instructor

Teaches: Playwriting

John Blaylock recently graduated from the graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts; Mr. Blaylock is thrilled to be back at the Orange County School of the Arts teaching Creative Writing. He is a resident writer at “Broadway On Tour” Children’s Theatre in Santa Ana, developing new children’s musicals, and also frequently works with the McCoy Rigby Conservatory of the Arts.

His holiday musical, A Christmas Show, has played on and off for over 10 years in Southern California. He has written for and has had work produced by Barrington Stage Company, Surflight Theatre, Sesame Street Live, Phoenix Theatre, and Common Man Musicals.

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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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Melinda Combs

Melinda Combs

Instructor

Teaches: Core Creative Non-Fiction, Memoir, Insects in Lit., Wild Women of the West

melinda.combs@ocsarts.net

Melinda Combs holds a MFA in creative writing and a MA in English and comparative literature, both from Chapman University. She also  received a National Arts Teachers Fellowship (NATF) grant, formerly known as SURDNA, to enhance the learning experience for her students. 

She is co-author of In Service to the Mouse, a personal look at life behind the scenes in early Disney. She has published widely in fiction and nonfiction journals, including Gargoyle, Barely South Review, A Cappella Zoo, and Salome Magazine, as well as in the anthologies Women’s Best Friend: Women Writers on the Dogs in Their Lives, Far From Home: Father-Daughter Travel Anthology, and Cat Women: Female Writers on their Feline Friends.

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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. 

Mrs. 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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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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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.

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.

Adriana Campoy

Adriana Campoy

Instructor

adriana.campoy@ocsarts.net

Adriana Campoy holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington in Seattle, and an MPhil in Medieval and Renaissance Literature from the University of Cambridge. Her poems have been published in the Berkeley Poetry Review, Genre: International and Interdisciplinary Journal of Literature and the Arts, and the Sun Star Review. She was a recipient of the 2014-2015 Cornish Playhouse Arts Incubator Residency in Seattle, where she collaborated with professional ballet dancer Charles McCall (Royal New Zealand Ballet) on The Changeling Project, a multimedia performance integrating dance and poetry. In 2014, she and director Marc Katz co-wrote the short film People Are Becoming Clouds, an adaptation of a story by Joe Meno. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2015. She is currently working on a book of poems.

Tarah Scalzo

Tarah Scalzo

Instructor

tarah.scalzo@ocsarts.net

Tarah Scalzo received her MFA in Creative Writing from University of California, Irvine, where she now also teaches as a lecturer. Her stories have appeared in One Teen Story, Electric Literature, The Santa Monica Review, and elsewhere. 

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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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