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Reading | © Moyan Brenn/Flickr
Reading | © Moyan Brenn/Flickr

The 10 Best Novelists And Poets In L.A.

Picture of Daren DeFrank
Updated: 5 January 2017
Never underestimate the power of a good story. Los Angeles may be known as the film capital of the world, but the city also offers a vast amount of authors and poets. These talented writers are churning out gripping stories in a variety of genres including thrillers, graphic novels, and young adult literature. Here’s a novel idea: next time you’re looking for a good book to accompany your morning coffee, look no further than a book written by a locally based author or poet. Don’t know where to start? We’ve got you covered! Here are the top ten novelists and poets in Los Angeles.

Aimee Bender

Aimee Bender is a professor of creative writing at USC. She is the author of five books, including The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, which is a New York Times bestseller, and The Color Master. She is known for her surreal characters and plots in her novels. Her novels and stories are unique and full of tender moments and have been translated into over 16 languages, and we are lucky enough to have her right here in Los Angeles!

 

Steph Cha

Are you a crime fiction junkie? Look no further than Steph Cha’s series about protagonist Juniper Song. The first in the series is Follow Her Home, followed by Beware Beware, and Dead Soon Enough. Cha knows her way around a good classic mystery. She is the noir editor for the Los Angeles Review of Books as well as a regular contributor to the L.A. Times. The only mystery here is why you haven’t read her books already.

Samantha Dunn

Along with being a teacher at the UCLA Writers Program and Idyllwild Arts Academy, Samantha Dunn is an accomplished writer. She is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, Failing Paris. She also wrote the best-selling memoirs Not by Accident: Reconstructing a Careless Life and Faith in Carlos Gomez: A Memoir of Salsa, Sex and Salvation, which has been in development at Lifetime Television. Dunn wears many hats as a writer. Her essays have been published in several national publications, and she is a member of the Writers Guild of America.

 

Dana Gioia

If poetry is more your pleasure, take a look at the poems of Dana Gioia. He is the author of five poetry collections which include 99 Poems: New & Selected and Can Poetry Matter? – a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He also holds the position of Poet Laureate of California and is the Judge Widney Chair of Poetry and Public Culture at USC. His poems are powerful and a delight to read. Whether you are a typical reader of poetry or not, give this talented poet’s work a read.

 

Sam Alden

A graphic novel is a novel that is written and illustrated in comic strip format. These books can be gripping pieces of fiction and are definitely a unique take on the classic written word. Sam Alden is the author of It Never Happened Again, Wicked Chicken Queen, and Lydian. His novel New Construction was a finalist for the 2015 L.A. Times Book Prize in Graphic Novel/Comics. Along with writing on his own, he works as a full-time writer and storyboarder on the hit television show Adventure Time, on Cartoon Network.

Anne Girard

Anne Girard is the pen name for Diane Haeger. This prolific writer became inspired after a chance meeting 25 years ago with the renowned author Irving Stone. This meeting caused her to focus her writing on telling great stories from throughout history and to write them after extensively researching and visiting each location her characters reside. Haeger’s first novel, Courtesan, was published in 1993 and her 15th novel, Platinum Doll, was just released this past February.

 

Edan Lepucki

Edan Lepucki was born and raised in Los Angeles and now works as an instructor with the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. She is also the founder of Writing Workshops Los Angeles. Her first novel, California, was a best-seller on the New York Times list. Her second book is a novella entitled If You’re Not Yet Like Me. She has also had several pieces of both fiction and non-fiction appear in a number of publications. If you’re looking for a tried-and-true Angeleno writer, Lepucki is your gal!

 

Denise Hamilton

Getting lost in the story will be easy in the works of Denise Hamilton. She is the author of seven crime novels all set in Los Angeles! The stories are exhilarating and make us want to look over our shoulder next time we’re about town. She draws on a blend of the city’s culture, history, and politics to create a gripping, realistic thriller. Hamilton used to work as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times where she reported on the different areas of the city. A Fulbright scholar and Edgar Award finalist, she has also edited the best-selling anthology Los Angeles Noir, which won the Edgar Award for best short story.

Robin Coste Lewis

Born in Compton, Robin Coste Lewis is a poet who discovered her gift for writing poetry as a silver lining. She began writing poetry after suffering a traumatic brain injury that limited her writing to a single sentence each day. She is a Provost’s Fellow in Poetry and Visual Studies at USC. Lewis won the 2015 National Book Award for Poetry for her book Voyage of the Sable Venus, which has a title poem that is 79 pages long.

 

Chris Erskine

Chris Erskine is a humor columnist and an editor for the L.A. Times. He has written two L.A. Times bestseller books: Man of the House and Surviving Suburbia. His first book, Man of the House, is a comedic celebration of fatherhood. His second novel, Surviving Suburbia, is a look at family life in the suburbs. Erskine’s books are sure to leave you laughing and appreciating the value of family.