regional writers conference to be held at Duquesne University | Way of life

PITTSBURGH — The Northern Appalachian Writers’ Conference will be held at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh from Friday, March 11 through Sunday, March 13.

The program includes 24 workshops and presentations on topics including writing historical fiction, finding your voice, Pittsburgh authors, book reviews, magical realism in Appalachia, storytelling, character development and writing on the spot.

This year’s theme, “Pittsburgh: The Paris of North Appalachia,” includes special discussions on how the city fits into the greater region’s literary landscape.

The event, focused on recognizing the region’s literature and helping its writers hone their craft, kicks off with an open mic on Friday evening. Pittsburgh novelist and Edgar® Award nominee Kathleen George opens Saturday’s program with the keynote.

WCoNA invites attendees to sign and sell books at the event during the conference book sale.

Lee Gutkind, Vanity Fair’s “Godfather of Creative Non-Fiction,” is headlining the Saturday night banquet. WCoNA will name the winners of the 2022 Book of the Year and Outstanding Contribution awards.

Gutkind is the author and editor of more than 30 books and the recipient of grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Science Foundation, and the Heinz Endowments. He appeared on national radio and television shows. In 1991, he founded Creative Nonfiction, the first and largest literary journal to publish exclusively narrative/creative nonfiction.

Kathleen George is a professor of theater and writing at the University of Pittsburgh and author of acclaimed novels set in the city, including The Odds, which was nominated for an Edgar® Award for Best Novel. She is the editor of the Pittsburgh Black short story collection.

According to WCoNA founder and president PJ Piccirillo, an Elk County novelist, writers or writing about the northern Appalachian region have not been distinguished by a regional identity like those in other parts of the country. The diversity of its peoples, places, cultures and landscapes is particularly inspiring. “We believe the stories, poems and essays that these qualities inspire deserve to be represented and valued as a body of work,” Piccirillo said. “We want people to have better access to this exceptional literature, encouraging a bigger market for our writers through increased demand from our booksellers and increased interest from agents and publishers.”

Registration is open with preferential rates until February 20 at

The Northern Appalachian Writers’ Conference (WCoNA) annually brings together writers and others interested in literature from the region to honor its work and highlight the craft of its authors. WCoNA is a catalyst to inspire more novels, poetry, essays, history, memoirs, and dramas that represent, in some way, Northern Appalachia, and thereby create and promote a canon of writers and writings from the northern Appalachians.

This program was supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.