Biographies & Memoirs: Every Life Tells a Story!

Biographies & Memoirs: Every Life Tells a Story!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Every life tells a story!
Whether you’re thinking of putting the story of your own life down on paper, or writing a profile of a historical or celebrity figure you’ve long admired — or just one of the millions of readers who devour books on history or Hollywood — this panel is for you.

Our moderated panel discussion will feature both those who have found the courage to tell their own life stories — warts and all — plus top industry “names” who have written about celebrity and political figures.

What secrets do they share? What qualities do editors, literary agents, and book-buyers look for in a biography or memoir? What kinds of techniques make a true-life story as interesting and relevant as a good novel or movie? And what about the “hoax memoir” scandals of recent years — James Frey, “JT LeRoy,” Margaret Seltzer, Herman Rosenblatt, and Stephen Glass — how have they affected the landscape for biographies and memoirs in today’s publishing world?

This July’s panel promises a lively discussion on all these topics, plus plenty of time for questions and networking. It’s also our last panel before the IWOSC Summer Party, so come on by!


DIGBY DIEHL is a true legend of LA’s literary scene. A veteran book and film critic, Diehl has interviewed countless high-profile people and has written bestselling biographies of Hollywood legends like Esther Williams (Million Dollar Mermaid), Natalie Cole (Angel on My Shoulder), and Bob Barker (Priceless Memories). In addition to his celebrity work, Diehl has turned his talents to fictional books like Soapsuds: A Novel, media tie-in companions to TV series (like HBO’s spooky ’80s camp classic Tales from the Crypt), and controversial red-hot political biographies like A Spy for all Seasons: My Life in the CIA.Diehl has hosted several IWOSC panels and interviewed celebrated film, tv and stage actress Mariette Hartley at an IWOSC Conversation with… evening. in 2007.

NAT SEGALOFF‘s career reads like a one-man Hollywood talent directory, having just finished collaborating with legendary director Arthur Penn on his biography. He has written and produced numerous episodes of A&E Network’s Biography series, and authored nine bestselling books including Hurricane Billy: The Stormy Life and Films of William Friedkin, Segaloff has contributed career monographs on several screenwriters including Orson Welles – most for the University of California Press’s acclaimed Backstory series, and his writing has appeared in a variety of film and entertainment periodicals.Segaloff is also on the board of the Los Angeles chapter of the ACLU.

IWOSC member INA HILLEBRANDT “replaces fear with fun” for new authors tackling memoir writing. She has written several books on the subject including How to Write Your Memoirs, Stories from the Heart, and More Enchanting Tales and Imagination Tools to Help You Write Better Memoirs.She hosts a memoir-writing workshop sponsored by the Burbank Public Library, and is fighting illiteracy with her Literacy Plus program aimed at school-age writers. In addition to working for National Public Radio and PBS, she has been featured in The New York Times and on ABC’s World News Tonight. Her website (a must for animal-lovers) is

DIANNE De La VEGA‘s memoir, Heaven Knows, Anything Goes (about her life as the final life-partner of the late singer/actor Dick Haymes), won first prize for non-fiction at the prestigious Santa Barbara International Writers’ Conference in 2004, and won rave reviews upon its first publication last year.A psychologist for 30 years, she spent the last two decades of her career as an educator working with Spanish-speaking and immigrant children in the LAUSD. She has lectured extensively on issues of health, wellness, and spirituality in both America and Europe, and is a member of the Hospitaler Order of the Knights of St. John. Her website is

JENNIFER SKY BAND has been a model, actress, philanthropist, illness survivor, rock-star wife, and writer. As a 2008 graduate from UCLA Extension’s Master Class in memoir writing, her first book, A Model Life, tells the story of her journey from growing up as a chubby and awkward child into the fast-lane lifestyle of a sought-after teen model.She’s currently finishing her second book, and also writes a bimonthly column for a Florida newspaper. Her website is

Moderator: Telly Davidson
Telly is the author of the award-winning book TV’s Grooviest Variety Shows and is completing a novel titled Pop Culture. His entertainment and culture articles have appeared in Guitar Player, Entertainment Today, and other publications and websites. He has worked on NBC’s Most Outrageous Game Show Moments and PBS’s Pioneers of Primetime, and is an active member of IWOSC and PEN.