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The Orcas Island Lit Fest (OILF) is an annual celebration of literature and community held in an inspiringly beautiful place. With the San Juan Islands as our backdrop, we bring together renowned authors and avid readers, both visiting and local, for a weekend of panels, readings, and events that highlight the vibrant literary culture of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. From Pulitzer Prize winners to gifted new voices, our featured artists from across the country represent the finest in contemporary fiction, nonfiction, poetry, playwriting, and more. The Orcas Island Lit Fest is an opportunity to engage with world-class writers and their work in an intimate, inclusive setting that welcomes everyone who loves books and good conversation. We hope you’ll join us.

About us

Who we are



Cofounder and President

Jule Treneer is a writer and financial advisor based in Paris, France. His writing and poetry have appeared in N+1, The Rumpus, Triple Canopy, The New York Sun, Snorkel, and Funny or Die. As Western Europe correspondent for The Faster Times, he wrote a weekly column that ranged from politics and economics reporting to lifestyle and culture pieces on books, films, and sports. He is chief risk officer at Madrona Partners, a family office specializing in long-biased global macro equity investing. He brings all his passion and energy to bear in overseeing OILF. Prick him and he bleeds Lit Fest.



Cofounder and Artistic Director

Scott Hutchins is a former Truman Capote fellow in the Wallace Stegner Program at Stanford University. His work has appeared in StoryQuarterly, Catamaran, Five Chapters, The Owls, The Rumpus, the New York Times, San Francisco magazine, and Esquire, and it’s been set to improvisational jazz. He is the recipient of two major Hopwood Awards and the Andrea Beauchamp Prize in short fiction. In 2006 and 2010, he was an artist-in-residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. His novel A Working Theory of Love was a San Francisco Chronicle and Salon Best Book of 2012 and has been translated into nine languages. He lives in San Francisco.



Treasurer and Festival Producer

OILF treasurer Paula Treneer was born and raised in Seattle’s Capitol Hill and Leschi neighborhoods. She moved to Orcas Island in 2013 from Paris, France, following a 35-year career at premier global financial institutions such as the $300B+ Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Seattle/Tacoma’s Russell Co. In 1996, she founded Madrona Partners, a family office based in Seattle. Paula has a longstanding commitment to volunteer work, including stints on the $50B Washington State Investment Board and the Harvard Business School Fund. From 2016 to 2018, she served on the board and finance committee of Orcas Recycling Services/The Exchange. She has a BA and an MA in psychology and anthropology from the University of Washington and an MBA from Harvard University. She can often be seen walking around Eastsound with a Cortázar or Hans Fallada novel under her arm.



Festival Producer and Board Member

Writer, artist, and creator of the Artists in Action team of the Orcas Women’s Coalition, Debra Babcock is currently working on a memoir, making art, teaching yoga, and seeing clients at her wellness practice. After earning a BFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute, she spent 14 years in New York City and San Francisco performing, acting, and directing. Then she returned to school, moved to Cape Cod with her family, and founded and directed Harmony Network Chiropractic and Yoga for 18 years; founded the Heron Way Writing Group, now in its 12th year; created The Yoga of Writing workshops and Clear Day Retreats; blogged at Dune Shack Dharma; and wrote for Cape Healing Arts magazine. A member of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs and writer-in-residence at Artsmith on Orcas Island in 2019, she is happy to be in her third year of participating with OILF.

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Festival Producer and Board Member

Matthew Gilbert has more than 20 years of experience as a writer, editor, and publishing consultant. He cofounded a book imprint that published a New York Times bestseller; has run two print magazines with extensive book review sections; is a longtime reviewer for the nationally recognized Nautilus Book Awards; was editorial director for a prestigious research think tank; and is the author of three books with established publishers. Matthew’s specialties include developmental and line editing, manuscript evaluations, ghostwriting, and book proposals. He currently lives on Orcas Island, Washington, where, in addition to editing, he occasionally writes for local online journal The Orcasonian.



Festival Producer and Board Member

Mia Lipman Irwin (she/her) is an editor and writer based in Seattle. After earning her BA from Wesleyan University and her editorial wings at University of California Press and Avalon Travel Publishing, she enjoyed stints as executive editor at Canteen, reviews editor at San Francisco magazine, and literature panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has appeared in Kirkus Reviews, The Seattle Review of Books, and Modern Farmer, among other places, and she hosted the reading and music series Lit Fix for nearly a decade. By day, she’s editor in chief at, a mental health resource. By night and weekend, she’s delighted to help OILF celebrate literary voices from around the world. (Photo by Amanda Nagasako)



Festival Producer and Board Member

Laura Kussman (she/they) is a writer, copywriter, editor, organizer, coach, and artist. After receiving her BA in journalism and philosophy from Gonzaga University, she worked for a Seattle tech startup until moving to California to pursue a certification in Pilates rehabilitation. Over the past seven years, she has continued her somatic and kinesthetic education while cultivating skills as a journalist and community organizer. Her work has been published in The Changing Times, Good Times, and KBOO News. She is an award-winning journalist for The Islands' Sounder. Currently she serves as cofounder and treasurer of the organization Orcas Pride and excitedly as the graphics artist for OILF.

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