The Firecracker Forum Kids’s Newspaper Team: Who is Who


Richard Faulk:

Richard Faulk has a seven-year background in editing and writing children’s articles. Formerly an Associate Editor at Scholastic Inc. and onetime time-travel columnist for the online newspaper The Faster Times, he has an eclectic portfolio that ranges from reporting on academic conferences for Columbia University to writing about Vikings for Australian tweens.

Richard earned an M.A. in comparative literature from the University of California, Irvine. He has taught English and composition from the college level all the way down to the third grade.

His first book, Gross America: Your Coast-to-Coast Guide to the Most Repulsive, Disgusting, Cringe-Inducing, (and Edifying) Wonders of Our 50 States, will be released by Penguin in fall of 2012.





Todd Cook:

Todd Cook is a freelance writer/editor who grew up in many places since his father was in the Navy, but who now lives in Bay Area. Todd has written several articles about coins, as well as a book, “Uncovered:The Lost Coins Of Early America” which came out in 2006. His short historical novel, “Madame” was just released on Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook. In 2010 to 2011, Todd operated a Spanish History Tour down in Monterey, CA. Todd and his wife, Elsie, enjoy traveling, hiking and sports (he is a huge University of Kentucky basketball fan).








Kathy Watts:

Kathy Watts is a freelance writer/editor in Half Moon Bay, CA. She studied astronomy at the University of Maryland, and spent several years working at the Caltech Seismological Laboratory in Pasadena CA, locating earthquakes, giving tours, and doing interviews with the press. (Yes, the Earth is a planet, too.)

One important thing she learned was that both children and well-educated older adults ask the exact same questions about earthquakes and science in general.

Kathy loves science and science fiction. She’s sold a few stories but more poetry. She also has a spinning wheel and is not afraid to use it. Her favorite on-going project is making fancy yarn and wild lace shawls inspired by the short stories and poems of Edgar Allan Poe.






Eric Robertson:

Eric Robertson is an elementary school teacher in Oakland, CA. He has worked as a newspaper reporter, small press editor, and writing workshop facilitator. He has a book of short stories published by Freedom Voices, titled Whatever Comes of Not Knowing. Eric enjoys writing short stories, poems, essays and articles. Other interests include birding, drumming and reading.


Gretchen Schrafft:

Gretchen Schrafft, a writer living in San Francisco, has worked with kids as a camp counselor, a creative writing instructor, and an after school supervisor. She is a recent graduate of the Creative Writing MLitt program at the University of St Andrews and holds a BA in English Literature from Middlebury College. She’s written and researched articles for San Francisco magazine, read submissions for New England Review, and is currently at work on a collection of short stories.


Alex Besher:

Alexander Besher was born in China of Russian parents and grew up and was educated in Japan. He’s always been a writer even before he could write when his parents called him “the Great Dictator” and I would dictate stories to them. He’s written, um, I’ve lost track of how many books. My website is He doesn’t read or write “science fiction” but to his surprise his first novel Rim (HarperCollins) was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award. It became the Rim Trilogy , followed by Mir and Chi (Simon & Schuster). The press has said he’s got the shortest titles in the world. Rim, which was written pre-Internet, was film optioned by Sony TriStar for Robin Williams. He’s been writing horror stories recently, but that’s because iPads and cell phones scare him.







Will Goebe:

William Groebe is an Animation Supervisor at Tippett Studio. He has contributed concept art, storyboards and animation for many feature films including The Twilight Saga, The Smurfs, Hellboy, The Matrix: Revolutions, Disney’s Enchanted, Cloverfield, Golden Compass, and The Spiderwick Chronicles. He lives in Marin County with his wife and son.


Jared Hawkley:

Jared Hawkley graduated from Bethel College, Kansas, with a degree in English in 2005. Since that time he has been contributing editor to several books including The Best American Nonrequired Reading; White Collar, Blue Collar, No Collar; and several books of student writing published by 826michigan, a nonprofit organization that promotes strong writing skills in students aged 6-18. He has designed books and record jackets. Past work has found him leading hikes up fourteeners in Rocky Mountain National Park and giving dogsled tours in the northern woods of Minnesota. He lives in San Francisco.


Mari Bailey:

Having been around music my entire life — my Dad played ukulele and my Mom sang — I tried my hand at songwriting in the third grade. Big flop there. I did better when I discovered poetry, and was published in high school and college literary newspapers. My writing was pushed aside while I worked in radio and TV, but sold my first published story in 1985. I went on to publish more than 50 confession stories, three books, and numerous articles. Now, in addition to freelance writing, I also make my living as a craftsperson and an artist. I have a BA in Creative Arts from San Jose State. As long as I’m busy creating something, I’m happy.


Erica Betnun:

I graduated from UC Davis, which is near Sacramento. I majored in Communication and completed a double minor in Expository Writing and Textiles and Clothing. I have a passion for fashion and a love for writing! In college, I took many writing classes, but my favorite was journalism. During my senior year, I wrote a weekly advice column for the campus newspaper, The California Aggie. I also had my own fashion blog called Misscommunicashion where I shared my must-haves and tips for every season. Recently, I started a teen advice blog called Teen and Heard! where I answer questions and blog about issues that teens may have. I would love to write a book one day, so be on the look out!