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Kirby Gann

Kirby Gann - Editor

Louisville, United States

From crime and thrillers to memoirs and short stories—accomplished editor/author with over 20 years of experience in publishing and teaching

Overview

I have a particular realm of experience in that I have worked nearly twenty years as an editor of others’ books while also forging a career of my own as a novelist, short story writer, and teacher of writing, along with one foray into creating a hybrid work of memoir and criticism. Thus I have an informed perspective on the varieties of challenges the writer faces in the effort to complete a work, be it a full-length project or something shorter. My practice is to identify such challenges and to assist the writer in overcoming them (not avoiding them), the goal always being to help achieve the writer’s original vision and voice.

As an editor and copyeditor I’ve helped bring into the world literary fiction, thrillers and mysteries, memoirs, and works of popular history and self-help. I am open to any genre, however, and would be happy to discuss your project no matter its subject.

Services
Languages
English (US)
Non-Fiction
Biographies & Memoirs History Publishing
Fiction
Crime & Mystery Literature Short Story Thriller

Awards

  • Finalist, Kentucky Book of the Year, 2012
  • Finalist, Kentucky Book of the Year, 2005
  • Best Book of Year, Publishers Weekly, 2012
  • Individual Artist Fellowship, Kentucky Arts Council

Work experience

Freelance Editor & Writer

Self-employed
January, 2002 – Present (almost 16 years)

My freelance services have exercised the breadth of my talents and experience. I have worked one-on-one with authors seeking creative assistance--at all levels of composition, from developmental editing to finalizing a manuscript and helping to prepare queries--and have worked directly with publishers at various stages of production: interior design and typesetting, line editing, copyediting, and proofreading. Presses with whom I've provided services most recently include Archipelago, Bloomsbury, Coffee House, Dalkey Archive, Prospect Park, Soho, and Central Recovery Press, among others.

Fiction Faculty

MFA in Writing Program at Spalding University
November, 2002 – Present (about 15 years)

Managing Editor

Sarabande Books
August, 1998 – May, 2015 (over 16 years)

Guided over 150 books from acquisition to publication. Evaluated all fiction submissions and took editorial lead throughout production. Designed exterior and interior, including 4-Color layouts. Created annual 4-Color catalogs, newsletters, and ads (print and web). Monitored production budgets. Reviewed and proofed all text before release to public.

Main editor on all prose titles after acquisition. Recent award-winning authors include Kyle Minor, Elena Passarello, Arna Bontemps Hemenway, Wendy S. Walters, John McManus, Lia Purpura.

Portfolio (22 selected works)

All the Dirty Parts

Daniel Handler

From bestselling, award-winning author Daniel Handler, a gutsy, exciting novel that looks honestly at the erotic impulses of an all-too-typical young man.Cole is a boy in high school. He runs cross country, he sketches, he jokes around with friends. But none of this quite matters next to the allure of sex. "Let me put it this way," he says. "Draw a number line, with zero is you never think abo... read more

From bestselling, award-winning author Daniel Handler, a gutsy, exciting novel that looks honestly at the erotic impulses of an all-too-typical young man.Cole is a boy in high school. He runs cross country, he sketches, he jokes around with friends. But none of this quite matters next to the allure of sex. "Let me put it this way," he says. "Draw a number line, with zero is you never think abo... read more

The Best of Us: A Memoir

Joyce Maynard

From New York Times bestselling author Joyce Maynard, a memoir about discovering strength in the midst of great loss--"heart wrenching, inspiring, full of joy and tears and life." (Anne Lamott)In 2011, when she was in her late fifties, beloved author and journalist Joyce Maynard met the first true partner she had ever known. Jim wore a rakish hat over a good head of hair; he asked real questio... read more

From New York Times bestselling author Joyce Maynard, a memoir about discovering strength in the midst of great loss--"heart wrenching, inspiring, full of joy and tears and life." (Anne Lamott)In 2011, when she was in her late fifties, beloved author and journalist Joyce Maynard met the first true partner she had ever known. Jim wore a rakish hat over a good head of hair; he asked real questio... read more

Ghosting

Kirby Gann

"A novelist of daring creativity and passion."—Edmund WhiteA dying drug kingpin enslaved to the memory of his dead wife; a young woman torn between a promising future and the hardscrabble world she grew up in; a mother willing to do anything to fuel her addiction to pills; and her youngest son, searching for the truth behind his older brother's disappearance, are just some of the unforgettable... read more

"A novelist of daring creativity and passion."—Edmund WhiteA dying drug kingpin enslaved to the memory of his dead wife; a young woman torn between a promising future and the hardscrabble world she grew up in; a mother willing to do anything to fuel her addiction to pills; and her youngest son, searching for the truth behind his older brother's disappearance, are just some of the unforgettable... read more

John Knowles' A Separate Peace: Bookmarked

Kirby Gann

The Bookmarked series focuses on a famous work of literature that left a powerful impression on an author (hence the name, Bookmarked—a book that left its mark). Each entry in the series will be a no-holds-barred personal narrative detailing how a particular novel influenced an author on their journey to becoming a writer, as well as the myriad directions where that journey has taken them.In t... read more

The Bookmarked series focuses on a famous work of literature that left a powerful impression on an author (hence the name, Bookmarked—a book that left its mark). Each entry in the series will be a no-holds-barred personal narrative detailing how a particular novel influenced an author on their journey to becoming a writer, as well as the myriad directions where that journey has taken them.In t... read more

Our Napoleon in Rags

Kirby Gann

From a writer called “an important new voice in fiction” by Bret Lott and a “novelist of daring creativity and passion” by Edmund White, comes Our Napoleon in Rags. It’s the story of the regulars at the Don Quixote, a bar in a decaying Midwestern city, whose lives are torn apart when their self-appointed “Napoleon,” Haycraft Keebler, bipolar son of a famous local politician, falls in love with... read more

From a writer called “an important new voice in fiction” by Bret Lott and a “novelist of daring creativity and passion” by Edmund White, comes Our Napoleon in Rags. It’s the story of the regulars at the Don Quixote, a bar in a decaying Midwestern city, whose lives are torn apart when their self-appointed “Napoleon,” Haycraft Keebler, bipolar son of a famous local politician, falls in love with... read more

A Fine Excess : Contemporary Literature at Play

A collection of poetry, fiction, and essay where language isn’t strictly functional but comes at the world in its most intense states—in reverie, in revelry, in fine excess; writers who must have, as Paul West once termed it, the world written up. These are minds unavoidably alive on the page. And there they move freely, in particular musical fashion, often making unlikely connections, sometim... read more

A collection of poetry, fiction, and essay where language isn’t strictly functional but comes at the world in its most intense states—in reverie, in revelry, in fine excess; writers who must have, as Paul West once termed it, the world written up. These are minds unavoidably alive on the page. And there they move freely, in particular musical fashion, often making unlikely connections, sometim... read more

In the Fall They Come Back

Robert Bausch

A brilliantly observed prep school novel about fraught teacher-student relationships--and about coming into adulthood.Ben Jameson begins his teaching career in a small private school in Northern Virginia. He is idealistic, happy to have his first job after graduate school, and hoping some day to figure out what he really wants out of life. And in his two years teaching English at Glenn Acres P... read more

A brilliantly observed prep school novel about fraught teacher-student relationships--and about coming into adulthood.Ben Jameson begins his teaching career in a small private school in Northern Virginia. He is idealistic, happy to have his first job after graduate school, and hoping some day to figure out what he really wants out of life. And in his two years teaching English at Glenn Acres P... read more

Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me

Bill Hayes

A moving celebration of what Bill Hayes calls "the evanescent, the eavesdropped, the unexpected" of life in New York City, and an intimate glimpse of his relationship with the late Oliver Sacks. "A beautifully written once-in-a-lifetime book, about love, about life, soul, and the wonderful loving genius Oliver Sacks, and New York, and laughter and all of creation."--Anne LamottBill Hayes came ... read more

A moving celebration of what Bill Hayes calls "the evanescent, the eavesdropped, the unexpected" of life in New York City, and an intimate glimpse of his relationship with the late Oliver Sacks. "A beautifully written once-in-a-lifetime book, about love, about life, soul, and the wonderful loving genius Oliver Sacks, and New York, and laughter and all of creation."--Anne LamottBill Hayes came ... read more

Grief Cottage: A Novel

Gail Godwin

The haunting tale of a desolate cottage, and the hair-thin junction between this life and the next, from bestselling National Book Award finalist Gail Godwin.After his mother's death, eleven-year-old Marcus is sent to live on a small South Carolina island with his great aunt, a reclusive painter with a haunted past. Aunt Charlotte, otherwise a woman of few words, points out a ruined cottage, t... read more

The haunting tale of a desolate cottage, and the hair-thin junction between this life and the next, from bestselling National Book Award finalist Gail Godwin.After his mother's death, eleven-year-old Marcus is sent to live on a small South Carolina island with his great aunt, a reclusive painter with a haunted past. Aunt Charlotte, otherwise a woman of few words, points out a ruined cottage, t... read more

Steam Titans: Cunard, Collins, and the Epic Battle for Commerce on the North Atlantic

William M. Fowler Jr.

The story of the epic contest between shipping magnates Samuel Cunard and Edward Collins for mid-19th century control of the Atlantic. Between 1815 and the American Civil War, the greatest invention of the Industrial Revolution delivered a sea change in oceanic transportation. Steam travel transformed the Atlantic into a pulsating highway, dominated by ports in Liverpool and New York, as steam... read more

The story of the epic contest between shipping magnates Samuel Cunard and Edward Collins for mid-19th century control of the Atlantic. Between 1815 and the American Civil War, the greatest invention of the Industrial Revolution delivered a sea change in oceanic transportation. Steam travel transformed the Atlantic into a pulsating highway, dominated by ports in Liverpool and New York, as steam... read more

Side Life

Steve Toutonghi

Smart, paranoid literary science fiction crossover for fans of Blake Crouch and Philip K. Dick, set in present-day Seattle Vin, a down-on-his-luck young tech entrepreneur forced out of the software company he started, takes a job house-sitting a beautiful Seattle mansion. There he discovers that the owner—who has been missing for a year—has built a secret basement lab. In the lab there are com... read more

Smart, paranoid literary science fiction crossover for fans of Blake Crouch and Philip K. Dick, set in present-day Seattle Vin, a down-on-his-luck young tech entrepreneur forced out of the software company he started, takes a job house-sitting a beautiful Seattle mansion. There he discovers that the owner—who has been missing for a year—has built a secret basement lab. In the lab there are com... read more

Fox Tooth Heart

John McManus

"A phenomenal talent blazing up suddenly on the horizon. . . . precise, brilliant language that evokes without ever having to explain. . . . His transcendent vision gives us devastating glimpses."—Elle"John McManus writes visceral prose that explodes within the tight boundaries of the short story. These narratives possess a graceful internal logic and feature a wide range of gritty characters ... read more

"A phenomenal talent blazing up suddenly on the horizon. . . . precise, brilliant language that evokes without ever having to explain. . . . His transcendent vision gives us devastating glimpses."—Elle"John McManus writes visceral prose that explodes within the tight boundaries of the short story. These narratives possess a graceful internal logic and feature a wide range of gritty characters ... read more

Praying Drunk

Kyle Minor

"I finished this book with my heart pounding and grateful, my coffee cold and my smile wide and crying like a baby."—Daniel HandlerThe characters in Praying Drunk speak in tongues, torture their classmates, fall in love, hunt for immortality, abandon their children, keep machetes beneath passenger seats, and collect porcelain figurines. A man crushes pills on the bathroom counter while his son... read more

"I finished this book with my heart pounding and grateful, my coffee cold and my smile wide and crying like a baby."—Daniel HandlerThe characters in Praying Drunk speak in tongues, torture their classmates, fall in love, hunt for immortality, abandon their children, keep machetes beneath passenger seats, and collect porcelain figurines. A man crushes pills on the bathroom counter while his son... read more

On Looking: Essays

Lia Purpura

“Purpura is the real deal, and so is every successive sentence in this collection. A cornucopiac vocabulary is married to a strict economy of expression; an offbeat curiosity is married to the courage of difficult witnessing. . . .”—Albert Goldbarth“Purpura's prose is a system of delicate shocks—leaps and connections and syncopated revelations, all in the service of the spirit negotiating the ... read more

“Purpura is the real deal, and so is every successive sentence in this collection. A cornucopiac vocabulary is married to a strict economy of expression; an offbeat curiosity is married to the courage of difficult witnessing. . . .”—Albert Goldbarth“Purpura's prose is a system of delicate shocks—leaps and connections and syncopated revelations, all in the service of the spirit negotiating the ... read more

Hustle

David Tomas Martinez

"David Martinez is like an algebra problem invented by America—he's polynomial, and fractioned, full of identity variables and unsolved narrative coefficients. . . . Hustle is full of dashing nerve, linguistic flair, and unfakeable heart."—Tony HoaglandThe dark peoples with things:for keys, coins, pencilsand pens our pockets grieve.No street lights or signs,no liquor stores or bars,only a ligh... read more

"David Martinez is like an algebra problem invented by America—he's polynomial, and fractioned, full of identity variables and unsolved narrative coefficients. . . . Hustle is full of dashing nerve, linguistic flair, and unfakeable heart."—Tony HoaglandThe dark peoples with things:for keys, coins, pencilsand pens our pockets grieve.No street lights or signs,no liquor stores or bars,only a ligh... read more

Once the Shore: Stories

Paul Yoon

"So persuasive are Yoon's powers of invention that I went searching for his Solla Island somewhere off the mainland of South Korea—not realizing that it exists only in this breathtaking collection of eight interlinked stories...Yoon's writing results in a fully formed, deftly executed debut. The lost lives, while heartbreaking, prove illuminating in Yoon's made-up world, so convincing and real... read more

"So persuasive are Yoon's powers of invention that I went searching for his Solla Island somewhere off the mainland of South Korea—not realizing that it exists only in this breathtaking collection of eight interlinked stories...Yoon's writing results in a fully formed, deftly executed debut. The lost lives, while heartbreaking, prove illuminating in Yoon's made-up world, so convincing and real... read more

Thrown

Kerry Howley

In this darkly funny work of literary nonfiction, a bookish young woman insinuates herself into the lives of two cage fighters—one a young prodigy, the other an aging journeyman. Acclaimed essayist Kerry Howley follows these men for three years through the bloody world of mixed martial arts as they starve themselves, break bones, fail their families and form new ones in the quest to rise from ... read more

In this darkly funny work of literary nonfiction, a bookish young woman insinuates herself into the lives of two cage fighters—one a young prodigy, the other an aging journeyman. Acclaimed essayist Kerry Howley follows these men for three years through the bloody world of mixed martial arts as they starve themselves, break bones, fail their families and form new ones in the quest to rise from ... read more

Allegheny Front (Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction)

Matthew Neill Null

Set in the author's homeland of West Virginia, this panoramic collection of stories traces the people and animals who live in precarious balance in the mountains of Appalachia over a span of two hundred years, in a disappearing rural world. With omniscient narration, rich detail, and lyrical prose, Matthew Neill Null brings his landscape and characters vividly to life."Allegheny Front has few ... read more

Set in the author's homeland of West Virginia, this panoramic collection of stories traces the people and animals who live in precarious balance in the mountains of Appalachia over a span of two hundred years, in a disappearing rural world. With omniscient narration, rich detail, and lyrical prose, Matthew Neill Null brings his landscape and characters vividly to life."Allegheny Front has few ... read more

Multiply/Divide: On the American Real and Surreal

Wendy S. Walters

In the manner of Calvino's Invisible Cities, Wendy S. Walters's essays deftly explore the psyches of cities such as Chicago, Detroit, New York, Portsmouth, and Washington, D.C. In "Cleveland," she interviews an African-American playwright who draws great reviews, but can't muster an audience. An on-air telephone chat between a DJ and his listeners drives a discussion of race and nutrition in "... read more

In the manner of Calvino's Invisible Cities, Wendy S. Walters's essays deftly explore the psyches of cities such as Chicago, Detroit, New York, Portsmouth, and Washington, D.C. In "Cleveland," she interviews an African-American playwright who draws great reviews, but can't muster an audience. An on-air telephone chat between a DJ and his listeners drives a discussion of race and nutrition in "... read more

Let Me Clear My Throat: Essays

Elena Passarello

From Farinelli, the eighteenth century castrato who brought down opera houses with his high C, to the recording of "Johnny B. Goode" affixed to the Voyager spacecraft, Let Me Clear My Throat dissects the whys and hows of popular voices, making them hum with significance and emotion. There are murders of punk rock crows, impressionists, and rebel yells; Howard Dean's "BYAH!" and Marlon Brando's... read more

From Farinelli, the eighteenth century castrato who brought down opera houses with his high C, to the recording of "Johnny B. Goode" affixed to the Voyager spacecraft, Let Me Clear My Throat dissects the whys and hows of popular voices, making them hum with significance and emotion. There are murders of punk rock crows, impressionists, and rebel yells; Howard Dean's "BYAH!" and Marlon Brando's... read more

Father Brother Keeper (Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction)

Nathan Poole

"Heartfelt, lyrical, and moving, these stories make you feel the texture of your life alter while you're immersed in them. This remarkable book announces the arrival of a brilliant young writer."—Robert BoswellStories set in rural Georgia investigate small moments that illuminate life-altering struggles: a man slipping into dementia is abandoned at a diner with his granddaughters; a farmer's s... read more

"Heartfelt, lyrical, and moving, these stories make you feel the texture of your life alter while you're immersed in them. This remarkable book announces the arrival of a brilliant young writer."—Robert BoswellStories set in rural Georgia investigate small moments that illuminate life-altering struggles: a man slipping into dementia is abandoned at a diner with his granddaughters; a farmer's s... read more

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