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Kerry Madden (1961–) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights

(Kerry Madden-Lunsford)


Born 1961, in Daytona Beach, FL; Education: University of Tennessee, B.A. (speech and theatre), M.F.A. (playwriting).


Agent—Marianne Merola, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents, 1501 Broadway, New York, NY 10036.


Journalist, novelist, teacher, and playwright. Ningbo University, China, teacher of English, c. 1986; Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles, CA, English-as-a-second-language teacher, 1989–95; University of California, Los Angeles, teacher of creative writing and fiction; host of writing workshops; freelance journalist.

Honors Awards

Two-time Ensemble Studio Theatre/L.A. New Play Award finalist, Fountain Theatre (Los Angeles, CA), for Chattanooga Flamenco; Walter Dakin fellow, and Tennessee Williams scholar, Sewanee Writers Conference; Raymond Carver Short-Story Contest finalist, Carvezine.com, 2004, for "Seeds of Destruction"; New York Public Library Pick for Mature Teens, 1997, for Offsides; New York Public Library 100 Books for Reading and Sharing distinction, Chicago Public Library Best of the Best inclusion, and SIBA children's book award nomination, all 2005, all for Gentle's Holler.



Offsides (novel), William Morrow (New York, NY), 1996.

Writing Smarts: A Girl's Guide to Writing Great Poetry, Stories, School Reports, and More!, illustrated by Tracy McGuinness, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2002.

Gentle's Holler (novel), Viking (New York, NY), 2005.


Blood and Marriage (play), produced in Los Angeles, CA, 1993.

The Goddess of My Heart (play), produced in Los Angeles, CA, 1994.

Chatanooga Flamenco (play), staged reading produced in Los Angeles, CA, 2003.

Contributor of essays, articles, and short fiction to periodicals, including Shenandoah, L.A. Weekly, Tennessee Alumnus, and Los Angeles Times; contributor to online publications, including Salon, WebMD, Apira, Consumer Health Interactive, HipMama, Oxygen, and Homestore.com.

Work in Progress

Vote for Me, Please; Leavenworth Stories; The Star of the Week Who Peeked; and The Colors of Louisiana and Jessie's Mountain, the last two for Viking Children's Books, 2007.


Writing instructor and children's book author Kerry Madden is the author of the young-adult novel Offsides, about the world of football, and Gentle's Holler. The story of a North Carolina family during the 1960s, Gentle's Holler is narrated by twelve-year-old Livy Two and recounts the girl's ordeals in her seemingly dysfunctional family and her struggles with growing up in a small town. Dealing with her mixed emotions after her older brother runs away in hopes of finding a better job, Livy Two also must face the reality that her grandmother is moving in with the already-crowded family. Her frustrations over the inadequate care given to her younger sister, Gentle, who is blind, also perplex the girl, and then her entire world is thrown into uncertainty after a sudden tragic accident places her father in a coma. Cindy Darling Codell wrote in School Library Journal that "Livy's narration rings true and is wonderfully voiced, and Madden's message about the importance of forgiveness will be well received." Frances Bradburn, reviewing Gentle's Holler for Booklist, also enjoyed the book, stating that, "Taken individually, these character are very human, but together they form a strong unit that will help readers understand what it means to be a family."

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Madden, whose family relocated throughout the Midwest and South while growing up due to her father's job as a football coach, developed a talent for storytelling as a child. "I was … told to clean up the kitchen a lot when I was a kid," she explained on her home page, "and so I made up stories to escape in my head. My sister became an orphan scrubbing a stone or I became a nun, chopping vegetables—a train conductor, a sickly mother, an evil school matron—anything to escape the drudgery of my own life."

During her college years, she attended the University of Tennessee, and spent a year studying in England. Marrying her husband Kiffen Lunsford, after graduation, she joined him in a stint teaching English at Ningbo University, in China. Returning to the United States, the couple raised three children, eventually settling in California, where Madden has since worked as a journalist and teacher. Inspired by her memories of the Smokey Mountain region, Gentle's Holler was also inspired by her husband's stories about his large, colorful North Carolina family.

"I think every child has stories to tell whether it's through poetry, stories, or art," Madden added on her home page. "It's why I love to do writing workshops to help kids find the stories they want to tell."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, March 1, 2005, Frances Bradburn, review of Gentle's Holler, p. 1197.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2005, review of Gentle's Holler, p. 232.

Library Journal, September 15, 1996, Kimberly G. Allen, review of Offsides, p. 97.

Publishers Weekly, August, 20, 1996, review of Offsides, p. 77; March 28, 2005, review of Gentle's Holler, p. 80.

School Library Journal, June, 2005, Cindy Darling Codell, review of Gentle's Holler, p. 164.


Cynsations, http://cynthialeitichsmight.blogspot.com/ (January 30, 2006), Cynthia Leitich Smith, interview with Madden.

Kerry Madden Home Page, http://www.kerrymadden.com (January 30, 2006).

Writers Net, http://www.writers.net/ (January 30, 2006), "Kerry Madden."

Young Writers Guild Web site, http://www.youngpens.org/ (January 30, 2006), "Kerry Madden."

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