Darby, Ann

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PERSONAL: Female. Education: Attended Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley; Columbia University, B.A., M.F.A. Hobbies and other interests: Running.

ADDRESSES: Home—New York, NY. Agent—Emma Sweeney, Harold Ober Associates, Inc., 425 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER: Writer. Former dancer; also worked variously as a waitress, secretary, corporate trainer, and instructor in business writing and presentation skills. Instructor, Riverside Writers' Group; teaching fellow, Columbia University; worked in science publishing at W. H. Freeman; instructor at writers' conferences.

AWARDS, HONORS: Bennett Cerf prize for short fiction.


Finny the Lovesick Frog, illustrated by Katia Karloff, Chalk Board Publications (Rancho Cucamonga, CA), 1996.

The Orphan Game, William Morrow (New York, NY), 1999.

(With Thomas P. Mauriello) The Dollhouse Murders: A Forensic Expert Investigates Six Little Crimes, PI Press (New York, NY), 2003.

Also author, with Laurie Swearingen, of performance-art piece The Alice Boyd Story; author of short stories; editor for Scientific American Medicine (textbook). Contributor to periodicals, including Northwest Review, Malahat Review, Best of StoryQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, Scientific American Cancer Smart, and Scientific American Cancer Outlook. Regular reviewer for Publishers Weekly.

WORK IN PROGRESS: The Sweet, Sad Songs of W. F. Pine, a novel.

SIDELIGHTS: Author Ann Darby was raised in southern California, the daughter of an attorney and a gym teacher. She attended the University of California, Berkeley, because it had a dance department. Her involvement in a summer dance workshop with the Merce Cunningham Company led her to relocate to New York City, where she arrived with just "sixty-five cents and one telephone number," as she remarked on her home page. While supporting herself waiting tables, Darby studied dance and performed in the city for twelve years. She returned to school to earn her B.A. and M.F.A. at Columbia University, and while she held various jobs over several years, worked on her first novel, The Orphan Game, which was published in 1999.

Set in southern California around 1965, The Orphan Game follows the travails of Maggie Harris, a pregnant sixteen year old whose older boyfriend has just joined the U.S. Army and may be sent to Vietnam. Maggie's home situation is precarious: her father plunges the family further and further into debt with his reckless real estate investments, while her mother tries to supplement their income by taking in sewing from the town's wealthy women. The parents fight a lot, Maggie's younger brother copes by skateboarding around the empty streets at night, and her younger sister attempts to be the model child. To cope, Maggie appeals to an eccentric aunt for emotional help and guidance.

Valerie Sayers wrote in the New York Times Book Review: "Darby's first novel is smart, sharply observant and—in its opening, at least—deceptively simple. In fact, its intricate pattern isn't entirely revealed until the story's last page." "The Orphan Game begins at a slow and deliberate pace," Sayers continued, "but quickly gains momentum. The novel's ending is startling, and it's a measure of Darby's skill that it also feels inevitable." An Entertainment Weekly contributor called the book a "thoughtful first novel," and a Publishers Weekly critic commented that Darby's prose is "tightly controlled . . . sometimes microscopically observant, sometimes musical. Her attention to every detail of the period is faultless." The Orphan Game became a Los Angeles Times bestseller.

For The Dollhouse Murders: A Forensic Expert Investigates Six Little Crimes, Darby teamed up with Thomas P. Mauriello, a former police officer, crime-scene investigator, and criminology professor at the University of Maryland. While teaching at the university, Mauriello created and used six tiny dioramas—or "dollhouses"—to show his students how to use forensic evidence in crime scene investigations. Darby lends her skill as a wordsmith to flesh out the prose for each of the book's six cases. Harry Charles, reviewing The Dollhouse Murders for Library Journal, called it "highly original" and commented that Darby presents the fictional crimes in "real-time narratives with sharp dialog and description."



Entertainment Weekly, May 28, 1999, review of The Orphan Game, p. 138.

Library Journal, April 1, 1999, Nancy Pearl, review of The Orphan Game, p. 128; October 1, 1999, review of The Orphan Game, p. 50; November 1, 2003, Harry Charles, review of The Dollhouse Murders: A Forensic Expert Investigates Six Little Crimes, p. 109.

New York Times Book Review, June 6, 1999, Valerie Sayers, review of The Orphan Game, p. 24.

Publishers Weekly, March 15, 1999, review of The Orphan Game, p. 44; July 5, 1999, Judy Quinn and Bob Summer, review of The Orphan Game, p. 31; October 6, 2003, review of The Dollhouse Murders, p. 73.


Ann Darby Home Page,http://anndarby.com (October 23, 2004).*