Kelby, N.M. (Nicole Mary Kelby)

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Kelby, N.M. (Nicole Mary Kelby)




Home—Sarasota, FL. Agent—Lisa Bankoff, International Creative Management, 40 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019. E-mail—[email protected]


Journalist, television journalist, and writer. KMSP-TV, Minneapolis, MN, reporter and newscaster. University of Tennessee, writer in residence, 2006. Has also performed on-stage in several productions and was featured in the stand-up comedy revue, What's So Funny about Being Female? at the Brave New Workshop, Minneapolis, MN.


Pirate's Alley Faulkner Prize finalist, 1998, for In the Company of Angels; James fellowship for the novel in progress, Heekin Group Foundation, 1999; Bush Artist fellowship in literature, 1999; Loft's Mentor Series, fiction winner; Minnesota State Arts Board fellowship; Jerome Travel study grant (two); Jewish Arts Endowment fellowship; Florida State Arts Board fellowship in fiction; Minnesota State Arts Board fellowship in fiction; National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Inter Arts grant for work for the stage; named "Outstanding Southern Artist," the Southern Arts Federation.


In the Company of Angels, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2002.

Theater of the Stars: A Novel of Physics and Memory, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.

Whale Season: A Novel, Shaye Areheart Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to anthologies, including Concert at Chopin's House, New River Press. Contributor of poems and short stories to periodicals, including Zoetrope: All Stories Extra, One Story, Minnesota Monthly, and the Mississippi Review. Works have been translated into several languages.


Whale Season has been optioned for film. Kelby's short story "Jubilation, Florida" was adapted to audiobook format, read by Joanne Woodward, for NPR Selected Shorts: Travel Tales.


N.M. Kelby was working as a broadcast journalist in Minneapolis who wrote poems and plays in her spare time when her father was hit by a car and killed while standing in front of his home. The sudden loss delivered a spiritual shock to Kelby, spurring her to leave her day job and devote herself full time to writing.

Kelby's first book, In the Company of Angels, began as a 300-page graduate thesis and later became a 90-page story on the Zoetrope online writing workshop. Though small, the novella goes after the big questions: mortality, God, love, and salvation. Set in France and Belgium during World War II, the story follows a young Jewish girl who is rescued from her destroyed village by a pair of nuns. The girl's presence back in the nun's convent is accompanied by odd happenings: events and signs perhaps angelic, perhaps miraculous. Sharon Schultz-Elsing of the Curled Up with a Good Book Web site described Kelby's prose as having "the hypnotic rhythm of the dream state and the immediacy of well-worked short fiction." In the Company of Angels is "an exquisite book," Schultz-Elsing wrote, "rich with the scent of flowers and chocolate, painfully full of unexpressed love, simple grief and quiet wonder." A reviewer in Publishers Weekly was impressed by Kelby's "flashes of sensual detail" and the "spare, elliptical prose [that … infuses] the emotionally and spiritually loaded subject matter with an uncommon intimacy."

Kelby's second book, Theater of the Stars: A Novel of Physics and Memory, is set amidst the mysteries of science rather than faith, but mined similar themes of love and loss. The novel centers on astrophysicist Lucienne Kundera whose success in discovering a black hole is offset by a failing marriage and nagging questions about her mother—a physicist at Los Alamos during World War II—and the father she never knew. A Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that Theater of the Stars was "an improbable tale …, but thoroughly likeable nevertheless, with a light touch and a rich collection of vivid (sometimes horribly so) characters." Donna Seaman of Booklist found the novel to be an "elegant, spellbinding, and ingenious tale" and a "radioactive spider web of a novel … as psychologically loaded as it is suspenseful."

In Whale Season: A Novel, Kelby tells the story of a serial killer named Ricardo Garcia who thinks he is Jesus Christ. When used-car dealer Leon wins a poker game with Garcia, the spoils include a plush trailer. After the trailer is burnt down, the locals of the Florida town of Whale Harbor think that Leon perished in the fire, but he has actually survived and is being cared for in a nearby hospital. However, after a swarm of bees enters the hospital room and attacks him, the local staff dub Leon "Bee-Jesus." The marvel of the bees, who continue to swarm around Leon, attracts a bedazzled crowd hoping for a miracle based on delusional comments Leon has made. Meanwhile, Garcia continues his murderous rampage through local clubs and strip bars. A Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that "there's enough mad plot to hook most anyone." Several reviewers also noted that the novel was a drastic departure from Kelby's earlier, more serious novels. Calling the novel a "screwball comedy with a dark side," a Publishers Weekly contributor also wrote that Whale Season is "good fun." Bob Lunn, writing in the Library Journal, commented that the author "manages to make the Florida shtick seem fresh."



Atlantic Monthly, May, 2001, review of In the Company of Angels, p. 122.

Booklist, July, 2003, Donna Seaman, review of Theater of the Stars: A Novel of Physics and Memory, p. 1865; December 15, 2005, Allison Block, review of Whale Season: A Novel, p. 23; September 1, 2006, Mike Tribby, review of Whale Season, p. 148.

Entertainment Weekly, March 3, 2006, "Pocketful of ‘Change,’" p. 107.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2003, review of Theater of the Stars, p. 704; December 1, 2005, review of Whale Season, p. 1248.

Library Journal, December 1, 2005, Bob Lunn, review of Whale Season, p. 113.

New York Times Book Review, February 26, 2006, Gregory Cowles, "Fiction Chronicle," review of Whale Season.

People, January 30, 2006, Jonathan Durbin, review of Whale Season, p. 47.

Publishers Weekly, February 26, 2001, review of In the Company of Angels, p. 56; November 14, 2005, review of Whale Season, p. 44.


Curled Up with a Good Book, (June 11, 2001), Sharon Schultz-Elsing, review of In the Company of Angels.

Hyperion Books, (September 6, 2003), author biography and book descriptions.

N.M. Kelby Home Page, (April 9, 2007).

University of Tennessee Department of English Web site, (April 9, 2007), faculty profile of author.