Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; married (divorced). Hobbies and other interests: Sailing, fencing, squash.
Writer and editor. Globe and Mail, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, reporter, 1984-86; Gazette, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, feature writer, 1986-88; World Press Review, New York, NY, senior editor, 1990-92; New York University, New York, adjunct professor, 1990-94; Forecast, New York, editor, 1995; Worldbusiness, New York, senior editor, 1995-96; freelance writer, editor, and guest lecturer, 1996—. Has taught at Pace University, Concordia University, Marymount College, and Hudson Valley Writers' Center.
National Magazine Award, 1998, for "Yak Attack"; fellowships from Journalists in Europe, 1982, and Poynter Institute; three Knight Center for Specialized Journalism fellowships, University of Maryland.
Blown Away: American Women and Guns, Pocket Books (New York, NY) 2004.
Contributor to periodicals, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Glamour, Penthouse, New York, Redbook, and Family Circle.
Freelance writer and journalist Caitlin Kelly took a three-day defensive weapons class in 1996 as part of an assignment for the Wall Street Journal. In addition to going to the shooting range, where she fired a gun for the first time, she participated in group discussions about the laws regarding shooting someone in self-defense and the moral and ethical choices involved. The project blossomed into Kelly's book, Blown Away: American Women and Guns. In it, she examines the attitudes of American women toward firearms and recounts disturbing information, such as the fact that every day three women are killed by someone they know, and that of the seventeen million American women who own guns, half want them for protection.
Kelly investigated across a range of political, economic, and social divisions, even talking to female felons, and conducted more than one hundred interviews. In a review for Library Journal, Janet Sassi noted that "the book balances statistical data and anecdotes" and that Kelly uses the facts to reveal the pertinent issues surrounding women and gun control, "clearly explaining the allure of a gun when a person has no other means of grasping power." Booklist contributor Donna Seaman wrote that "Kelly turns in a rough-hewn yet groundbreaking and invaluable analysis." A contributor to Publishers Weekly stated that "while Kelly's prose is peppered with shocking statistics, … it's her interviews with improbable women gun owners … that truly fascinate."
Kelly told CA: "I wanted to be a writer from a very early age, specifically a foreign correspondent which, in covering the United States for a number of Canadian publications, I have been in some ways. I'm intensely curious about the world and the ways it works, or does not, whether the issues are economic, political, social or cultural. I was always the student who drove my teachers mad—and later some of my sources—by forever asking "Why?" I want my writing to make clear, or clearer to readers issues that are complex and divisive, which is why writing about gun use was so fascinating to me. I love taking readers inside little-known cultures and into physical locations that most of them will never go themselves, whether sailing aboard a multi-million-dollar America's Cup sailboat or venturing inside a shooting range or a cancer hospice. It's my job to be their eyes and ears, while trying to make that journey memorable. My writing process relies heavily on a great deal of firsthand interviewing and reporting, whenever possible getting into the same space, emotional and physical, as my subjects.
"Writing is not difficult once you have gathered your material and thought about it deeply. You need to give your readers not just a pile of information but a point of view, entertainingly and persuasively argued, about that which you have examined.
"I've been touched, and moved, by how common are some of our basic desires, whether we're wealthy or poor, European or American, young or old. The divisions and differences are real, and worth exploring, but we often strive for the same goals: decent work and pay, physical and emotional security, some sense of contribution to a larger community. I am amazed and amused at how very differently these are expressed.
"I hope to open a few minds to other viewpoints. If I can create dialogue and compassion between opposing camps, that's very satisfying. Like a foreign correspondent, I enjoy being an interpreter and translator, delving into a culture, then bringing it back out for the reader to analyze and, I hope, to enjoy exploring."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2004, Donna Seaman, review of Blown Away: American Women and Guns, p. 1128.
Library Journal, March 15, 2004, Janet Sassi, review of Blown Away, p. 94.
Publishers Weekly, February 23, 2004, review of Blown Away, p. 63.
Westchester County Business Journal (Tarrytown, NY), July 31, 2000, Elizabeth Hlotyak, "The Freelance Writing Life," p. 1.
Blown Away Web site,http://www.blownawaythebook.com/ (September 27, 2004).
Caitlin Kelly Home Page,http://www.caitlinkelly.com (September 27, 2004).