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Luddy, Karon 1955(?)-

Luddy, Karon 1955(?)-


Born c. 1955; daughter of Cecil (a loom fixer) and Frances Gleaton (a mill worker); married, 1969 (divorced, 1979); married Tom Luddy; children: (first marriage) Charlotte; (second marriage) David. Education: Attended Central Piedmont Community College; University of North Carolina, Charlotte, B.A., 1982; Queens University, M.F.A., 2005.


Home—Charlotte, NC. Office—English Department, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28223-0001. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]


Educator and writer. University of North Carolina-Charlotte, writing instructor. Previously worked in sales and marketing for Honeywell and Apple Computer for more than twenty-five years.


Spelldown: The Big-Time Dreams of a Small-Town Word Whiz (novel), Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2007.

Wolf Heart (poetry), Clemson University Digital Press (Clemson, SC), 2007.


A former sales and marketing professional for electronics firms, Karon Luddy left the corporate world to spend time with her family and underwent a renaissance, publishing several well-received short stories and poetry. She also authored the novel Spelldown: The Big-Time Dreams of a Small-Town Word Whiz. Based on a character and several stories that appeared in the South Carolina Review, Spelldown was called "a gem of a coming-of-age story" by contributor Ann Wicker. A Publishers Weekly contributor referred to the novel as "a resonant, applause-worthy work of fiction.

The story revolves around Karlene Kaye Bridge, whose loving father is an alcoholic and whose downtrodden mother works in a mill. Karlene, who is thirteen, is fascinated by words and loves to pore over the dictionary. Karlene soon finds herself successful in spelling bees but remains mired in family problems created by her alcoholic father. When she begins the eighth grade, Karlene encounters a new teacher named Mrs. Amanda Harrison, who becomes Karlene's spelling coach and confidant as Karlene works her way to the 1968 National Spell Bee championship.

The novel is strongly autobiographical in nature, the author noted in several interviews. "My sixth grade teacher, Perry Gardner, rocked my world," Luddy told Wicker in the article. "She and her family showed me so much kindness when I needed it the most." Luddy added, "She moved away when I was in seventh grade, but I called her once or twice over the years."

Luddy's own father was also an alcoholic, although he was sober for the last thirty years of his life. "He would try his best not to drink," Luddy told Charlotte Observer contributor Julie Krentz. "He would take me fishing and people loved him." The author added, "He was just a good man. And he had a 500-pound gorilla on his back."

Karlene's coming-of-age story includes the beginning of her sexual awakening. Another issue is her sister's upcoming marriage. Karlene knows her sister will be giving up some of her own hopes and desires when she marries. Luddy's novel received widespread praise from reviewers. contributor Wicker noted that he "was … fascinated by Luddy's use of Latin terms throughout the story," and he admired how "Luddy gets Karlene's voice exactly right." A Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that the protagonist's "engaging personal journey … is artfully glossed with the emerging feminism of the late 1960s." Reviewers highlighted the author's use of words and language to tell her story as reflected in Karlene's voluminous vocabulary. "With chapters introduced by story-related vocabulary words, it celebrates … the magic of words to empower young people," wrote Suzanne Gordon in School Library Journal. Other reviewers focused on the author's creation of Karlene. Kay Weisman, writing in Booklist, noted that "character development is strong."

In addition to writing short stories and a novel, Luddy is also a poet published in literary journals. Her first book of poetry, Wolf Heart, was published in 2007 and features free-verse poems. One poem, "Morning after the Funeral," is an elegy to Luddy's father. Referring to the poems as "sassy, nostalgic, heartbreaking and wise," Jendi Reiter also wrote on her Reiter's Block Web site review of Wolf Heart that the author's "poetic style is simple and straightforward, but she has a gift for apt phrases."



Booklist, January 1, 2007, Kay Weisman, review of Spelldown: The Big-Time Dreams of a Small-Town Word Whiz, p. 82.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 2007, Karen Coats, review of Spelldown, p. 428.

Charlotte Observer, January 21, 2007, Julie Krentz, "Freed by the Words," profile of author.

Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2006, review of Spelldown, p. 1223.

Library Media Connection, August, 2007, Jane Mouttet, review of Spelldown, p. 68.

Publishers Weekly, January 8, 2007, review of Spelldown, p. 53.

School Library Journal, February, 2007, Suzanne Gordon, review of Spelldown, p. 122.


Central Piedmont Community College, (January 11, 2008), faculty profile of author.

Clemson University, (January 11, 2008), profile of author., (February 21, 2007), Ann Wicker, "Word Play: Local Author's Work Spells Success."

Karlene Bridges MySpace Page (Web page for fictional narrator of Spelldown), (January 11, 2008).

Karon Luddy Home Page, (January 11, 2008).

Reiter's Block, (January 11, 2008), Jendi Reiter, review of Wolf Heart.

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