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Invite an Author

Every month, we highlight an author in an initiative called "BCCLS Invite an Author". Many of these authors are happy to visit BCCLS libraries to chat with your book clubs or present programs either in person or via Skype. You can email them directly for more information or to schedule a library visit.

Previous Authors

May 2016

Owen Duffy

Photo © Elizabeth Duffy.


Owen Duffy


    ocduff @


    Indie Book of the Month - Kirkus


Letter of Introduction:

Dear Colleagues:

As I have written before, authors come to me in lots of different ways and I have been sharing authors via BCCLS Invite an Author for twelve years with authors lined up months in advance. I always leave a few months each year open for ‘surprises’; those authors who, I believe, show the promise of great things. May 2016 is just such a month.

I am delighted to present Owen Duffy as BCCLS Invite an Author for May 2016.

Owen was born and raised in Bergen County. He moved away and then moved back for college (Montclair and then grad school at Rutgers). His family has a summer home on a lake in Sussex County and he returns there every summer. Duffy’s fiction has appeared in various journals such as Passages North, New South, Storyglossia, New Delta Review, PANK, and Hawai’i Review. He holds an MFA in writing from Rutgers-Newark and currently teaches and mentors young writers. He lives with his family in Charleston, South Carolina. The Artichoke Queen is his debut novel and was named an Indie Book of the Month by Kirkus Review.

From his publisher, Livingston Press: “Very few know of the important role women played in the early years of car racing. Shimmering and evocative, tender but tough, THE ARTICHOKE QUEEN is a picture of bygone Americana, back when sex was safe and car racing was dangerous, and captures a groundbreaking woman’s struggle for identity, love, and ultimately, redemption.”

On The Artichoke Queen:

"After the death of her mother, a young woman vows to live her life to the fullest and embarks on a career as a race car driver, defying the norms of 1950s America in Duffy’s debut novel...Prudence Baylor is a force to be reckoned with. A childhood accident took most of her ability to hear, but it also sparked her deep desire to prove herself...the story finishes strong, providing surprising insights into the lives of those closest to Prudence. A sentimental but never sappy coming-of-age tale that hits all the right notes in unexpected ways."

Kirkus Review

"...readers will be intrigued by Duffy's believable, free-spirited protagonist."


Owen wants all BCCLS libraries to know that he would be happy to Skype with your book clubs or visit in-person whenever he’s back in New Jersey. To arrange for a Skype or in-person visit with Owen, please email him directly at ocduff @

Owen has sent me some copies of The Artichoke Queen so hit that ‘reply’ button to add a copy to your library’s collection.

Give Owen a shot. I’ve got a feeling about this one.

Warmest regards,





What are you reading? What's on your nightstand?

Today I’m reading Paul Vidich’s new Cold War spy thriller, “An Honorable Man” and enjoying it. I have the latest issue of the “A Public Space” on my nightstand – literary reviews have always warded off writer’s block for me.


Where do you go to get inspired?

I go fishing. To those who understand the nearly spiritual experience of standing in water, literally in nature, and trying to understand it, no more needs to be said.


What's something that surprised you recently (in a good way)?

The other day my daughter said that Buddy Holly was black and white. She’d only ever seen an old album cover of his, and I tried to explain that the past wasn’t in black and white, or that he wasn’t in black and white while the rest of the world was in color. I’m not sure I was making much sense to her, or myself for that matter.


Where do you write?

I’d like to say I write at a grand oak desk overlooking a mountain, but in fact I write at a little desk in the corner of my bedroom. Facing a wall. Not because I read somewhere that writers should do this, but this is the way I’ve always written, and it works for me. Still, I’d prefer a grand oak desk overlooking a mountain.


What/who makes you laugh? Why?

The show Louie, with comedian Louis C.K. It makes me laugh because it’s funny, but I’ve realized it’s funny because it’s true. I wish they’d keep making the show, year after year, until he’s an old man. It’s just so naturally funny I don’t want it to end.


Favorite fictional character ever?

Holden Caulfield from “The Catcher in the Rye”. If only because he came at a time when I was leaving behind childhood characters like dragons and starting to understand adult characters. I wanted to be those characters in a way. I will likely never be so impressionable again, and so he sticks in my mind as being so incredibly real.


What do you want readers to know about you and your books?

That I had fun writing them. That may seem a rather silly distinction to make, but the act of writing fiction, at it’s very best, is like time travel. To get so lost in your imagination that you are watching people, your characters, do things you’ve always wished you could do – it’s a lot of fun.


What are you working on?

I’m writing a novel about police brutality. It’s about a teacher whose brother was killed by a town cop as a kid, and when that same cop comes to his college years later to investigate the disappearance of a student, the teacher has to decide, as the investigation begins to go wrong, to confront both his past, and this cop.