Category Archives: Meet the Press

Meet the Press: Patrick O’Dowd, Acquisitions Editor

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Name: Patrick O’Dowd
Position: Acquisitions Editor
Hometown: Lexington, KY
Alma Mater: University of Kentucky

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Tell us a little bit about your position at the press.

I am one of UPK’s three acquiring editors. Most of my acquiring efforts are focused on regional titles, fiction, and poetry.

What’s one of your favorite UPK titles and why?

The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson. It is a beautiful story by an amazing writer/human.

If someone was visiting Kentucky for the first time and you were their tour guide, where would you take them? Any specific restaurants, landmarks, etc.?

County Club

What’s your favorite word?

According to my fiancée: gorgeous.

Do you have a favorite font? If so, what is it? 

I have many strong opinions but not on fonts.

Did you always know you wanted to work in publishing? When you were a kid, did you want to do something different as an adult?

Farmer, chef, race car driver. There was a certain process of elimination, but publishing is where I belong.

What’s something most people don’t know about you? What’s a random factoid about yourself?

I’m the biggest Formula 1 fan in Kentucky.

If you could bring any fictional character to life, who would you choose?

Leslie Knope.

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why or why not?

American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West by Nate Blakeslee. Yes! It’s a well told story.

If you could have dinner with any three people—dead or alive, famous or not—who would it be?

Anthony Bourdain, Barack Obama, and Michelle Obama

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Meet the Press: Tasha Huber, Assistant to the Director

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Name: Tasha Huber
Position: Assistant to the Director
Hometown: Utica, Ohio
Alma mater(s); major(s), minor(s): University of Kentucky; B.A. in English, Communication minor

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Tell us a little bit about your position at the press.

As the assistant to the director, I do a variety of things at the press. I draft various letters and grant proposals. I help manage the director’s book projects and communicate with authors and community partners. I coordinate the editorial board and press committee meetings that happen four times a year. I also help coordinate our Thomas D. Clark Foundation meetings and work closely with the foundation members. Additionally, I work closely with our acquisitions staff to keep up-to-date on the book projects they are working on.

One of the things I enjoy most about my position is the work I do with our growing internship program. I helped create a group dedicated to the advancement of the program, and we meet monthly to discuss ways to give our interns a more meaningful experience. As a former intern at the press, I like to work with students and help them gain experience and knowledge in scholarly publishing.

What’s one of your favorite UPK titles and why?

Patchwork by Bobbie Ann Mason—it was the first project that I worked on when I became a full-time staff member at the press. I’ve spent a lot of time with the book!

If someone was visiting Kentucky for the first time and you were their tour guide, where would you take them? Any specific restaurants, landmarks, etc.?

I’m not a native Kentuckian, so I feel a little unqualified to act as a tour guide. However, I would definitely recommend the many distilleries and wineries that Kentucky has to offer.

What’s your favorite word?

Serendipity: finding something good without looking for it.

Do you have a favorite font? If so, what is it?

I like Adobe Garamond because that’s the font used in the Harry Potter books.Adobe Garamond

Did you always know you wanted to work in publishing? When you were a kid, did you want to do something different as an adult?

I’ve always enjoyed reading books, so I think it was natural for me to want to work with books in some way. However, there was a brief period in time where I wanted to be a sports journalist.

What’s something most people don’t know about you? What’s a random factoid about yourself?

Normally my random fact is that I’m a super crazy cat lady, but most people know that about me by now (my “Cat Mother of the Year” mug is maybe not so subtle…). Something that most people don’t know about me is that my dream is to open a cat sanctuary one day. I’d love to spend my time playing with and giving love to kittens and cats that would be otherwise be left as strays on the streets or worse.

If you could bring any fictional character to life, who would you choose?

I would choose Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series because I think we would be best friends.

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it?

I just finished reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Love of the Last Tycoon. As a huge Fitzgerald fan, I definitely would recommend it. It is interesting to read an unfinished work and to try to interpret where Fitzgerald was going with the novel based on the notes he left behind.

If someone were to make a movie about your life, who would you hope would play you?

I can only hope that it would be Emma Watson.

Any hidden talents?

I have a decent singing voice. I used to sing in a lot of talent shows and school musicals, in choir and in church, and at any event that had a karaoke machine. Now, I mostly limit my singing to car rides and the occasional sing-along to a Disney movie.

Meet the Press: Mack McCormick, Publicity and Rights Manager

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Name: Mack McCormick
Position: Publicity and Rights Manager
Hometown: Selma, AL

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Tell us a little bit about your position at the press.

My primary responsibility is publicity—writing press releases, mailing review copies, coordinating media interviews for authors, setting up book signings and other events.  I also coordinate the press’s subsidiary rights program. The bulk of our rights activity is translations, though it covers everything from professors who want to use a chapter from one of our books for a course packet to audiobooks to first serial excepts in magazines to movie deals.

What’s one of your favorite UPK titles and why?

There are so many I’ve worked on over the years, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one, so if I’m forced to do so, I’ll pick a more obscure title—Growing Up Hard in Harlan County, by G.C. “Red” Jones. It’s a memoir, originally published in 1985, and brought to the press by Harry Caudill.  We released it in paperback in the early 2000s, shortly after my son was born. It was the first book I read after he was born that I lost sleep reading (and when you’re already short on sleep, it takes something special for you to give up more).  Red Jones led a fascinating life that included running a team of mules through the Appalachians as a preteen, bootlegging, the depression, Bloody Harlan, World War II, and more.

If someone was visiting Kentucky for the first time and you were their tour guide, where would you take them? Any specific restaurants, landmarks, etc.?

It completely depends on who it is and when it is.  If Keeneland is in session, that’s a no-brainer.  It’s an experience and atmosphere you can’t get many other places, but one of the nice things about Lexington is there are lots of options, from historical to cultural to muscial to outdoors to sports.

What’s your favorite word?

It’s hard to pick just one. My favorite phrase might be “Eschew obfuscation.” And while I like both of those words individually, neither rises to favorite. As a category, I’ve always loved a lot of clothing terminology, which is a bit ironic, since I’m not what you would consider a natty dresser. I find myself intrigued by many of those words—tattersall, gaberdine, seersucker, madras, houndstooth (I did graduate from Alabama as well), gingham, muslin—not for their meaning or etymology, but as words themselves. Their sound. Their construction.

Do you have a favorite font? If so, what is it? [if possible, make image of font name in font]

Perhaps Palatino. I’m not a true font geek, though I did see and really liked Helvetica and I do notice and pay attention. I like and use a lot of more modern and streamlined fonts, but if push comes to shove, I’m a fan of old-style fonts, and Palatino is a nice modern version of one. As my eyes have gotten weaker, I’ve grown to appreciate Sabon as well, which is another modern take on an old-style design, but more open and easier on the eyes. It’s also one we’ve used extensively over the years on our film list. Palatino LinotypeHelveticaSabon

Did you always know you wanted to work in publishing? When you were a kid, did you want to do something different as an adult?

I started college with a physics major in mind.  I was always good at math (higher math, I need a calculator to add) and science. Second semester calculus disabused me of that notion, and an amazing freshman English class left me an English major. Publishing/writing didn’t enter my mind until I started working on the staff of Marr’s Field Journal, Alabama’s undergraduate literary magazine. The one creative writing class I took there showed me how much better I was on the editing end. I had the ability to write, but not the voice for it or the need to do it. I continued to work in publishing from there—Marr’s Field Journal business manager, then editor; the media planning board at Alabama; Alabama Heritage and Southern Accents magazines; Limestone, Kentucky’s graduate literary journal; then UPK.

What’s something most people don’t know about you? What’s a random factoid about yourself?

I actually alluded to it above—I’m a closet physics junkie. While I can’t follow the math in the journals, I follow the popular press. I subscribe to Scientific American and I have a shelf filled with titles like A Brief History of Time, The Black Hole War, The Meaning of Relativity, The Fabric of the Cosmos, Notes from the Holocene, The Trouble with Physics, and Reality Is Not What it Seems.

If you could bring any fictional character to life, who would you choose?

Thursday Next.  If you don’t know who that is, I won’t deprive you of the joy of discovering for yourself.

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why or why not?

The last (non-work-related) book I completed: Remembrance of Earth’s Past by Liu Cixin (The Three Body Problem is the first in the trilogy). If you’re a fan of big, complex space opera (or of contemporary speculative Chinese fiction), yes. Otherwise, there are better introductions to the genre than this amazing, complex trilogy, but if you enjoy those, by all means check this one out.

The books I’m reading now: The Real and the Unreal/The Found and the Lost, by Ursula Le Guin. One is her selected short stories; the other is her collected novellas.  Both are amazing collections from a writer whom we recently lost.  Both are worth a read, though as collections, they’re something I can dip into and out of, so I don’t tend to read those straight through.

Novel I’m reading now: The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage, by Phillip Pullman. I’m not far in, but so far so good.  This one is a follow up to Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, which in my opinion is the best, most ambitious YA fantasy to be published since The Hobbit.  Start there before getting this one, and don’t bother with the movie version of The Golden Compass.  If you have seen it, don’t think it is an honest reflection of the book either.

What’s your favorite song to sing at karaoke and why?

Mack the Knife,” by Bobby Darrin. I have my own theme song, though I was probably 14 or so before I even figured out why so many of my parents friends called me Mack the Knife. If I do get up to sing it though, run—I’m tone deaf and perpetually flat (or so I’ve been told—it sounds on key to me).

If you could live in any TV show, what would it be and why?

The West Wing. Any the “why” should be obvious.

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Meet the Press: Emily Crowe, Marketing Intern

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Name: Emily Crowe
Position: Marketing Intern
Hometown: Frankfort, Kentucky
Alma mater(s); major(s), minor(s): Georgetown College; B.A. in History, Business administration minor (May 2019)

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Tell us a little bit about your position at the press.

As an intern I do whatever they tell me to do! So far this summer my duties have ranged from writing catalog copy and press releases to running UPK’s social media accounts for a week.

What’s one of your favorite UPK titles and why?

Creeker by Linda Scott DeRosier. I read it in my Kentucky History class at Georgetown College, which was taught by Dr. James C. Klotter, another UPK author. I’ve always enjoyed memoirs and biographies, as well as books about Kentucky, so reading about a woman growing up in Appalachia was really interesting to me. This was the first history class that I took in college and I liked it so much that I decided to get my degree in History.

If someone was visiting Kentucky for the first time and you were their tour guide, where would you take them? Any specific restaurants, landmarks, etc.?

Bourbon ‘n Toulouse for chicken étouffée and an Ale 8 would definitely be at the top of the list. The Kentucky History Center in Frankfort holds a special place in my heart because I volunteered there all through high school. Lake Cumberland or the Land Between the Lakes would be ideal for a long weekend. 

What’s your favorite word?

Meander is probably my favorite word. It feels like such a relaxing, casual word and I think it should be used more in conversations.

Do you have a favorite font? If so, what is it?

Not to copy Jackie, but I really like Candara because it’s so simple and sleek.

Candara

Did you always know you wanted to work in publishing? When you were a kid, did you want to do something different as an adult?

The book industry has always been a big part of my life because my mom was the manager of the Kentucky Book Fair for fourteen years. My ultimate goal is to work in museum education, but this internship has been a great experience and it’s been a lot of fun learning about marketing.  When I was a kid, I thought, and my family agreed, that I should be a lawyer because I never gave up on an argument.

What’s something most people don’t know about you? What’s a random factoid about yourself?

All my friends and family know this (and are probably sick of hearing about it), but some people might be surprised to learn that I lived in Oxford, England from January to June of this year. I was studying History at Regent’s Park College, Oxford. The best thing about my time there was the fact that I lived 30 seconds away from the Eagle and Child, the pub that J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis visited every day for nearly thirty years.

If you could bring any fictional character to life, who would you choose?

Shawn and Gus from Psych. Their humor and friendship is something the world could use a little bit more of these days.

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it?

Pride and Prejudice is the last book that I read. After years of my best friend insisting that I read it, I finally took her advice and I wish I had taken it sooner! Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite books now and I would definitely recommend it. The characters are incredibly well-written and relatable, despite being written over 200 years ago. It’s the perfect book to read when you want to slow down and focus on someone else’s (fictional) problems for a little while!

Any hidden talents?

I can sing/rap all the way through Hamilton perfectly and from memory.

Name three things you can’t live without.

Ale 8, my dog, Maxx, and Parks and Recreation.

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Meet the Press: Jackie Wilson, Marketing Assistant

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Name: Jackie Wilson
Position
: Marketing Assistant
Hometown
: Paris, KY

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Tell us a little bit about your position at the press.

I collaborate with the sales and marketing director to promote our books. I write and edit promotional copy for the seasonal catalogs and book jacket covers; contact various writers, professors, and professionals to solicit advance quotes for our publications; represent the press at various exhibits, fairs, and shows; and help manage the press’s social media platforms to promote new releases, events, and features.

What’s one of your favorite UPK titles and why?

It’s very hard to narrow down, but The Birds of Opulence is just an exquisite piece of fiction.

What’s your favorite word?

My favorite saying is “no worries.”

Do you have a favorite font? If so, what is it?

My favorite fonts vary, depending on the day and my mood, but Candara tends to be my go-to font.Candara

Did you always know you wanted to work in publishing? When you were a kid, did you want to do something different as an adult?

Initially I wanted to be a marriage counselor as a kid (go figure), but have always had a love for writing. After reading When and Where I Enter as a teen and becoming a staff writer for my high school newspaper, I aspired to be the managing editor of Essence. I’ve worked with a number of publications: The Charlotte Observer, Army Times Publishing, USA Today, and the Lexington Herald Leader. I’ve also closed-captioned television shows, and worked as a traffic manager with WDKY-Fox 56, but this is my first venture into book publishing.

What’s something most people don’t know about you? What’s a random factoid about yourself?

To commemorate my 50th birthday this year, I plan to get my first tattoo.

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why or why not?

The last non-UPK book I read was Difficult Women by Roxane Gay. I’m currently reading her book, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. She is a fearless beast of a writer—I love her work!

What’s your favorite song to sing at karaoke and why?

Surprisingly I’ve never done karaoke but if presented with the opportunity, I would probably choose a song by Journey.

Name three things you can’t live without.

A never-ending flow of iced tea (half-sweetened / half-unsweetened), lip gloss, and hugs and kisses from my kids, Shelby (13) and William Avery (11).

If you could have dinner with any three people—dead or alive, famous or not—who would it be and why?

My late grandparents (Mary Adair Woods and Rodney T. Woods, Sr.), Oprah Winfrey, and Idris Elba, because…well, have you seen Idris Elba?!

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Meet the Press: Natalie O’Neal, Acquisitions Assistant

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Name: Natalie O’Neal
Position: Acquisitions Assistant
Hometown: Hot Springs, AR

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Tell us a little bit about your position at the press.

I assist Anne Dean Dotson and Melissa Hammer in acquisitions by securing peer reviewers for potential projects and working with authors during the submission process.

What’s one of your favorite UPK titles and why?

Bourbon Desserts by Lynn Marie Hulsman (for obvious reasons).

If someone was visiting Kentucky for the first time and you were their tour guide, where would you take them? Any specific restaurants, landmarks, etc.?

Well since I just moved here in January, I’m probably not the best person to answer this question. Some of my favorite activities so far have been hiking around the Red River Gorge and Raven Run and tasting the local fare. Who knew Kentucky had such good BBQ? I took my most recent visitor to West Sixth Brewing and then out to eat at County Club (a favorite in the acquisitions department). We also visited Woodford Distillery which was a big hit!

What’s your favorite word?

Ineffable

Do you have a favorite font? If so, what is it?

Georgia: A layout designer at the newspaper I used to work at told me it was the “most elegant font for paper,” and I have never thought otherwise.Georgia

Did you always know you wanted to work in publishing? When you were a kid, did you want to do something different as an adult?

Ha! I wanted to be a National Geographic photo journalist when I was a kid. Also, a hot air balloonist and marine biologist (until I job shadowed someone at the local fish hatchery). But my real passion has always been for books. I lucked out and found my way into publishing during grad school.

What’s something most people don’t know about you? What’s a random factoid about yourself?

I’ve interviewed Colin Mochrie from Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Buddy Valastro from Cake Boss.

If you could bring any fictional character to life, who would you choose?

Can I bring an author to life? Because I would bring Jane Austen back to life. If not, I’ll settle for Elizabeth Bennet.

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why or why not?

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado. Yes—this book resonated and echoed deep within me. I have never seen aspects of womanhood so artfully and heart-brokenly articulated.

What’s your favorite song to sing at karaoke and why?

Only the best song ever written—Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.

If you could try out any job for a day, what would you like to try?

Mary Berry or Paul Hollywood’s job on The Great British Baking Show. Tasting breads and sweet treats for a living? Sign me up!

Meet the Press: Hayward Wilkirson, Book Designer

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Name: Hayward Wilkirson
Position: Book Designer
Home state: Kentucky
Alma mater(s), area(s) of study: International Center of Photography, New York, Documentary Photography; University of Kentucky, Economics; Transylvania University, Political Science

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Tell us a little bit about your position at the press.

This is a semi-new position at the press. We have had a full-time designer on staff before, but it has been years. Basically, my job is to design the covers for all of the books that we publish. Pressure, much!?

 

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Sir Barton, 1955. Courtesy of the National Museum of Racing

What’s one of your favorite UPK titles and why?

 

I think it will be Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown, as long as the powers that be go with my favorite of the three cover concepts that I just submitted. Just kidding.

 

 

If someone was visiting Kentucky for the first time and you were their tour guide, where would you take them? Any specific restaurants, landmarks, etc.?

Shaker Village for the architecture, Mammoth Cave for the wonder, the UK Art Museum for the art, and the rooftop patio at Dudley’s Restaurant for the drinks.

What’s your favorite word?

Nice cover. Oh wait, that’s two words.

Do you have a favorite font? If so, what is it?

Do you have a favorite child?

Did you always know you wanted to work in publishing? When you were a kid, did you want to do something different as an adult?

I’ve been interested in art and design for many years, but when I was a kid I wanted to be an astronomer.

If you could bring any fictional character to life, who would you choose?

Why ruin the illusion?

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why or why not?

My mom is 98, so we try to get large-print books for her, which I sometimes pick up and read. The last book I read was one of her large-print Patricia Cornwell novels, and no, I would not recommend it.

Any hidden talents?

Hiding my talents.

If you could try out any job for a day, what would you like to try?

Sailboat captain.

Hayward