Brian Birnbaum, Co-Founder/Executive Editor: Brian Birnbaum grew up thirty minutes west of Camden Yards in Baltimore, where at four years old he cried because the Yankees were losing. An MFA graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, his work has been published or is forthcoming in The Smart Set, The Collagist, Atticus Review, SLAM Magazine, Political Animal, LUMINA, and more, and he was a finalist for Bayou Magazine's Knudsen Fiction Contest, as well as a scholarship attendee of The Work Conference. Brian is a child of Deaf adults (CODA) and works in development for the family sign language interpreting business. He lives in Harlem with the writer M.K. Rainey and their dog.
Jonathan Lee Kay, Co-Founder/Operating Director: Jon Kay grew up in Howard County and graduated from the University of Maryland College Park with a double major in Mathematics and Computer Science. After graduating in 2010, Jon moved to Seattle to start a software engineering career at Amazon. He worked at Amazon for almost 8 years and continues to reside in Seattle working on different projects and enjoying a sabbatical.
Katie (M.K.) Rainey, Co-Founder/Editor-In-Chief: Katie Rainey is a writer, teacher, and editor from Little Rock, Arkansas. She is the winner of the 2017 Bechtel Prize at Teachers & Writers Magazine, the 2017 Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest and the 2018 Montana Award for Fiction from Whitefish Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Collagist, 3AM Magazine, Atticus Review, Fiction Southeast, and more. She co-hosts the Dead Rabbits Reading Series and lives in Harlem with Brian Birnbaum & their dog. Sometimes she writes things the dog likes.
Us Rabbits owe much to our humble beginnings as a reading series. The past five years has seen the Dead Rabbits Reading Series grow into a burgeoning community, where real innovation and diversity is created and nurtured. We realized what we had only after we began shuffling through potential names for our new literary press — that Dead Rabbits has become synonymous with the community it serves — and we intend to use this platform, along with the full strength of our resources, to cultivate a literary press that truly supports great writers and their books.
Brian Birnbaum graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with an MFA in Fiction before working in development for his father's deaf access agency. Throughout these years, Brian Birnbaum wrote and revised his debut novel, Emerald City. Within weeks of querying, an agent at Writers House agreed to work with him. However, after months of revisions, his agent left the industry, and Emerald City along with him. Over the next two years Brian queried over 90 agents — as had his literary hero, Sergio De La Pava, who'd all but abandoned his novel to drawer and dust when his intrepid wife, Susanna, published it herself in 2008 — and watched as readers, starved for this kind of hyper-intelligent energy, bought copies of A Naked Singularity by the thousands. Brian faced the same paradox — the industry's resistance to an ambitious novel, despite that Emerald City had caught the attention of prominent agents, editors, and writers, including Sergio himself. Rather than abandon his book to his laptop's caverns, he consulted his fellow literary empiricists.
Friends since childhood, Jon and Brian grew their rapport as roommates in Seattle back in the early 2010's. So when Jon heard about Emerald City's three-year ride on the industry's rickety roller-coaster, he saw an organic avenue into literary publishing — along with a plan to do it better. With seven years as a team leader at Amazon, Jon Kay possesses the skills and resources to help revolutionize literary publishing by integrating the traditionally disparate processes of acquisition and promotion, and offering favorable terms to our writers. Put simply, he's programmed Dead Rabbits to function the way a literary house ought to, freeing our authors to focus on what they do best: write great books. Jon's willingness to invest in our authors through proper publicity campaigns and attractive compensation options sets Dead Rabbits apart from other houses.
Brian met Katie at Sarah Lawrence, where she too studied fiction and began drafting the short stories and essays for which she's won awards such as the 2017 Bechtel Prize and the 2018 Montana Award for Fiction. Katie Rainey co-hosts the Dead Rabbits Reading Series, is the Director of Teaching Artist Project at Community-Word Project (overseeing hundreds of artists, communications, and strategy), and has made a name for herself amongst the arts education field in NYC, making her the ideal front-woman for cultivating a sustainable literary environment here at Dead Rabbits. Her wealth of relationships within the arts and its administration helps head our publicity initiative. Years of collaboration with writers, artists, editors, and arts administrators have opened doors to new ways to sell a book. Katie has also curated the Dead Rabbits' writer's timeline, which provides a flexible schedule from acquisition to release, allowing for full collaboration between writers and their editors, publicists, and designers, ensuring that each of our authors produce a book in alignment with their vision.
Why the name 'Dead Rabbits'? Well, the OR - i.e. Original Rabbit, Devin Kelly - chose the name five years ago when he conceived of the reading series. For him, the name arose from two sources: the eponymous gang made famous by Leo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York; and a traumatic childhood experience in which he found in his backyard a warren-full of deceased baby rabbits. Later on, Devin would find out that Katie had her own traumatic childhood experience involving baby rabbits and a rooster. And thus, their fate was sealed. It's weird and dark, but we like it. Don't you?