Nan McCarthy is the author of the Since You Went Away series, Chat, Connect, & Crash series, Live ‘Til I Die, and Quark Design. A former magazine editor and technology writer, Nan founded Rainwater Press in 1992 and began selling her books online in 1995.
Nan wrote Chat, the first full-length epistolary novel told entirely through email, in 1995. After receiving dozens of rejections from traditional publishers, Nan self-published 2,500 print copies of Chat and began selling the book via her website, placing her among the earliest authors to sell her work online directly to readers.
She wrote and self-published the second book in the series, Connect, in 1996, and as word about the books spread, Nan began receiving write-ups in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, Publishers Weekly, Glamour, Mademoiselle, and People. Meanwhile, she sold translation rights to the books to publishers in Taiwan, Korea, and Spain.
After completing the third book in the series, Crash, in 1997, Nan was approached by a New York literary agent who offered representation and sold Chat, Connect, & Crash to Simon & Schuster (one of the same publishers who’d rejected Chat two years previously). In 1998 Simon & Schuster published the trilogy in trade paperback, with additional foreign rights sold to publishers in Germany, Turkey, Slovenia, the Netherlands, and the UK.
The ebook editons of Chat, Connect, & Crash were released by Simon & Schuster in early 1999 and eventually made their way to all the major online book retailers, where they continued to sell until 2012 when Nan acquired the publishing rights back from Simon & Schuster. In 2014 Nan released new ebook editions of the series featuring the original, never-before-published ending to Crash (which had been changed for the Simon & Schuster edition). In 2020, Nan released the books in print format to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the series. Once again published independently under her own Rainwater Press imprint, the series has come full circle with the new editions now available in both print and ebook format. Booksellers and libraries can order the books from Ingram while readers can find them online from all major retailers including Target, Walmart, Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.
From 2000 to 2002, Nan researched and wrote Live ’Til I Die, a memoir of her father’s life, which she published under the Rainwater Press imprint in 2002. Through interviews with her father’s childhood friends, Nan reconstructed the life of a man she barely knew, who succumbed to alcoholic cirrhosis at age 39. Nan’s loving yet clear-eyed approach to her father’s story is unique among addiction memoirs in that it shows not only the havoc alcoholism can wreak on a person’s career, friendships, and family, but also the physiological destruction alcoholism leaves in its wake when given the chance to ravage a person’s internal organs. In a strange twist of fate, while Nan’s own father wasn’t able to overcome his addiction, his story has helped recovering addicts remain sober as they read Nan’s account of her dad’s life year after year. Universally relatable by anyone who loves an addict or is in recovery, this deeply personal, gripping, and—at times—surprisingly funny account of one man’s struggle with alcoholism leaves readers feeling hopeful that’s it’s possible for families to break the cycle of addiction. (An updated edition of Live Til I Die is in the works so that readers will be able to purchase the book through the same retail channels where Nan’s other books are available.)
After completing Live ’Til I Die in 2002, Nan took a ten-year break from full-time writing to care for the family during her husband’s frequent military travels. During this time she was a frequent columnist for The Kansas City Star, writing about current events, family life, and the military.
In 2012 Nan started writing Since You Went Away, a novel about the effects of a distant war on the families and returning veterans at home. What she thought was going to be one book that would take a year to write turned out to be a four-part series that took eight years to complete. With the conclusion to the series released in late 2020, Nan once again decided to forego the traditional publishing route and published the books under her own Rainwater Press imprint, now available in both ebook and print formats wherever books are sold. Returning to the epistolary format of her Chat, Connect, & Crash series, Since You Went Away tells the story of the Mahoney family through the emails of Emilie Mahoney, written to her husband Liam who’s serving a one-year deployment to Iraq. Featuring a deeply human cast of characters, this fly-on-the-wall account of the innermost workings of a military family pulls readers along in a way that’s equal parts entertaining and gripping in what has become Nan’s signature style of storytelling throughout her decades-long career in the publishing industry.
Nan and her husband, a veteran who served 33 years in the Marine Corps, live in the Kansas City area and are the proud parents of two adult sons.