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Time to shine



Rocker turned author Kirk Farber is receiving accolades for his first novel.

The stories started early and for no particular reason.

Kirk Farber wanted funny. He couldnít help it. In some haphazard roll of the genetics dice, Farber inherited his motherís sense of humor and his dadís storytelling prowess. And so naturally, the Oconomowoc teenager set about crafting humorous tales ó all for the pure entertainment it provided him.

These days, the 38-year-old rocker turned author is writing for more than an audience of one. His debut novel, "Postcards from a Dead Girl," was published this year by Harper Perennial, an imprint of publishing house giant HarperCollins. Less than a month after its release, "Postcards" hit No. 3 on Denverís local bestsellers list and was included on the Indie Next List for March, a monthly recommended reading index compiled by independent U.S. booksellers. "I remember my sophomore year in college I read this article where some guy said it takes 20 years to get good enough to write a novel," says Farber, who now lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., with his wife, Kelly. "And I thought, ĎYeah right.í But Iíll tell you what, it did. It took more than 20 years for me to get here."

Farber didnít take the straightest of paths to becoming an author. The writing was always there. Sometimes it hovered on the periphery of his life.

He was influenced early on by Oconomowoc High School teachers. Their passion rubbed off and Farber, who found he had a knack for writing, dove into creating more stories. It was a gift ó and an escape ó that Farber relied on after his mother, Kathleen, died just a few weeks into his freshman year in college. "It was a pivotal moment in my life," Farber says. "I got more serious and more introspective. I became introverted during that time and pretty much just read and wrote in my journal."

Farber would take a turn writing screenplays and tried to create science fiction and horror stories. As the drummer for Spill, a successful Milwaukee band that produced two albums in 2000 and 2004, Farber also wrote songs.

But it wasnít until about five years ago that a more experienced Farber set out to write a novel. Farber, with the first 100 pages of "Postcards" in hand, joined Red Bird Studio, a writing workshop run by Judy Bridges in Milwaukee. Farber shared his work with other writers every two weeks for three years before "Postcards" was ready. "I hadnít really shared my writing with anyone before, so it was pretty intimidating at first," says Farber, who also had several short stories published during that time.

He would spend nearly eight months trying to find a literary agent willing to take him on. But it would be one serendipitous moment, not long after moving to Colorado, that would produce results. Farber decided at the last minute to attend a Pikes Peak Writers meeting, where a literary agent was speaking. "She had a closed list, which meant I had no chance," he says. "But I decided to go and she opened up her list. I waited three months after sending my stuff. I didnít want to be that guy who calls. But Iím glad I followed up. My manuscript was sitting in the rejection pile, but it had never been read. She read it and ended up loving it."

"Postcards" was quickly snapped up by HarperCollins and suddenly Farber was a published author on a book tour visiting stores in San Francisco, Colorado and, of course Wisconsin, where he was greeted by a packed audience of family, friends and fans at his hometown bookstore, Books & Co.

Now, Farber says, onto the next book.

The Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books will be held June 18 and 19 on the UW-Waukesha campus, 1500 N. University Drive, Waukesha. The free weekend event will feature local and national authors, including a special area dedicated to childrenís and young adult authors. The festival will include book signings and readings, live music and drama performances, food from area restaurants and an art fair. Featured authors scheduled to attend the festival include A. Manette Ansay; Kris Radish; and David Maraniss, an author and Pultizer Prize winning journalist. For more information, go to