Alma Katsu

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Alma Katsu
Alma Katsu
Born Alma Katsu
(1959-11-29) November 29, 1959 (age 58)
Fairbanks, Alaska, US
Occupation Author, novelist, writer
Nationality American
Genre Paranormal Romance, Historical Fiction, Gothic Fiction, Dark Fantasy
Notable works The Taker, The Reckoning, The Descent

Alma Katsu (born 1959) is an American writer of adult fiction. Her best-known work is The Taker,[1] a literary novel with historical and fantasy elements that was published in 2011 and recognized as one of the ten best debut novels of the year by the American Library Association.[2] Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages,[3][4][5] the United Kingdom,[6][7] Brazil,[8] Spain and Italy.[9]

She has also had a 29-year career in the US federal government working in a number of positions dealing with intelligence and foreign policy, with an emphasis on technology issues. Since 2012 she has worked as a senior policy analyst for the RAND Corporation.[10]


Katsu was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, the daughter of an American-born father and a Japanese-born mother. She spent the majority of her youth living near Concord, Massachusetts, to which she attributes her interest in the early American history featured in her novels.[11] She attended Brandeis University[12] (BA in literature and writing, 1981) where she studied with novelist John Irving[13] and children’s book author Margaret Rey,[14] and the Johns Hopkins University[15] (MA in Fiction, 2004). She is also an alumnus of the Squaw Valley writers workshops.[16]


Katsu’s novels are generally cited for the quality of the prose[17] and the ability to portrait a supernatural setting in an immediate and realistic way (“makes the supernatural seem possible” – Publishers Weekly[18] and "renews a genre... tragedy without..the hyperbole of high romance"—Locus Magazine[19]). The first novel in the trilogy, The Taker, is set primarily in the past but has a present-day narrative as a frame,

Viewed as another literary take on the Faustian bargain and a model of setting stories-within-stories,[20] The Taker Trilogy tells the story of a young woman who has been given eternal life but comes to see this condition as a punishment for evil acts she perpetrated in life and is now condemned to revisit until the end of time.

Personal life[edit]

She lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband musician Bruce Katsu.



Short stories[edit]

  • The Witch Sisters, 2013 (ASIN B008N1YHPM)
  • The Marriage Price, 2012 (ASIN B00B0QITYC)
  • The Devil’s Scribe, Gallery Books, 2012 (ASIN B006VFZPNU)
  • Pipefitter’s Union, in anthology Enhanced Gravity, Paycock Press (ISBN 0931181208)


The Taker was named one of the ten best debut novels of 2011[21] by Booklist[22] magazine, the publication of the American Library Association. The second novel, The Reckoning, was nominated for several year-end awards including Goodreads Readers Choice Award for best paranormal fantasy[23] and RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Award for best paranormal romance.[24]


  1. ^ Book World: Review of The Taker, Elizabeth Hand, Washington Post, November 30, 2011,
  2. ^ Top Ten First Novels: 2011, Donna Seaman, Booklist, publication of the American Library Association, October 25, 2011,
  3. ^ The Big Books of Book Expo America 2011: Adult Titles, Publishers Weekly, April 25, 2011,
  4. ^ The New Paranormal, Lenny Picker, Publishers Weekly, April 2, 2012,
  5. ^
  6. ^ Supernatural debut for Cornerstone, Victoria Gallagher, February 19, 2010,
  7. ^ Entertainment reviews, April 14, 2011, Cosmopolitan magazine,
  8. ^
  9. ^ Here’s how to switch from the CIA to gothic novels, Matteo Sacchi, Il Giorgnale newspaper, February 16, 2012,
  10. ^
  11. ^ Former Beacon reporter publishes a novel, Margaret Smith, September 29, 2011, The Beacon newspapers,
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Johns Hopkins University Advanced Academic Programs Notable Alumni,
  16. ^ Squaw Valley Community of Writers notable alumni,
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Review by Farren Miller, January 2012, Locus Magazine the magazine of the science fiction and fantasy field,
  20. ^ One Super(natural) Debut, Carolyn Cooke, Surrey Now newspaper, October 6, 2011,
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^

External links[edit]