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Charles Ardai

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Charles Ardai
Ardai at a Midtown Comics
signing in Manhattan
Alma materColumbia University
  • Entrepreneur
  • writer
  • editor
  • television producer
EmployerD. E. Shaw & Co.
Notable workJuno Online Services
Hard Case Crime

Charles Ardai is an American businessman, and writer of crime fiction and mysteries. He is co-founder and editor of Hard Case Crime, a line of pulp-style paperback crime novels. He is also an early employee of D. E. Shaw & Co. and remains a managing director of the firm.[1][2] He is the former chairman of Schrödinger, Inc.[2]

Early life[edit]

A New York native and the son of two Holocaust survivors, Ardai told NPR in a May 2008 interview that the stories his parents told him as a child "were the most grim and frightening that you can imagine" and gave him the impression "there was a darker circle around a very small bit of light," something that enabled him to relate to his own characters' sufferings.[3]

While in high school, Ardai enjoyed reading pulp fiction and worked as an intern at Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.[4]

After graduating from Hunter College High School in 1987, he attended Columbia University, where he graduated summa cum laude in 1991.[5]


Right out of college, Ardai was hired by hedge fund D. E. Shaw.[4] His first job at the firm was to set up its recruiting department, with a goal of hiring "people who really excel in one field or another."[6]

Sometime in the early 1990s, Shaw tasked Ardai and Jeff Bezos with coming up with potential online business ideas.[7] While Ardai founded Juno, an internet company, in 1996 with D. E. Shaw as an investor,[4][8][9] Bezos went on to found Amazon.com on his own.[7] After Juno was sold in 2001, Ardai and Max Phillips decided to start a publishing company to publish crime fiction in the pulp magazine style they grew up enjoying. That proposed company became Hard Case Crime, which published its first books in 2004.[10] Hard Case's comics imprint were produced by Dorchester Publishing and Ardai's Winterfall, LLC between 2004 and 2010.[11]

Ardai's writing has appeared in mystery magazines such as Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, gaming magazines such as Computer Gaming World and Electronic Games, and anthologies such as Best Mysteries of the Year and The Year's Best Horror Stories. Ardai has also edited numerous short story collections such as The Return of the Black Widowers, Great Tales of Madness and the Macabre, and Futurecrime.[12]

In 1994, Ardai's short story "Nobody Wins," published in 1993 by Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, received a Shamus nomination for Best P.I. Short Story.[13]

His first novel, Little Girl Lost (2004) was nominated for both the Edgar Allan Poe Award by the Mystery Writers of America and the Shamus Award by the Private Eye Writers of America.[14] His second novel, Songs of Innocence, was called "an instant classic" by The Washington Post,[15] selected as one of the best books of the year by Publishers Weekly,[16] and won the 2008 Shamus Award.[17] Both books were written under the alias Richard Aleas and were optioned for the movies by Universal Pictures.[18]

He received the Edgar Award in 2007 for the short story "The Home Front".[19] Ardai's third novel, Fifty-to-One, was published in November 2008.[20] It was the fiftieth book in the Hard Case Crime series and the first to be published under Ardai's real name.

His fourth novel, Hunt Through the Cradle of Fear, is part of a pulp adventure series he created in 2009, describing the globetrotting exploits of a modern-day explorer named Gabriel Hunt. Authorship of all the books in this series were originally credited to Gabriel Hunt himself.[21]

Ardai at a May 15, 2024 Midtown Comics signing for Gun Honey: Collision Course #1. Beside him is an advance copy of a reprint edition of the Hard Case Crime novel Lemons Never Lie, which had previously gone out of print.

In 2010, Ardai began working as a writer and producer on the SyFy television series Haven,[22] inspired by the Hard Case Crime novel The Colorado Kid by Stephen King.[23] The pilot episode of Haven premiered on July 9, 2010[24] and the series finale premiered on December 17, 2015.[25]

In 2011, Titan Comics became the publisher of Hard Case's comics.[11]

As of 2013, Ardai was serving as D. E. Shaw's recruiting chief.[26] As of 2016, he was its Managing Director.[27]

In 2015, he received the Ellery Queen Award for his work on Hard Case Crime.[28]

In 2016, he wrote a novel based on the Shane Black movie The Nice Guys.[29]

On September 22, 2021, Titan Comics released under the Hard Case Crime imprint Gun Honey #1, Ardai's first written work for the comics medium. The book, which is drawn by Ang Hor Kheng, and features covers by Bill Sienkiewicz, Robert McGinnis, and Adam Hughes, centers upon weapons smuggler Joanna Tan, who after helping a convict out of prison, is chosen by the U.S. government to track him down and return him.[11] The four-issue miniseries was conceived by Ardai when he conceived of Hard Case Crime Comics five years prior,[30] and he has likened Gun Honey to other espionage action thrillers that influenced it, such as James Bond,[31] as well as action/adventure stories featuring female protagonists, such as Modesty Blaise, Alias, Kill Bill,[30] and Barbarella.[31] At the review aggregator website Comic Book Roundup, the debut issue has a rating of 8 out of 10, based on eight critics' reviews.[32] The story was followed by a sequel, Gun Honey: Blood for Blood, in which Joanna and her ally, a government agent named Brook Barrow, are framed for murder[31] by a vengeful rival of Joanna's.[33] That miniseries premiered August 24, 2022.[34] It was followed by a four-issue spinoff series, Heat Seeker: A Gun Honey Series, also written by Ardai, with art by Ace Continuado, Jose Zapata, and Asifur Rahman. The book, whose debut issue was released on June 28, 2023, sees Tan going on the run after she is targeted for assassination by the U.S. government. Pursued by a beautiful sociopathic hitwoman named Sarah Claride, Tan seeks help from her friend, stage magician and illusionist Dahlia Racers, who specializes in helping people disappear.[31][35] The next installment in the series was the miniseries Gun Honey: Collision Course, whose debut issue was released May 15, 2024.[36]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 1994: "Nobody Wins" nominated for Shamus Award by the Private Eye Writers of America Shamus in the category "Best P.I. Short Story"
  • 2004: Little Girl Lost nominated for Edgar Allan Poe Award by the Mystery Writers of America†
  • 2004: Little Girl Lost nominated for Shamus Award by the Private Eye Writers of America†
  • 2007: Edgar Award for the short story "The Home Front"
  • 2008: Shamus Award for Best Original P.I. Paperback for Songs of Innocence
  • 2015: Ellery Queen Award (an Edgar Award category "to honor outstanding writing teams and outstanding people in the mystery-publishing industry") for his work on Hard Case Crime.

† Written under pseudonym "Richard Aleas."

Personal life[edit]

Ardai is married to writer Naomi Novik. As of 2006, they live on Manhattan's Upper East Side.[37]


  1. ^ Celarier, Michelle (January 18, 2018). "How a Group of Computer Geeks and English Majors Transformed Wall Street". Intelligencer. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Hong, Euny (October 2012). ""No idea, no matter how good, is unique." Entrepreneur Charles Ardai on what not to assume in business". Quartz. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  3. ^ "Charles Ardai: Hard Case Shows a Soft Spot for Pulp". National Public Radio. May 5, 2008.
  4. ^ a b c Hamilton, Denise (July 2, 2006). "A crime line of passion". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 6, 2021. after college Ardai landed a coveted job as an investment banker at the D.E. Shaw group. In 1994, Ardai dreamed up what became the Internet provider Juno. When Juno was sold in 2001, Ardai and Phillips, the company's art director...discovered their shared passion for midcentury pulp
  5. ^ "A Hardboiled Passion". Columbia College Today. November 2004. Archived from the original on December 13, 2009. Retrieved June 13, 2009.
  6. ^ Celarier, Michelle (2018). "How a Misfit Group of Computer Geeks and English Majors Transformed Wall Street". New York. Retrieved September 6, 2021. Soon after the 22-year-old joined, he was tasked with setting up Shaw's recruiting department. We've filled the company with everything from a chess master, to published writers, to stand-up comedians — people who really excel in one field or another
  7. ^ a b Celarier, Michelle (August 1, 2018). "How a Misfit Group of Computer Geeks and English Majors Transformed Wall Street". New York. Archived from the original on January 31, 2020.
  8. ^ Grossman, Lev; Stoller, Terry (September 26, 2008). "Single Malts and Double Crosses: Hard-Boiled Books". Time. Archived from the original on January 16, 2007.
  9. ^ The Science of Growth: How Facebook Beat Friendster--and How Nine Other Startups Left the Rest in the Dust(Sean Ammirati, 2016, page 10)
  10. ^ Rausch, Andrew J (2019). Perspectives on Stephen King: Conversations with Authors, Experts and Collaborators. USA: McFarland, Incorporated, Publishers. p. 24. ISBN 9781476674179. Max Phillips and I came up with the idea of Hard Case Crime in the winter of 2001. We had worked together on an Internet company called Juno and it had just sold that fall.
  11. ^ a b c Swanson, Larry (August 6, 2021). "Gun Honey: Charles Ardai's Debut Graphic Novel Drops a Steamy Trailer". CBR.com. Archived from the original on May 18, 2024. Retrieved May 18, 2024.
  12. ^ "Amazon.com: Charles Ardai". Amazon.
  13. ^ Stop You're Killing Me, "Shamus Awards"
  14. ^ "Hard Case Crime: Little Girl Lost".
  15. ^ Anderson, Patrick (July 16, 2007). "Neo-Noir That Hits Its Target". The Washington Post.
  16. ^ "PW's Best Books of the Year". Publishers Weekly. November 5, 2007.
  17. ^ "The Shamus Awards". March 28, 2021.
  18. ^ "Crime Novel 'Little Girl Lost' to be feature film for Universal Pictures". Entertainment Weekly. September 28, 2010. Archived from the original on October 1, 2010.
  19. ^ "The Edgar Awards". Archived from the original on September 27, 2018. Retrieved June 13, 2009.
  20. ^ Carl Rosen (January 11, 2009). "Criminally Retro: A One-Man Pulp Spree". New York.
  21. ^ "The Adventures of Gabriel Hunt".
  22. ^ "Exclusive: Editor Charles Ardai Discusses Joyland, Working With Stephen King and Producing the TV Show Haven". Archived from the original on June 13, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-16. "BioGamerGirl.com Interviews Charles Ardai"
  23. ^ "6 ways the new show Haven gives you Stephen King goodness". Sci Fi Wire. July 8, 2010. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
  24. ^ "Haven – Syfy's New TV Show – Premiere July 9, 2010". Men's Lifestyle & News Spot. July 10, 2010. Archived from the original on July 13, 2010. Retrieved July 10, 2010.
  25. ^ "Haven Series Finale". TV Insider. December 18, 2015. Retrieved September 17, 2016.
  26. ^ Stone, Brad (October 15, 2013). "An excerpt from Brad Stone's 'The Everything Store'". NBC News. Archived from the original on May 18, 2024. Retrieved May 18, 2024.
  27. ^ "Company Overview of D. E. Shaw & Co., L.P." Bloomberg News. June 9, 2023. Archived from the original on September 18, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2024.
  28. ^ "Edgar Award winners announced; Stephen King takes top prize". Los Angeles Times. April 30, 2015. Retrieved March 24, 2020.
  29. ^ "Read an Excerpt From the Nice Guys novelization". Birth. Movies. Death. May 3, 2016. Retrieved September 17, 2016.
  30. ^ a b Collinson, Gary (June 25, 2021). "Titan and Hard Case Crime announce Gun Honey". Flickering Myth. Archived from the original on May 18, 2024. Retrieved May 18, 2024.
  31. ^ a b c d Keith, Jed W. (April 28, 2023). "INTERVIEW: CHARLES ARDAI ON ILLUSION & DANGER IN HEAT SEEKER: A GUN HONEY SERIES!". Freak Sugar. Archived from the original on May 18, 2024. Retrieved May 18, 2024.
  32. ^ "Gun Honey #1". Comic Book Roundup. September 29, 2021. Archived from the original on May 18, 2024. Retrieved May 18, 2024.
  33. ^ Schreuer, Brandon (June 7, 2022). "Titan's Sexy Spy Thriller Gun Honey Returns For a New Season (EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW)". CBR.com. Archived from the original on May 18, 2024. Retrieved May 18, 2024.
  34. ^ "Gun Honey: Blood for Blood". League of Comic Geeks. August 24, 2022. Archived from the original on May 18, 2024. Retrieved May 18, 2024.
  35. ^ Schreuer, Brandon (February 20, 2023). "EXCLUSIVE: Titan's Pulp Spy Thriller Gun Honey Expands With New Spinoff Series". CBR.com. Archived from the original on May 18, 2024. Retrieved May 18, 2024.
  36. ^ "Gun Honey: Collision Course". League of Comic Geeks. May 15, 2024. Archived from the original on May 18, 2024. Retrieved May 18, 2024.
  37. ^ Bosman, Julie (October 11, 2006). "A New Writer Is Soaring on the Wings of a Dragon". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 18, 2022. Retrieved May 18, 2024.

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