Ken Wells, journalist and novelist, grew up on a small farm on Bayou Black outside of Houma and attended Terrebonne Parish public schools. He graduated from Nicholls State University in 1972 with an English degree after serving as student body president.
Wells is the author of four well-received Random House novels of the Cajun bayous, including Meely LaBauve, a Barnes & Noble "Discover Great New Writers" book called by the Los Angeles Times "one of the most compelling voices in fiction of the last decade." His fifth novel, Rascal, a Dog and His Boy, was just published last month by Knopf Young Adult Readers.
Ken is also author of two non-fiction books, Travels with Barley, a Quest to Find the Perfect Beer Joint, a travelogue through America's $80 billion beer industry, published by Crown, and The Good Pirates of the Forgotten Bayous" published by Yale University Press. The Pirates won the 2009 Harry Chapin Book Award.
Wells began his journalism career while working his way through Nicholls, covering car wrecks and gator sightings for his hometown weekly newspaper, the Houma Courier. He left the bayous in 1975 to attend the University of Missouri School of Journalism, where he earned a master's degree and went on to a job at the Miami Herald. In 1982, his final year at the Herald, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for a series of stories about the decimation of the Florida Everglades.
Wells left the Herald to take a job at The Wall Street Journal, America's largest circulation newspaper. He would spend 24 years at the paper as both a writer and editor, serving stints in San Francisco, London and New York and covering, among other stories, the first Persian Gulf War and South Africa's transition to a multiracial democracy. For a while, he also ran a team of Page One writers, two of whom won Pulitzers. Ken currently works for Bloomberg News, the news service owned by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as a writer on its Projects and Investigations team and is a regular contributor to Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. He has spent the last few months reporting and writing stories about the aftermath of the BP Gulf oil spill.
Wells is hard at work on his sixth novel and is considering an offer from Harper Collins Publishers to write a nonfiction book on the cultural history of gumbo. When he's not on assignment or writing books, he dabbles in blues and jazz guitar and song writing. He collaborated with his brother, Pershing Wells, owner of Digital Sac-a-Lait Studios in Houma, to write the title track for Cajun fiddler Waylon Thibodaux's last CD, "Cher Be Be."
Ken lives with his wife, Lisa Newmark, in Manhattan. They have two daughters, Sara, nutrition editor for Fitness Magazine in New York, and Becca, a second grade teacher in Burlington, N.C.