About Me



Joe Samuel “Sam” Starnes was born in Alabama, grew up in Cedartown, Georgia, and has lived in either New Jersey or Philadelphia since 2000. Red Dirt: A Tennis Novel, published by Breakaway Books, his third novel, was released in April 2015 and has been reviewed very favorably by the Philadelphia Inquirer. His first novel, Calling, was published in 2005, and was reissued in 2014 as an e-book by Mysterious Press.com/Open Road. NewSouth Books published his novel Fall Line in November 2011, and it was selected to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Best of the South” list. Starnes has had journalism appear in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and various magazines, as well as essays, short stories, and poems in literary journals. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Georgia, an MA in English from Rutgers University in Newark, and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. He was awarded a fellowship to the 2006 Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He works in the administration at Widener University and has taught writing courses at Widener, Rowan University, and Saint Joseph’s University. 

As for his tennis game, he peaked in the early '80s when he was in his teens playing junior tournaments in Georgia, usually ranking in the top twenty or thirty players in the state. He spent a few weeks training at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy over the holidays in 1981-82, but showed absolutely no promise of ever making it on the pro tour and was usually assigned to a distant court. He did win the Georgia Region 7-AAA high school championship in 1985. He now plays once or twice a week and holds a USTA rating of 4.5. In 2010, he played a 15-year-old girl ranked 920 in the world, winning six games and writing about it for Peter Bodo's blog. He also wrote about a search for Bill Tilden's grave for the August 2008 issue of Tennis magazine. In April 2016, on an assignment for Sports Illustrated, he wrote about what it's like to return serves in the 140-mph hour range from a young pro making his ATP debut. For more of his nonfiction tennis writing, visit his tennis blog, Topspin Blog Redux

Follow and  contact him on Twitter @JSamuelStarnes or Facebook at www.facebook.com/joesamuelstarneswriter

Starnes is represented by literary agent Scott Miller, executive vice president of Trident Media Group.