Ann Patty

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The way we're going to do it is, Peter will come to California and spend a few weeks recording answers to 'fascinating questions,' then the tapes will be transcribed. Peter will edit them, put them on floppy discs, send them back to me, I will edit them again, and that result will be sent to Ann Patty at Poseidon Press, and she will make it come out to be 'A BOOK.'

-The Real Frank Zappa Book

I think of Frank as truly an extraordinarily intelligent man with really far-ranging interests," says Patty, "If you're gonna do a biography of a rock star, you probably can't get one more interesting than this one ... He gave me a quote once – which I had on my bulletin board for about two years: 'My job is extrapolating everything to its most absurd extreme.' And that, to me, is Frank ... It's a good mission in life.

-Ann Patty quoted in Frank Zappa's Crusade – 25 Years And Counting

Patty grew up in Oakland, California. Her family was not literary. "I was raised on TV. My mother read Mickey Spillane and Reader's Digest Condensed Books." When her older brother went to college in Berkeley, a scant few miles north and a world away, he brought home books and words, which his younger sister devoured. "I used to make lists of new words and try to use them in sentences. 'Benevolent' was one of my favorites."

Patty went to Berkeley as well, in the turbulent 1960s. She majored in literature. "My form of rebellion was to become recherché. My father was always after me to take economics courses, so I'd be able to make a living... I didn't know the profession of editor even existed." Eventually, a New York boyfriend brought her to a beach house party where "there were all these editors talking about books. It was like a light bulb went off: That's what I'll do! I'll go to New York and be an editor!"

Patty started as an editorial assistant at Dell and became an editor at Pocket Books. Her commercial track record impressed her bosses so much that they made her, at 29, the founder, publisher and editorial director of her own imprint, Poseidon Press. Patty describes Poseidon as "an outrigger of Simon & Schuster," within which she enjoyed a newfound autonomy. "I was always interested in literary fiction. First you pay the rent with commercial books, then you earn the right to publish what you like."

She ran Poseidon until 1993, when her beloved imprint fell under the corporate axe.


She subsequently became Executive Editor at Harcourt Books, where she published Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal, and the novels of Lynn Freed and Jeanette Winterson.