Kirk Clawes, LitReactor's Co-Founder And Technical Lead, Passed Away Last Night

Kirk Clawes, LitReactor's Co-Founder And Technical Lead, Passed Away Last Night

It is with an incredible amount of regret and sadness that we have to announce our site's technical lead and co-founder, Kirk Clawes, died in his sleep last night. We learned the news from his girlfriend. He was 38.

Right now, honestly, we have no idea what to do. We're gutted by this. Not just because Kirk was a linchpin for LitReactor, but because he was such a good friend.

There'll be more to say in the coming days and weeks. We might have to hit the pause button on a few things around here. Stuff might slow down a bit. We're sorry for that. 

Personally: Even though Kirk lived in Chicago, I was lucky enough to hang out with him a couple of times. There, here in New York, in various cities when LitReactor tabled for AWP. I always looked forward to those times because he was just a fun guy to be around. Smart, funny, kind, generous. The last time I saw him, I was in Chicago for an event. He and his girlfriend Sarah came out for it—they met up with me beforehand to get a drink, and then afterward took me for my first Chicago-style pizza. I'm very glad to have that memory of him. Sitting in the back of a quiet restaurant, eating good food, having a good conversation. It was the first time I met Sarah and she was a lovely person. My heart goes out to her, and to Kirk's entire family. 

All of our hearts go out. This is a very different kind of family at LitReactor, but it is a family, and this is a massive loss. 

Rob Hart

News by Rob Hart

Rob Hart is the class director at LitReactor. He also wrote The Warehouse, which sold in more than 20 languages and was optioned for film by Ron Howard. Other titles include the Ash McKenna crime series, and Scott Free with James Patterson. His next novel, Paradox Hotel, is due from Ballantine. Find more at

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smithreynolds's picture
smithreynolds from Spokane, WA USA is reading The writing on the wall. September 28, 2017 - 8:45am

Rob Hart, I am so sorry to hear this news. Thank you for letting us know. You have my deepest condolences. Let us know what we can do. gsr

Utah's picture
Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry September 28, 2017 - 9:07am

Goddamn, that makes me sad. Kirk was a really good guy.

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading a lot more during the quarantine September 28, 2017 - 9:34am

LitReactor has provided me employment, allowed me to meet some great people both online and in person, and equipped me with the tools and contacts necessary to publish my own fiction. None of that would have been possible without Kirk.

Suzy Vitello's picture
Suzy Vitello September 28, 2017 - 10:19am

One of the finest human beings ever. This is an enormous blow to the LitReactor community, but also, the world. 

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman September 28, 2017 - 10:23am

To say that this site (and the place it spawned from) were big in my life would be an understatement. Thanks to Kirk for making it happen. His hard work helped so many people. So fucking unfair. 

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies September 28, 2017 - 11:15am

I'm shocked. Devastated. Kirk was a great man. I don't even know what to say.

LeahD's picture
LeahD from Boston is reading The Devil In The White City September 28, 2017 - 12:19pm

So sorry to hear, I saw his name whenever there were any updates to the LitReactor site. Condolences to his friends and family.

DiB's picture
DiB September 28, 2017 - 1:01pm

Such a heartfelt loss upon hearing this news this morning. He was loved and will be greatly missed. His memory will live on in the hearts of those he touched and through his beautiful ceramics of which I feel blessed ot own.

Max's picture
Max from Texas is reading goosebumps September 28, 2017 - 5:08pm


S.B. Smith's picture
S.B. Smith from Indianapolis, IN is reading Mongrels September 28, 2017 - 6:23pm

So sad to hear this. Condolences to friends and family.

Taylor's picture
Taylor from Portland, Oregon is reading Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby September 29, 2017 - 11:17am

I may only see my little LitReactor family every couple of years at conferences but it always felt like a heartwarming reunion. Some of the faces changed over time, but Kirk was a constant--he was reliable, generous, funny, kind, and always on point. He was always first to the booth in the morning, no matter how late we'd all been out, and he was always game for one more round of drinks or another adventure. He felt like the hub of the wheel around which the rest of us spun. He held us together, and he will be very sorely missed. I'm heartbroken. I've been a writer for this site since day 1---over 6 years ago--- and Kirk was always there. 

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading All the books by Ira Levin September 29, 2017 - 1:25am

So sorry to hear this. My thoughts are with his friends and family.

SammyB's picture
SammyB from Las Vegas is reading currently too many to list September 29, 2017 - 7:14am

My condolences. This is terrible news. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family. Litreactor has been a huge part of my day for several years, and I am thankful for the community that exists in this space.

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On September 29, 2017 - 8:22am

Met him once at the Litreator AWP party in Los Angeles. He came off as the friendliest, sweetest, most accessible person, and we kept drifting towards each other to shoot the bull. I'm so saddened to hear this. My condolences to his friends and family. 

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break September 29, 2017 - 8:36am

Had the good fortune of spending a couple AWPs with Kirk. One of the sweetest guys you could ever meet. I will always cherish those nights of whiskey and long conversations. Rest in peace, my friend.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated September 29, 2017 - 1:48pm


chris_diplacito's picture
chris_diplacito from Fife, Scotland is reading Twilight by William Gay September 30, 2017 - 6:05am

Really sorry to hear this. My thoughts are with you guys.

Cam_petrie's picture
Cam_petrie from canada-west is reading Writing With Style- Silver Addition- John R Trimble October 1, 2017 - 2:06pm

Sorry to hear. 

Banz's picture
Banz from Brisbane is reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman April 10, 2018 - 5:57am

So sorry to hear this news.

Thoughts go out to Kirk's family and friends.