Joseph D'Agnese in Siena, Italy | Image by Denise Kiernan

So here's the deal

Me in second grade, filled with freaking wonder.

Me in second grade, filled with freaking wonder.

I’m a journalist, author and editor who has written books for kids and adults. I’ve written for publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Discover, Wired, Saveur, This Old House, and other publications for both for adults and children. I’ve won Educational Press Awards, and been featured twice in the annual anthology, Best American Science Writing.

I've also done a little ghostwriting. Actually, a lot of ghostwriting. The stories I could tell you!

My first job, working in the garage with Dad, making clothing patterns for the Garment District.

My first job, working in the garage with Dad, making clothing patterns for the Garment District.

Growing up in New Jersey, I was obsessed with books and reading. Mostly genre fiction. Mystery and detective fiction, in particular. That interest has stayed with me all my life, and influenced the course of my own fiction. My short stories have been finalists for the Derringer Award for short mystery fiction three times since 2014. (I won the award once, in 2015.) Another story was chosen by author James Patterson for the prestigious anthology, Best American Mystery Stories 2015.

In 2003 I went on a perilous journey to research the life of the mathematician, Leonardo Fibonacci. I sold my house and moved to Italy, where, in order to survive, I was forced to drink foamy cappuccinos, and eat crispy pizza, richly sauced pasta and the occasional gelato in search of the story. At long last I escaped by building a giant raft out of empty cannoli shells, which I used to sail back to the land of E. Pluribus Unum. Fully recovered from my dangerous adventures, I live with my wife—the author Denise Kiernan—in North Carolina.


current obsessions:

Model trains, fonts, notebooks, fountain pens, pencils, letterpress printing, book cover design, all things stationery. This could all change next week.


My nonfiction has appeared in:

  • AAA Go Magazine

  • American Photographer

  • Cadillac Vision

  • Child

  • Discover

  • E-Shopper

  • Garden Design

  • Groom

  • Hachette Filipacchi Magazines

  • Mercedes Momentum


  • New Jersey Monthly

  • New York Times

  • Nickelodeon Magazine

  • OnEarth

  • Parents

  • Parks: The National Park Foundation Magazine

  • Rodale Magazines

  • Saveur

  • Seed

  • Sports Illustrated

  • Swing

  • This Old House

  • Utne Reader

  • Wall Street Journal

  • Weird New Jersey

  • Wired

My fiction has appeared in:

  • Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine

  • Beat to a Pulp

  • Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine

  • Mystery Weekly

  • Plots With Guns

  • Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine

  • Shotgun Honey


Anthology Appearances

Best American Mystery Stories 2015 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Best American Science Writing (HarperCollins, 2002)

Best American Science Writing (HarperCollins, 2003)

Annual Editions, Physical Anthropology (McGraw-Hill, 2002-2003)

Simon & Schuster Handbook for Writers (Prentice Hall, 2003)



Educational Press Association Award

Genesis Award, Humane Society, 2003, for article on chimp sanctuaries, Discover Magazine

Derringer Award Finalist, 2014, for "Bloody Signorina," Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine (September 2013).

Derringer Award Winner, 2015, for "How Lil' Jimmie Beat the Big C," Shotgun Honey (May 12, 2014).

Derringer Award Finalist, 2017, for "The Woman in the Briefcase," Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (March/April 2016).

Mathical Honor Book, for Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci (named April 2015)




FOR The signer books

Newsday: "As It Says in the Declatution..."

Quirk Books Blog: "The 40th Signer Finally Gets a Marker on His Gravestone."


For The Money Book for Freelancers

The Wealthy Freelancer: Time Is Not Money. Sleep Is.

Get Rich Slowly: Welcome to Generation App

Dale Siegal: Interview with Authors of The Money Book

Fresh Thinking: Five Money Mistakes Freelancers Make


On Writing

Buzz, Balls & Hype: Do Your Next Signing at a Non-Bookstore



I.N.K.: The Birth of a Blockhead

Cynsations: Math Phobia

Italian Notebook: Pisa’s Mathy Bonehead



EQMM's Something is Going to Happen: Analog Ellery and the Paperback Hoarder

The Next Big Thing: Self-Interview