(Whitaker, Kayla Rae) Kayla Rae Whitaker was born and raised in Kentucky. She is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and of New York University’s MFA program, which she attended as a Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholar. Her first novel is The Animators: A Novel (Random House). Named one of BookRiot and Entertainment Weekly’s Best Books of the Year So Far, in the male-dominated field of animation, Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses are a dynamic duo. Best friends and artistic partners since the first week of college. Now, after a decade of striving, the two are finally celebrating the release of their first full-length feature, which transforms Mel’s difficult childhood into a provocative and visually daring work of art. The toast of the indie film scene, they stand at the cusp of making it big. But with their success come doubt and destruction, cracks in their relationship threatening the delicate balance of their partnership. Sharon begins to feel expendable, suspecting that the ever-more raucous Mel is the real artist. During a trip to Sharon’s home state of Kentucky, the only other partner she has ever truly known—her troubled, charismatic childhood best friend, Teddy—reenters her life, and long-buried resentments rise to the surface, hastening a reckoning no one sees coming.