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Name: Mark Kelly
Location: Woodland Hills, California, United States

I'm the publisher/editor/webmaster of Locus Online, which I launched in 1997 and which won the first-ever Hugo Award for Best Website in 2002. I also compile and maintain the Locus Index to Science Fiction Awards as part of the site. For Locus Magazine, I wrote short fiction reviews under the "Distillations" heading from 1989 through 2001. I have a BA in math from UCLA, and have worked, Dilbertesque fashion, for a certain large aerospace concern in southern California for over 20 years.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Initial roundtable post

This is an initial post to the new Locus roundtable blog. For testing purposes, I will insert a bunch of text here:

"Kids go through these stages. 'What are you going to do when you grow up?' I'm still asking myself that question. I started trying to write fiction way back in second grade. I always wanted to write. But I also wanted to be a paleontologist and a herpetologist. So which was going to win? When I went to college I decided, 'OK, I'm going to go into science.' But, at the same time, I worked on novels and took writing classes, which were inevitably a disaster, since I was constantly having fights with the instructors because they didn't want me writing fantastic fiction. They'd say stuff like, 'You could be a really good writer if you'd just write like Faulkner.' (It was the South, so everybody was expected to write in the New South tradition.)
"Finally getting published just happened, and I don't think it surprised anybody more than me, because I was in a place where nothing was much happening in my life. I'd drifted away from paleontology. I wasn't really doing much of anything, and then I wrote a genuinely unfortunate novel called The Five of Cups. I had it in my head to see what would have happened if T.S. Eliot had written a vampire novel, and it was frontloaded with huge globs of Grail mythology and corn-king imagery and whatnot. That was my first novel, which was eventually published many years later.
"I sent the manuscript to Melanie Tem and some other writers -- none of whom I knew from Adam -- with this audacious plan, that they would read it and then recommend it to their agents. And it actually worked with Melanie, who showed it to her agent, Richard Curtis, who decided to represent the book. I've spent years telling other writers, 'It shouldn't have worked for me, and it won't work for you, and if you do this, you're just going to annoy people!' A few weeks after Richard Curtis took me on, he called back and said, 'We've changed our minds. It's just too grim.' What do you say to that? I was pretty devastated. But he also said, 'But if you'll write another book, we'll sell it.' So, I wrote a very different book called Silk, that he represented and eventually sold.


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