"I can’t recall a time in my life when I wasn’t interested in writing,” said author Jack McDevitt, the Georgia Writers Association’s 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. Now a resident of Brunswick, Georgia, McDevitt is a science fiction writer with a varied background as an English teacher, a naval officer, and a Philadelphia taxi driver.
“And the news came literally out of the blue. It’s not smart to expect to be nominated for a major award. You hope it might happen, but looking for it is simply an invitation to disappointment.” McDevitt expressed delight and gratitude for the nomination and success at winning the award.
“I write science fiction because it evokes a sense of wonder. You begin to get a feeling for the size of the universe. Or what forever really means.” His books explore journeys that lead to discovery, a literary trait that he advises other writers to consider in a quest to achieve stellar writing. He stated that a divergence within the character, one that suggests serious contemplation and internal reflection, can craft the most fascinating conflict.
“I remember trying to write a Batman novel when I was about seven years old. Not long after that, I made my first attempt at science fiction, which I’d fallen in love with,” said McDevitt. In high school he wrote a column for the school newspaper and also won a short story contest as a freshman in college. The story, titled “A Pound of Cure,” was published in the school literary magazine. This acclaim prompted him to strongly consider his professional writing career. Later, after some encouragement and a supportive push from his wife Maureen, his writing career did take off. His first novel, The Hercules Text, was published in the Ace Science Fiction Specials and received the Philip K. Dick Special Award. This novel explores an intriguing idea of how the human race perspective is relative. McDevitt stated, “I’d often wondered what effect the discovery that we are not alone might have on how we view ourselves. No aliens dropping by, or anything like that, just the certain knowledge that intelligent life is out there somewhere.”
McDevitt’s writing career has been filled with a large number of noteworthy achievements and awards. Early in his writing career McDevitt’s story “The Emerson Effect” was published in Twilight Zone Magazine. He confided that this surprising incident confirmed that he could be a professional writer and he said, “And I’ve never looked back.” This sentiment certainly seems true, considering since the time of his early works he has written a multitude of novels and short stories. He won the first international UPC competition for his novella “Ships in the Night.” The Phoenix and Southeastern Science Fiction Achievement Award (SESFA) has lifetime citations and is given to writers from the Southeast. In 2004, Omega received the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction novel. His novella, "Time Travelers Never Die," was nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula awards. He has been nominated for the celebrated Nebula Award fifteen times; ten of the novels have qualified for the final Nebula ballot, and in 2007, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America presented Seeker with the Nebula.
“Write, submit, and get moving on the next project.” McDevitt encourages other writers to push through the writer’s block and get their work out there. In the endeavor to publish his own work, McDevitt recalled the only struggle being the initial push and the anxiety behind hesitating to put it all on the line. “The biggest challenge was facing the very high probability that nothing I wrote would ever be published,” McDevitt said, “I’d developed by then an appreciation for people like Dickens and Mark Twain, and gradually realized I could never write at that level. I don’t think it occurred to me that I didn’t have to.”
McDevitt practices what he preaches as his significant works continue to be written and published. A Talent for War introduces the character Alex Benedict who is an antiquarian living in the distant future. Across six novels, Alex finds himself facing several historical mysteries. McDevitt also coedited an anthology with Les Johnson. Entitled Going Interstellar, it is a collection of stories by award-winning authors published by Baen Books.
His latest novels The Cassandra Project, a collaborative work with Mike Resnick, and Firebird are both from Ace. Currently, he is working on the book Starhawk, which features recurrent character pilot Priscilla Hutchins and will be released this upcoming November.
This year, the Georgia Writers Association is pleased to present Jack McDevitt with its Lifetime Achievement Award and recognize a collection of works and the skill of an author that the South can proudly call its own. His contribution of inspiring and discovery-filled literary works to the science fiction genre continues to captivate and increase a sense of curiosity and imagination.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 15:29