In 2001, When Jack Skillingstead entered Stephen King’s “On Writing” competition, King selected Jack’s entry as one of five winners. In 2003 Asimov’s published Jack’s first professional sale. “Dead Worlds” was a finalist for the Sturgeon Award and was reprinted in two Year’s Best anthologies. Since then Jack has sold more than thirty stories to professional markets. Golden Gryphon Press issued a archival quality hardcover collection of his stories in 2009. Also in 2009 Fairwood Press published Harbinger, a science fiction novel. Both books were nominated for Locus Awards.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jack recently…
Kristin Centorcelli: Jack, your brand new novel, Life on the Preservation, will be out at the end of May! Will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Jack Skillingstead: Yes, May 28 is the pub date. Life on the Preservation is my third book (I’ve been publishing in professional markets since 2003), though it’s the first that will receive wide distribution. Of course, I’ve wanted to write since an early age. I remember thinking about it in a very conscious way when I was about twelve years old. It seemed like the only option, and it still seems that way. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to be a writer — you know, the guy with his byline in a magazine or on the cover of a book. I wanted to be able to do it. Find the good stuff, if there was any, and present my unique vision. I thought it would take a long time, and it did. I was raised in a working class environment, and that sort of defined my prospects in the mundane world. While my siblings were taking out loans and working jobs to pay for college degrees I was exclusively focused on writing and reading. What made it harder was that, despite all my efforts, I was a terrible writer in those days. But there was a spark. I came very close to selling my early efforts. In retrospect, thank God I didn’t. It would have ruined me. I wasn’t ready.