IAN MCDONALD was born in Manchester in 1960, to an Irish mother and a Scottish father. The family moved to Northern Ireland in 1965 and, as he was too young to have any real choice in the matter, Ian went along with them. At one stage of his life he lived in a house built in the back garden of what had been C. S. Lewis's childhood home, but has since moved to Belfast, where he still lives.
A childhood spent watching some of the best SF TV output from both sides of the Atlantic, including things like Dr. Who, Thunderbirds, Star Trek and Space 1999, led him to start writing science fiction stories at the age of nine. He had to wait until 1982, however, before he had his first story in print, which was The Island of the Dead, published by the short-lived Belfast-based SF magazine Extro. He got paid £60 for that first story, mind you, a princely sum in those far off days, and he has since had numerous short stories published. He decided to become a full-time writer in 1987, and published his first novel, Desolation Road, in 1988 to substantial critical enthusiasm. He has a substantial output since then, with over a dozen novels, a few short story collections, and a graphic novel to his credit. His short stories are regularly reprinted in ‘Year’s Best…’ anthologies, as well as elsewhere.
Ian has also gathered a few awards for his writing. Desolation Road won the 1989 Locus award for first novel, and his third novel, King of Morning, Queen of Day, won the highly prestigious Philip K. Dick Memorial Award for 1992. His most recent award is the Sturgeon award for his 2000 novel Tendeleo's Story. All in all, he has been nominated for various awards and polls forty eight times, which is considerable, with six of those resulting in his winning.
Along the way, Ian has had the usual writers’ unusual assortment of odd jobs, even if you exclude writing itself, and at various times has marked examination papers in mathematics, worked for a missionary society, and escorted a Ugandan girls choir on a tour of Ireland. In the year 2000 he took up with a Belfast production company called Extreme Productions, where he is described as a Network Development Researcher (which is a fancy way of saying he’s expected to come up with ideas), where he still is. He continues to write, as well as to pursue other interests, which include cats, contemplative religion, bonsai, bicycles and comic collecting.
This egregiously out-of-date profile was originally written in 2003. A lot has happened since then.
Profile by Anne M Kletcha