Award-winning science fiction author visits Norwich

James Patrick Kelly

James Patrick Kelly

Norwich University welcomes an award-winning science fiction author, James Patrick Kelly, as the second writer to visit the inaugural 2013 Writers Series. The College of Liberal Arts and the Department of English and Communications present Kelly for a public reading on Wednesday, March 27th at 4:30 p.m. in the Kreitzberg Library’s Multipurpose Room.

Kelly has written novels, short stories, essays, poetry, and plays, but is best known for his science fiction. “I write to please myself, and most often that means I’m writing sf (science fiction),” Kelly said. “On the other hand, I try not to be predictable in my career choices, and thus I have tried a lot of different writing forms. I think the most fun I have had writing has been for the theater, but maybe that’s because I like hearing applause. Not a whole lot of clapping when you finish writing a story, unless you do it yourself.”

Kelly developed his love for a wide-range of writing forms as an undergraduate at the University Of Notre Dame. After graduation, he worked in public relations at an architectural engineering firm. During this employment, he was able to write his first story that was sold when he was 24-years-old. Just a few years later, he “retired” decided to write full time. “A dozen books and a hundred and something stories later, I’m still at it,” he said.

As an early writer, Kelly struggled to find his voice, the way most writers do. He did so “by writing a lot of very bad stories, then some bad stories, then some not so bad stories, then some okay stories that nobody wanted to publish.  Five years on (or so) I became myself,” he explained.

His books include Burn (2005), Strange but not a Stranger (2002), Think like a Dinosaur and Other Stories (1997), and many more. His fiction has been translated into 16 languages and he has won the World Science Fiction Society’s Huge Award twice.

In addition to his writing, he began in 2005 as a professor of creative writing in the MFA program at University of Southern Maine and has been there ever since.

When he visits Norwich, Kelly plans to read something new. “I have just finished a clutch of new stories that I haven’t begun to market yet,” he explained. He will also be working with Norwich’s science fiction class.

Kelly looks forward to his public reading at NU, because he enjoys reading his works. Just a few years ago, he recorded 52 of his stories for, the largest online seller of audiobooks.

He believes internet has changed publishing forever and Kelly’s successful career shows that he is working well with that change. “I was lucky to establish myself as a writer before the digital revolution.  Thanks to the internet, my work has found readers all over the world,” he said. He actively posts essays and columns on his website,

Although Kelly has adapted to the evolving internet, he admits that the most challenging part of writing is writing the first draft. “I love rewriting and am pretty good at it, if I do say so myself.  But if only I could find some elves who would steal into my office at night and write my first drafts, I would be a happy man.”

For more information on this free, public event, please contact the college of liberal arts.

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