Kilworth, Garry 1941–
Kilworth, Garry 1941–
(Garry Douglas, Garry D. Kilworth, Garry Douglas Kilworth, F.K. Salwood)
Born July 5, 1941, in York, England; son of George (a Royal Air Force sergeant) and Joan (a bookkeeper) Kilworth; married Annette Bailey (a therapist and social worker); children: Richard, Chantelle. Education: King's College, London University, graduated, 1985. Religion: Quaker.
Agent—Maggie Noach, 21 Redan St., London, England.
Writer, novelist, poet, short-story writer, and public speaker. Writer, 1977—. Cable and Wireless, London, England, executive, 1974-82. Presenter of lectures and programs at schools. Military service: Royal Air Force, 1956-74, worked on making and breaking codes in Singapore, Maldives, Germany, Aden, Bahrain, Kenya, Malta, and Cyprus; Sergeant Cryptographer.
Gollancz/Sunday Times Best SF Prize for a short story, 1974, for "Let's Go to Golgotha!"; World Fantasy Award for best novella, 1992, British Science Fiction Association Award and Interzone magazine readers' Short Fiction Poll, both 1994, and all for The Ragthorn (written with Robert Holdstock); Interzone magazine readers' Short Story Poll winner, 1992, for "The Sculptor"; British Library Association's Carnegie Medal Commendation, 1992, for The Drowners; Children's Book of the Year Award, Lancashire County Library/National Westminster Bank, 1995, for The Electric Kid. Many of Kilworth's other short stories, short story collections, and novels have been shortlisted for various British literary awards, including the Carnegie Medal and the World Fantasy Award.
"NAVIGATOR KINGS" TRILOGY
The Roof of Voyaging, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1996.
The Princely Flower, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1997.
Land-of-Mists, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1998.
"WELKIN WEASELS" SERIES; FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS
Thunder Oak, Corgi (London, England), 1997.
Castle Storm, Corgi (London, England), 1998.
Windjammer Run, Corgi (London, England), 1999.
Gaslight Geezers, Corgi (London, England), 2001.
Vampire Voles, Corgi (London, England), 2002.
Heastward Ho!, Corgi (London, England), 2003.
"KNIGHTS OF LIOFWENDE" SERIES; FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS
Spiggot's Quest, Atom (London, England), 2002.
Mallmoc's Castle, Atom (London, England), 2003.
Boggart and Fen, Atom (London, England), 2004.
"FANCY JACK CROSSMAN" SERIES
(Under name Garry Douglas) The Devil's Own: Sergeant Jack Crossman and the Battle of the Alma, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1997.
(Under name Garry Douglas) Soldiers in the Mist, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.
(Under name Garry Douglas Kilworth) Attack on the Redan, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2003.
The Winter Soldiers, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2003.
Brothers of the Blade: Lieutenant Fancy Jack Crossman in India, Constable (London, England), 2004.
The Rogue Officer, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2007.
Kiwi Wars, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2008.
NOVELS; EXCEPT AS NOTED
In Solitary, Faber & Faber (London, England), 1977, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1979.
The Night of Kadar, Faber & Faber (London, England), 1978, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1980.
Split Second, Faber & Faber (London, England), 1979, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1985.
Gemini God, Faber & Faber (London, England), 1981.
A Theatre of Timesmiths, Gollancz (London, England), 1984.
Tree Messiah: A Collection of Short Poems (poems), Envoi (Newport, Wales), 1985.
Witchwater Country, Bodley Head (London, England), 1986.
(Under name Garry Douglas) Highlander (novelization of SF film), Grafton Books (London, England), 1986.
Spiral Winds, Bodley Head (London, England), 1987.
Cloudrock, Unwin Hyman (London, England), 1988.
Abandonati, Unwin Hyman (London, England), 1988.
(Under name Garry Douglas) The Street, Grafton Books (London, England), 1988.
Hunter's Moon: A Story of Foxes, Unwin Hyman (London, England), 1989, published as The Foxes of First Dark, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1990.
Midnight's Sun: A Story of Wolves, Unwin Hyman (London, England), 1990.
Standing on Shamsan, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.
Frost Dancers: A Story of Hares, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.
Angel, Gollancz (London, England), 1993, Forge (New York, NY), 1996.
Archangel, Gollancz (London, England), 1994.
House of Tribes, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1995.
A Midsummer's Nightmare, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Attica, Atom (London, England), 2006.
(Under name Garry Douglas Kilworth) The Hundred-Towered City, Atom (London, England), 2008.
NOVELS; FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS
The Wizard of the Woodworld, Dragon (London, England), 1987.
The Voyage of the Vigilance, Armada (London, England), 1988.
The Rain Ghost, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1989.
The Drowners, Methuen (London, England), 1991.
The Third Dragon, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1991.
Billy Pink's Private Detective Agency, Methuen (London, England), 1993.
The Phantom Piper, Methuen (London, England), 1994.
The Electric Kid, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1994.
The Brontë Girls, Methuen (London, England), 1995.
Cybercats, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1996.
The Raiders, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1996.
The Gargoyle, Heinemann (London, England), 1997.
The Drummer Boy, Heinemann (London, England), 1998.
Heavenly Hosts v. Hell United, Mammoth (London, England), 1998.
The Lantern Fox, Mammoth (London, England), 1998.
Hey, New Kid!, Mammoth (London, England), 1999.
Shadow-Hawk, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1999.
Monster School, A & C Black (London, England), 2002.
Nightdancer, Dolphin Paperbacks (London, England), 2002.
The Silver Claw, Corgi Childrens (London, England), 2005.
SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS
The Songbirds of Pain: Stories from the Inscape, Gollancz (London, England), 1984.
Trivial Tales, Birmingham SF Group (Birmingham, England), 1988.
In the Hollow of the Deep-sea Wave: A Novel and Seven Stories, Bodley Head, 1989.
Dark Hills, Hollow Clocks: Stories from the Otherworld, Methuen (London, England), 1990.
In the Country of Tattooed Men, HarperCollins, 1993, new edition, Humdrumming (Bournemouth, England), 2006.
Hogfoot Right and Bird-Hands, Edgewood Press (Clare, MI), 1993.
NOVELS; UNDER PSEUDONYM F.K. SALWOOD
The Oystercatcher's Cry, Headline Books (London, England), 1993.
The Saffron Fields, Headline Books (London, England), 1994.
The Ragged School, Headline Books (London, England), 1995.
Contributor of short stories to more than eighteen anthologies and to Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Interzone, Ad Astra, and Ambit.
Kilworth's works have been translated into seventeen languages.
The Drowners was adapted for a audiocassette by Chivers, 1993; Billy Pink's Private Detective Agency was adapted for broadcast on the BBC's "Jackanory" program.
Garry Kilworth's writing has spanned many genres, and it tends to draw audiences quite varied in age. He has published science fiction, mystery, fantasy, horror, family sagas, historical fiction, and more than two dozen young adult titles. Kilworth was twenty when he wrote his first full-length novel, a children's book that has never been published. But he kept working at the craft, and in 1974 one of his science fiction short stories won a prestigious British prize. Three years later his first novel, In Solitary, was published. Like several of his other science fiction titles, In Solitary concerns itself with the human race of the future and its efforts to thwart the enslavement of alien overlords. Gemini God likewise explores the troubled relationship between futuristic humans and a race of aliens.
Kilworth stayed with science fiction through his first few titles, but as he told CA, "my natural bent took me towards the retelling of old mythologies and the inventing of new." Among these are animal fantasies, Polynesian tales, and a reworking of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. Kilworth's military background as a seventeen-year veteran of the Royal Air Force has also come to the fore in historical war novels, such as The Devil's Own: Sergeant Jack Crossman and the Battle of the Alma and other "Jack Crossman" adventures. Kilworth also writes what he calls "County Sagas," under the name F.K. Salwood, his grandmother's maiden name.
Kilworth worked his way into publishing children's and young adult books by asking a friend if he could submit a piece for an anthology of children's stories. The attempt was a success, and Kilworth was off and running in a new field of endeavor.
Kilworth originally planned The Brontë Girls as an adult title, but he could not place the book because it did not fit tidily into a genre. Instead he subsequently sold it as a young adult title, writing it exactly as if it were intended for the adult market. In The Brontë Girls, Kilworth blends his interest in history and fantasy to craft a tale of the three Brontë sisters—Emily, Anne, and Charlotte—inhabiting a farm in the twentieth century. But past and present soon collide and ultimately force the reader to decide which of the two times and societies is best.
One of Kilworth's early young adult novels, The Rain Ghost, uses the frame of a traditional ghost story to tell a tale of alienation, peer pressure, and old-fashioned romance. While awaiting rescue, Steve Winston, a teenager lost in the mountains on a school outing, discovers an ornate antique dagger in the heather. After his rescue, he researches the dagger and realizes that he pulled the knife from the mummified fingers of one of an ancient tribe of Rain Warriors slaughtered on the mountain. That long dead warrior is now haunting him. Susan R. Farber, writing in the Voice of Youth Advocates, noted that the book is "a nice horror story which has plenty of suspense but is not too terrifying."
A collection of ten tales for young adult readers, Dark Hills, Hollow Clocks: Stories from the Otherworld ranges from dragons, ghosts, and wizards to changelings and even animate scarecrows. The tales are "told with exceptional imagination and verve," according to a Junior Bookshelf contributor. Margery Fisher in Growing Point concluded that the "almost conversational tone of the stories makes for pleasurable reading while inventive plots and the constant reminiscences of true folk-tale give to this sparkling collection a certain justification."
Kilworth's 1992 The Drowners won him a Carnegie Medal commendation. The work is another tale full of adventure and somewhat arcane knowledge, this time based on historical fact. The novel is set in the English county of Hampshire in the first half of the nineteenth century. The "drowners" of the title were actually early irrigation engineers who found that they could use a complicated system of sluices and channels to provide just the right conditions to promote the most feed for their cattle. Tim, the youthful apprentice to the Master Drowner, is drowned attempting to save a lady from the waters. Before the Master Drowner can teach Jem, the new apprentice, the complicated craft of "drowning," he also dies. But Tim's ghost comes back to help the local farmers and to teach Jem how to control the flooding. According to Darren Harris-Fain in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, reviewers of The Drowners "praised the novel for its narrative skills and its use of an obscure bit of history." The book is "a fascinating byway of history," according to a critic for the Junior Bookshelf who concluded: "This is a splendidly gripping story."
One of Kilworth's strengths as a writer is creating the unexpected, giving voice to the little known. His tales always feature an element of adventure. In The Phantom Piper, Kilworth turns Lord of the Flies on its head and has the adults of the Scottish Highland village of Canlish answer the call of a phantom piper to take to the hills, leaving the children behind to run the village and their own lives. For a time the children of the village do quite well on their own. The arrival of two travelers who have been trapped in the snow, Tyler and McFee, brings evil into the village; and now the children are on a desperate search for the music that will recall their parents and rid them of the two interlopers. A reviewer for the Junior Bookshelf dubbed The Phantom Piper "a tense and frightening suspense story" with "fully rounded" characters and a theme that is an "affirmation of the human spirit." Harris-Fain called the work "a suspenseful adventure story that at the same time raises interesting questions about the relationship between children and adults."
The Electric Kid is "a thriller, a survival story, and science fiction all rolled into one tightly developed adventure," commented Heather McCammond-Watts in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. It is a science fiction tale inspired by what Kilworth himself saw on the rubbish heaps of Manila—a harsh world where homeless children fight for who will take first grab at the new trash. Set in the year 2061, two such adolescents, Blindboy and Hotwire, team up to survive the harsh world of the twenty-first century. Blindboy can hear so acutely as to pick up electronic impulses under mountains of trash. Hotwire is a girl who is something of an electronic genius, expert at rewiring discarded electronic ware for resale. The survival skills of the two kids become a hot commodity for a crime syndicate who kidnap the pair and force them to aid them in crime. "Hotwire and Blindboy are meaty characters with plenty of humor, sarcasm, and attitude to spare." Sarah Guille, writing in Horn Book, noted that this "action-filled tale, dripping with atmosphere, will please fans of sci-fi and detective stories alike."
Voice of Youth Advocates contributor Jill Western dubbed The Electric Kid a "fast-paced and exciting book … a great read-aloud or a good choice for reluctant readers." An award-winning title in England as well as a breakthrough book for Kilworth in the United States, The Electric Kid was followed by a sequel, Cybercats, detailing more adventures of Hotwire and Blindboy.
Kilworth has written animal fantasies featuring a number of different creatures who act like humans but retain their species characteristics. In 1997 he published the first of his "Welkin Weasels" series, Thunder Oak. In this adventure, Kilworth establishes that the weasels, under a leader named Sylver, decide to rebel against the stoats who rule over them. Castle Storm continues the saga as Sylver undergoes a quest to find a mysterious race called humans, who long ago kept the stoats under control. Sylver's journey takes him to an ancient castle and then, in Windjammer Run, on to a sea voyage in which he and his weasel allies are pursued not only by the stoats, but by jealous rats as well. Harris-Fain acknowledged: "While all the books in the series are humorous, perhaps Windjammer Run is the funniest, yet like the others it is filled with excitement and adventure."
Kilworth's adult series of historical novels featuring Jack Crossman have earned the author fans on both sides of the Atlantic. Sometimes published under the pseudonym Garry Douglas, sometimes under Garry Douglas Kilworth, and sometimes just as Garry Kilworth, the military series' popularity has had little to do with the author's name. The saga begins with The Devil's Own and continues with four more installments, all set against the backdrop of the British participation in the Crimean War beginning in 1854. "Fancy Jack" Crossman is the nom de guerre of Alexander Kirk, an illegitimate offspring of a Scottish baronet. Raised to be of high social class, Kirk cannot overcome his illegitimacy, and he resents his station enough to accept a command that consists of irregular forces (including Americans, Turks, and a woman impersonating a man) ordered into irregular missions. How "Fancy Jack" and his soldiers survive on bravery and wit forms the crux of all the novels in the series. A Kirkus Reviews critic, examining The Winter Soldiers, found "Fancy Jack" an "attractive hero." A Publishers Weekly contributor noted of the same title that "Crossman has been entertaining British readers for some years" with Kilworth's talent for "fastpaced military adventure." Another Publishers Weekly reviewer, this time critiquing Attack on the Redan, noted that Kilworth "is particularly good at evok- ing the pointlessness of the Crimean slaughter." A Kirkus Reviews critic put it another way, calling Attack on the Redan "lots of mud and lots of blood. Historical fun for the lads."
The Rogue Officer finds Jack Crossman and his team at work searching for insurgents after the 1857 Indian uprising. Other, more personal, conflicts demand Crossman's attention as he is challenged to a duel with the haughty and much-hated Captain Deighnton. Compelled by honor to accept the challenge, Crossman reluctantly participates in the duel. Deighnton's pistol misfires, which brings the duel to an end with no injuries, though it apparently increases his bitter animosity toward Crossman. After Crossman is captured by enemy forces during a mission, Deighnton inexplicably charges him with desertion. Crossman cannot fathom why Deighnton has made such an allegation against him, but realizes that a final reckoning between the two will be necessary if he is to escape the malignant captain's attempts to destroy him. Booklist reviewer Patty Englemann concluded that, with this novel, "Kilworth continues to enthrall readers with his ‘Fancy Jack’ series."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 261: British Fantasy and Science-Fiction Writers since 1960, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2002.
Booklist, March 15, 1994, Barbara Baskin, review of The Drowners, p. 1385; September 1, 2007, Patty Engelmann, review of The Rogue Officer, p. 56.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November, 1995, Heather McCammond-Watts, review of The Electric Kid, p. 95.
Growing Point, January, 1991, Margery Fisher, review of Dark Hills, Hollow Clocks: Stories from the Otherworld, pp. 5442-5446.
Horn Book, May-June, 1996, Sarah Guille, review of The Electric Kid, p. 336.
Junior Bookshelf, December, 1990, review of Dark Hills, Hollow Clocks, p. 297; December, 1991, review of The Drowners, p. 264; December, 1994, review of The Phantom Piper, pp. 228-229.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2002, review of The Winter Soldiers, p. 1791; September 1, 2003, review of Attack on the Redan, p. 1092.
Publishers Weekly, January 20, 2003, review of The Winter Soldiers, p. 56; September 15, 2003, review of Attack on the Redan, p. 42.
School Librarian, November, 1994, review of The Electric Kid, pp. 165-166; autumn, 2005, Alastair Campbell, review of The Silver Claw, p. 136.
School Library Journal, October, 1995, Susan L. Rogers, review of The Electric Kid, p. 134.
Times Educational Supplement, January 17, 1992, review of The Drowners, p. 28; January 2, 1998, review of The Gargoyle, p. 22.
Voice of Youth Advocates, October, 1990, Susan R. Farber, review of The Rain Ghost, p. 229; December, 1995, Jill Western, review of The Electric Kid, p. 316.
Fantastic Fiction,http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/ (April 5, 2008), bibliography of Garry Kilworth.
Garry Kilworth Home Page,http://www.garry-kilworth.com (April 5, 2008).