Kostick, Conor 1964–
Kostick, Conor 1964–
Born 1964, in Ireland; son of a math teacher and a special-needs teacher; partner's name Aoife. Education: Trinity College, Dublin, Ph.D. (medieval history).
Writer and historian. Trinity College, Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, professor of medieval history. Editor of Socialist Worker. Previously worked for Treasure Trap (game company), as an engineering clerk for Case International, at a nature conservancy on the Island of Rhum, Scotland, as an archaeologist, and as a political activist.
Irish Writers' Union (former chairman).
International Board on Books for Young People Honour List, 2006, and Best Books selection, School Library Journal, and Top Ten Fantasy Books for Youth designation, Booklist Online, both 2007, all for Epic.
Epic, O'Brien (Dublin, Ireland), 2004, Viking (New York, NY), 2007.
Saga, O'Brien (Dublin, Ireland), 2006, Viking (New York, NY), 2008.
The Book of Curses, O'Brien (Dublin, Ireland), 2007.
Move, O'Brien (Dublin, Ireland), 2008.
Revolution in Ireland: Popular Militancy, 1917 to 1923, Pluto Press (Chicago, IL), 1996.
(With Lorcan Collins) The Easter Rising: A Guide to Dublin in 1916, O'Brien (Dublin, Ireland), 2000.
(Editor, with Katherine Moore) Irish Writers against War, O'Brien (Dublin, Ireland), 2003.
The Social Structure of the First Crusade, Brill (Leiden, Netherlands), 2008.
Contributor of reviews to Journal of Music in Ireland.
Conor Kostick was twelve years old when, inspired by writers such as Michael Moorcock, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Andre Norton, he tried his hand at writing. Unhappy with the result, he turned to a different creative endeavor: working as a designer for Treasure Trap, a game company that developed the first live-action role-playing-game (RPG). After this experience, Kostick had trouble taking jobs seriously, and he worked in a number of fields before turning to academia and completing his doctorate in medieval history at Trinity College, Dublin.
While following his academic path, Kostick published several nonfiction books for adults and continued his interest in RPGs. Contemplating the online-game phenomenon, he wondered what the world would be like if one's success in an online fantasy game could also impact one's actual life. This idea is explored in his first novel for young adults, Epic. In New Earth, violence is illegal, and disputes are settled through the massive computer game called Epic. Real-world power is determined by one's ability to accumulate wealth and power in the game, and an elite group of players, manipulates the outcome for many others. Relying on the game to solve real-world problems ultimately undermines New Earth's economy and cripples those people, like Erik's father, who refuse to play. Erik is frustrated with the game, and as a player, instead of following the standard patterns, he begins experimenting with different ways to play, including having a female persona. When he defeats a red dragon and becomes one of the wealthiest people in the game, he becomes a threat to the elite who run New Earth.
Although Kostick's storyline in Epic "is nonstop, it's easy to keep track of who's who, and the story flows seamlessly as characters move between worlds, maintaining their individuality in both," according to Sally Estes in her Booklist review of the novel. "Well written and engaging, Epic will easily draw in avid readers and video-game players," predicted Dylan Thomarie in School Library Journal, while a Publishers Weekly critic noted that the novel's "elegant conclusion will linger with readers." In Kliatt Paula Rohrlick noted that "readers will be eager to continue the adventure in the sequel."
In an interview on the O'Brien Web site, Kostick discussed the themes of Epic and noted that experimenting with ideas against the crowd can be a good thing. "Just because very many people accept certain ideas and ways of doing something does not necessarily mean that their approach is the best way," he noted. "I like the character of Erik for several reasons, but this is probably the main one, that he is not afraid of trying something new, in fact he only enjoys Epic when experimenting with it."
Kostick considered his future as a writer with an interviewer at the Ask about Writing Web site. "I am going to stay in children's writing for the foreseeable future," he explained. "There is quite a thriving children's lit-
erature industry in Ireland that has an international impact." In addition to writing, he is a professor of medieval history at Trinity College, Dublin.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, March 1, 2007, Sally Estes, review of Epic, p. 84.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 2007, Cindy Welch, review of Epic, p. 333.
Kliatt, March, 2007, Paula Rohrlick, review of Epic, p. 16.
Publishers Weekly, May 21, 2007, review of Epic, p. 57.
School Library Journal, May, 2007, Dylan Thomarie, review of Epic, p. 136.
Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 2007, Heidi Dolomore, review of Epic, p. 164.
Ask about Writing Web site,http://www.askaboutwriting.net/ (December 20, 2007), interview with Kostick.
Conor Kostick's Web log,http://conorkostick.blogspot.com (July 18, 2007).
Irish Writers Online,http://www.irishwriters-online.com/ (December 20, 2007), profile of Kostick.
O'Brien Web site,http://www.obrien.ie/ (December 20, 2007), interview with Kostick.