Kevin O'Donnell, Jr. was born November 29, 1950, in Cleveland, Ohio, to Kevin O'Donnell and Margaret Ann O'Donnell O'Donnell. He is the oldest of eight children.
He grew up on the west side of Cleveland and in its suburb, Fairview Park. After his mother's death in 1965, his father remarried (Ellen Blydenburgh Patterson), and in 1966 joined the Peace Corps as Director, Peace Corps Korea. The family moved to Seoul, where they lived for four years.
He graduated from Seoul Foreign School in June 1968 and left for Yale University, where he worked in the dining halls, read a great deal of bad science fiction, and began writing some himself. He received his B.A. in Chinese Studies in 1972. He spent the next academic year teaching in Hong Kong, and the year after that in Taipei, Taiwan. He made his first short story sale to ANALOG Science Fiction/Science Fact in January, 1973 and his second, also to ANALOG, the following year.
In May, 1974, he returned to New Haven, Connecticut. On September 7, 1974, he married Lillian Kia Chou ("Kim") Tchang, a New York-born Chinese-American whom he had met at Yale. O'Donnell and Tchang moved to Philadelphia in September 1983 so that Tchang could earn her MBA at the Wharton School of Business. In June, 1985 they came to Campbell, California and Tchang's new job at Hewlett-Packard's Sunnyvale office. (Tchang is currently the Director of Global Channel Marketing for Santa Clara-based Hitachi Data Systems Corporation.)
Early in his career, O'Donnell wrote only short stories while working at various part-time/temporary jobs. In late 1976, he set aside the joys of honest labor to begin his first science fiction novel, which Bantam Books purchased in November of 1977 and published as Bander Snatch in June 1979.
He has since sold ten more novels, including the first five volumes in the popular McGill Feighan series, and a non-fiction book on personal computers. Roc Books, the science fiction imprint of Penguin USA/New American Library, released his tenth and latest novel, Fire On The Border, in September, 1990; his next, Plains, will eventually appear from Tor Books, he hopes.
Periodicals ranging from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine to OMNI have bought more than 75 short stories and articles from him. His most recent short story, "The Boys from Bethlehem," co-authored with Denise Lee, appeared in The Darkness and the Fire, an anthology published by SFF Net and Wildside Press in August, 1998. (You may purchase this book online if you like.)
A dozen of his works have been recommended for the Nebula Award, given annually by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. The French translation of his novel ORA:CLE won the Prix Litteraire Mannesmann Tally in February, 1987.
O'Donnell served as Managing Editor of EMPIRE: For The SF Writer from February 1979 to December 1981, and then as Publisher until January 1983. He was also first a member, then President, of his New Haven condominium's Board of Directors, from March, 1979 to March, 1982. On acquiring a micro-computer in 1982, he dabbled in computer consulting and training. He has on occasion written sales and public relations brochures for New York City businesses. Chairman of SFWA's Nebula Awards Novel Jury in 1990 and 1991, he also served as Chairman of SFWA's Nebula Awards Committee from 1990 until July 1998, and Business Manager of its quarterly publication, the Bulletin, from October 1994 until July 1998. Appointed Chairman of SFWA's Grievance Committee in August, 1999, he plans to retire from that position in August, 2005. On April 30, 2005, he will receive the Service to SFWA Award at SFWA's annual Nebula(tm) Banquet. He also served as a member of the Board of Directors of The Lunar Resources Company from 1994 to 1999, and as its Acting Business Manager from January of 1998 through October 1999.
An avid gardener, he delights in raising bonsai, vegetables, assorted ornamentals, and potted plants. He enjoys sports, especially squash and basketball (though these days his knees are so bad that he has to stick to bicyling and bowling), and fiddles with his computer a lot. And he spends way too much time surfing the web....