For a short bio, please refer to the Press Kit. If you’d like more information, below is a longer biographical sketch.
More Than You Probably Need to Know
Jeff Carlson was born on the day of the first manned moon landing and narrowly escaped being named Apollo, Armstrong, or Rocket. His father worked for NASA-Ames at the time. His granddad on his mother’s side was a sci fi fan whose library included autographed copies of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy. Guess what they talked about.
Big ideas in small brains sometimes lead in unique directions. Although active in his youth in soccer and baseball, Jeff also spent a lot of time reading Frank Baum, James Michener, Jean M. Auel, Stephen King, John Irving, Wendy Pini, John Varley, and Joe Haldeman.
Mom and dad probably should have made him watch more TV. More than anything, what those writers taught was scale, the idea that the world is larger and much stranger than Hometown U.S.A. With a head full of independence, Jeff left high school at age fifteen after acing the California High School Equivalency Exam.
Don’t try this at home, kids. A good chunk of his newfound freedom was spent on such thrilling activities as running a cash register at Super 7, but he also wrote an epic novel of a million words, borrowing heavily from The Stand and The Hotel New Hampshire. That’s right. A hauntingly beautiful apocalypse. The book garnered no more than the usual rejection letters, but another thing Jeff had learned was the persistence of vision.
He attended college in Arizona, where he earned a B.A. in English Literature.
Soon he moved back to the coast after buying a sport coat, taking meetings in Hollywood, and acquiring an agent. Ultimately, the decision to return to California proved the best of his life because it led him to his wife, Diana, who is smart and pretty and sweet.
Like many creative types, Jeff has a ridiculous employment history. From the semi-autobiographical short story “Meme” published in Fantastic Stories:
“There is no such thing as a part time job that is both meaningful and well paid. Most aren’t either. Including his stints as a gas jockey during high school, Alan Lilly has held nineteen positions in at least seven separate fields, so his expectations are as low as mud. Driver, pressman, salesman, waiter, phone rep, cashier — he rarely stays more than twelve months, and several times he’s quit after one shift.
“He is not a slacker, thief, or troublemaker. He’s a musician. He has better things to do.”
In real life, Jeff has also worked in construction and in credit investigation. Most recently he is a House Dad Writer Guy, spending a lot of time with the Uncanny X-Men, Ben 10, and 39 Clues (and precious minutes with the work of writers such as Douglas Preston and Nelson DeMille) while finding room for his sixth novel; a seventh novel in collaboration with David Brin; skiing; backpacking; NFL games; South Park; Jethro Tull; and sushi-and-a-movie dates with his wife.
Jeff’s first novel, high concept thriller Plague Year, sold to Ace/Penguin USA after a small bidding war between two publishers and strong interest from a third. Plague Year hit stores everywhere in mass market paperback in August 2007. The book immediately went to a second printing and is now in its eighth edition.
Audio rights sold to Recorded Books and Audible.com, who released Plague Year as narrated by stage actor Richard Ferrone.
A sequel entitled Plague War was released in North America in July 2008 and became a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award. The third book in the trilogy, Plague Zone, was Ace/Penguin’s lead paperback for December 2009 and received nationwide displays in Barnes & Noble and other chain outlets.
In Europe, Spanish language rights to Plague Year went to Minotauro in a preemptive bid over its rival publisher Plaza RHM. Retitled La Plaga, Minotauro released the novel as its lead hard cover for September 2008, backed by a massive promotion campaign including newspaper ads, spectacular book store displays, and this web site. La Plaga quickly became a bestseller in Spain. The next two novels, retitled Antidoto and Epidemia, followed in 2009 and 2011. Minotauro is also distributing the books in Columbia and Peru, and plans further releases across Central and South America.
German rights to the Plague trilogy went to Piper Verlag in best bid auction over its rival publisher Heyne. Retitled Nano, Piper released Plague Year as its Book Of The Month in September 2008. To date, the Plague Year novels have also sold in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Turkey, Romania, and Russia.
Late in 2010, Jeff republished his novella “The Frozen Sky” on Kindle, Nook, and iBooks. It sold 40,000 copies.
In 2011, its success was followed by his short story collection Long Eyes.
In 2012, Jeff sold apocalyptic thriller novel Interrupt to 47North, the sf/f imprint of Amazon’s new publishing wing. He also released an all-new novel of The Frozen Sky to acclaim from sci fi greats like Larry Niven and Allen Steele.
Interrupt is due July 23, 2013.
Jeff’s collaboration with David Brin is the first of a new adventure series entitled Colony High with at least two more books already outlined. Jeff also writes parenting articles and has a nonfiction book proposal in the works as well as a collection of humor and how-to essays about life in the trenches as a house dad.
To date, his short fiction and essays have sold in fourteen foreign languages: Czech, Dutch, Esperanto, Estonian, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, and Turkish.
Jeff lives with his wife and sons in California, and welcomes correspondence via email.