Hugo-award winning author, Mary Robinette Kowal is a novelist and professional puppeteer. Her debut novel Shades of Milk and Honey (Tor 2010) was nominated for the 2010 Nebula Award for Best Novel. In 2008 she won the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, while two of her short fiction works have been nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Short Story: “Evil Robot Monkey” in 2009 and “For Want of a Nail” in 2011, which won the Hugo that year. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, and several Year’s Best anthologies, as well as in her collection Scenting the Dark and Other Stories from Subterranean Press.
Kowal is also an award-winning puppeteer. In high school, she took up puppetry as a hobby, but as Kowal says, she “never thought of it as something you could get paid for.” Instead, she went to East Carolina University to pursue an art degree, minoring in theater and speech. While performing as Audrey II in a performance of Little Shop of Horrors, she learned that a professional puppeteer had come to the show. It was a turning point. Kowal went on to intern at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, GA. With over twenty years of experience, she has performed for LazyTown (CBS), the Center for Puppetry Arts, Jim Henson Pictures and founded Other Hand Productions. Her designs have garnered two UNIMA-USA Citations of Excellence, the highest award an American puppeteer can achieve.
Her career in puppetry consumed the much of Kowal’s creative energy for over ten years. Although she wrote in high school and college, it wasn’t until her brother moved his family to China that she began writing again. Like Lewis Carroll and J.M. Barrie, she started creating children’s fantasy as a way to stay connected to her young niece and nephew. Reminded of how much she enjoyed writing, she began submitting short stories and made her first sale in 2005, and her first professional sale to Strange Horizons in 2006.
When she isn’t writing or puppeteering, Kowal brings her speech and theater background to her work as a voice actor. As the voice behind several audio books and short stories, she has recorded fiction for authors such as Kage Baker, Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi. She likes to describe voice acting as “puppetry, without the pain.”
Mary lives in Chicago with her husband Rob and over a dozen manual typewriters. Sometimes she even writes on them.