|Caitlín R. Kiernan|
Kiernan in 2011
|Born||26 May 1964
|Pen name||Kathleen Tierney|
|Genre||Science fiction, dark fantasy, weird fiction|
|Notable works||Silk; Threshold; Alabaster; The Red Tree; The Drowning Girl|
Caitlín Rebekah Kiernan (born 26 May 1964) is the author of science fiction and dark fantasy works, including ten novels; many comic books; and more than two hundred published short stories, novellas, and vignettes. She is also the author of scientific papers in the field of palaeontology.
Born in Dublin, Ireland, she moved to the United States as a young child with her mother. Much of her childhood was spent in the small town of Leeds, Alabama, and her early interests included herpetology, palaeontology, and fiction writing. As a teenager, she lived in Trussville, Alabama, and, in high school, began doing volunteer work at the Red Mountain Museum in Birmingham, Alabama and spending summers on her first archaeological and palaeontological digs.
Kiernan attended college at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Colorado at Boulder, studying geology and vertebrate palaeontology, and she held both museum and teaching positions before finally turning to fiction writing in 1992.
In 1988, she co-authored a paper describing the new genus and species of mosasaur, Selmasaurus russelli. Her first novel, The Five of Cups, was written between June '92 and early '93, though it wasn't published until 2003. In 1998 her first published novel, Silk, was released. Her first published short story was "Persephone," a dark science fiction tale, released in 1995. Her most recent scientific publications are a paper on the biostratigraphy of Alabama mosasaurs, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (2002) and "First record of a velociraptorine theropod (Tetanurae, Dromaeosauridae) from the Eastern Gulf Coastal United States." The Mosasaur (2005).
Kiernan has had short fiction selected for Year's Best Fantasy and Horror series, The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, and The Year's Best Science Fiction, and her short stories have been collected in several volumes (see Bibliography). To date, her work has been translated into German, Italian, French, Turkish, Spanish, Portuguese, Finnish, Czech, Polish, Russian, Korean, and Japanese. In May 1996, Kiernan was approached by Neil Gaiman and editors at DC/Vertigo Comics to begin writing for The Dreaming, a spin-off from Gaiman's very successful title, The Sandman. Kiernan wrote for the title from 1996 until its conclusion in 2001, working closely with Gaiman and focusing not only on pre-existing characters (The Corinthian, Cain and Abel, Lucien, Nuala, Morpheus, Thessaly, etc.), but also on new characters (Echo, Maddy, the white dream raven Tethys, etc.). In 2012, Kiernan returned to comics, scripting Alabaster: Wolves (based on her character Dancy Flammarion) and continuing with Alabaster: Boxcar Tales (2013) and Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird (2014). She wrote the novelisation for the Beowulf film (scripted by Gaiman and Roger Avary).
In her blog she stated, "I'm getting tired of telling people that I'm not a 'horror' writer. I'm getting tired of them not listening, or not believing. Most of them seem suspicious of my motives." "I've never tried to fool anyone. I've said I don't write genre 'horror.' A million, billion times have I said that." "It's not that there are not strong elements of horror present in a lot of my writing. It's that horror never predominates those works. You may as well call it psychological fiction or awe fiction. I don't think of horror as a genre. I think of it – to paraphrase Doug Winter – as an emotion, and no one emotion will ever characterize my fiction."
"Anyone can come up with the artifice/conceit of a 'good story.' Story bores me. Which is why critics complain it's the weakest aspect of my work. Because that's essentially purposeful. I have no real interest in plot. Atmosphere, mood, language, character, theme, etc., that's the stuff that fascinates me. Ulysses should have freed writers from plot."
Kiernan has garnered a reputation as one of the foremost authors of contemporary weird fiction. In his review of her novel 2009 The Red Tree, H. P. Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi writes: "Kiernan already ranks with the most distinctive stylists in our field – Edgar Allan Poe, Lord Dunsany, Thomas Ligotti. With Ligotti's regrettable retreat into fictional silence, hers is now the voice of weird fiction."
Between 1996 and 1997, Kiernan also fronted an Athens, Georgia-based "goth-folk-blues band," Death's Little Sister, named for Neil Gaiman's character, Delirium. She was the band's vocalist and lyricist, and the group enjoyed some success on local college radio and played shows in Athens and Atlanta. Other members included Barry Dillard (guitars), Michael Graves (bass), and Shelly Ross (keyboards). Kiernan has said in interviews that she left the band in February 1997 because of her increased responsibilities writing for DC Comics and because her novel Silk had recently sold. She was briefly involved in Crimson Stain Mystery, a studio project, two years later. CSM produced one EP to accompany a special limited edition of Silk, illustrated by Clive Barker (Gauntlet Press, 2000).
In December 2005, she began publishing the monthly Sirenia Digest (otherwise known as MerViSS) consisting of vignettes and short stories: "The MerViSS Project is a continuation of Kiernan's exploration of the fusion of erotic literature with elements of dark fantasy and science fiction, creating brief, dreamlike fictions." It is currently illustrated by Vince Locke. The digest includes the occasional collaboration with Sonya Taaffe.
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