Elizabeth Hand (1957–) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights
Born 1957, in San Diego, CA; Education: Catholic University of America, B.A., 1984. Religion: Roman Catholic.
Agent—Martha Millard Literary Agency, 204 Park Ave., Madison, NJ 07940.
National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, archival researcher, 1979–86, and co-founder of archival videodisc program; writer.
Philip K. Dick Award finalist, for Winterlong, Aestival Tide, and Icarus Descending; James Tiptree, Jr. Award, 1995, and Mythopoeic Society Fantasy Award for Adult Literature, 1996, both for Walking the Moon; Nebula Award for best novella, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and World Fantasy Award, World Fantasy Convention, both 1995, both for "Last Summer at Mars Hill"; Battersea Arts Center award finalist, Fringe Theater Festival (London, England), 1997, for one-act play, The Have-Nots; International Horror Guild Award, for novella "Cleopatra Brimstone" and short story "Pavane for a Prince of the Air"; World Fantasy Award, World Fantasy Convention, 2004, for Bibliomancy.
Winterlong, Bantam (New York, NY), 1990.
Aestival Tide, Bantam (New York, NY), 1991.
Icarus Descending, Bantam (New York, NY), 1993.
Walking the Moon, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1995.
Glimmering, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1997.
Last Summer at Mars Hill (short stories), HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1998.
Black Light, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.
Bibliomancy (includes "Cleopatra Brimstone," "Chip Crockett's Christmas Carol," "The Last Trumps," and "Pavane for a Prince of the Air"; also see below) P.S. Publishing (Hornsea, East Yorkshire, England), 2003.
Mortal Love, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2004.
Saffron and Brimstone (includes "Cleopatra Brimstone," "Chip Crockett's Christmas Carol," and "Pavane for a Prince of the Air"; also see below), M. Press (New York, NY), 2006.
Chip Crockett's Christmas Carol, Beccon Press (London, England), 2006.
Generation Loss, in press.
The Bride of Frankenstein, DH Press, 2006.
12 Monkeys (film novelization), HarperCollins (New York, NY) 1995.
Anna and the King (based on the screenplay by Steve Meerson and others), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.
The Affair of the Necklace (film novelization), HarperEntertainment (New York, NY) 2001.
Maze of Deception: A Clone Wars Novel ("Star Wars: Boba Fett" series), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.
Hunted: A Clone Wars Novel ("Star Wars: Boba Fett" series), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.
Fight to Survive: A Clone Wars Novel ("Star Wars: Boba Fett" series), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.
Pursuit: A Clone Wars Novel ("Star Wars: Boba Fett" series), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.
A New Threat: A Clone Wars Novel ("Star Wars: Boba Fett" series), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.
Catwoman (based on a screenplay by John Rogers, Mike Ferris, and John Brancato), Ballantine (New York, NY), 2004.
Also author or coauthor audiobook scripts, including Anna and the King, 2001; author of The Frenchman (television pilot). Contributor to "X-Files" and "Millennium" fiction series, based on television shows.
Also author of one-act play The Have-Nots. Critic for Washington Post, Detroit Metro Times, and San Francisco Eye. Regular reviewer for Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Washington Post Book World, and Voice Literary Supplement. Co-creator of DC Comics comic-book series Anima.
Contributor of stories to books, including Year's Best Horror Stories XVII, edited by Karl E. Wagner, DAW (New York, NY), 1989, Full Spectrum 2, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1989, and Year's Best Horror 2, edited by Ramsey Campbell, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 1991.
Work in Progress
A "gritty mainstream" novel.
Elizabeth Hand emerged on the science-fiction scene after publishing only three short works. While her novels and short stories are geared toward an adult audience, several of her books have appeal for young-adult readers. Several of her movie tie-ins and novelisations also appeal to younger readers, including her contributions to the "Star Wars" novel series. She has also worked on comic books as a co-creator, with Paul Witcover, of the DC Comics series Anima, and Hand's novels such as Black Light feature young-adult narrators. In a review of her short-story collection Last Summer at Mars Hill, a Publishers Weekly critic noted that Hand produces "beautiful writing" that is tempered with "healthy doses of skepticism." Noting the author's lyrical style, Science Fiction Weekly Online contributor Nick Gevers called Hand "one of American literature's finest prose poets of the fantastic."
Hand's first published short story, "Prince of Flowers," appeared in Twilight Zone, and is a fantasy story about a woman, Helen, who works in a museum in Washington, DC. Helen's job is to open new crates and inventory the strange objects and papers received by the museum. Among the items she takes home to liven up her apartment is a "spirit puppet," an Indonesian item that had been packed away in storage for nearly a century. "On the Town Route," which first appeared in Pulphouse, concerns a woman who travels with an ice-cream-truck vendor through an impoverished area of Virginia, where they distribute ice cream to the poor people of the region until an accident disrupts their charitable efforts. "The Boy in the Tree," which was published shortly before Hand's first novel, Winterlong, is noticeably more akin to science fiction due to its futuristic setting: a research facility that treats psychopaths.
Published in 1990, Winterlong describes a future Earth where biological weapons have destroyed much of the planet's population. Wendy and Raphael, twins who have been separated since birth, travel across the nightmarish landscape, facing danger from mutated cannibalistic children and deadly exotic plants. As the twins reunite, they enact the legend of the Final Ascension, which will decide the future of humankind. As D. Douglas Fratz wrote in Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers, "There are some marvelous characters here, but none seems to act on his or her own volition; all feel driven by unseen forces." Sherry Hoy, reviewing Winterlong in Voice of Youth Advocates, stated that Hand "weaves a tale that is achingly haunting and disquieting, surreal yet compelling." The novels Aestival Tide and Icarus Descending continue the topics and themes Hand first develops in Winterlong, and many reviewers have viewed the three as a series. Themes in these novels also appear in Hand's award-winning Walking the Moon and Black Light.
In the novel Black Light Hand tells the story of high-school senior Charlotte Moylan and Charlotte's godfather, filmmaker Axel Kern. The notorious Kern arrives in Charlotte's hometown of Kamensic to host a Halloween party replete with drugs and dark and perverse characters, including various members of the Benandanti and the Malandanti, who are, as a critic for Kirkus Reviews explained, "two opposing groups of magicians … [that] struggle to control human destiny." After experiencing unsettling visions and meeting the strange Professor Warnick, Charlotte learns that her godfather is deeply involved in a dangerous conspiracy. Jackie Cassada praised Hand's "lucid style" in Library Journal, and a reviewer for Publishers Weekly declared that the book "should strongly appeal to aficionados of sophisticated horror."
Four of Hand's novellas, one of which was previously published online, appeared together in print in Bibliomancy, published in England. (Three of these stories also appear in Saffron and Brimstone, published in the United States.) Her novella "Cleopatra Brimstone" gives the story of a young woman's recovery from rape a horrific twist as the injured protagonist channels her rage and lust for vengeance and morphs into an insectile serial killer. "Pavane for a Prince of the Air" is a semi-autobiographical story about the death of a friend. Both of these novellas were nominated for an International Horror Guild award. "The Least Trumps" deals with tattooing and tarot, while "Chip Crockett's Christmas Carol" features the character Tony Maroni and an old-time children's television program. Hand told Nick Gevers in Science Fiction Weekly Online that the story is a tribute to Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol: "I just love Dickens, and Christmas, and I've always wanted to write a Christmas story." Reviewing this collected short fiction, Paul di Filippo, in a review for the Washington Post Book World, noted that "Hand's close attention to the cherished dailiness of life is matched only by the subtlety of her fantastical conceits."
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Mortal Love delves into artistic inspiration: essentially, what drives artists to create art. Hand pictures the inspiration of various male artists as a beautiful woman whose name changes depending on the artist to whom she appears; she eventually drives at least one of these men into madness. "On one level I think Mortal Love served as a way of examining the source of my own creative activity, by looking at that of other writers or visual artists," Hand explained to Gevers in Science Fiction Weekly Online. Washington Post Book World reviewer Lawrence Norfolk summed up the novel, writing that "Mortal Love is at once a painting in prose, an investigation into artistic obsession and a re-evaluation." Noting that the book was marketed to mainstream audiences as well as science-fiction and fantasy readers, a Publishers Weekly critic commented that Hand's "timeless tale of desire and passion should reach many readers beyond [the author's] usual fantasy base."
While Hand continues to work on novelisations of media events as well as original science-fiction and fantasy works, she has also moved into more mainstream fiction. Discussing the novel Generation Loss, she described the story as more gritty than her previous works. Hand lives with her two children in a home located on the coast of Maine, "within shouting distance of her cottage studio," according to an essay on her home page.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers, 3rd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1991.
Analog, February, 1991, p. 176; April, 1993, p. 160; February, 1994, p. 159; December, 1995, p. 181.
Booklist, February 15, 1998, Nancy Spillman, review of The Frenchman, p. 1026; June 1, 2004, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of Mortal Love, p. 1700.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 1999, review of Black Light, p. 418; May 15, 2004, review of Mortal Love, p. 459.
Library Journal, March 15, 1997, Susan Hamburger, review of Glimmering, p. 93; April 15, 1999, Jackie Cassada, review of Black Light, p. 148; April 1, 2004, Jennifer Baker, review of Mortal Love, p. 122.
Locus, October, 1992, p. 35; February, 1995, p. 17; July, 2002, interview with Hand.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October, 1995, p. 43; April, 1999, review of Last Summer at Mars Hill, p. 41.
Mythprint, April, 1997, review of Walking the Moon and Glimmering.
New York Times Book Review, December 9, 1990, p. 32; September 12, 1993, p. 36; September 10, 1995, p. 46.
Publishers Weekly, February 3, 1997, review of Glimmering, p. 99; August 10, 1998, review of Last Summer at Mars Hill, March 8, 1999, review of Black Light, p. 51; May 3, 2004, review of Mortal Love, p. 169.
Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 1991, Sherry Hoy, review of Winterlong, p. 43; April, 2000, review of Black Light, p. 11.
Washington Post Book World, October 28, 1990, p. 10; October 25, 1992, p. 9; September 26, 1993, p. 11; August 13, 1995, p. 9; June 8, 1997, p. 7; December 14, 2003, Paul di Filippo, review of Bibliomancy, p. 14; June 27, 2004, Lawrence Norfolk, review of Mortal Love, p. 6.
Agony Column Online, http://www.trashotron.com/ (January 1, 2004), Rick Kleffel, review of Bibliomancy.
Elizabeth Hand Home Page, http://www.elizabethhand.com (January 14, 2006).
Science Fiction Weekly Online, http://www.scifi.com/sfw/ (November 22, 2004), Nick Gevers, interview with Hand.
Strange Horizons Web site, http://www.strangehorizons.com/ (November 29, 2004), Cheryl Morgan, interview with Hand.