Caitlín R. Kiernan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Caitlín R. Kiernan
Caitlín R. Kiernan by Kyle Cassidy.JPG
Kiernan in 2011
Born May 26, 1964
Dublin, Ireland
Pen name Kathleen Tierney
Occupation author, paleontologist
Nationality U.S.
Period present
Genres Science fiction, dark fantasy
Notable work(s) Silk; Threshold; Alabaster; The Red Tree; The Drowning Girl

Caitlín Rebekah Kiernan (born May 26, 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 paleontology.

Early life[edit]


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, paleontology, 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 paleontological digs.

Kiernan attended college at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Colorado at Boulder, studying geology and vertebrate paleontology, 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.[citation needed] 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.).[1] 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 novelization for the Beowulf film (scripted by Gaiman and Roger Avary).

Style and Genre[edit]

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."[2] "I've never tried to fool anyone. I've said I don't write genre 'horror.' A million, billion times have I said that."[3] "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."[4]

"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."[5]

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."[6]


Between 1996 and 1997, Kiernan also fronted an Athens, Georgia-based "goth-folk-blues band," Death's Little Sister,[7] 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[8] (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.

Personal life[edit]

Kiernan is a transsexual,[9] a lesbian, and an atheist pagan.[10] She lives in Providence, Rhode Island, U.S. with her partner: photographer and doll maker Kathryn A. Pollnac.[11]



Nominated (partial list)[edit]

  • Bram Stoker Award 1995, Best Short Story ("Persephone")
  • Bram Stoker Award, Best First Novel 1998 (Silk)
  • British Fantasy Award, Best First Novel 1998 (Silk)
  • Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Award, Best Graphic Novel 1998 (The Girl Who Would Be Death)
  • International Horror Guild Award, Best Collection (Tales of Pain and Wonder)
  • Bram Stoker Award, Best Graphic Novel 2001 (The Dreaming #56, "The First Adventure of Miss Caterina Poe")
  • International Horror Guild Award, Best Graphic Novel 2001 (The Dreaming #56, "The First Adventure of Miss Caterina Poe")
  • International Horror Guild Award, Best Short Form 2002 ("The Road of Pins")
  • International Horror Guild Award, Best Collection 2005 (To Charles Fort, With Love)
  • World Fantasy Award 2006, Best Collection 2005 (To Charles Fort, With Love)
  • World Fantasy Award 2006, Best Short Fiction 2005 ("La Peau Verte")
  • International Horror Guild Award, Best Mid-Length Fiction 2006 ("Bainbridge")
  • Locus Award 2010 (40th Annual), Best Fantasy Novel (The Red Tree)
  • Locus Award 2010 (40th Annual), Best Collection (A is for Alien)
  • Shirley Jackson Award (3rd Annual, 2010), Best Novel (The Red Tree)
  • World Fantasy Award 2010, Best Novel (The Red Tree)
  • Shirley Jackson Award (4th Annual, 2011), Best Short Story ("As Red as Red")
  • World Fantasy Award 2011, Best Collection 2010 (The Ammonite Violin & Others)
  • Bram Stoker Award 2011, Best Collection (Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan, Volume 1)
  • Bram Stoker Award 2011, Best Long Fiction ("The Collier's Venus [1893]")
  • Locus Award 2012, Best Collection (Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan, Volume 1)
  • World Fantasy Award 2012, Best Collection (Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan, Volume 1)
  • Nebula Award 2012, Best Novel (The Drowning Girl: A Memoir)[12]
  • British Fantasy Award 2012, Best Fantasy Novel (The Drowning Girl: A Memoir)
  • World Fantasy Award 2012, Best Novel (The Drowning Girl: A Memoir)
  • Mythopoeic Award 2012, Adult Literature (The Drowning Girl: A Memoir)
  • Shirley Jackson Award 2012, Best Novel (The Drowning Girl: A Memoir)
  • Bram Stoker Award 2013, Fiction Collection (The Ape's Wife and Other Stories)
  • Bram Stoker Award 2013, Graphic Novel (Alabaster: Wolves)



Short fiction collections[edit]


  1. ^ Irvine, Alex (2008). "The Dreaming". In Dougall, Alastair. The Vertigo Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. pp. 64–65. ISBN 0-7566-4122-5. OCLC 213309015. 
  2. ^ Kiernan, Caitlín R. (2002-02-03). "Chapter Two proceeds apace". Low Red Moon journal. Retrieved 2007-05-18. 
  3. ^ Kiernan, Caitlín R. "It's a death trap. It's a suicide rap.". Dear Sweet Filthy World. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  4. ^ VanderMeer, Jeff. "Interview: Caitlín R. Kiernan on Weird Fiction". "Deep time is critical...". Weird Fiction Review. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Dead Reckonings (No. 6, Volume 2009, pp. 28-30)
  7. ^ Musical projects
  8. ^ Kiernan, Caitlín R. "sirenia". Retrieved 2007-05-18. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Caitlín R. Kiernan's MySpace page accessed 29 March 2007.
  12. ^ 2012 Nebula Awards Nominees Announced, SFWA, February 20, 2013 

External links[edit]