Graham Joyce

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Graham William Joyce
Joyce signing books at Imagicon 2: Swecon 2009
Joyce signing books at Imagicon 2: Swecon 2009
Born(1954-10-22)22 October 1954
Keresley, England, UK
Died9 September 2014(2014-09-09) (aged 59)
OccupationWriter and teacher
GenreSpeculative Fiction

Graham William Joyce (22 October 1954 – 9 September 2014) was a British writer of speculative fiction and the recipient of numerous awards, including the O. Henry Award and the World Fantasy Award, for both his novels and short stories.[1]


He grew up in a small mining village just outside Coventry to a working-class family. After receiving a BEd degree from Bishop Lonsdale College in 1977 (now University of Derby) and an M.A. degree from the University of Leicester in 1980,[2] Joyce worked as a youth officer for the National Association of Youth Clubs until 1988. He subsequently quit his position and moved to the Greek islands of Lesbos and Crete to write his first novel, Dreamside. After selling Dreamside to Pan Books in 1991, Joyce moved back to England to pursue a career as a full-time writer. He was awarded a PhD degree by publication at Nottingham Trent University, where he taught creative writing from 1996 until his death and was made a reader in creative writing.

Graham Joyce lived in Leicester with his wife and their two children.

Joyce was the regular first-choice goalkeeper for the England Writers football team, appearing in international fixtures against Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Israel, Hungary, Turkey and Austrian Writers teams. He described his footballing experiences in his non-fiction book Simple Goalkeeping Made Spectacular.

He was a supporter of Coventry City FC and occasionally wrote pieces for fanzines.

Joyce died on 9 September 2014. He had been diagnosed with lymphoma in 2013.[3] Joyce's reaction to his cancer was to publish several essays on the "shocking clarity" the news had brought him on the subject of death. He said "your life is suddenly propelled along a remorseless narrative that has the structure of all great mythical journeys".[4]

Style and themes[edit]

Publishers and critics alike have found difficulty in classifying Joyce's writing. His novels have been categorized as fantasy, science fiction, horror, and mainstream literature—with some even overlapping genres. Joyce utilizes a wide variety of settings and character perspectives. Settings include Scotland, The English Midlands, Greece, the Middle East, and the jungles of Thailand. He has penned for both adult and juvenile protagonists, with an emphasis on strong female characters. The greater unity in Joyce's works, however, lies in their thematic and philosophical topics. Bill Sheehan, who wrote the introduction for Partial Eclipse, states:

Among the issues Graham dramatizes are the inevitability of grief, loss, growth, and change, the primal importance of family bonds, the beauty of the feminine, the life altering effects of parenthood, the nature of the creative unconscious, the overwhelming power of the erotic, the corrupting effects of power, the importance of self-awareness, and the fundamental need for order, meaning, and coherence in the face of a chaotic, inimical universe.[5]

American author, editor and literary critic Jeff VanderMeer said:

Joyce's fiction has always displayed a certain generosity of spirit that lifts it above the ordinary. This generosity is not at all sentimental, but is alive with sentiment and an appreciation for the mysteries of life.[6]

The mystical or supernatural often play a pivotal role in Joyce's works. For this, he taps the mythical or folkloric associations of his settings. Joyce's treatment of these experiences is what distinguishes his novels from genre fiction. The supernatural is not seen as a conflict or an obstacle to be overcome, but rather an integral part of a natural order that a character must accept and integrate. Running parallel to these phenomena is the possibility of a rational or psychological explanation. This literary approach is influenced in part by Joyce's experiences with his own family:

My grandmother was one of these old women who used to have dreams and visions and messages arriving. She would fall asleep in a chair, there would be a knock on the door, she would go to the door, someone strange would come to the door and deliver a message. And then she would wake up again in her chair. Now my mother and my aunties told me these stories over and over again. But they just lived with it side by side. They didn't fight it as in a fantasy or horror film. They didn't have to overcome it. It didn't get worse and worse and worse. They just accepted this mystery and then they cooked the dinner.[7]

This particular quality has prompted some critics to classify Joyce as a magic realist in the vein of such Latinamerican writers as Gabriel García Márquez or Julio Cortázar. Joyce disagrees with this, feeling that his lineage is tied more closely to writers of the English "weird tale" such as Arthur Machen or Algernon Blackwood. He calls his style of writing "Old Peculiar."[8]


The short film Black Dust was released in 2012, produced by James Laws of Pretzel Films, scripted by Joyce and Laws. Currently, there are no feature-length films based on Joyce's novels or shorts. However, the film rights to Dreamside, The Tooth Fairy, and Dark Sister have all been optioned. As of October 2010 Dreamside, Do the Creepy Thing (Joyce scripting) The Silent Land and Some Kind of Fairy Tale are all in development.


Joyce co-wrote song lyrics for French songwriter and composer Emilie Simon on her albums The Big Machine (2009) and Franky Knight (2011).


On 16 January 2009, the site Computer and Video Games reported that Graham Joyce had been hired by id Software to "help develop the storyline potential"[9] of Doom 4; after Joyce died in 2014, Adam Gascoine was brought in as a replacement.[10]

Critical reception[edit]

Adam Roberts stated "Graham Joyce's The Year of the Ladybird showed that he is one of the best writers of ghost stories we have."[11]


According to his official site and the Internet Database of Speculative Fiction, Graham Joyce published fourteen novels and twenty-six short stories.[12]

Novels and short story collections[edit]

Name Published ISBN Notes
Dreamside 1991 ISBN 978-0-312-87546-6
Dark Sister 1992 ISBN 978-0-312-87254-0 British Fantasy Award winner, 1993[13]
House of Lost Dreams 1993 ISBN 978-0-7472-4248-2
Requiem 1995 ISBN 978-0-312-86452-1 British Fantasy Award winner, 1996;[14]
World Fantasy Award nominee, 1996[14]
The Tooth Fairy 1996 ISBN 978-0-312-86833-8 British Fantasy Award winner, 1997[15]
The Stormwatcher 1997 ISBN 978-1-892389-36-7 British Fantasy Award nominee, 1999[16]
The Web: Spiderbite 1997 ISBN 978-1-85881-527-5 young adult
Indigo 1999 ISBN 978-0-671-03937-0 British Fantasy Award winner, 2000[17]
Smoking Poppy 2001 ISBN 978-0-671-03939-4 British Fantasy Award nominee, 2002[18]
The Facts of Life 2002 ISBN 978-0-7434-6342-3 World Fantasy Award winner, 2003;[19]
British Fantasy Award nominee, 2003[19]
Partial Eclipse and Other Stories 2003 ISBN 978-1-931081-62-7 collection
The Limits of Enchantment 2005 ISBN 978-0-7434-6344-7 World Fantasy Award nominee, 2006[20]
TWOC 2005 ISBN 978-0-571-22513-2 young adult Angus Award "winner"
Do the Creepy Thing 2006 ISBN 978-0-571-23035-8 young adult;
released in the US as The Exchange (2008) ISBN 978-0-670-06207-2
Three Ways to Snog an Alien 2008 ISBN 978-0-571-23951-1 young adult
Memoirs of a Master Forger 2008 ISBN 978-0-575-08297-7 as William Heaney;
released in the US as How to Make Friends with Demons (2009) ISBN 978-1-59780-142-3 British Fantasy Award winner
The Devil's Ladder 2009 ISBN 978-0-571-24247-4 young adult
The Silent Land 2010 ISBN 978-0-385-53380-5 World Fantasy Award nominee, 2011;[21]

British Fantasy Award nominee, 2011[22]

Some Kind of Fairy Tale 2012 ISBN 978-0-385-53578-6 British Fantasy Novel award winner, 2013[23]
The Year of the Ladybird 2013 ISBN 978-0-575-11531-6 released in the US in 2014 as The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit
25 Years in the Word Mines: The Best of Graham Joyce 2014 ISBN 978-1-848-63804-4 posthumous collection from PS Publishing

Short stories[edit]

  • "Monastic Lives" (1992)
  • "The Careperson" (1992)
  • "Last Rising Sun" (1992)
  • "The Ventriloquial Art" (1993)
  • "The Apprentice" (1993)
  • "Under the Pylon" (1993)
  • "Gap-Sickness" (1993)
  • "Eat Reecebread" (1994) with Peter F. Hamilton
  • "The Reckoning" (1994)
  • "Black Ball Game" (1995)
  • "A Tip from Bobby Moore" (1996)
  • "The White Stuff" (1997) with Peter F. Hamilton
  • "Pinkland" (1997)
  • "The Mountain Eats People" (1998)
  • "As Seen on Radio" (1998)
  • "Leningrad Nights" (1999)
  • "Candia" (1999)
  • "Incident in Mombasa" (1999)
  • "Horrograph" (1999)
  • "Partial Eclipse" (2000)
  • "Xenos Beach" (2000)
  • "Coventry Boy" (2001)
  • "Leningrad Nights" (2002)
  • "The Coventry Boy" (2002)
  • "First, Catch Your Demon" (2002)
  • "Black Dust" (2002)
  • "Tiger Moth" (2003)
  • "An Ordinary Soldier of the Queen" (2007) – O. Henry Award Juror Favorites, 2009[24]
  • "The Oversoul" (2008) – first published in Who Can Save Us Now? (2008), edited by Owen King and John McNally



  1. ^ Kellogg, Carolyn (9 September 2014). "Award-winning fantasy novelist Graham Joyce has died at 59". Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ Review of The Limits of Enchantment by Victor Gollancz
  3. ^ Graham Joyce (1954–2014), obituary in Locus 9 September 2014
  4. ^ Priest, Christopher (10 September 2014). "Graham Joyce obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  5. ^ Joyce, Graham. Partial Eclipse and Other Stories. Subterranean Press, 2003. p. 9.
  6. ^ VanderMeer, Jeff (4 July 2012). "Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  7. ^ Video of an Interview at Le Festival Du Film Fantastique
  8. ^ Audio Interview by Rick Kleffel
  9. ^ Computer and Video Games article
  10. ^ Crecente, Brian (23 May 2016). "How Doom lived up to nearly a decade's worth of expectations (update)". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  11. ^ Best science fiction books of 2013 The Guardian, 3 December 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  12. ^ Summary bibliography at the Internet Database of Speculative Fiction Archived 22 February 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "1993 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  14. ^ a b "1996 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  15. ^ "1997 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  16. ^ "1999 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  17. ^ "2000 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  18. ^ "2002 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  19. ^ a b "2003 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  20. ^ "2006 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  21. ^ "2011 World Fantasy Award Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
  22. ^ "2011 British Fantasy Award Short list". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
  23. ^ "Announcing the 2013 British Fantasy Awards: Tor Books". 3 November 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  24. ^ "The O. Henry Prize Past Winners". Random House. Archived from the original on 5 September 2017. Retrieved 30 September 2017.

External links[edit]