Nicola Griffith

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Nicola Griffith
Nicola Griffith (2007)
Nicola Griffith (2007)
Born (1960-09-30) 30 September 1960 (age 62)
Yorkshire, England
Occupation
  • Novelist
  • short story author
  • essayist
NationalityEnglish
Period1987–present
GenreFiction
Website
nicolagriffith.com

Nicola Griffith (/ˈnɪkələ ˈɡrɪfɪθ/; born 30 September 1960) is a British-American[1] novelist, essayist, and teacher. She has won the Washington State Book Award, Nebula Award, James Tiptree, Jr. Award, World Fantasy Award and six Lambda Literary Awards.

Personal life[edit]

Early life[edit]

Griffith was born 30 September 1960 in Leeds, to Margaret Mary and Eric Percival Griffith.[2] Her parents—whom she describes as wanting "to belong to the middle of the middle class … to fit in"[2] : 7 —reared Griffith and her four sisters in the Catholic faith.

Griffith's earliest surviving literary efforts include an illustrated booklet she was encouraged to create to prevent her from making trouble among her fellow nursery school students.[2] : 17  At age eleven she won a BBC student poetry prize and read aloud her winning work for radio broadcast.

As a pre-teen, Griffith felt same-sex attractions, and by sometime in her thirteenth year, she knew she "was a dyke."[3] She also felt cautioned by her parents' punishing response after one of her sisters acted on such desires at age fifteen. Thus her conclusion that "no hint of how I felt must be allowed …. Not until I reached sixteen"[2] : 2  when she would no longer be a minor.

To cope with her sexuality and her family's disapproval, Griffith began to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and immerse herself in reading and music. In addition to the classics of English literature, she read the works of such novelists as Henry Treece[4] and Rosemary Sutcliff;[5][6] fantastic fiction including the works of E.E. Smith, Frank Herbert, and J.R.R. Tolkien; nonfiction about life sciences and history—Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was a particular favorite;[4] and such poetry as Homer's Iliad and John Masefield's Cargoes.[7] Her musical choices included classical canon, traditional church compositions, and folk music offset by David Bowie and other glam rockers.

During this time, a visit to relatives in Glasgow, Scotland—in particular a behind-the-scenes tour of a power station, with its efficient water recycling system—left Griffith feeling "terribly alert." She paid more attention thereafter to the occasional school course that interested her—chemistry, physics, and biology especially—and at age fourteen, broadened her artistic tastes to encompass the works of William S. Burroughs, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd.[2] : 3–5 

At fifteen, Griffith developed an attraction toward one of her friends, Una Fitzgerald, and once they were of age, they began dating; the relationship lasted two years.[2] : 16 [3]

At this point, Griffith began an extended tour of Leeds' after-hours underbelly, even as her sister Helena developed a drug habit.[2] : 37–39  During this phase, Griffith met Carol Taylor,[8] and the two became longtime partners. Griffith moved out of her parents' household in Leeds and relocated to Hull, where she and Taylor initially lived a marginal existence. Recreational drugs became Griffith's default setting. Nonetheless, she states that in Hull, "My real education began."[2] : 41–56 

Griffith got to know "feminists and intellectuals … bikers and drug dealers, and dykes pimping out their girlfriends." She found her first women's community there and read "earnest feminist fiction."

1980s[edit]

In the early 1980s, Griffith founded and left the band Janes Plane and began writing seriously.

In 1984, she began studying the physical art of self-defense the next year and in August, smoked her last cigarette. The following month she gave up hashish and amphetamines.

Griffith suffered some personal setbacks that had roots in 1985. Helena had gone from addiction to dealing heroin and amphetamines. As the year ended, Griffith, already sick with influenza, was hurt and briefly hospitalised after helping another woman in a bar assault. Delayed reaction to the attack contributed to what she later characterised as PTSD in June 1986.[9] Her writing and a women's self-defense course that she was teaching sustained her amid these difficulties, and Helena's counterexample helped persuade Griffith to abandon all recreational drug use, including magic mushrooms, which she had relied on extensively.[2] : 45–50 

By the late 1980s, Griffith had begun experiencing symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), though her illness remained undiagnosed.

1990s[edit]

Griffith was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in March 1993.[6]

While studying at Michigan State University, Griffith met and fell in love with fellow writer Kelley Eskridge.[6] On 4 September 1993, Griffith and Eskridge announced their commitment ceremony in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,[10] perhaps the first same-sex commitment announcement the paper had published.

Griffith wanted citizenship so she could remain in the country with her wife, but because she was a lesbian, she couldn't receive citizenship through marriage, and all other pathways were closed.[11] She began working with an immigration lawyer who believed she may qualify for a National Interest Waiver on the basis of being an "alien of exceptional ability" if she could prove her worth as a writer.[11] Even after winning the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Science Fiction/Fantasy and James Tiptree, Jr. Award, she was not considered exceptional enough.[11] After reaching out to Allen Ginsberg, she received a letter from him stating, "Nicola Griffith is an astonishingly gifted writer. … Her work is of the very best in the lesbian and gay literary field. … In my opinion, it is in the national interest to grant her immigrant status in this country."[11] After much effort, Griffith received permission to live and work in the United States based on her "importance as a writer of lesbian/science fiction," making her the first out lesbian to receive a National Interest Waiver.[6] Her immigration resulted in a new law, and she is now a dual US/UK citizen.[12]

In 1995, Griffith and Eskridge moved to Seattle, where they still live today.

2000s[edit]

Griffith and Eskridge were legally married 4 September 2013.

Education[edit]

As a child, Griffith attended the Notre Dame Grammar School, "a girls-only Catholic convent school."[13] After graduation, she accepted an offer to attend the University of Leeds to study Microbiology, becoming the first person in her family to attend post-secondary education.[12] However, she dropped out of the program shortly after courses began,[12] and though she was accepted into a Bachelor of Science program in Psychology at another university, she did not have funding to attend.[13]

Unsure what she wanted to do with her life, Griffith applied for two international programs in the late 1980s: one at a women's martial arts camp in the Netherlands, one at the Clarion Workshop at Michigan State University.[2] : 9–13 

Clarion accepted Griffith with a scholarship, so she began classes in 1988.[13]

After speaking with Farah Mendlesohn, Griffith learned she could potentially earn a Doctor of Philosophy by Published Work in Creative Writing from Anglia Ruskin University.[12][13] After completing her thesis, entitled "Norming the Queer: Narrative Empathy via Focalized Heterotopia," Griffith received her degree in June 2017.[12][13]

Career[edit]

Along with four other women, Griffith founded the band Janes Plane in 1981, after which she became the band's lead singer and lyricist. The group played its first gig at an International Women's Day celebration in 1982.[2] : 46–58  Janes Plane achieved some local notoriety and performed in several North England cities and on national TV.[14]

Griffith attempted her first fiction after the group disbanded. In 1983, she wrote a diary entry detailing her dreams of becoming a "best-seller" as she wrote her first (unpublished) novel, Greenstorm. The following year, she received rejections of her manuscript from two publishers. Elements later to appear in Ammonite arose in a second unpublished novel, We Are Paradise (c. 1985).[2] : 8–22, 74 

Throughout the 80s and early 90s, Griffith worked as "an alcohol and drugs counsellor and case worker...; a hotline counsellor; a bouncer at a club; a tree technician and fence builder; a waitress; [and] labourer at an archaeological dig."[6]

By late 1987 Griffith, made her first professional fiction sale: "Mirrors and Burnstone" to Interzone. Her debut novel, Ammonite, received several offers from publishers, including St. Martin's Press, Avon Press, and Del Rey Books.[6] Griffith has since published eight full-length novels, a memoir, and numerous short stories and novellas.

In 2015, Griffith "founded the Literary Prize Data working group whose purpose initially was to assemble data on literary prizes in order to get a picture of how gender bias operates within the trade publishing ecosystem."[15]

The following year, "she began #CripLit, an online community for disabled writers."[15]

Awards and honors[edit]

Year Title Award/Honor Result Ref.
1993 Ammonite BSFA Award Shortlist [16]
James Tiptree, Jr. Award Winner [17][18]
Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Science Fiction/Fantasy Winner [19]
Touching Fire James Tiptree, Jr. Award Longlist [20]
1994 Ammonite Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist [21]
Locus Award for First Novel Shortlist [22]
1995 "Yaguara" Nebula Award for Best Novella Nominee [23]
1996 Slow River Nebula Award for Best Novel Winner [24]
Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction/Fantasy Finalist [25]
1998 Bending the Landscape Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction/Fantasy Winner [26]
1999 The Blue Place Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Novel Nominee [27]
Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Mystery Winner [28]
Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Other Work Winner [27]
Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction/Fantasy Winner [28]
2000 Slow River Gaylactic Spectrum Hall of Fame Winner [29]
2002 Bending the Landscape: Horror Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Other Work Winner [30]
Lambda Literary Award for Anthology Finalist [31]
Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction/Fantasy Finalist [31]
2003 Stay Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction Finalist [32]
2005 With Her Body Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Other Work Finalist [33]
Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction/Fantasy Finalist [34]
2008 And Now We Are Going to Have a Party Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Memoir or Biography Winner [35][36]
2010 "It Takes Two" Hugo Award for Best Novelette Finalist [37]
2013 Hild Bisexual Book Award for Bisexual Fiction Shortlist [38]
James Tiptree, Jr. Award Honor [39][40]
Nebula Award for Best Novel Finalist [41]
2014 John W. Campbell Memorial Award Shortlist [42]
Washington State Book Award Winner [43]
2018 So Lucky Over the Rainbow Booklist Top 10 [44]
2019 So Lucky Tournament of Books Shortlist [45]
2019 So Lucky Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award Shortlist [46]

Publications[edit]

Fiction[edit]

  • Ammonite, Del Rey, ISBN 0345452380 (1992)
  • Slow River, Ballantine Books, ISBN 0345395379 (1995)
  • Hild, Picador, ISBN 9781250056092 (2013)
  • So Lucky, MCD x FSG Originals, ISBN 9780374265922 (2018)
  • Spear, Tordotcom, ISBN 9781250819321 (2022)

Aud Torvingen series[edit]

Nonfiction[edit]

  • And Now We Are Going to Have a Party: Liner Notes to a Writer's Early Life, Payseur & Schmidt ISBN 9780978911416 (2007)

Anthologies[edit]

Short fiction[edit]

  • An Other Winter's Tale (1987)
  • Mirrors and Burnstone (1988)
  • The Other (1989)
  • We Have Met the Alien (1990)
  • The Voyage South (1990)
  • Down the Path of the Sun (1990)
  • Song of Bullfrogs, Cry of Geese (1991)
  • Wearing My Skin (1991)
  • Touching Fire (1993)
  • Yaguara (1994)
  • A Troll Story (2000)
  • With Her Body, Aqueduct Press (2004, a collection containing Touching Fire, Songs of Bullfrogs, Cry of Geese, and Yaguara)
  • It Takes Two (2009)
  • Cold Wind, Tor Books, ISBN 9781466871342 (2014)[47]

Critical studies and reviews of Griffith's work[edit]

  • Holland, Cecelia (December 2013). "Locus Looks at Books : Divers Hands". Locus (635): 22. Review of Hild.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Griffith, Nicola (27 February 2013). "I am now an American citizen". Nicola Griffith. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Griffith, Nicola (2007). And Now We Are Going to Have a Party, Volume 1: Limb of Satan. Seattle: Payseur & Schmidt. ISBN 0-9789114-1-5
  3. ^ a b Griffith, Nicola (7 August 2012). "Nicola Griffith at Hugo House Part 2". YouTube. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  4. ^ a b "If you like the Aud books you might like …,", "Ask Nicola". Retrieved 10 March 2014
  5. ^ "The Makers of Britain" by Nicola Griffith. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e f van de Kruisweg, Ruud (1994). "Interview from HOLLAND SF". Nicola Griffith. Archived from the original on 15 May 2008. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  7. ^ Nan A. Talese interview Archived 13 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine, 2002. Copy archived at nicolagriffith.com. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  8. ^ Reply to Holly Archived 18 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine , "Ask Nicola". "Carol Taylor on percussion"
  9. ^ "Tetris + Ecstasy = no PTSD", "Ask Nicola"
  10. ^ "Commitment - Griffith-Eskridge". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 19 September 1993. p. L3.
  11. ^ a b c d Griffith, Nicola (13 October 2008). "Virgin birth (yes, really)". Nicola Griffith. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  12. ^ a b c d e "Nicola Griffith". Angela Ruskin University. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  13. ^ a b c d e Griffith, Nicola (4 July 2017). "The story of my PhD, Part 1: Opportunity". Nicola Griffith. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  14. ^ "Ammonite and Janes Plane". Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  15. ^ a b "About". Nicola Griffith. 24 February 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  16. ^ "1993 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  17. ^ Lothian, Alexis (1 January 2020). "Jeanne Gomoll Retires from Motherboard « Otherwise Award". Otherwise Award. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  18. ^ Notkin, Debbie. "1993 Otherwise Award « Otherwise Award". Otherwise Award. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  19. ^ "5th Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Lambda Literary. 14 July 1993. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  20. ^ Notkin, Debbie. "1993 Long List « Otherwise Award". Otherwise Award. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  21. ^ "Arthur C. Clarke Award 1994". science fiction awards database. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  22. ^ "Locus Awards 1994". science fiction awards database. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  23. ^ "1995 Nebula Awards®". Nebula Awards. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  24. ^ "1996 Nebula Awards®". Nebula Awards. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  25. ^ Gonzalez Cerna, Antonio (15 July 1996). "8th Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Lambda Literary. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  26. ^ Gonzalez Cerna, Antonio (15 July 1998). "10th Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Lambda Literary. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  27. ^ a b "1999 Awards". Gaylactic Spectrum Awards. Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  28. ^ a b Gonzalez Cerna, Antonio (15 July 1999). "11th Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Lambda Literary. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  29. ^ "2000 Awards". Gaylactic Spectrum Awards. Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  30. ^ "2002 Awards". Gaylactic Spectrum Awards. Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  31. ^ a b Gonzalez Cerna, Antonio (10 July 2002). "14th Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Lambda Literary. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  32. ^ Gonzalez Cerna, Antonio (10 July 2003). "15th Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Lambda Literary. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  33. ^ "2005 Awards". Gaylactic Spectrum Awards. Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  34. ^ Gonzalez Cerna, Antonio (9 July 2005). "17th Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Lambda Literary. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  35. ^ Gonzalez Cerna, Antonio (30 April 2007). "20th Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Lambda Literary. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  36. ^ "2008 Lambda Award Winners Announced". McNally Robinson Booksellers. 5 June 2008. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  37. ^ "2010 Hugo Awards Winners". Locus Online. 5 September 2010. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  38. ^ "2013 Bisexual Book Awards Winners". Locus Online. 4 June 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  39. ^ Notkin, Debbie (31 October 2014). "The 2013 Tiptree Award winner has been selected! « Otherwise Award". Otherwise Award. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  40. ^ Notkin, Debbie. "2013 Honor List « Otherwise Award". Otherwise Award. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  41. ^ "2013 Nebula Awards®". Nebula Awards. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  42. ^ "2013 John W. Campbell Memorial Award Finalists". Locus Online. 19 May 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  43. ^ "Griffith Wins Washington State Book Award". Locus Online. 13 October 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  44. ^ Jarnagin, Briana (30 January 2019). "2019 Over the Rainbow List released, over 100 fiction and non-fiction titles". News and Press Center. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  45. ^ "2019 Tournament of Books Shortlist". Locus Online. 14 December 2018. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  46. ^ "2019 Shortlist". Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  47. ^ "Cold Wind". 16 April 2014.

External links[edit]