Patricia A. McKillip was born many years ago in Salem, Oregon on February 29, which probably has very little to do with anything, but you never know. An Air Force Brat, she left her birthplace at an early age and lived in Mississippi, California, Arizona, Germany and England, where, at age 14, she put pen to paper one day and turned out a thirty-page fairytale. She has been writing ever since. Moving back to California the same year, she attended high school and college in San Jose. She entered San Jose State College in the memorable year of 1968 (when, during her first semester, the students, the teachers and the cafeteria workers all went on strike at once) and graduated from the upgraded San Jose State University with a Masters Degree in English Literature and three published novels.
One of those novels was The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, which won the first World Fantasy Award in 1975, given by the budding organization that, in 2008, gave her its Life Achievement Award. In between those awards, she supported herself with her writing. Among books published as YA novels by Atheneum, she wrote the Riddle-Master Trilogy, and The Changeling Sea. With some trepidation, knowing how exacting the readers of it can be, she experimented with science fiction in the adult novel Fool’s Run, and the YA novels Moon-Flash, and The Moon and the Face. After living in the San Francisco Bay Area for a quarter of a century, she decided it was time for a change, and made a leap across country from San Francisco to a tiny village in the Catskills of New York. There she turned out a number of fantasy novels, both to keep her roof over her head and to satisfy a vision of a series of novels which, like a series of paintings, would have little in common with one another except that they were done by the same person and they were all fantasy. Such novels include The Book of Atrix Wolfe, Song for the Basilisk, Winter Rose, Ombria in Shadow, which won both the World Fantasy and the Mythopoeic Awards for Best Novel 2003, Od Magic and the contemporary fantasy, Solstice Wood, which also picked up a Mythopoeic Award in 2007. Interspersed with the novels, she wrote a number of fantasy short stories, most of which she collected in the 2005 anthology Harrowing the Dragon.
After fourteen years of shoveling snow in the Catskills, she married the poet David Lunde, then shoveling snow near Lake Erie, and moved with him back to Oregon. They live and work in the Coos Bay Area, on the south coast. Her latest published novel is The Bell at Sealey Head, in which she made use of the various wonderful landscapes along the coast. She is, as always, in the midst of yet another novel.
Photo credit: David Lunde