home   who I am  
play space
site map
  study guides  

Suzy McKee Charnas
The Vampire Tapestry
Vampire Dreams
The Ruby Tear
Stagestruck Vampires
Science Fiction Fantasy Series
  The Holdfast Books  
Sorcery Hall
Young Adult
Kevin Malone
Sorcery Hall
Dorothea Dreams
Music of the Night
My Father's Ghost
Strange Seas
Essays & Reviews
James Triptree
Play Space
free fiction
mystery gallery
Essays & Reviews

Who I Am

I come from a long line of smart, tough, charming Jewish women who married clever but useless husbands, eventually kicked the men out in exasperation, and raised the kids on their own. This record I have managed to break by marrying late and marrying right, and here we are decades later working at this absurd American subset of the American Dream (getting rich) called the Golden Years (getting old, in a country that worships youth and wealth had has a truly atrocious, oppositional, and unnecessarily expensive health system).

But to return to that earlier phase: a born and bred New Yorker, child of two commercial artists, I was trained (by them and by my schooling) to be an artist myself. Nevertheless (or consequently), since 1970 or so I've been living with my lawyer-husband in New Mexico and writing science fiction, fantasy, horror, weird nonfiction, and anything else that takes my fancy, and teaching whenever I can.

How did this happen?

For starters, I wrote and drew my own comic books at age six (westerns), was taken under the wing of the renowned English teacher Regina Barnes at the High School of Music and Art, and took a joint major at Barnard College -- Economic History -- because by then I knew that I needed the tools to build convincing fictional societies so I could set fantastic adventure stories in them.

The brand-new African Studies program at Columbia rejected me, so I went to Africa anyway, by taking the Peace Corps exam, passing, and being sent to West Africa for two years. Teaching in Nigeria taught me much that American Education had falsified, misunderstood, or denied outright about human beings, culture, economics, history, and the world in general, and in the process did what the Peace Corps is, to my mind, supped to do: it made me permanently marginal to my home culture -- ideal positioning for any kind of artist ( luckily I've lots of good company out here) and certainly for any sort of policy-makers, if they are not to be crippled by Jingoistic, parochial assumptions (see: U.S. foreign policy).

Coming home, I took a Master of Arts in Teaching from N.Y.U. and had a wonderful few years teaching in a private High School largely staffed by brilliant wing-nuts and old-style Reds full of fiery, clear-sighted fury and massive real-world experience to a depth unknown in our modern all-ed-all-the-time teachers. I have only recently realized that they were teaching at New Lincoln because they wouldn't have been hired by the hidebound public system, and I'm forever grateful to them all for the warmth and liberal, humane, truly patriotic values that they lived and taught.

Although it was the students, a wild bunch of sharp minds, who taught me what was wrong with the Vietnam War. They were great young people from whom I occasionally hear these days, to my delight.

Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital had a drug treatment program for secondary schools at that time, which I joined as a curriculum writer for a couple of years, after which I married my husband and we took off together for New Mexico, where I've done some teaching as well as, finally, a number of books' worth of full-time, professional writing.

I live, on and off, with cats, dogs, step kids, granddads, siblings, in-laws, a talent for getting outraged letters printed in the papers, and an imagination fired by the strange, the mysterious, and the provocative (my husband says I write "realistic stories about fantastic things").

My life experience so far has led me to liberalism (the search for a humane society), feminism (the search for gender parity), a lighthearted belief in reincarnation (the search for -- !); and, most importantly, the preference for exploring the questions (rather than demonstrating "The Answer") that drives really good stories.


Teaching and other non-writing work:

Instructor, "The Disciplined Imagination: reading and writing Science Fiction & Fantasy",
University of New Mexico, spring 2005.

Instructor, Clarion West Writers Workshop, Seattle 1984, 1986, 1997.

Instructor, Clarion Writers Workshop, Michigan, 1987, 2000, 2004.

Instructor, Southwest Writers Workshop, University of New Mexico, summer 1993, and irregularly in various UNM classes.

Instructor, Taos Writers School, 1993 -'96.

Chair, Archive Project Committee, National Council of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, 1986-88.