Lindskold, Jane

views updated

Jane Lindskold


Born September 15, 1962, in Washington, DC; daughter of John E. (an attorney) and Barbara (an attorney; maiden name, DiSalle) Lindskold; married Jim Moore (an archaeologist). Education: Fordham University, B.A., 1984, M.A., 1986, Ph.D., 1989. Hobbies and other interests: Bead work, modeling in polymer clay, gardening.


Home and office—Albuquerque, NM. Agent—Kay McCauley, Pimlico Agency, Inc., P.O. Box 20447, Cherokee Station, New York, NY 10021. E-mail[email protected].


Lynchburg College, Lynchburg, VA, assistant professor, 1989-94; writer, 1994—.


Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Awards, Honors

Zia Award, New Mexico Press Women, 2000, for Changer.



Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls, AvoNova (New York, NY), 1994.

Marks of Our Brothers, AvoNova (New York, NY), 1995.

Pipes of Orpheus, AvoNova (New York, NY), 1995.

Chronomaster: A Novel (based on the CD-ROM game of the same name), Prima (New York, NY), 1996.

Smoke and Mirrors, AvoNova (New York, NY), 1996.

When the Gods Are Silent, AvoNova (New York, NY), 1997.

(With Roger Zelazny) Donnerjack, AvoNova (New York, NY), 1997.

Changer, Avon Eos (New York, NY), 1998.

(With Roger Zelazny) Lord Demon, Avon Eos (New York, NY), 1999.

Legends Walking (sequel to Changer), Avon Eos (New York, NY), 1999.

The Buried Pyramid, Tor (New York, NY), 2004.


Through Wolf's Eyes, Tor (New York, NY), 2001.

Wolf's Head, Wolf's Heart, Tor (New York, NY), 2002.

The Dragon of Despair, Tor (New York, NY), 2003.

Wolf Captured, Tor (New York, NY), in press.


Roger Zelazny, Twayne (New York, NY), 1993.

Chronomaster: The Official Strategy Guide, Prima (New York, NY), 1996.


Contributor of short stories to dozens of collections, published by AvoNova, DAW, Avon, and Tor publishers. Contributor to academic publications and to magazines such as Writer, Extrapolation, and Amberzine. Lindskold's doctoral dissertation was titled "The Persephone Myth in D. H. Lawrence."


Author Jane Lindskold is known for her literate science fiction and fantasy novels that blend meticulous research, compelling plots, and convincing characterization to create works that live in the imagination long after the final page has been turned. To create such works, Lindskold follows her own rules of writing fantastic fiction, as laid out in an article for Writer. "Fantastic fiction [science fiction, fantasy, and alternate history] exists by virtue of an attractive paradox," Lindskold noted in her article. "Readers seek these stories for the elements of speculation and fantasy within, yet, simultaneously, the stories must be so believable as to present a viable alternative to the reality that we all know." For Lindskold, "succeeding at the challenge of making the unreal real is one of the most enjoyable things about writing in this genre." Whether writing in collaboration, as she did with Roger Zelazny in Donnerjack and Lord Demon, in stand-alone sci-fi and fantasy tales such as her early Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls, Marks of Our Brothers, Smoke and Mirrors, and Pipes of Orpheus, in companion volumes such as Changer and Legends Walking, or in a multi-volume saga like "Firekeeper," Lindskold treats her readers to that self-imposed precept of making the "unreal real." As the author noted on her Web site, "I like the freedom of building believable societies and characters. It's the closest to creating myths and legends—the road that led me to SF and fantasy a long time ago—that I'll ever have."

Going against the Grain

Lindskold commented on her author's Web site that in ways her life goes against the usual precept of the solitary artist. The oldest of four siblings, she was anything but a loner. "I don't consciously remember a time when there weren't others around," she commented, noting that two of her siblings were born within three years of her own birth in 1962. "The awareness of being part of a larger entity has had a very real part in shaping what I write about." In particular, Lindskold's interest in the "pack" behavior of wild canines such as wolves and coyotes—a concern that informs much of her fiction—was inspired by her very own pack of siblings. "The four of us played together, fought with each other, and, I think, would have defended each other from anyone else in the universe," the author noted on her Web site.

Born and raised in the Washington, DC, area, with both parents practicing lawyers, as well as a grandfather who was a one-time governor of Ohio, Lind-skold grew up in an educated and informed household and in a world of books, museums and galleries, and politics. "The Smithsonian museums were free, as was the National Zoo," Lindskold wrote on her Web site. "Our parents made us comfortable with both. When we grew older they didn't hesitate to let us adventure into either on our own."

Lindskold attended Catholic grammar schools and high schools; summers were spent at a cottage on Chesapeake Bay. "The Bay was heaven for me," Lindskold recalled on her Web site. "A neighbor let us play in his wooded acreage where we built lean-tos, foraged for berries, and generally ran wild." Graduating from high school, Lindskold attended the Jesuit-affiliated Fordham University in the New York borough of the Bronx. Here she began to discover, as she noted on her Web site, "the love of learning for its own sake." During her undergraduate years she took one writing class, but still she had no real intention of becoming a professional author. Earning her bachelor's degree in 1984, she married her college sweetheart and stayed on at Fordham on the strength of a Henry Luce Fellowship to get her master's degree, and then followed that up with doctoral studies in English, with concentrations also in Medieval, Renaissance, and Modern British literature.

From Academia to the World of Publishing

After successfully defending her dissertation—"The Persephone Myth in D. H. Lawrence"—Lindskold taught for a year at Fordham as an adjunct professor and also taught a GRE preparation course. Her first full-time position came in 1989, when she was hired as an assistant professor of English at Lynchburg College in Virginia. This small liberal arts college provided a good home for Lindskold. "The faculty was friendly, devoted to teaching, and didn't care if what I wanted to write and publish on the side was Science Fiction and Fantasy rather than academic papers," the author commented on her Web site. While teaching at Lynchburg, Lindskold sold her first short story, "Cheesecake," in 1990, to the publication Starshore. Two years later, her story "Between Tomatoes and Snapdragons" was anthologized in Dragon Fantastic, published by DAW Books and edited by Martin Greenberg. This was the beginning of what became a long-lasting connection for Lindskold, with dozens of her stories published in anthologies edited by Greenberg. Lindskold also began writing novels while at Lynchburg; however, none of these were published until after she left that college and teaching.

Lindskold's first book publication was a critical analysis of the work of the well-known science fiction writer Roger Zelazny, written for Twayne's "American Authors" series. Since meeting Zelazny at a convention, Lindskold and the older writer had maintained a "pen-pal" relationship, a friendship that was strengthened over the years and grew as she worked on the biography and critical analysis of the man. Meanwhile, Lindskold's marriage had begun to unravel, both of the partners growing farther and farther apart from one another. "I left both the marriage and Virginia in 1994," Lindskold wrote on her Web site. "I moved to New Mexico and took up residence with a man who had become my closest friend [Zelazny]. I knew when I went that he had cancer, but with him was where I wanted to be."

Lindskold's move was thus a decisive one not only in terms of her emotional life, but also in terms of her writing. Zelazny died in 1995, with Lindskold at his bedside. Before his death the two discussed all aspects of the writing life, from technical how to's to publishing advice. "He was impassioned about both the art and craft," Lindskold noted. But Zelazny did not attempt to create a "clone" in Lindskold. In fact, before she moved to New Mexico, Lindskold already had several novels in the pipeline. Her book Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls appeared in 1994. "This was my first novel," Lindskold commented on her Web site, "and I am irrationally fond of it." Though blurbed as a fantasy work, Lindskold still sees it as a science fiction novel "set in a future not too distant down the road." The novel deals with Sarah, who is considered insane because she talks to inanimate objects such as a rubber dragon. However, those who call her crazy do not realize that she is actually communicating with these objects. Budget cuts send Sarah out of the mental hospital and onto the mean streets, there to be taken in by a gang called the Pack and its leader, Head Wolf, a character perhaps as insane as Sarah. When she suddenly becomes the object of a hunt, the Pack help to protect her.

Lindskold's second novel, Marks of Our Brothers, is a "futuristic spy thriller," according to Lindskold, featuring another strong female protagonist, Karen Saber, who must put her own desire for revenge on hold while she tries to save an alien race from extinction. Also published in 1995, The Pipes of Orpheus is an inspired retelling of the Pied Piper legend. In Lindskold's rendition, the Orpheus of myth was actually not torn to bits by the maenads; rather, he lived on as an immortal to become the Piper who enslaves the children of Hamelin, who seek their freedom in any way possible from the Piper's cruelty.

With Zelazny's death in 1995, Lindskold stayed on in New Mexico, moving from Santa Fe to Albuquerque. At his death, Zelazny left several projects unfinished, and he requested that Lind-skold complete two of these, Donnerjack and Lord Demon. While she set about finding a way in which to combine her style with Zelazny's, Lindskold also continued work on her own novels. Smoke and Mirrors appeared in 1996. This "fast-paced read," as Charles de Lint described it in the Magazine of Science Fiction & Fantasy, deals with Smokey, who is a telepath, a highly skilled prostitute, and an industrial spy living on the planet Arizona. Investigating a wrecked spacecraft and a murder, she gets in over her head and soon her own life, and that of her young daughter, are in danger. Fleeing on a space-liner, she embarks on a journey of self-discovery. De Lint further called this novel "interesting and slightly disquieting." The following year, Lindskold published her sixth novel, When the Gods Are Silent, one of her first attempts at straight fantasy and written at a time, as Lindskold observed on her Web site, "when I desperately needed heroes." Hulhc, a wizard's son, tries to discover where the magic went in his world. Coming to his aid in this quest are the swordswoman Rabble and her friends in the Traveling Spectacular.

Collaborations and Solo Flights

Lindskold published the first of Zelazny's unfinished novels in 1997. Donnerjack tellsatale of alternate universes: the World Net crashes in the future, creating an alternate world that is actually a virtual reality with its own culture, gods, myths, and magic. This world, Virtu, can be used by the real one, Verite, for either business or pleasure. However, the opposite is not the case, not, that is, until one of the creators of Virtu, John D'Arcy Donnerjack, falls in love with one of the AI forms there, Ayradyss. At her death, Donnerjack makes a deal with Death to bring Ayradyss back to Verite; in exchange he will give Death their first-born child. No problem, Donnerjack thinks, for there is no way he can have a child with an artificial intelligence. Magically, such a birth does takes place, and the son, Jay, must then become the champion in a war brewing between the two universes.

Critics largely praised this posthumous collaborative effort. A contributor for Publishers Weekly commended the "complex and ambitious plot" as well as the "beautiful language." For Booklist's Roland Green, the writing displayed "an impressive folkloric scholarship and prose styles that mesh almost seamlessly." Similarly, Susan Hamburger, writing in Library Journal, found that the "authors create believable, densely populated worlds with a richness of characterization and subplots that will leave readers believing in Virtu." And Charles de Lint, writinginthe Magazine of Science Fiction & Fantasy, concluded that this "posthumous collaboration is a fitting farewell gift to us from one of the field's most remarkable writers."

Lindskold completed the second unfinished Zelazny novel, Lord Demon, in 1999. In this tale, the demons long ago lost a war with the gods and found safety on Earth, where they settled in China and maintain a tenuous connection with the human race. The Lord Demon of the title, Kai Wren, also known as Godslayer, has withdrawn from demon society, cultivating his love for building magical bottles. However, the murder of his servant and the stripping of his power thrust Kai into the midst of a new war among the demons. Writing in Booklist, Roland Green praised the fact that, as with Donnerjack, there were "no visible seams" between the writing of Lindskold and Zelazny. Green went on to call Lord Demon a "thoroughly absorbing tale, full of delicately nuanced language and a credit to both authors." Likewise, a contributor for Publishers Weekly felt that "Lindskold effectively captures the voices of Zelazny's wise-cracking characters and continues the expert blending of magical and mundane that makes his work so enjoyable."

In between these two works, Lindskold also managed to produce one of her most popular and complex titles, Changer, a book that, as Charles de Lint noted in the Magazine of Science Fiction & Fantasy, "purports to explain all of the mythologies and mysteries of the world … threading them together like so many disparate beads." Lindskold posits a world in Changer that is shared by all manner of immortals, breathed into being through our mythologies. These include characters from such stories as the King Arthur legends, the Spider of Anansi tradition, the North American tales of Coyote and Raven, and even Norse sagas. When the Changer, living in coyote form, finds his family slain, he engages the help of one of the immortals, Arthur, to find the killers. But there is more at work than simple murder; it slowly becomes evident that someone is attempting to bring these immortals into the human realm to walk among men and women. For de Lint, the book was a "smart, funny, well-detailed romp of an adventure story.… a fabulous Romance in the best, and old, sense of the word."

Legends Walking, published in 1999, is a sequel to Changer, and Lindskold continues the story of these "athanor," or immortals from myth and legend, who one day hope to live openly among humans. Changer and Arthur are back in this installment, battling the God of Smallpox, who has made a reappearance in Nigeria. Meanwhile, subplots keep both Changer and Arthur from focusing fully on the problem in Nigeria. Changer's daughter, Shahrazad, is testing her powers, and Arthur must continue to deal with a revolt of the immortals. Charles de Lint, reviewing the novel in the Magazine of Science Fiction & Fantasy, felt that Lindskold "manages to give us all the delightful elements that made Changer the treat it was, while covering new ground. And in the world of series books, that's having the best of both worlds."

The "Firekeeper" Saga

Lindskold, living in Albuquerque, married again, and began an even more ambitious writing project than she had yet attempted. Turning her hand to series writing, she began the "Firekeeper" books, the first title of which, Through Wolf's Eyes, appeared in 2001. Here Lindskold lets her interest in group dynamics and wild canines take full sway, in a feral tale of a girl raised by wolves who, at age fifteen, returns to the world of humans. Firekeeper was brought up by wolves with magical powers at the behest of her mother. As a teenager, she is brought back to Hawk Haven, the only surviving member of the royal family of King Tedric. Thus, she is in position to inherit the throne. Her land, however, is deeply divided with much wrangling between opposing parties. Firekeeper, also known as Lady Blysse, is all too familiar with such behavior, extrapolating wolf behavior into that of a human "pack." Thus she is able to navigate these treacherous waters, slowly learning the language and mores and aided by her tutor, Derian Carter, her wolf brother, Blind Seer, and also the falcon, Elation.

Critical response was very positive for this first installment in the series. Booklist's Paula Luedtke found Through Wolf's Eyes to be an "engrossing, fast-paced yarn about a strong heroine," and a book that "will delight anyone who appreciates the wild side of the feminine psyche." A contributor for Publishers Weekly noted that Lindskold "offers plenty of action as well as fascinating anthropological detail on the social behavior of wolves" in this "beautiful and complex book." Similarly, Library Journal's Jackie Cassada called the novel "innovative and imaginative."

Lindskold continues her saga with Wolf's Head, Wolf's Heart and The Dragon of Despair. In the series' second installment, an uneasy truce is called between warring factions; King Tedric wants to consolidate such a peace with the marriage of Princess Sapphire Shield and Prince Shad Oyster. Firekeeper helps to foil an assassination attempt on the two, and is thereafter sent by a conclave of animals to the exiled and scheming Queen Valora to recover three magical charms, artifacts that empower those who have them. Again, critics were disarmed by Lindskold's work. Booklist's Luedtke noted that Lindskold provides readers with a "second marvelous opportunity to see the peculiarities of human society through the eyes of the intelligent beast." For Luedtke, the author's "wild and wonderful magic thrives in this volume." Jackie Cassada, reviewing the work in Library Journal, commended the "rich details and intriguing characters," and a reviewer for Publishers Weekly called Wolf's Head, Wolf's Heart, a "stirring sequel."

In The Dragon of Despair, Firekeeper must stop the troubling sorceress Melina Shield from employing her evil powers. Already she has managed to entrance the king of New Kelvin; King Tedric is made nervous by this maneuvering and sends Firekeeper as part of a trade mission to discover what the sorceress is really up to. However, Firekeeper discovers that Melina plans to rebuild forbidden magic to build her own power, and must be stopped. Luedtke, writing in Booklist, again praised Lind-skold for her "seamless continuation of the saga," while a contributor for Publishers Weekly called this third installment "exciting" as well as "engrossing." For Cassada in Library Journal, Lindskold created a "standout fantasy saga."

Often lauded for her believable characters and well researched details, Lindskold concluded her article in the Writer, noting that "fantastic fiction in whatever form a writer chooses frees the imagination in a way that realistic fiction often cannot, inviting unique visions not only of what is, but of what can be. The key to making the unreal real remains the same… : attention to detail and delight in reaching out for possibility."

If you enjoy the works of Jane Lindskold, you might want to check out the following books:

Elizabeth Haydon, Rhapsody: Child of Blood, 1999.

Roger Zelazny, This Immortal, 1966.

Juliet Marillier, Daughter of the Forest, 2000.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM), January 10, 1999, David Steinberg, "Sci-Fi Author Adapts to N.M. Living," p. F5.

Booklist, August, 1997, Roland Green, review of Donnerjack, p. 1887; August, 1999, Roland Green, review of Lord Demon, p. 2038; June 1, 2001, Paula Luedtke, review of Through Wolf's Eyes, p. 1856; October 15, 2002, Paula Luedtke, review of Wolf's Head, Wolf's Heart, p. 395; August, 2003, Paula Luedtke, review of The Dragon of Despair, p. 1968.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2002, review of Wolf's Head, Wolf's Heart, p. 1183; June 1, 2003, review of The Dragon of Despair, p. 784.

Library Journal, October 15, 1997, Susan Hamburger, review of Donnerjack, p. 97; July, 1999, Jackie Cassada, review of Lord Demon, p. 142; August, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of Through Wolf's Eyes, p. 171; October 15, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of Wolf's Head, Wolf's Heart, pp. 97-98; July, 2003, Jackie Cassada, review of The Dragon of Despair, p. 132.

Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, October-November, 1996, Charles de Lint, review of Smoke and Mirrors, pp. 65-66; December, 1997, Charles de Lint, review of Donnerjack, pp. 26-28; February, 1999, Charles de Lint, review of Changer, pp. 30-34; July, 2000, Charles de Lint, review of Legends Walking, pp. 27-31; September, 2002, Charles de Lint, review of Wolf's Head, Wolf's Heart, pp. 28-29.

Publishers Weekly, June 30, 1997, review of Donner-jack, pp. 70-71; July 5, 1999, review of Lord Demon, p. 63; July 23, 2001, review of Through Wolf's Eyes, p. 54; September 30. 2002, review of Wolf's Head, Wolf's Heart, pp. 54-55; July 14, 2003, review of The Dragon of Despair, pp. 61-62.

Writer, November, 1993, Jane Lindskold, "The Elements of Fantastic Fiction," pp. 18-21.


Jane Lindskold Home Page, (September 12, 2003).*