Children: two daughters. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, water sports.
Home—Amherst, MA. Office—Beads East, 1145 Tolland Turnpike, Burr Corners Plaza, Manchester, CT 06040.
Writer. Beads East (craft store), Manchester, CT, owner.
Beadweaving: New Needle Techniques and Original Designs, Sterling (New York, NY), 1993.
Ann Benson's Beadwear: Making Beaded Accessories and Adornments, Sterling (New York, NY), 1994.
Beadwork Basics, Sterling (New York, NY), 1994.
Two-Hour Beaded Projects: More than Two Hundred Designs, Sterling (New York, NY), 1996.
Beading for the First Time, Sterling (New York, NY), 2001.
Beadpoint: Beautiful Bead Stitching on Canvas, Sterling (New York, NY), 2003.
The New Beadweaving: Great Projects with Innovative Materials, Sterling (New York, NY), 2004.
Designer Beadwork: Beaded Crochet Designs, Sterling (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to The Pattern Companion: Beading, edited by Cassia B. Farkas, Sterling (New York, NY), 2004.
The Plague Tales (thriller), Delacorte (New York, NY), 1997.
The Burning Road (sequel to The Plague Tales), Delacorte (New York, NY), 1999.
Thief of Souls, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2002.
The Physician's Tale, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2006.
Ann Benson is the author of various works on beading crafts, but she has also branched out into writing novels. Among her beadwork volumes is Beadweaving: New Needle Techniques and Original Designs, which Sharon Bateman, writing in Lapidary Journal, deemed "wonderfully entertaining" and "a book well worth having." Many of Benson's beading books are for more advanced crafters. For example, Connie Ashmore Fairchild noted in a Library Journal review that The New Beadweaving: Great Projects with Innovative Materials is for "experienced beaders," but for those with the skills it is a "welcome" book. Benson, however, has also written such titles as Beading for the First Time for beginners to the craft.
In 1997 Benson made a departure from her previous publications with The Plague Tales, a medical thriller set in both the fourteenth and twenty-first centuries. The hero of the historical portion is Alejandro Canches, a fourteenth-century Spanish physician who has been dispatched to England to protect King Edward's court from the plague epidemic that is ravaging Europe. Canches's arrival will bear tragic consequences. The central figure of the futuristic story line is Janie Crowe, a former surgeon now working as a federal archaeologist in London. Crowe is still mourning the loss of her family during one of the gruesome epidemics plaguing the region. Indeed, the illnesses are so lethal that armed units roam the streets killing anyone who appears to be suffering from a contagious disease.
Several critics were impressed by Benson's debut novel. For instance, Gene Lyons wrote in Entertainment Weekly that it is "surprisingly literate, chockful of curious lore and considerable suspense." Library Journal contributor Lesley C. Keogh called the book "a harrowing medical novel that will give readers both nightmares and thrills," while a Publishers Weekly reviewer said that "Benson's debut is assured and accomplished in both the past and the present."
Benson followed up her first novel with its sequel, The Burning Road, which again features Crowe and Canches as they work to battle lethal diseases in their time. The author, in this novel, adds dimension to her characters by addressing their personal lives in greater detail. "Benson has improved her characterization skills," reported Leslie C. Keogh in Library Journal, also complimenting the "effective sense of creeping unease" that pervades the novel. Catherine Sias, writing in Booklist, concluded that The Burning Road is an "exciting and complex tale [that] will please sci-fi and historical fiction fans."
With Thief of Souls, Benson moved on to other subjects while returning to her plot device of paralleling two different time periods. The novel is set in both twenty-first century Los Angeles and fifteenth-century France, with child abuse and murder being the disturbing topics at hand. The main characters are Guillemette le Drappiere in France and Lany Dunbar in Los Angeles. In the storyline involving the past, Guillemette realizes that the infamous Bluebeard is behind the disappearance of numerous young boys, while in Los Angeles, Dunbar is a police detective trying to stop a serial killer from continuing his attacks on boys.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 1999, Catherine Sias, review of The Burning Road, p. 1102; December 15, 2004, Barbara Jacobs, review of The Pattern Companion: Beading, p. 704.
Entertainment Weekly, July 25, 1997, Gene Lyons, review of The Plague Tales, p. 66.
Lapidary Journal, September, 1996, Sharon Bateman, review of Beadweaving: New Needle Techniques and Original Designs, p. 79.
Library Journal, June 1, 1997, Lesley C. Keogh, review of The Plague Tales, p. 144; April 1, 1999, Lesley C. Keogh, review of The Burning Road, p. 128; June 15, 2001, Constance Ashmore Fairchild, review of Beading for the First Time, p. 70; June 15, 2003, Constance Ashmore Fairchild, review of Beadpoint: Beautiful Bead Stitching on Canvas, p. 70; June 15, 2004, Connie Ashmore Fairchild, review of The New Beadweaving: Great Projects with Innovative Materials, p. 68.
Publishers Weekly, May 19, 1997, review of The Plague Tales, p. 63.
Beads East,http://www.beadseast.com (May 26, 2006), author's business site.*