Eskridge, Kelley 1960-

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ESKRIDGE, Kelley 1960-

PERSONAL: Born 1960; partner of Nicola Griffith (a novelist). Education: Earned B.A. (theatre performance).

ADDRESSES: Office—c/o Author Mail, 7th Floor, HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd St., New York, NY 10022. Agent—Shawna McCarthy, McCarthy Literary Agency, 7 Allen St., Rumson, NJ 07760. E-mail—i[email protected]

CAREER: Former business executive; novelist and short fiction writer. Wizards of the Coast, vice president of project management.

AWARDS, HONORS: James Tiptree, Jr., Award finalist, 1995, for "And Salomé Danced"; Astraea Writer's Award, 1993, and Nebula Award finalist, 1996, both for "Alien Jane"; New York Times Notable Book designation, 2002, for Solitaire.

WRITINGS:

Solitaire, HarperCollins Eos (New York, NY), 2002.

Also contributor of short fiction to periodicals, including Pulphouse, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Century. Work has appeared in collections, including The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, 1995, and Women of Other Worlds, 1999.

ADAPTATIONS: "Alien Jane," a short story, was adapted for the television show "Welcome to Paradox," 1998.

SIDELIGHTS: Kelley Eskridge drew on her independent personality and her experience in the corporate world to create her 2002 novel debut, Solitaire. The book tells the story of Jackal Segura, a young woman who has been raised to believe she is destined by birth to be a leader of Ko Island, the world's first corporate country. Instead, she is framed as a terrorist and accepts a sentence of eight years of virtual reality confinement: she lives entirely inside her own mind, with no other human contact. She is released into exile, where she discovers a bar called Solitaire and its community of others punished by virtual reality confinement, and begins her life again.

In an interview on her Web site, Eskridge said, "All of Jackal's training is based on my experience as a facilitator and process manager in various corporate incarnations." At the same time, the author's solitary tendencies also shaped the story. Speaking to Melanie H. Alston-Akers for Woman's Monthly online, Eskridge discussed the importance of traversing the internal landscape. "'I wanted to show how someone could make the journey' of being alone, Eskridge says. … 'One of my friends once called me "ruthlessly autonomous," but I found a lot of benefit in that time, a lot of power in being by myself.'" As a result, Eskridge's writing is largely character-driven.

Reviewers of Solitaire also focused on character as the crucial element of the novel. Gerald Jonas, reviewing the book for the New York Times, wrote that although the plot of the novel is "unpersuasive," the evolution of Jackal's character is "a stylistic and psychological tour de force." Regina Schroeder, in Booklist, said "Jackal's story resounds with more faith in character than is usual in future-noir." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly and Judith M. Redding in the Lambda Book Report each predicted continuing success for Eskridge's writing. Redding wrote, "Eskridge's writing slides effortlessly between spacious, Zen-like description and the chaotic pace of good suspense writing," concluding the author's "first novel portends a brilliant career."

In an interview with Cindy Speer for the online Gotta Write Network, Eskridge said she had begun plans for her next novel. She listed her aims as "To write stories that make me and the reader feel big feelings: hope, grief, love, joy, exultation. To do it with grace and authority and exuberance. To do it better every time."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, August, 2002, Regina Schroeder, review of Solitaire, p. 1937.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2002, review of Solitaire, p. 847.

Lambda Book Report, September, 2002, Judith M. Redding, "The Killer Hope," pp. 17-19.

Library Journal, September 15, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of Solitaire, pp. 96-97.

New York Times Book Review, September 1, 2002, Gerald Jonas, review of Solitaire, p. 18.

Publishers Weekly, August 5, 2002, review of Solitaire, p. 57.

ONLINE

Broad Universe,http://www.broaduniverse.org/ (March 6, 2003), Diane Silver, interview with Eskridge.

Gotta Write Network,http://gottawritenetwork.com/ (December 17, 2002), Cindy Speer, interview with Eskridge.

Kelley Eskridge Home Page,http://www.kelleyeskridge.com (December 17, 2002).

Strange Horizons,http://www.strangehorizons.com/ (October 28, 2002), C. A. Casey, review of "Strings."

Woman's Monthly,http://www.womo.com/ (December 17, 2002), Melanie H. Alston-Akers, "Kelley Eskridge's Internal Landscape."*