Friesner, Esther M. 1951-

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Friesner, Esther M. 1951-


Born July 16, 1951, in New York, NY; daughter of David R. (a teacher) and Beatrice (a teacher) Friesner; married Walter Stutzman (a software engineer), December 22, 1974; children: Michael Jacob, Anne Elizabeth. Education: Vassar College, B.A. (cum laude), 1972; Yale University, M.A., 1975, Ph.D., 1977.


Home—Madison, CT. Agent—Richard Curtis Literary Agency, 171 East 74th St., New York, NY 10021. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer. Yale University, New Haven, CT, instructor in Spanish, 1977-79, and 1983.


Science Fiction Writers of America.


Named Outstanding New Fantasy Writer by Romantic Times, 1986; Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Titles citation, Voice of Youth Advocates, 1988, for New York by Knight; Skylark Award, 1994; Nebula Award for Best Short Story, 1995 and 1996.



Harlot's Ruse, Popular Library, 1986.

The Silver Mountain, Popular Library, 1986.

Druid's Blood, New American Library (New York, NY), 1988.

Yesterday We Saw Mermaids, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1992.

Wishing Season (young adult), Atheneum (New York, NY), 1993.

(With Laurence Watt-Evans) Split Heirs, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1993.

(Editor, with Martin H. Greenberg) Blood Muse: Timeless Tales of Vampires in the Arts, Donald I. Fine (New York, NY), 1995.

The Psalms of Herod, White Wolf, 1995.

The Sherwood Game, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1995.

(Editor) Chicks in Chainmail, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1995.

Child of the Eagle: A Myth of Rome, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 1996.

The Sword of Mary, White Wolf, 1996.

(Editor) The Chick Is in the Mail, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2000.

(Author; based on the screenplay by Robert Gordon and Barry Fanaro and the story by Robert Gordon) Men in Black II: The Official Novelization, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2002.

Death and the Librarian and Other Stories, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2002.

(With Robert Asprin) E. Godz, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2003.

(Editor) Turn the Other Chick, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2004.

Temping Fate, (young adult) Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2006.


Mustapha and His Wise Dog, Avon (New York, NY), 1985.

Spells of Mortal Weaving, Avon (New York, NY), 1986.

The Witchwood Cradle, Avon (New York, NY), 1987.

The Water King's Laughter, Avon (New York, NY), 1989.


New York by Knight, New American Library (New York, NY), 1986.

Elf Defense, New American Library (New York, NY), 1988.

Sphynxes Wild, New American Library (New York, NY), 1989.


Here Be Demons, Ace (New York, NY), 1988.

Demon Blues, Ace (New York, NY), 1989.

Hooray for Hellywood, Ace (New York, NY), 1990.


Gnome Man's Land, Ace (New York, NY), 1991.

Harpy High, Ace (New York, NY), 1991.

Unicorn U, Ace (New York, NY), 1992.


Majyk by Accident, Ace (New York, NY), 1993.

Majyk by Hook or Crook, Ace (New York, NY), 1994.

Majyk by Design, Ace (New York, NY), 1994.


Nobody's Princess, Random House (New York, NY), 2007.

Nobody's Prize, Random House (New York, NY), 2008.


Warchild (Star Trek Deep Space Nine, No. 7), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1994.

To Storm Heaven (Star Trek the Next Generation, No. 46) Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1997.


Also editor of Alien Pregnant by Elvis, 1994. Advice columnist for Pulphouse magazine. Contributor to periodicals, including Asimov's, Aboriginal SF, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Fantasy Book.


Esther M. Friesner overturns many of the conventions of modern and traditional fantasy in books ranging from New York by Knight, in which a dragon and his armored pursuer bring their ages-old battle to the streets of modern-day New York, to Elf Defense, in which a mortal woman seeks to escape her marriage to the king of Elfhame by hiring a divorce lawyer, and the "Gnome Man's Land" trilogy—where Tim Desmond, a high-school student from a single-parent home, must cope not only with adolescence but with successive invasions of "little people" from folklore, as well as exotic monsters and gods.

Friesner was born and raised in Brooklyn, where she attended high school. She later went to Vassar College and studied Spanish and drama at Yale University, where she earned her master's and doctoral degrees in classical Spanish literature, specializing in the works of playwright Lope de Vega. After establishing her academic career, Friesner focused on her writing. Her first published book was Mustapha and His Wise Dog, an Arabian Nights-style adventure "enlivened by an exotic and evocative fantasy setting, and a pair of captivating characters," declared Don D'Ammassa in Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers. The book was the first in her "Chronicles of the Twelve Kingdoms" series, which continued in Spells of Mortal Weaving, The Witchwood Cradle, and The Water King's Laughter. The novels follow the struggles of various mortals through several generations to overthrow Morgeld, an evil demigod. "Although Friesner followed traditional forms for the most part in this series," D'Ammassa concluded, "her wry humor and gift for characterization marked her early as someone to watch."

In addition to the warring ethnic spirits in Friesner's "Gnome Man's Land" trilogy, the protagonist, Tim Desmond, has to deal with his own personal problems: getting through high school, living in a single-parent family—his father disappeared one evening on his way to buy a paper—and stabilizing a relationship with his girlfriend. Tim also has to fend off the lusty attentions of his own personal spirit, the Desmond family banshee. Friesner's other trilogies also feature elements of fantasy coupled with real-world headaches, such as her "New York" trilogy, "Demons" trilogy, and "Majyk" trilogy. As of 2007, Friesner also began a new fantasy novel series. The first two books in the "Nobody" series are Nobody's Princess and Nobody's Prize.

Aside from her fantasy series and trilogies, Friesner is also the author of several stand-alone works, including novels, anthologies, and collections of short stories. In her stand-alone novel Split Heirs, which was coauthored with Laurence Watt-Evans, Friesner tells the tale of Gorgonan marauders who take over the gentile city of Hydrangea. The leader of the marauders, Gudge, crowns himself king and forcibly marries the princess of Hydrangea, Artemesia. The couple has triplets, and the siblings are raised separately, with only one remaining in the palace. Thus, according to a Publishers Weekly contributor, the plot is peppered with "mistaken identities," resulting in "a lighthearted fantasy."

Friesner has also coedited, with Martin H. Greenberg, the collection Blood Muse: Timeless Tales of Vampires in the Arts. Another short-story collection, Death and the Librarian and Other Stories, this time solely authored by Friesner, appeared several years later. In the former, Friesner and Greenberg present an overview of how vampires are portrayed in movies, film, theater, visual arts, and literature. Consisting of thirty-two stories about vampires that had not been published previously, the book offers a fresh perspective on vampires in the arts. Roland Green, writing in Booklist, noted that the unifying theme between the stories is best described as "the loneliness of the vampire compounding … the loneliness of the artist." Critics applauded the book. A Publishers Weekly contributor described the collection's themes as addressing "art's power to confer immortality; its demand for self-consuming passion in the artist; [and] its dependence on life for sustenance."

Friesner has also written the novelization of the movie Men in Black II. Based on the screenplay by Robert Gordon and Barry Fanaro, and the story by Robert Gordon, Freisner's novel is straightforwardly titled Men in Black II: The Official Novelization. The book portrays Agent Jay and his ex-partner, Agent Kay. A Kylothian alien named Serleena plans to steal the Light of Zartha, and agents Jay and Kay must stop her. Kay's memory has been wiped clean, but Jay needs information that only Kay had. Meanwhile Serleena transforms herself into a human woman and sneaks into the Men in Black headquarters, taking hostages in the process. Critics applauded the book, noting that Friesner's writing style enhances the movie plot. According to Pam Johnson, writing in the School Library Journal, the novel features "fast-paced action scenes and lots of entertaining one-liners [that] carry the plot."



Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers, 3rd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1991.


Booklist, December 1, 1995, Roland Green, review of Blood Muse: Timeless Tales of Vampires in the Arts, p. 609.

Publishers Weekly, June 21, 1993, review of Split Heirs, p. 90; November 1, 1993, review of Wishing Season, p. 81; October 9, 1995, review of Blood Muse, p. 77.

School Library Journal, September 1, 2002, Pam Johnson, review of Men in Black II: The Official Novelization, p. 256.


SFF Net, (September 4, 2008), author profile and interview.