Grabien, Deborah 1954–
Grabien, Deborah 1954–
PERSONAL: Born 1954; married Nicholas Grabien, 1983; children: one daughter. Hobbies and other interests: Playing guitar and keyboard, rescuing cats and finding them homes.
Woman of Fire, Piatkus (London, England), 1988, published as Eyes in the Fire, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1989.
Fire Queen, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Plainsong: A Fable for the Millenium, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1990.
Then Put out the Light, Pan Books (London, England), 1993.
"RINGAN LAINE" MYSTERY SERIES
The Weaver and the Factory Maid, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2003.
The Famous Flower of Serving Men, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Matty Groves, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Writer Deborah Grabien has a love of history, particularly medieval history and Elizabethan drama, that is obvious in her work. Grabien has traveled extensively and lived in various European cities, which helped cement her interest in the past. This, combined with her love of music and her acquaintance with a number of musicians, provides the foundation for much of her writing, which also has strong leanings toward fantasy. Her first novel, Woman of Fire, splits the point of view between a modern-day Englishwoman and a woman of the Dumnonii, a tribe that lived during the iron age, approximately two thousand years ago. In another work, Plainsong: A Fable for the Millenium, she explores a world where nearly everyone has been killed by a plague, leaving animals, some children, a moron, and a pregnant poetess as the few survivors. In the style of fables, the animals can communicate with the people, and mythological characters also appear throughout the narrative. In a review for Publishers Weekly, Sybil Steinberg called the book "an alternative vision of life and remarkable understanding of faith."
Grabien took off ten years from writing in order to learn to cook, but returned to her original passion with a series of mystery novels based on the adventures of Ringan Laine, a British folk musician who also restores houses. The series starts with The Weaver and the Factory Maid, in which Ringan finds himself living for free in an eighteenth-century cottage in exchange for restoring it. Of course, the cottage proves to be haunted, and Ringan and his girlfriend, Penny, find themselves involved in a long-buried mystery while they try to determine what happened at the house. Appropriately enough, the story of the ghosts is linked to a haunting folk ballad. A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that the book "offers too little plot and a less than engaging protagonist." However, a contributor for Kirkus Reviews wrote that, "although unthreatening ghosts produce low-voltage thrills, pastoral warmth and sunny prose from Grabien … entertain," and Rex Klett, in a review for Library Journal, found Grabien's effort to be "filled with charm, personality, and wit."
In The Famous Flower of Serving Men Ringan's girlfriend, Penny, inherits a wonderful old theater from a relative she barely remembers. Believing it to be the perfect home for her acting company, she asks Ringan to take charge of renovating the theater. Unfortunately, a ghost seems intent on chasing away the workmen. Penny and Ringan research the theater's past in hopes of finding a way to set their ghost to rest. Sue O'Brien, in a review for Booklist, remarked that "Interesting period details …, likable characters, and an absorbing plot distinguish this fast-paced mix of mystery and ghost story," and a contributor for Publishers Weekly wrote that "Grabien's grasp of theater, folklore and history provides a feast of enjoyment."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 1, 2003, Sue O'Brien, review of The Weaver and the Factory Maid, p. 304; November 15, 2004, Sue O'Brien, review of The Famous Flower of Serving Men, p. 565.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2003, review of The Weaver and the Factory Maid, p. 1156; September 1, 2004, review of The Famous Flower of Serving Men, p. 838.
Library Journal, October 1, 2003, Rex Klett, review of The Weaver and the Factory Maid, p. 120; November 1, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of The Famous Flower of Serving Men, p. 60.
Publishers Weekly, March 9, 1990, Sybil Steinberg, review of Plainsong: A Fable for the Millennium, p. 50; November 10, 2003, review of The Weaver and the Factory Maid, p. 46; October 11, 2004, review of The Famous Flower of Serving Men, p. 59.
All Readers.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (September 20, 2005), "Deborah Grabien."
All Sci-fi.com, http://www.allscifi.com/ (September 20, 2005), "Deborah Grabien."
Deborah Grabien Home Page, http://www.deborahgrabien.com (September 20, 2005).
New Mystery Reader Online, http://www.newmysteryreader.com/ (September 20, 2005), "Deborah Grabien."