Hodgell, P(atricia) C(hristine) 1951-
HODGELL, P(atricia) C(hristine) 1951-
PERSONAL: Born March 16, 1951, in Des Moines, IA; daughter of Robert Overman (an artist) and Lois (an artist and teacher; maiden name, Partridge) Hodgell. Education: Eckerd College, B.A., 1973; University of Minnesota, M.A., 1976, Ph.D., 1978. Hobbies and other interests: Collecting yarn, knitting, embroidery, creating original greeting cards.
ADDRESSES: Home—1237 Liberty St., Oshkosh, WI 54901. Office—Department of English, University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh, Oshkosh, WI 54901. Agent— Donald A. Maass, 157 W. 57th St., Ste. 1003, New York, NY 10019.
MEMBER: Science Fiction Writers of America.
(With Michael M. Levy) Modern Science Fiction and Fantasy: A Study Guide, University of Minnesota Extension (Minneapolis, MN), 1981.
God Stalk (novel), Atheneum (New York, NY), 1982.
Dark of the Moon (novel), Atheneum (New York, NY), 1985.
Chronicles of the Kencyrath (contains God Stalk and Dark of the Moon), New English Library (London, England), 1988.
Bones (short stories), Hypatia Press (Eugene, OR), 1993.
Child of Darkness (short stories), Hypatia Press (Eugene, OR), 1993.
Blood and Ivory, Hypatia Press (Eugene, OR), 1994, expanded edition published as Blood and Ivory: A Tapestry, Meisha Merlin Publishing (Atlanta, GA), 2002.
Seeker's Mask (novel), Hypatia Press (Eugene, OR), 1994.
Dark of the Gods (contains God Stalk, Dark of the Moon, and Bones), Meisha Merlin Publishing (Atlanta, GA), 2000.
Work represented in anthologies, including Clarion Science Fiction, edited by Kate Wilhelm, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1977; Berkley Showcase II, edited by Victoria Schochet and John Silbersack, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1980; and Elsewhere III, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1983. Contributor to magazines, including Empire and Riverside Quarterly.
SIDELIGHTS: According to Janice M. Eisen in the St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, "P. C. Hodgell's elaborate, moody fantasy fiction all takes place in the world of Rathillien and focuses on Jame of the people known as the Kencyrath…. Hodgell's writing is dense and visual, and she displays a truly original imagination, even when tackling familiar areas of fantasy." Writing in the Fantasy Review, Michael M. Levy calls Hodgell "one of the best young fantasy writers we have."
In God Stalk, Hodgell imagines a race of paranormals who are just emerging from a long history of anarchic misrule. Called by Eisen "a truly remarkable first novel," God Stalk tells Jame's story of self-discovery as she tries to locate her missing twin brother and survive in the forsaken city of Tai-tastigon. "Jame," wrote a critic for Publishers Weekly, "is a fully fleshed character in a rich fantasy milieu." "While all the characters are interesting and well-delineated," Eisen noted, "the most fascinating character is the city of Tai-tastigon itself, with its mazes and gods, its festivals and tribes." A Booklist contributor observed that God Stalk "shows wit, good characterization, much thought about world building, and a fine command of language." A reviewer for Library Journal noted that Hodgell "has crafted an excellent and intricate fantasy, with humor and tragedy, and a capable and charming female hero."
In Dark of the Moon, Jame finally reunites with her missing brother, who has become Highlord of the realm. The novel, wrote Eisen, is "full of wonders" like a race of civilized werewolves and the rathorn warriors whose ivory armor eventually kills them. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly noted Hodgell's "inept exposition" and "a background with more detail than she can clearly and concisely convey," but nonetheless praised her "superior prose style, notable for muscular verbs and flavorful descriptive powers." Levy noted that Hodgell's "strong characters, strange sense of humor, and intense, visually lush writing style keep Dark of the Moon on track to a powerful conclusion."
Hodgell herself commented: "For as long as I can remember I've been making up stories to tell myself. Some children have imaginary friends. I had a host of them, but in a world all their own, which I visited only by invitation and rarely in my own person. All of this was largely to compensate for a lonely childhood, growing up in an old house with a grandmother after the divorce of my parents. It was (and still is) a wonderful old place, though, full of one hundred years of family history and haunted by the possessions, if not the ghosts, of four generations. The house and the stories each provided worlds in which I felt safe and happy, in contrast to the threatening 'real' world outside.
"I was also an avid reader, especially of fantasy and science fiction, by such writers as Andre Norton and Edgar Rice Burroughs. This fiction shaped my daydreams and stirred my ambition someday to become a writer myself. But I was afraid to commit myself.
"Years went by. Through grade school, high school, and even college, I spent nearly half my waking time on a secondary level in an imaginary world whose very existence was a secret to all but a few close friends. Despite all this mental activity, however, very little got written down. I was still afraid. Of what? Failure, I suppose, of being just one more would-be, talentless writer. But all this time the pressure was growing and so was the discipline. College taught me that. I had always been a wild fantasizer, groping for control over my material but easily distracted and hardly able to sit still long enough to write a page. Now the studies of literature and foreign languages taught me to concentrate and organize. Ready at last, after college I retreated to my old home with a typewriter and a ream of paper, determined to find out if my wildest day-dream—that of becoming a real writer—could be made to come true.
"It would be nice to say that, after the long suppression of the writing impulse, the dam burst—but it didn't. Due to lack of practice, I simply didn't know how to put a story down on paper. However, I began to learn. By the next summer, I had several stories finished and an invitation to attend the Clarion Writers Workshop. There, for the first time, I found a whole community of people like me—storytellers, wordsmiths, an entire family I never knew I had. Even more wonderful, here suddenly were professionals like Harlan Ellison and Kate Wilhelm telling me that I could indeed write. I could hardly believe my luck.
"Then graduate school started, and all writing stopped. Try as I would, I couldn't be both creative and academic at the same time, so again the fantasies had to be bottled up, although I still lived them as intensely as ever. That lasted until I received my M.A. in English literature and had safely passed the doctoral qualifying examination. Then I took another year's leave, went home, and started writing again. The result was God Stalk, a curious blend of Charles Dickens, Fritz Leiber, and Marvel Comics. To my great surprise, it was sold.
"There will be a sequel, with plans maturing for at least three additional novels in the series. Actually, I seem to be working on what some people call a hypernovel, a continuous narrative cut into novel-sized lengths with the trimmings made into short stories. All those years of daydreaming seem to have generated a lot of material. I may spend the rest of my life writing it all down, sometimes with delight but just as often with exasperation at my stylistic shortcomings. At present my writing isn't as good as I hope someday it will be, but that's all right. I may be a chronic dreamer, but I'm also stubborn, and I can learn."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Analog, April, 1983, p. 102.
Booklist, October 1, 1982, review of God Stalk, p. 189; November 1, 1985, p. 380.
Fantasy Review, October, 1985, Michael M. Levy, review of Dark of the Moon, p. 17.
Junior Reader, January, 1983, p. 375.
Library Journal, September 15, 1982, review of God Stalk, p. 1772; October 15, 1985, p. 105.
Publishers Weekly, July 9, 1982, review of God Stalk, p. 44; September 6, 1985, review of Dark of the Moon, p. 59.
School Library Journal, January, 1986, p. 84.
Science Fiction Review, May, 1986, p. 60.
Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 1986, p. 40.*