Joyce, Graham 1954–
Joyce, Graham 1954–
(Graham William Joyce)
PERSONAL: Born October 22, 1954, in Coventry, England; son of William and Josephine (Gower) Joyce; married Suzanne Johnson (a lawyer), April 6, 1988; children: one daughter. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Bishop Lonsdale College, B.Ed. (with honors), 1977; University of Leicester, M.A., 1980; Nottingham Trent University, Ph.D., 2003. Religion: "Atheist." Hobbies and other interests: Travel, skiing, football, archaeology, "fell-pipping."
ADDRESSES: Home—Leicester, England. Agent—Luigi Bonomi Associates Ltd., 91 Great Russell St., London WC1B 3PS, England. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Teacher, 1980–81; National Association of Youth Clubs, Leicester, England, youth officer, 1981–88; freelance writer, 1988–. Nottingham Trent University, part-time tutor in creative writing, 1995–.
MEMBER: Society of Authors, British Fantasy Society, British Science Fiction Association.
AWARDS, HONORS: August Derleth Award, best British fantasy novel, 1993, for Dark Sister; British Fantasy Award, novel category, 1993, for Dark Sister, 1996, for Requiem, and 1997, for The Tooth Fairy; World Fantasy Award, best novel, 2003, for The Facts of Life.
Dreamside, Pan Macmillan (London, England), 1991, Tor Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Dark Sister, Hodder Headline (London, England), 1992, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1999.
House of Lost Dreams, Hodder Headline (London, England), 1993.
Requiem, Creed (London, England), 1995, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1996.
The Tooth Fairy, Signet (London, England), 1996, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Spiderbite (juvenile), Orion (London, England), 1997.
Indigo, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Smoking Poppy, Gollancz (London, England), 2001, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2002.
The Facts of Life, Gollancz (London, England), 2002, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2003.
The Limits of Enchantment, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2005.
TWOC, Faber (London, England), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Graham Joyce is a distinctive voice among contemporary horror writers, according to essayist Joel Lane, writing in the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers. Lane commented that the commercial success of horror fiction has forced the genre into a mold where supernatural events must be explained literally rather than in terms of metaphor or human psychology. According to Lane: "The work of Graham Joyce offers a compelling alternative [using] supernatural elements in the context of an exploration of human psychology, identity and belief." Joyce himself, in his comments to the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers, lent weight to Lane's assessment when he expressed "an occasional impatience with some of the conventions of [the] genre. For example, I'm rather more interested in looking at the person seeing a ghost than in the ghost itself."
Already well-known to British horror readers from his first three novels—Dreamside, which deals with lucid dreams and waking dreams; the award-winning Dark Sister, an exploration of feminism and witchcraft; and House of Lost Dreams, a reinterpretation of the Orpheus myth—Joyce made his American debut with his fourth novel, Requiem. Set in contemporary Jerusalem, Requiem tells the story of Tom Webster, a high school teacher who has fled his native England after his wife's accidental death. Consumed by a groundless guilt both for his wife's death and an imagined affair with one of his pupils, Tom has come to Jerusalem ostensibly to visit an old friend and ex-lover, Sharon. Yet Tom's pilgrimage to the war-torn city is also prompted by a search for some kind of personal salvation.
Calling Requiem "nothing short of stunning" in her review for Booklist, Ilene Cooper noted: "Perhaps most amazing is Joyce's ability to transform Jerusalem, a city threatening to sink under its religious history, into a character as well as a setting." Thoroughly immersed in this backdrop, Tom soon becomes passionately involved with Sharon, is plagued by episodic hallucinations (or supernatural visitations), and comes into possession of a manuscript that is purportedly a missing fragment from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Once the fragment is translated, it offers a radical reinterpretation of Jesus's life and of the founding of Christianity. Lane stated: "This magnificent, intensely disturbing novel focuses the emotional and religious conflicts which underlie Joyce's first three novels. Its refusal to offer any reassuring solution reflects the maturity of Joyce's outlook."
Joyce's next novel, The Tooth Fairy, opens as seven-year-old Sam wakes up in the night to find the Tooth Fairy taking the tooth he has left under his pillow. The narrative follows Sam through childhood and into adolescence, along with frequent visits from the Tooth Fairy, who turns out to be more of a malicious demon than a benevolent spirit. Capable of numerous manifestations, both male and female, the creature sometimes haunts Sam, at other times helps him, and on more than one occasion becomes his lover. "This is no idealization of childhood," noted Eric Robbins in Booklist, but rather "a look at the fantasies, the sins, and the rough-and-tumble of growing up." Lane contended that The Tooth Fairy, along with Requiem, "confirms Joyce's status as a major figure on the literary side of the supernatural horror genre: one whose treatment of supernatural themes offers valuable insights into the human condition."
In The Limits of Enchantment, Joyce offers a mother-and-daughter tale set during the 1960s. Fern Cullen is being raised by her foster mother, Mammy Cullen, who is their village's midwife, healer, and general "wise woman." When Mammy is attacked and hospitalized, Fern has to learn to support herself and come to terms with all she has learned as her foster mother's apprentice. In his review for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Charles De Lint wrote: "There are two things I really like when it comes to Graham Joyce's books: how varied his characters are and how thoroughly he gets under their skin." Danise Hoover, reviewing the book for Booklist, noted: "Joyce's tale is a coming-of-age novel, a fantasy, and a romance filled with charm and enacted by intriguing characters." A reviewer for Kirkus Reviews concluded: "This is an uncommonly powerful tale about knowledge and the things swept aside in the rush to the future."
Viewing Joyce's novels as a group, Lane concluded: "They could be described as metaphysical thrillers, but this does not convey their sensitive humanism or their poetic tone. Their essential darkness is not imposed by 'horror' events, but is conveyed through the sense of dealing with matters of life and death."
Joyce once told CA: "I write to make sense of the senseless. The most important thing I ever did was to quit my career-job in 1988 and go to a Greek island, where I lived in a shack, with no electricity and with water from a pump. There I devoted my time to writing."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.
Booklist, October 1, 1996, Ilene Cooper, review of Requiem, p. 307; January 1, 1998, Eric Robbins, review of The Tooth Fairy, p. 77; February 15, 2005, Danise Hoover, review of The Limits of Enchantment, p. 1061.
Bookseller, February 18, 2005, review of TWOC, p. 39.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2004, review of The Limits of Enchantment, p. 1157.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September, 2005, Charles De Lint, review of The Limits of Enchantment, p. 21.
Graham Joyce Home Page, http://www.grahamjoyce.net (May 28, 2006).