Ptacek, Kathryn 1952-

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PTACEK, Kathryn 1952-

(Kathryn Atwood, Kathryn Grant, Kathleen Maxwell, Anne Mayfield, Kathryn Anne Ptacek, Les Simons)

PERSONAL: Born 1952; married Charles L. Grant (a writer). Education: University of New Mexico, B.A. (with distinction), 1974.

ADDRESSES: Home—P.O. Box 97, Newton, NJ 07680.

CAREER: Writer, novelist, and editor. Has worked as a political assistant, telephone solicitor for New Mexico Association of Retarded People, advertising layout artist, secretary for University of New Mexico Department of Speech and Hearing, and technical writer and editor for University of New Mexico computing center.

MEMBER: Science Fiction Writers of American, Sisters in Crime, Horror Writers Association (editor of newsletter, 2000–), Mystery Writers of America, Police Writers Club, International Women Writers Guild.

AWARDS, HONORS: Nomination for Best Short Story, Bram Stoker Award, Horror Writers Association, 1990, for "Each Night, Each Year"; Spur Award, and third-place award, both Western Writers of America, 1991, both for short fiction; Porgie Award for Best Fantasy; Silver Medal, West Coast Review of Books, for Shadoweyes; Gold Medal, West Coast Review of Books, for Blood Autumn.


(As Les Simons) Gila! (science-fiction novel) Signet (New York, NY), 1981.

(As Kathleen Maxwell) The Devil's Heart (historical romance novel), Signet (New York, NY), 1983.

(As Kathleen Maxwell) Winter Masquerade (historical romance novel), Signet (New York, NY), 1984.

(As Anne Mayfield) The Wayward Widow (Regency novel), Jove (New York, NY), 1982.

(As Kathryn Ptacek) The Hunted (suspense novel), Walker (New York, NY) 1993.

Work anthologized in The Year's Best Fantasy First Annual Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1988; Confederacy of the Dead, edited by Richard Gilliam, Martin H. Greenberg, and Edward E. Kramer, Roc (New York, NY), 1993; In the Fog: The Final Chronicle of Greystone Bay, edited by Charles L. Grant, Tor (New York, NY), 1993; Dark Love, edited by Nancy A. Collins, Edward E. Kramer, and Martin H. Greenberg, Roc, 1995; Love Bites, edited by Amarantha Knight, Masquerade Books (New York, NY), 1995; Gothic Ghosts, edited by Wend Webb and Charles L. Grant, Tor, 1997, and Graven Images, Berkley (New York, NY), 2000. Also publisher and editor of Gila Queen's Guide to Markets newsletter. Contributor to periodicals, including Horror Show, Gauntlet, Writer's Digest, Hellnotes, Mystery Scene, Cemetery Dance, Canadian Fiction, and Dead of Night.


Satan's Angel, Jove (New York, NY), 1981.

Renegade Lady, Jove (New York, NY), 1982.

The Lawless Heart, Jove (New York, NY), 1984.

My Lady Rogue, Jove (New York, NY), 1986.

Aurora, Jove (New York, NY), 1987.


The Phoenix Bells, Berkley (New York, NY), 1987.

The Black Jade Road, Berkley (New York, NY), 1989.

The Willow Garden, Berkley (New York, NY), 1989.


Shadoweyes, Tor (New York, NY), 1984.

Blood Autumn, Tor (New York, NY), 1985.

Kachina, Tor (New York, NY), 1986.

In Silence Sealed, Tor (New York, NY), 1988.

Ghost Dance, Tor (New York, NY), 1990.


Women of Darkness (horror short stories), Tor (New York, NY), 1988.

Women of the West: An Anthology of Short Stories by Contemporary Women Writers (western short stories), Doubleday Bantam (New York, NY), 1990.

Women of Darkness II (horror short stories), Tor (New York, NY), 1990.

SIDELIGHTS: Working in genres such as historical romance, fantasy, and suspense, Kathryn Ptacek is a widely published fiction writer whose novels and short stories have appeared under her own name as well as under a variety of pseudonyms. Ptacek's first novel, Gila!, was published under the pseudonym Les Simons and finds a gila monster transformed into a rampaging beast by nuclear radiation. A critic writing in the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, and Gothic Writers ironically dubbed the book "a fun read, but nothing on which to base a career."

Ptacek's primary fictional venue is horror and dark fantasy, and her novels in that genre are published under her own name. In Shadoweyes an infestation of tiny, sharp-toothed creatures threatens a New Mexico town. While the authorities try to ignore the danger, a reporter and an Apache explore tribal histories and secrets in order to stop the ravenous swarm. "Ptacek creates suspense deftly, unnerves rather than shocks, and most importantly develops her two protagonists as credible individuals whose plight matters to the reader," commented the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, and Gothic Writers critic.

Mid-nineteenth-century India provides the historical backdrop to Blood Autumn. August Parrish is a lamia, an immortal, vampire-like creature that lives by draining the life force of children and seducing and slaying men. Ptacek tells the story of the lamia and her latest victim, a doubting priest enduring a crisis of faith. In Kachina, an anthropologist's wife is overcome by dreams and spirits that convince her she is the reincarnation of an ancient goddess destined to lead her tribe to renewed glory and restore their tribal lands. In Silence Sealed explores the idea that Victorian poets Byron, Keats, and Shelley were all victims of a lamia. The St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, and Gothic Writers essayist called this work "the most restrained and thoughtful of Ptacek's horror novels."

As an editor, Ptacek has produced Women of the West: An Anthology of Short Stories by Contemporary Women Writers as well as two "Women of Darkness" anthologies which collect horror stories by female authors. Publishers Weekly reviewer Sybil Steinberg observed that Women of Darkness II continues "the high standards set" by the initial series volume.

Ptacek is also a strong supporter of other writers in their quest to get published. She is involved in a number of prominent genre writers' organizations, including the Horror Writers Association. She edits that organization's newsletter and also produces market reports informing members of publishing opportunities. As editor and publisher of Gila Queen's Guide to Markets, Ptacek also offers publishing and market information to both fledgling and established writers, providing news of open anthologies, new periodicals, and receptive editors, primarily among the small presses.



St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, and Gothic Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.


Publishers Weekly, October 5, 1990, Sybil Steinberg, review of Women of Darkness II, p. 90; November 30, 1992, review of The Hunted, p. 37.


Kathryn Ptacek Home Page, (April 21, 2005).