Roberson, Jennifer 1953- (Jay Mitchell, Jennifer O'Green, Jennifer Roberson O'Green)
Roberson, Jennifer 1953- (Jay Mitchell, Jennifer O'Green, Jennifer Roberson O'Green)
Born October 26, 1953, in Kansas City, MO; daughter of Donald and Shera (a literary agent's reader) Roberson; married Mark O'Green (a designer-manager in the computer games systems), February 16, 1985 (divorced). Education: Northern Arizona University, B.S., 1982. Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Breeding and exhibiting Cardigan Welsh Corgis, mosaic artwork.
Office—c/o Children of the Firstborn, 610 North Alma School Rd., Ste. 18, Box 104, Chandler, AZ. Agent—Russell Galen, Scovil Chichak Galen Literary Agency, 276 5th Ave., Ste. 708, New York, NY 10001. E-mail—[email protected].
Wyoming Eagle, Cheyenne, WY, investigative reporter, 1976; Farnam Companies, Phoenix, AZ, advertising copywriter, 1977; writer, 1982—. Speaker at schools, colleges, professional writers' organizations, and science fiction conferences.
Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America, Flagstaff Kennel Club.
Named best new fantasy author, Romantic Times, 1984, for Shapechangers; Junior Alumni Achievement Award, Northern Arizona University, 1985; named best new historical author, Romantic Times, 1987; outstanding young woman of America, 1988; reviewer's choice annual top fantasy novel, Science Fiction Chronicle, 1989, for Sword-Dancer and Sword-Singer, and 1990, for Sword-Maker; certificate of appreciation, city of Tempe, AZ, 1990, for outstanding volunteer service to the community; Jubilee Year Distinguished Alumnus Award, Northern Arizona University, 1990.
"CHRONICLES OF THE CHEYSULI" FANTASY SERIES
Shapechangers, DAW (New York, NY), 1984.
The Song of Homana, DAW (New York, NY), 1985.
Legacy of the Sword, DAW (New York, NY), 1986.
Track of the White Wolf, DAW (New York, NY), 1987.
A Pride of Princes, DAW (New York, NY), 1988.
Daughter of the Lion, DAW (New York, NY), 1989.
Flight of the Raven, DAW (New York, NY), 1990.
A Tapestry of Lions, DAW (New York, NY), 1992.
Shapechanger's Song (contains Shapechangers and The Song of Homana), DAW Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Legacy of the Wolf (contains Legacy of the Sword and Track of the White Wolf), DAW Books (New York, NY), 2001.
The Lion Throne (contains A Pride of Princes and Daughter of the Lion), DAW Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Children of Lion (contains Flight of the Raven and A Tapestry of Lions), DAW Books (New York, NY), 2001.
"SWORD-DANCER SAGA" FANTASY SERIES
Sword-Dancer, DAW (New York, NY), 1986.
Sword-Singer, DAW (New York, NY), 1988.
Sword-Maker, DAW (New York, NY), 1989.
Sword-Breaker, DAW (New York, NY), 1991.
Sword-Born, DAW (New York, NY), 1998.
Sword-Sworn, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2002.
The Novels of Tiger and Del, three omnibus volumes, 2006.
"KARAVANS" FANTASY SERIES
Karavans, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Smoketree (romantic suspense), Walker & Co. (New York, NY), 1985.
(Under pseudonym Jay Mitchell) Kansas Blood, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1986.
(As Jennifer O'Green) Royal Captive, Dell (New York, NY), 1987.
Lady of the Forest, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1992.
(With Melanie Rawn and Kate Elliot) The Golden Key, DAW (New York, NY), 1996.
(Editor) Return to Avalon: A Celebration of Marion Zimmer Bradley, DAW (New York, NY), 1996.
Lady of the Glen: A Novel of 17th-Century Scotland and the Massacre of Glencoe, Kensington (New York, NY), 1996.
Highlander: Scotland the Brave, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1996.
(Editor) Highwaymen: Robbers and Rogues, DAW (New York, NY), 1997.
Lady of Sherwood, Kensington (New York, NY), 1999.
(Editor) Out of Avalon: Tales of Old Magic and New Myths, New American Library (New York, NY), 2001.
Work represented in anthologies, including Sword and Sorceress, Volumes 1-8, edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley, DAW (New York, NY), 1984-91; Spell Singers, edited by A.B. Newcomer, DAW (New York, NY), 1988; Herds of Thunder, Manes of Gold, edited by Bruce Coville, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1989; Horse Fantastic, edited by Martin Greenberg and Rosalind Greenberg, DAW (New York, NY), 1991; Christmas Bestiary, edited by M. Greenberg and R. Greenberg, DAW (New York, NY), 1992; The Merlin Chronicles, 1995; Tales from Jabba's Palace, 1995; Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, 1995; and Return to Avalon, 1996. Columnist (as Jennifer Roberson O'Green) for Corgi Quarterly and AKC Gazette; contributor to periodicals, including Fantasy, Writer, and Aboriginal Science Fiction.
Jennifer Roberson commented to CA: "I was fortunate to grow up in a family of readers; our genealogical chart is filled with bookaholics, including the renowned English author Thomas Hardy. An only child of divorced parents, I discovered very young that siblings and best friends were available at all times between the pages of favorite novels. It was not at all unusual for three generations—grandfather, mother, and daughter—to gather in the living room and while away the hours engrossed in our books of the moment."
This environment also helped foster Roberson's enjoyment of writing. By age fourteen, she had already completed her first novel and received her first rejection slip. Even though she was hurt by the rejection, she did not allow it to quell her desire to be published. During the next fourteen years, she wrote three more unpublished novels before settling into the fantasy genre. Her first fantasy series, "Chronicles of Cheysuli," was begun while in college; it was during her final semester that she received notice of the sale of her first book, Shapechangers.
Shapechangers was followed by seven other novels in the series. The Cheysuli are a race of people in which each member has the power to communicate with a given animal through telepathy and the power to assume that animal's form. The series chronicles the struggles between the oppressed Cheysuli—banished by a jealous ruler after his wife left him for his bodyguard, a Cheysuli—and a race called the Ihlini. The story continues over several generations, with many love affairs and rivalries as well as much use of sorcery and supernatural power. "The action is swift, constant and exciting," commented Debora Hill in the St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers.
Roberson is noted for creating strong female characters, both in the "Cheysuli" series and the "Sword-Dancer" books. Roberson has said she wanted to feature characters who would help break the traditional, sexist female role that had often been assigned by other fantasy authors. The novelist explained: "I wanted to write about a man who, in meeting up with a strong, competent woman in the same line of work, has his consciousness raised during a dangerous journey that taxes them physically as well as emotionally. My personal description was ‘Conan the Barbarian meets Gloria Steinem;’ the true title was Sword-Dancer, and it was published in 1986."
Roberson has since written other novels featuring what she calls "my Tracy/Hepburn-like duo"—Tiger, a male sword-dancer, or soldier of fortune, and Delilah (Del for short), a female sword-dancer. When they meet, Del is wanted for killing the man who trained her in the art of sword-fighting. She also is searching for her brother, who was taken prisoner by a band of criminals who murdered their parents and raped Del. Over the course of the series, Tiger joins Del in the quest for her brother and on her journey to face her accusers. Along the way, they meet demonic dogs, powerful wizards, false messiahs, and various other strange beings who inhabit their desolate world. "It adds up to a thoroughly enjoyable and well-written series, with pleasing characters and situations," Hill observed.
Russ Allbery ("Eagle") reviewed both Sword-Maker and Sword-Born for Eyrie.org. He commented that while the previous book, Sword-Singer, requires that the reader be familiar with the series, Sword-Maker begins somewhere at the beginning of the saga and finds Del and Tiger going back to the South to tie up the loose ends of Sword-Dancer. "Roberson's writing works better in the South of her world," wrote Allbery. "Not only is the South better-drawn and more visual, it plays into the strengths of Roberson's characters."
According to Allbery, with the next book, Sword-Breaker, Roberson ties up unresolved plot threads. Several years later, she followed with Sword-Born, in which, according to Allbery, "she returns with fresh ideas, a different setting, and, most importantly, noticeably improved writing skills…. Roberson has clearly benefitted from the intervening years, and this book, although as long as previous volumes, is noticeably tighter, better-plotted, and better thought-out."
Sword-Sworn, the final title in the series, finds Tiger and Del taking refuge on the island of Skandi, where the ultimate battle between Tiger and Abbu Bensir, who has pursued him for years, takes place, and where Del finally recognizes her true feelings for Tiger. Roberson explains in an endnote why she chose to tell the stories in the first person, and writes that she has been pleased by the male readers who have contacted her to tell her that the series has changed their view of women. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote: "Sensitive readers of both sexes should appreciate how Roberson rises above the usual genre cliches."
Roberson expanded her work into other genres by writing a western novel from a woman's viewpoint and a contemporary romantic suspense novel. She added: "But one thing I'd always wanted to try—another ‘someday’ dream—was a big, sprawling, mainstream historical epic. Russ [Galen, Roberson's agent] won me the chance when I submitted an outline/sample chapter package to him in which I proposed to write a reinterpretation of the Robin Hood legend, but with a twist—I wanted to emphasize Marian's point of view and contribution to the legend." The result was Lady of the Forest, which took Roberson a year to research and write; she described it as "in actuality, a ‘prequel’ to the familiar legend. I wanted very much to write the story of how the legend came to be; the tale of how seven very different people from a rigidly stratified social structure came to join together to fight the inequities of medieval England. To me, the key was logic—I interwove historical fact with the fantasy of the classic legend, and developed my own interpretation of how things came to be. I wanted to come to know all of these people; to climb inside their heads and learn what motivated them to do what they did."
Lady of the Glen: A Novel of 17th-Century Scotland and the Massacre of Glencoe is the story of Cat Campbell and Dair MacDonald. King William has issued an order to destroy the MacDonald clan, which provides the background for their romance. A Publishers Weekly reviewer described this book as being "a pleasure."
In Lady of Sherwood, Roberson returns to the characters Marian and Robin Hood to tell the story of what happened after the death of King Richard the Lionhearted, the monarch who had pardoned the Robin Hood gang for their robberies. Suddenly, the sheriff of Nottingham is once again on their trail. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly praised Roberson's portrayal of Marian in particular, finding the character to be "thoroughly independent but not burdened with anachronistic feminist ways." Also impressive, the critic continued, is Roberson's "incorporation of historical detail" and her presentation of Marian and Robin's relationship. "Exciting and satisfying," the critic concluded, "Roberson's genre-blending novel may be her best yet."
Highlander: Scotland the Brave, features protagonist Highlander Duncan MacLeod, who shares a past with giant, red-headed Shakespearean actor James Douglas. Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction contributor Michelle West wrote that "the prose is taut and clean, staccato when it needs to be, and lyrical when it can."
Karavans is the first book of a projected fantasy series. The land of Sancorra has been conquered by the Hecari, and a pregnant Audrun, her husband, Davyd, and their four children, journey aboard a "karavan" to a new land that proves to be even more dangerous. The karavan guide, Rhuan, has promised to protect them, and Ilona, who is a palm rea, fears that much danger lies ahead, including the threat of a living forest that is home to magical and threatening creatures. Booklist contributor Frieda Murray wrote: "High-quality characterization and world building abet Roberson's novel conception." A Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded by saying that "the pieces are in place for what promises to be a story of epic proportions."
Roberson once told CA: "One thing I have learned along the way is that a writer, to be successful, must write; she cannot be satisfied with what she has already done, but must look ahead to what she will do. A writer completely satisfied with her work ceases to grow, and stunts her talent. It is far more important to write than it is to have written."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Booklist, April 15, 2006, Frieda Murray, review of Karavans, p. 34.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April, 1997, Michelle West, review of Highlander: Scotland the Brave, p. 132.
Publishers Weekly, February 26, 1996, review of Lady of the Glen, p. 87; August 19, 1996, review of The Golden Key, p. 57; November 1, 1999, review of Lady of Sherwood, p. 78; January 7, 2002, review of Sword-Sworn, p. 51; February 27, 2006, review of Karavans, p. 38.
Science Fiction Chronicle, December, 1986, review of Legacy of the Sword, p. 50; January, 1987, review of Sword Dancer, p. 40; October, 1987, review of The Song of Homana, p. 27; December, 1989, review of Sword-Singer, p. 39.
Eyrie.org, http://www.eyrie.org/˜eagle/ (August 6, 2005), Russ Allbery ("Eagle") review of Sword-Maker; (August 15, 2005), Russ Allbery, review of Sword-Born.
Jennifer Roberson Home Page,http://www.cheysuli.com (March 3, 2007).
SF Reviews.net,http://www.sfreviews.net/ (March 3, 2007), review of Karavans.