Stevermer, Caroline 1955–

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Stevermer, Caroline 1955–

(C.J. Stevermer, Caroline J. Stevermer)

PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced "Steve-er-mer"; born January 13, 1955, in Houston, MN; daughter of John Weaver (a farmer) and Carol Jean (a teacher; maiden name, Dahlstrom) Stevermer. Education: Bryn Mawr College, B.A., 1977.

ADDRESSES: Home—Minneapolis, MN. Office—Star Tribune, 425 Portland Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Agent—Frances Collins Literary Agency, P.O. Box 33, Wayne, PA 19087-0033.

CAREER: Clerical worker, 1977–84; Star Tribune (newspaper), Minneapolis, MN, became editorial assistant, beginning 1984.

MEMBER: Newspaper Guild.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

(Under name C.J. Stevermer) The Alchemist: Death of a Borgia (mystery), Ace Books (New York, NY), 1980.

(Under name C.J. Stevermer) The Duke and the Veil (mystery), Ace Books (New York, NY), 1981.

The Serpent's Egg (fantasy), Ace Books (New York, NY), 1988.

(With Patricia C. Wrede) Sorcery and Cecelia (fantasy), Ace Books (New York, NY), 1988, revised edition published as Sorcery and Cecelia; or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot: Being the Correspondence of Two Young Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London and the Country, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2003.

River Rats (science fiction), Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1992.

A College of Magics (fantasy), Tor (New York, NY), 1994.

When the King Comes Home (fantasy), Tor (New York, NY), 2000.

A Scholar of Magics (fantasy; sequel to A College of Magics), Tor (New York, NY), 2004.

(With Patricia C. Wrede) The Grand Tour; or, The Purloined Coronation Regalia: Being a Revelation of Matters of High Confidentiality and Greatest Importance, Including Extracts from the Intimate Diary of a Noblewoman and the Sworn Testimony of a Lady of Quality (fantasy), Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2004.

Scholarly Magics (fantasy; includes A College of Magics and A Scholar of Magics), 2004.

Work represented in anthologies, including Liavek: Wizard's Row, edited by Will Shetterly and Emma Bull, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1987; Snow White, Blood Red, edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow, Morrow (New York, NY), 1993; The Armless Maiden, edited by Terri Windling, Tor (New York, NY), 1995; and The Essential Bordertown, edited by Terri Windling and Delia Sherman, Tor (New York, NY), 1998.

SIDELIGHTS: Caroline Stevermer has found herself at home in the fantastic, first writing adult historical novels with a mild fantasy element, then focusing on fantasy and science fiction novels for young adult readers. Among her early works, The Alchemist and The Duke and the Veil, which were published under the name C.J. Stevemer, are historical mysteries set in the Italian Renaissance that feature an English alchemist as sleuth and poison as the means of murder. Similarly, The Serpent's Egg is a murder mystery, yet it is set in an alternative Elizabethan England where magic in the form of a fabulous crystal called the serpent's egg plays a main role.

Stevermer's next work, the epistolary novel Sorcery and Cecelia, was written with Patricia Wrede, who has also written works for young adult readers. The book, which was revised in 2003 as Sorcery and Cecelia; or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot: Being the Correspondence of Two Young Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London and the Country, consists of letters written between two cousins, Katherine (better known as Kate) and Cecelia (nicknamed Cecy), in an alternate-universe, magical, nineteenth-century England. Kate has moved to London, while Cecy remains in the country, but both quickly find themselves engrossed in romances and mysteries involving poison and sorcery. "This clever romp will appeal to fans of Regency romance and light fantasy," concluded a Kirkus Reviews critic.

Kate and Cecy, as well as their new husbands, return in The Grand Tour; or, The Purloined Coronation Regalia: Being a Revelation of Matters of High Confidentiality and Greatest Importance, Including Extracts from the Intimate Diary of a Noblewoman and the Sworn Testimony of a Lady of Quality. As the foursome travels through Europe on their honeymoon tours, they come to realize that a group of sorcerers is trying to create an evil empire, so they set out to prevent it. "It's great fun to watch the authors tweak the tropes of Regency romance into a fantastical mode," commented a Kirkus Reviews contributor, and School Library Journal reviewer Janet Hilbun noted that "the characters shine as they struggle with their magical legacy and grand adventure."

During the 1990s, Stevermer wrote several noteworthy novels for young adults. In the sci-fi adventure River Rats, she tells the post-Apocalyptic story of a group of teenagers who ply the polluted Mississippi River in their restored steam-powered paddle-boat. The novel caught critics' attention. According to Ann A. Flowers in a Horn Book review, River Rats is "an unusual, compelling futuristic novel." Likewise, a Publishers Weekly reviewer praised the setting and premise of the story, noting that the author's "unwavering interest in the individuals who live there distinguishes the novel from mere space opera."

In contrast to River Rats, A College of Magics, its sequel A Scholar of Magics, and When the King Comes Home all take place in alternate worlds that resemble historical Europe. A College of Magics combines characteristics of fantasy and conventional romance and revolves around the activities of a teenage duchess, Faris Nallaneen, who discovers while at finishing school her role as a wielder of important magical powers. In the words of a Publishers Weekly contributor, it is "clever and witty at its best … generally a pleasant read." Faris's friend Jane Brailsford returns in the sequel to find romance with Samuel Lambert, a magically talented American sharpshooter. This book was also praised by critics, with Michelle West writing in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction that Stevermer's "world is both intelligently and lovingly detailed."

When the King Comes Home is also a tale of discovery by a young woman with special powers and responsibilities. The young daughter of a rich wool merchant who is apprenticed to an artist discovers a medal depicting a legendary king and becomes obsessed with it. Library Journal reviewer Jackie Cassada praised the "winsome" first-person narration. The novel is "beautifully rendered, if ultimately promising more than it delivers," concluded a critic for Kirkus Reviews.

Stevermer once told CA: "I was born on a Minnesota dairy farm within ten miles of the Mississippi River, where an occasional steamboat still churned the muddy waters. I do try not to boast about the one-room country schoolhouse where I acquired four years of education before switching to the 'town school.' After a summer as an exchange student in Sao Paolo, Brazil, I went to Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, where I majored in history of art and the Million Dollar Movie on Channel 49.

"After graduation, I tried like hell to live in New York City but found I had no aptitude. As soon as they would let me, I returned to Minnesota. I now speak fluent Minnesotan, take an avid interest in the weather, and spend countless hours every summer at the State Fair."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.

PERIODICALS

Analog Science Fiction & Fact, September, 1994, Tom Easton, review of A College of Magics, pp. 163-164.

Booklist, April 1, 1992, Chris Sherman, review of River Rats, p. 1440; October 1, 1992, review of River Rats, p. 341; March 15, 1993, review of River Rats, p. 1343; March 1, 1994, Roland Green, review of A College of Magics, p. 1185; November 15, 2000, Roland Green, review of When the King Comes Home, p. 625; April 1, 2004, Frieda Murray, review of A Scholar of Magics, p. 1357; September 1, 2004, Kay Weisman, review of The Grand Tour; or, The Purloined Coronation Regalia: Being a Revelation of Matters of High Confidentiality and Greatest Importance, Including Extracts from the Intimate Diary of a Noble-woman and the Sworn Testimony of a Lady of Quality, p. 109.

Book Report, November, 1992, Donna Pool Miller, review of River Rats, p. 46.

Bookwatch, June, 1994, review of A College of Magics, p. 11.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July, 1992, review of River Rats, p. 306.

Children's Book Review Service, July, 1992, review of River Rats, p. 156.

English Journal, January, 1993, John H. Bushman and Kay Parks Bushman, review of River Rats, p. 80.

Horn Book, September-October, 1992, Ann A. Flowers, review of River Rats, p. 589.

Horn Book Guide, fall, 1992, review of River Rats, p. 271.

Journal of Reading, September, 1993, review of River Rats, p. 72.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1992, review of River Rats, p. 617; February 1, 1994, review of A College of Magics, p. 104; October 1, 2000, review of When the King Comes Home, p. 1394; April 15, 2003, review of Sorcery and Cecelia; or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot: Being the Correspondence of Two Young Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London and the Country, p. 613; February 1, 2004, review of A Scholar of Magics, p. 114; September 1, 2004, review of The Grand Tour, p. 875.

Kliatt, January, 1997, review of River Rats, p. 16; May, 2003, Michele Winship, review of Sorcery and Cecelia, p. 15; November, 2004, Michele Winship, review of Sorcery and Cecelia, p. 26.

Library Journal, November 15, 2000, Jackie Cassada, review of When the King Comes Home, p. 101; April 15, 2004, Jackie Cassada, review of A Scholar of Magics, p. 129.

Locus, April, 1994, review of A College of Magics, p. 50; February, 1995, review of A College of Magics, p. 39.

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August, 1994, Charles de Lint, review of A College of Magics, pp. 29-30; October, 2003, Elizabeth Hand, review of Sorcery and Cecelia, p. 55; September, 2004, Michelle West, review of A Scholar of Magics, p. 34.

Publishers Weekly, March 16, 1992, review of River Rats, p. 81; February 14, 1994, review of A College of Magics, p. 84; April 5, 2004, review of A Scholar of Magics, p. 46.

School Library Journal, August, 1992, Jack Forman, review of River Rats, p. 178; August, 1998, review of River Rats, p. 51; November, 2004, Janet Hilbun, review of The Grand Tour, p. 156.

Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 1992, review of River Rats, p. 115; August, 1994, review of A College of Magics, p. 160; April, 1998, review of River Rats, p. 42.

Washington Post Book World, February 27, 1994, review of A College of Magics, p. 11.

Wilson Library Bulletin, December, 1992, Gene LaFaille, review of River Rats, pp. 94-95; October, 1994, Fred Lerner, a review of A College of Magics, pp. 96-97.

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