Salmonson, Jessica Amanda

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SALMONSON, Jessica Amanda

Born Amos Salmonson, 6 January 1950, Seattle, Washington

Daughter of Veronica (Walker) Salerno

Jessica Amanda Salmonson grew up in an itinerant life because her mother, a sword swallower, and stepfather, a fire-eater, worked in carnivals. Abandoned at age seven, Salmonson saw neither for years while growing up in an abusive foster system with an older sister. Running away at the age of twelve, Salmonson lived in "hippy group-houses" until rediscovering her missing father and her stepmother, Lek (also known as Lumchuan), a Thai Buddhist nun who was raised in a temple, with whom she studied Buddhism for several years. Salmonson's short story "Lincoy's Journey" is based on the event that led to Lek's placement in the temple where she was raised, and cites her stepmother as "the only decent adult in my childhood, otherwise I wouldn't have believed decent adults existed."

Salmonson started submitting stories to pulp magazines at the age of ten but didn't get published until age twenty-two in small presses. One of her first works was Tragedy of the Moisty Morning (1978), a short story published in chapbook form. Amazons! (1979), her first editorial credit in the science fiction and fantasy world, won a World Fantasy award for Best Collection/Anthology of that year. Her first novel, Tomoe Gozen (1981), began a fantasy series set in a Japanese milieu and allowed Salmonson to quit a "crappy secretarial job." She hasn't looked back since.

Novels such as The Golden Naginata (1982), second in the Tomoe Gozen series, and The Swordswoman (1982) followed, along with several more anthologies: Amazons II (1982), Heroic Visions (1983), and Tales by Moonlight (1983). Hag's Tapestry (1984), a collection of short stories, was published in chapbook form in England, and two more novels, Thousand Shrine Warrior (1984), third in the Tomoe Gozen series, and Ou Lu Khen and theBeautiful Madwoman (1985), would follow in the 1980s. Most of Salmonson's work in that period encompassed anthologies. The Haunted Wherry, and Other Rare Ghost Stories (1985) appeared from Miskatonic University Press, named for H. P. Lovecraft's fictional school. Other anthologies included Heroic Visions II (1986), The Supernatural Tales of Fitz-James O'Brien (1988), Tales by Moonlight II (1989), and What Did Miss Darrington See: An Anthology of Feminist Supernatural Fiction (1989), which won both the Lambda Literary award and the Readercon Small Press award. During that time, Salmonson also released two short story collections, A Silver Thread of Madness (1989) and John Collier and Fredric Brown Went Quarrelling Through My Head: Stories (1989).

In the 1990s Salmonson's work focused mostly on short story collections and anthologies, although one novel, Anthony Shriek, His Doleful Adventures; or, Lovers of Another Realm (1992), appeared, and Tomoe Gozen was republished as The Disfavored Hero (1999). Eleven short story collections appeared under Salmonson's pen in a wide variety of topics, ranging from ghosts—Harmless Ghosts (1990), The Mysterious Doom and Other Ghostly Tales of the Pacific Northwest (1992), and The Deep Museum: Ghost Stories of a Melancholic (1999)—to fairy tales,—Wisewomen and Boggy-Boos: A Dictionary Of Lesbian Fairy Lore (1992, with Jules Remedios Faye)—from myths and legends—Mystic Women: Their Ancient Tales and Legends Recounted by a Woman Inmate of the Calcutta Insane Asylum (1991), Phantom Waters: Northwest Legends of Rivers, Lakes and Shores (1995), Mister Monkey and Other Sumerian Fables (1995), and The Eleventh Jaguarundi and Other Mysterious Persons (1995)—to new creations—Twenty-One Novels (1995). She also edited numerous books, including The Encyclopedia of Amazons: Women Warriors from Antiquity to the Modern Era (1991), Master of Fallen Years: The Complete Supernatural Tales of Vincent O'Sullivan (1995), and The Phantom Coach: An Anti-quary's Ghost Stories (1999).

One of the reigning experts on feminist and 19th-century fantasy literature, as well as a respected fantasist in her own right, Salmonson's short fiction has appeared in a variety of publications, such as Deathrealm, Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Pirate Writings, Science Fiction Age, Shadows, Weirdbook, and Weird Tales, as well as in anthologies like Jane Yolen's Xanadu 2 (1994) and Poppy Z. Brite's Love in Vein (1994), among many others.

After getting burned out on paperback originals, Salmonson has been focusing her current and future work on editing mostly limited edition hardcovers and selling antiquarian books through her Violet Books bookstore in her hometown of Seattle, where she lives with artist friend Rhonda Jean Boothe.


Barr, M. S., Lost in Space: Probing Feminist Science Fiction and Beyond (1993). CA. Mallett, D. F., and R. Reginald, Reginald's Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards: A Comprehensive Guide to the Awards and Their Winners (1991, 1993). Reginald, R., Science Fiction & Fantasy Literature, 1975-1991: A Bibliography of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Fiction Books and Nonfiction Monographs (1992).