Kurtz, Katherine 1944- (Katherine Irene Kurtz)
Kurtz, Katherine 1944- (Katherine Irene Kurtz)
Born October 18, 1944, in Coral Gables, FL; daughter of Fredrick Harry Kurtz (an electronics technician) and Margaret Frances Carter (a paralegal); married Scott Roderick MacMillan (an author and producer), March 9, 1983; children: Cameron Alexander Stewart. Education: University of Miami, B.S., 1966; University of California—Los Angeles, M.A., 1971. Religion: Episcopalian.
Home—1417 N. Augusta St., Staunton, VA 24401. Agent—Russell Galen, Scovil, Chichak, Galen Literary Agency, 381 Park Ave. S., New York, NY 10016.
Writer. Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles, CA, instructional technologist, 1969-81.
Authors Guild, Authors' League, Science-Fiction and Fantasy Writers' of America.
Edmund Hamilton Memorial Award, 1977, for Camber of Culdi; Balrog Award, 1982, for Camber the Heretic; named dame of Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, and companion of Royal House of O'Conor; dame grand officer of Imperial Order of Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia.
"DERYNI" FANTASY SERIES
Deryni Rising, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1970, revised, Ace (New York, NY), 2004.
Deryni Checkmate, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1972, revised, Ace (New York, NY), 2005.
High Deryni, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1973, reprinted, Ace (New York, NY), 2007.
Camber of Culdi ("Legends of Camber of Culdi" cycle), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1976.
Saint Camber ("Legends of Camber of Culdi" cycle), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1978.
Camber the Heretic ("Legends of Camber of Culd," cycle), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1981.
The Bishop's Heir ("Histories of King Kelson" cycle), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1984.
The King's Justice ("Histories of King Kelson" cycle), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1985.
The Chronicles of the Deryni (includes Deryni Rising, Deryni Checkmate, and High Deryni), Science Fiction Book Club, 1985.
The Quest for Saint Camber ("Histories of King Kelson" cycle), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1985.
The Harrowing of Gwynedd ("Heirs of St. Camber" cycle), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1985.
The Deryni Archives (stories), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1986.
Deryni Magic: A Grimoire, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1991.
King Javan's Year ("Heirs of St. Camber" cycle), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1992.
The Bastard Prince ("Heirs of St. Camber" cycle), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1994.
(Compiler and editor, with Robert Reginald) Codex Derynianus: Being a Comprehensive Guide to the Peoples, Places, and Things of the Derynye and the Human Worlds of the XI Kingdoms, Borgo Press (San Bernardino, CA), 1998, second edition, Underwood Books (Nevada City, CA), 2005.
King Kelson's Bride, Ace (New York, NY), 2000.
(Editor) Deryni Tales: An Anthology, Ace (New York, NY), 2002.
In the King's Service, Ace (New York, NY), 2003.
Childe Morgan, Ace (New York, NY), 2006.
"ADEPT" FANTASY SERIES; WITH DEBORAH TURNER HARRIS
The Adept, Ace (New York, NY), 1991.
Death of an Adept, Ace (New York, NY), 1992.
The Lodge of the Lynx, Ace (New York, NY), 1992.
The Templar Treasure, Ace (New York, NY), 1993.
Dagger Magic, Ace (New York, NY), 1995.
Lammas Night (novel), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1983, hardcover edition, Severn, 1986.
The Legacy of Lehr (science-fiction novel), Walker (New York, NY), 1986.
(Editor) Tales of the Knights Templar, Warner (New York, NY), 1995.
Two Crowns for America, Bantam (New York, NY), 1996.
(With Deborah Turner Harris) The Temple and the Stone, Warner (New York, NY), 1998.
(Editor) On Crusade: More Tales of the Knights Templar, Warner (New York, NY), 1998.
St. Patrick's Gargoyle, Ace (New York, NY), 2001.
(With Deborah Turner Harris) The Temple and the Crown, Warner (New York, NY), 2001.
(Editor) Crusade of Fire: Mystical Tales of the Knights Templar, Warner (New York, NY), 2002.
Contributor of stories to anthologies, including Flashing Swords No. 4, edited by Lin Carter, Dell (New York, NY), 1977; Hecate's Cauldron, edited by Susan Shwartz, DAW (New York, NY), 1982; Nine Visions, edited by Andrea LaSonde Melrose, Seabury Press (New York, NY), 1983; Moonsinger's Friends, edited by Shwartz, Bluejay, 1985; Once upon a Time, edited by Lester del Rey and Risa Kessler, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1991; Crafter I, edited by Bill Fawcett and Christopher Stasheff, Ace (New York, NY), 1991; Godsof War, edited by Fawcett, Baen (New York, NY), 1992; and Battlestation II, edited by Fawcett and Stasheff, Ace, 1992. Contributor of stories to periodicals, including Fantasy Book.
Kurtz's works have been translated into Dutch, German, Italian, Polish, Swedish, Japanese, Spanish, and Romanian.
Katherine Kurtz's love of history has helped to shape the medieval worlds she crafts in her fantasy novels, as well as the plots of her books set in twentieth-century England and Scotland. Her "Deryni" fantasy series, composed of four base trilogies plus additional novels, focuses on the land of Gwynedd in the Eleven Kingdoms, a world based on medieval Wales. There the Deryni, a race of beings with unusual psychic powers, struggle against persecution by humans and attempt to preserve their powers and their culture. In a review of The Quest for Saint Camber, a Publishers Weekly critic dubbed Kurtz "queen of the proliferating fantasy subgenre that adds a magical element to dynastic historical romances." Kurtz's ability to weave historical detail with themes of magic and sorcery has made her books popular with both adults and young adults, prompting a Publishers Weekly contributor to crown Kurtz "a master of epic fantasy." In addition to her fantasy novels, Kurtz has also produced the thriller Lammas Night, edited several fiction anthologies, authored a science-fiction novel, and, with Deborah Turner Harris, has written the popular "Adept" series of contemporary mysteries. Comparing Kurtz to British fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien in her approach to her imaginary world, a St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers essayist commented that Kurtz's "magic is well realized, [her] … characters much better drawn than in most modern fantasies, and, for anyone with a romantic interest in the Middle Ages, [her "Deryni"] saga will inevitably have a great deal of fascination."
Born in 1944, in Coral Gables, Florida, during a hurricane, Kurtz once recalled her first moments on Earth to SATA as "a whirlwind entry into the world which I like to think was a portent of exciting things to come." Kurtz began her love affair with books at an early age, and as a fourth grader she discovered her first science-fiction novel, Lodestar. "After that, no science fiction book in any library was safe from eye-tracking by ‘The Kurtz,’" she recalled. After graduating from high school, Kurtz earned her B.S. in chemistry at the University of Miami. "My tastes always leaned toward humanities rather than hard science," she nonetheless explained. "It was during my undergraduate years at the University of Miami that I consciously fell in love with history, and it was to history that I returned when I decided, after one year of medical school, that I would rather write about medicine than practice it." In 1971 she graduated from the University of California—Los Angeles, with an M.A. in English history. "More important than the piece of pa-
per," Kurtz explained, "was the formal knowledge of the medieval and renaissance world that I gained and the sharpening of research skills which would stand me in good stead as I continued writing medievally set fantasy."
Kurtz wrote what would become the first six "Deryni" novels in her spare time while working for the Los Angeles Police Department as a technical writer and curriculum designer. Ten years later, in 1980, she embarked on her full-time career as a fiction writer. "I can't imagine a more satisfying life than to be making a living doing what I love," she admitted to SATA. "Far too few people get the opportunity to do that, and especially at a relatively young age."
The first "Deryni" novel, Deryni Rising, was published in 1970. The first installment in the three-volume "Chronicles of the Deryni" cycle, it introduces readers to the kingdom of Gwynedd, the culture of which is
laced with magic. The other three-volume cycles in the "Deryni" series include "Legends of St. Camber," which follows the life of a nobleman as he is first sainted then deemed a heretic; "Histories of King Kelson," which continues the events from the "Chronicles of the Deryni"; and "Heirs of St. Camber," where the magical kingdom suffers a dark age between the time of St. Camber and the rise to power of King Kelson. While Voice of Youth Advocates contributor Diane G. Yates expressed personal dismay that in the second part of the "Heirs of St. Camber" cycle, King Javan's Year, "so many of the characters … lose their lives in an unceasing struggle with the forces of evil," she added that the novel "is beautifully written, and should appeal to teens as well as adults." In The Bastard Prince, the concluding volume in "Heirs of St. Camber," the efforts of the heir to the throne "reflects the atmospheric gloom of a dark and secret land, full of treachery and cruelty but shot through with light and a promise of hope," in the opinion of a Publishers Weekly contributor, the critic also praising Kurtz for her ability to sustain tension and create vivid characters.
In the King's Service begins a new three-volume "Deryni" cycle, this time taking readers back to the time of King Kelson's grandfather, King Donal Haldane. Following the tragic death of a bastard son who was being groomed to be protector to Prince Brion, Deryni heiress Alyce de Corwyn and her toddler son Alaric Morgan are destined to take on the task. Fearing Prince Brion's succession, Bishop de Nore focuses his efforts on spearheading the extermination of the Deryni among the human population of Gwynedd. Childe Morgan continues the story, which finds Alyce and her human husband Kenneth Morgan raising Alaric to fulfill his destiny as protector. Problems arise when the power shifts between Deryni and human, forcing four-year-old Alaric to accept his responsibilities early. Calling In the King's Service an "exquisitely detailed" fantasy novel, a Publishers Weekly contributor added that readers are pulled along by characters who "follow … paths strewn with danger, difficulties, misjudgments—and the ‘agonizing possibility’ of death." Kurtz's "meticulous recreation of a medieval world" in Childe Morgan provides the novel "a sumptuous background," according to Jackie Cassada in Library Journal, and Booklist reviewer Frieda Murray deemed the novel "a vital continuation of the ["Deryni"] saga."
In addition to the "Deryni" novels, Kurtz has made what she terms "several literary forays outside the medieval world of the Eleven Kingdoms." Her historical thriller Lammas Night takes place in England during World War II. As Kurtz once explained to SATA: "British folk tradition has it that England has been saved from invasion more than once by the magical intervention of those appointed to guard her, Napoleonic and Armada times being cited as two specific examples. Less-well-known tradition has it that similar measures were employed to keep Hitler from invading Britain during that fateful summer of 1940, with its sagas of Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain. Whether or not what was done actually had any effect we will never know for certain, but the fact remains that Hitler never did invade, even though he was poised to do so for many months. Lammas Night is the story of how and why that might have been."
Together with fellow author Deborah Turner Harris, Kurtz has written several volumes in the "Adept" series. Set in the twentieth century, the novels features members of a secret, three-member brotherhood known as the Adept: former members of the ancient Knights Templar who, now based in Scotland, have sworn to uphold cosmic laws in their reincarnated form. In The Templar Treasure, the trio search for the treasured Seal of Solomon, only to discover a host of horrors. And in Dagger Magic, the Adept must foil efforts by a reincarnated Tibetan magician to gain absolute power by way of a collection of ancient texts confiscated by the Nazis decades ago and now discovered to exist in a German U-boat hidden in a cave along the northern coast of Ireland. "The plot, though somewhat convoluted, has a
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Wangerian intensity and a profound moral message chillingly told," maintained Voice of Youth Advocates contributor Mary Anne Hoebeke in her review of Dagger Magic.
Other works by Kurtz include the science-fiction novels The Legacy of Lehr, several collections of short stories focusing on the Knights Templar, the young-adult fantasy St. Patrick's Gargoyle, and an historical novel set during the American Revolutionary War, titled Two Crowns for America. Positing an alternate history, in Two Crowns for America Kurtz shows what would have happened had America adopted a monarchy, with factional Jacobites and Freemasons attempting to crown their preferred king while an occult Master has a plan of his own for the new country's future. Calling the novel an "engrossing and elegant tale," Booklist reviewer Roland Green praised its author for her "vivid portrayals" of such characters as Prince Charles Edward Stuart, otherwise known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin. St. Patrick's Gargoyle, which Booklist contributor Ray Olson predicted would become a "Christmas perennial," finds a guardian gargoyle and a member of the Knights of Malta determined to find those responsible for vandalizing Ireland's famed St. Patrick's Cathedral in the days before Christmas. The novel was described by a Publishers Weekly contributor as a "light, sentimental fantasy" that combines Celtic history and a tour of the ancient city of Dublin.
Kurtz has several interests outside history and writing, although, as she noted, "most of them do tend to relate to my writing or medieval background in some way." A voracious reader, she tackles history, religion, and other books related to her research, while saving time to dip into "the occasional Brother Cadfael mystery for fun." Other hobbies take her away from the printed page; as Kurtz explained: "I delight in counted cross-stitch embroidery and needlepoint, will occasionally crochet, but am totally indifferent to knitting. I can sew just about anything, including medieval costumes and horse bardings." Together with her husband, whom she met at a Scottish country dance in Santa Monica, California, she restored an historic country house which they bought in County Wicklow, Ireland, in 1986. They have since moved to an even older and equally historic house in Virginia.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Clarke, Boden, and Mary A. Burgess, The Work of Katherine Kurtz: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide, Borgo Press (San Bernardino, CA), 1993.
St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Booklist, May 1, 1994, Roland Green, review of The Bastard Prince, p. 1583; February 1, 1996, Roland Green, review of Two Crowns for America, p. 920; December 1, 1996, Roland Green, review of Death of an Adept, p. 643; February 1, 2001, Ray Olson, review of St. Patrick's Gargoyle, p. 1042; April 15, 2001, Roland Green, review of The Temple and the Crown, p. 1540; May 1, 2002, Roland Green, review of Deryni Tales: An Anthology, p. 1513; November 1, 2002, Roland Green, review of Crusades of Fire: Mystical Tales of the Knights Templar, p. 480; October 15, 2003, Frieda Murray, review of In the King's Service, p. 399; November 1, 2006, Frieda Murray, review of Childe Morgan, p. 35.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 1998, review of On Crusade, p. 452.
Kliatt, September, 1995, Judith H. Silverman, review of Tales of the Knights Templar, p. 23.
Library Journal, June 15, 2000, Jackie Cassada, review of King Kelson's Bride, p. 121; February 15, 2001, review of St. Patrick's Gargoyle, p. 205; June 15, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of Deryni Tales, p. 100; November 15, 2003, Jackie Cassada, review of In the King's Service, p. 101; November 15, 2006, Jackie Cassada, review of Childe Morgan, p. 62.
Publishers Weekly, April 10, 1972, p. 60; July 9, 1973, p. 48; May 31, 1976, p. 197; September 11, 1978, review of Saint Camber, p. 77; September 25, 1981, review of Camber the Heretic, p. 87; September 21, 1984, review of The Bishop's Heir, p. 92; August 8, 1986 review of The Quest for Saint Camber, p. 58; September 26, 1986, review of The Legacy of Lehr, p. 69; December 2, 1988, review of The Heirs of Saint Camber, p. 48; December 21, 1990, review of Deryni Magic, p. 50; February 8, 1991, review of The Adept, p. 54; June 21, 1993, review of The Templar Treasure, p. 102; May 23, 1994, review of The Bastard Prince, p. 82; November 27, 1995, review of Two Crowns for America, pp. 52-53; April 13, 1998, review of On Crusade, p. 57; July 27, 1998, review of The Temple and the Stone, pp. 58-59; May 29, 2000, review of King Kelson's Bride, p. 57; January 1, 2001, review of St. Patrick's Gargoyle, p. 72; October 20, 2003, review of In the King's Service, p. 39; October 9, 2006, review of Childe Morgan, p. 41.
School Library Journal, January, 1985, review of The Bishop's Heir, p. 92; February, 1986, Betsy Shorb, review of The King's Justice, p. 103; November, 1986, review of The Deryni Archives, p. 116; December, 1986, Betsy Shorb, review of The Quest for Saint Camber, p. 126; January, 1990, Annette Demeritt, review of The Harrowing of Gwynedd, p. 128; September, 1991, review of The Adept, p. 298; September, 1992, review of The Lodge of the Lynx, p. 29; November, 19995, review of Dagger Magic, p. 141.
Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 1986, p. 238; April, 1987, p. 38; August, 1989, p. 166; April, 1993, Diane G. Yates, review of King Javan's Year, p. 42; October, 1993, Faye H. Gottschall, review of The Templar Treasure, p. 230; October, 1995, Mary Anne Hoebeke, review of Dagger Magic, p. 234.
Katherine Kurtz Home Page,http://www.deryni.net (August 20, 2007).