Catherynne M. Valente is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of forty books of fantasy and science fiction. She lives on a small island off the coast of Maine with her partner, one medium-sized dog, one very enormous cat, a baby son slightly less enormous than the cat (for now), a red accordion, an uncompleted master’s degree, a roomful of yarn, a spinning wheel with ulterior motives, a cupboard of jam and pickles, a bookshelf full of folktales, an industrial torch, an Oxford English Dictionary, and a DSL connection.
Short version, for Editors in Search of a Biography:
Catherynne M. Valente is the New York Times bestselling author of forty works of speculative fiction and poetry, including Space Opera, The Refrigerator Monologues, Palimpsest, the Orphan’s Tales series, Deathless, Radiance, and the crowdfunded phenomenon The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Own Making (and the four books that followed it). She is the winner of the Andre Norton, Tiptree, Sturgeon, Prix Imaginales, Eugie Foster Memorial, Mythopoeic, Rhysling, Lambda, Locus, Romantic Times’ Critics Choice and Hugo awards. She has been a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with a small but growing menagerie of beasts, some of which are human.
Long Version, for Those with a Keener Interest:
Cat Valente has written over two dozen volumes of fiction and poetry since her first novel, The Labyrinth, was published in 2004. Her full-length novels include (chronologically) Yume no Hon: The Book of Dreams, The Grass-Cutting Sword, The Orphan’s Tales (a duology consisting of In the Night Garden and Cities of Coin and Spice), Palimpsest, The Habitation of the Blessed, Deathless, the Fairyland series (comprised of 5 books, beginning with The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making), and Radiance.
She is also the author of two novellas, Under In the Mere and The Ice Puzzle as well as several collections of poetry, including Apocrypha and Oracles (2005), The Descent of Inanna (2006) and A Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects (2008). Her first collection of short stories, Ventriloquism, came out in the winter of 2010, her second, The Bread We Eat in Dreams, in 2013, followed by an essay collection, Indistinguishable from Magic, in 2014.
Her poetry and short fiction can be found online and in print in such journals as Clarkesworld Magazine, Tor.com, Uncanny Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Lightspeed Magazine, Subterranean Online, and Weird Tales, as well as in anthologies such as Interfictions, Salon Fantastique, Welcome to Bordertown, Teeth, Paper Cities, Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells, The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales and featured in numerous Year’s Best collections.
She has won or been nominated for every major award in her field: the Hugo (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014), Nebula (2013 & 2014), Locus (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014) and World Fantasy Awards (2007, 2009, 2011, 2014). In the Night Garden won the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award for expanding gender and sexuality in SFF (2007), and the Orphan’s Tales series as a whole won the Mythopoeic Award for Adults (2008). Palimpsest won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT fiction (2010). Her story “Urchins, While Swimming,” received the Million Writers Award for best online short fiction in 2006 and her poem The Seven Devils of Central California won the Rhysling Award in 2008. Radiance won the Romantic Times Critics Choice Award in 2015. “The Long Goodbye of Violet Wild” won the inaugural Eugie Award in 2016, while the French translation of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making won the Prix Imaginales that same year. The French translations of both The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making and The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There won the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire (2017), while her short story “The Future is Blue” took home the 2017 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award.
In 2010, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making became the first self-published work to win a major literary award, winning the Andre Norton Award for YA literature before it saw print in 2011, going on to become a national bestseller. The first book of the Fairyland series also won a Locus Award for Best YA Novel. It was followed by a prequel and a sequel – a prequel novella entitled The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland – For a Little While was published by Tor.Com in 2011. The sequel, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, was listed by TIME and NPR as one of the ten best books of 2012. The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, the third novel, also received the Locus Award for Best YA Novel (2014). The series continued with The Boy Who Lost Fairyland, which enjoyed its cover reveal on USA Today, before concluding with The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home – an excerpt of which was featured in Entertainment Weekly. In 2016, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making won the Prix Imaginales for Translated International Young Adult Fantasy Fiction, while in 2017, the first two novels in the series won the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire for Roman jeunesse étranger (Foreign Youth Novel).
In 2012 she received the Locus Award for Best Novella (Silently and Very Fast), Best Novelette (White Lines On A Green Field) and Best YA Novel (The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making). In 2014, she received the award for Best YA Novel (The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two) and Best Novella (Six-Gun Snow White). Her novels and short stories have been published in twenty-seven countries.
As part of the SF Squeecast, she won the Hugo for Best Fancast in 2012 and 2013, and as the editor of Apex Magazine, she was nominated in 2012. She was nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards for her dystopian novelette Fade to White in 2013, and her Western novella Six-Gun Snow White in 2014.
Her 2011 adult novel, Deathless, sold film rights to the premier Russian filmmaker Aleksander Rodnyansky.
Radiance, a decopunk science fiction novel, is her latest work for adults and was released in 2015. It appeared on the Honor List for the 2015 James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award, and was highlighted by Entertainment Weekly in a “5 out-of-this-world tales to read” list. RT Book Reviews awarded Radiance their Romantic Times’ Critics Choice Award for Science Fiction Novel in 2015.
In 2017, she released The Refrigerator Monologues, inspired by Gail Simone’s work on Women in Refrigerators: due to be published in June, The Refrigerator Monologues depicts “a series of linked stories from the points of view of the wives and girlfriends of superheroes, female heroes, and anyone who’s ever been ‘refrigerated'” and The Glass Town Game, Cat’s latest book for younger readers about the famous Brontë siblings stumbling into a world they created, illustrated by Rebecca Green.
In 2018, her comedic “Eurovision in space” novel Space Opera burst onto the scene to become a surprise hit, garnering comparisons to Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and David Bowie, as well as a film adaptation deal with Universal and the team behind La La Land. The audiobook won the Earphones Award and the book itself was a Hugo finalist for Best Novel.
2018 also saw the publication of The Future Is Blue, her latest short fiction collection, which was shortlisted for the Locus Award.
In 2018 and 2019, she branched out into the world of media tie-ins with Mass Effect: Annihilation and Minecraft: The End. In 2020, her Star Wars story will appear in the official Lucasfilm anthology From a Certain Point of View Strikes Back.
After a hiatus following the birth of her son, Valente will fill 2020 with short fiction and return to long-form books in 2021 with The Past Is Red, the novella sequel to her Sturgeon Award-winning short story, as well as Space Oddity, the sequel to Space Opera.
The New York Times has called her “an incandescent young star.”
Cat was born on Cinco de Mayo in Seattle and lived there until she was 13. The rest of her growing up she managed in California, living several of the notable “S” cities of the West Coast: Seattle, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, and San Diego.
She is the oldest of five children.
She graduated from high school at age 15, going on to UC San Diego and Edinburgh University, receiving her B.A. in Classics with an emphasis in Ancient Greek Linguistics.
She lived in Japan for two years, in Cleveland for three, Virginia for two, once lived in Chicago for a month for no particular reason, and Melbourne, Australia for slightly longer than a month for a very specific reason. She has worked as a professional fortune teller, telemarketer, private tutor, librarian, waitress, bartender, actress, and statistician, all of which are more or less the same thing. If you add all of those jobs up and add self-employment tax, you get a fantasy novelist.