Nicola Griffith is a native of Yorkshire, England, where she earned her beer money teaching women’s self-defense, fronting a band, and arm-wrestling in bars, before discovering writing and moving to the US. Her immigration case was a fight and ended up making new law: the State Department declared it to be “in the National Interest” for her to live and work in this country. This didn’t thrill the more conservative powerbrokers, and she ended up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, where her case was used as an example of the country’s declining moral standards.
In 1993 a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis slowed her down a bit, and she concentrated on writing. Her novels are Ammonite (1993), Slow River(1995), The Blue Place (1998), Stay (2002), Always (2007) and Hild (2013). She is the co-editor of the BENDING THE LANDSCAPE series of original short fiction. Her multi-media memoir, And Now We Are Going to Have a Party: Liner Notes to a Writer’s Early Life, is a limited collector’s edition. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in an assortment of academic texts and a variety of journals, including Nature, New Scientist, Los Angeles Review of Books and Out. She’s won the Washington State Book Award, the Tiptree, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards, the Premio Italia, Lambda Literary Award (six times), and others.
Nicola is married to writer Kelley Eskridge. They live in Seattle where Nicola is currently lost in the seventh century, emerging occasionally to drink just the right amount of beer and take enormous delight in everything.
Hild is an intricately plotted historical epic, set in a landscape that seems familiar and a culture that is anything but. Hild, the young protagonist, acts as an adviser to the king, Edwin, and the novel abounds with plotting, misdirection, and the use of mysticism toward decidedly realpolitik ends. Griffith’s ability to evoke a different time and place has manifested itself in very different ways over the years; her first two novels, Ammonite and Slow River, were both science fiction, though of very different types. Ammonite begins as anthropological science fiction and gradually becomes more epic in scale; Slow River involves conspiracies, industry, and a marvelously intricate plot. The series of three novels featuring Aud Torvingen—The Blue Place, Stay, and Always—are set in the modern world, with a fiercely analytical (and sometimes critically violent) protagonist. And in 2007, her memoir, And Now We Are Going to Have a Party: Liner Notes to a Writer’s Early Life, was released. Read here.
Sean McDonald: So, 7th-century England! How did that happen? Your last novel was a distinctly 21st-century crime novel. How did you end up writing Hild?
Nicola Griffith: In my early twenties I was living in Hull, a depressed (and depressing) industrialised city in East Yorkshire. For a break, for my sanity, I went north up the coast, to Whitby. / The first thing I saw was the ruined abbey on the East Cliff. I didn’t even stop to unload my backpack before climbing the one hundred and ninety-nine steps… Read here.
A great PBS show in which I chat back and forth with host Terry Tazzioli about Hild for about 15 minutes, and then Terry and critic Mary Ann Gwinn talk about the book, suggesting similiar novels to read, and more. Watch here.
To the Best of Our Knowledge
12-minute radio interview, from To the Best of Our Knowledge, in which I talk about writing Hild.