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C.S. Friedman Biography
- Information About the Writer -

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General Information

The biography on the last page of When True Night Falls is the most insightful: "A voracious reader from her earliest days, Celia S. Friedman discovered science fiction at the age of ten and instantly recognized it to be the ultimate form of literature in the universe. When not reading, she teaches Costume Design at a private university in northern Virginia and designs period dress patterns for a historical supply company."

NOTE: This biography has been updated!

Celia S. Friedman was born in 1957 to Nancy and Herbert Friedman. Originally a radio engineer, Herb later became a contributor to numerous technical magazines, and the sound of a typewriter churning out magazine articles was the background to Celiaís childhood.

She learned to read at an early age and could not get enough of it. In kindergarten she read the entirety of a Dick and Jane book in one night -- it was intended to last her class the whole semester -- and she demanded of the teacher the next day, "Whereís the sequel?"

At age 6, a child psychologist who had tested her at school reported to her parents with some concern that when given a drawing of a house and a family and asked to make up a story about them, she did -- a complex story in which the family were really space aliens. (Her parents reassured the tester they considered this normal, healthy creativity.)

At age 12, during a trip to France with her family, she ran out of reading material and purchased the only book available in English. It was Asimovís collection Earth is Room Enough. Upon reading it she came to realize that Science Fiction was the ultimate form of literature in the universe... a discovery that was to change the direction of her life.

At age 13 she wrote a vampire novel, mostly between the pages of her math notebook, and readers should all be very glad it was lost, as it was quite awful. (That was back in the Dark Shadows generation, when writing a vampire novel was a requirement for growing up.)

At age 14, in response to classmates disdaining her for being "a mere earthling", she began to design an interstellar universe complete with warring nations and a 10,000 year history. This work would later become the core of the background material for her first published novel, In Conquest Born. It also satisfied her classmates that, like them, she was truly an alien, and won her social acceptance.

At age 17 she shipped out to Brandeis University, where she studied Math for one year and then changed to a Theater major. More significantly, she discovered the Society for Creative Anachronism and the joy of spending her weekends in period costume.

At age 19 she transferred to Adelphi University. Her mother suggested she become a costume designer, since obviously she liked costumes so much. She responded that this was a silly idea, since costumes were fun, and people in the real world didnít pay you for having fun.

Meanwhile she joined the League of Renaissance Swordsmen, performed with them at various Renaissance festivals, and met Rick Umbaugh, who read her stuff and said she should turn it in to a publisher. By "stuff" he was referring to the now daunting amount of creative material she had written based upon the worlds of Braxi and Azea and the endless war between them.

It was a good idea, but it lost out to a busy life. In 1978 Celia attended the University of Georgia, where she studied Costume Design and eventually got her MFA. While there, under Rickís urging, she began to put together the various bits and pieces of her work and develop it into a unified novel...but there was still far to go.

In 1981 Celia got her first job, as Assistant Professor of Costuming in Geneseo, NY. Working many hours a day, often 7 days a week, she scribbled short stories long into the night to work off her tension.

And then one day in 1983 IT happened. She had spent the whole night in a writing frenzy, turning out 30 pages that (in hindsight) were clearly inspired by the bitterly cold, ice-bound Rochester winter. She looked at them in the bleary light of dawn and read them again and thought, "Damn, this is good. This is good enough to sell." (Chapter 11 of In Conquest Born, if youíre curious).


What to do now?

Moving to Winchester Virginia, to teach at Shenandoah University, she set aside a summer to turn her stories into a novel which she could submit for consideration. She really didnít think such a fragmented novel would be accepted, but she knew she wouldnít be able to work on anything else until it had received its rejection and she could move on.

With Rickís constant urging, and a four hour phone call the last night to come up with a title, she finally submitted "In Conquest Born" to DAW books, and waited for her rejection to come in the mail.


It didnít.

DAW loved her book and she loved DAW and she has been writing for them ever since. Special credit goes to her editor-goddess Betsy Wollheim, who has always had remarkable insight into her work and never pushed her to take the easy road just to sell a book. In the mid-90ís she signed on with agent Russ Galen, who gets credit as well for all the things that agents do best, including artistic inspiration.

Celia quit her costume design career after having designed 100 shows for university and professional stages. Partly this was to have more time for writing, and partly it was to have some time for a social life. However she has discovered she is not happy alone in the house with her computer all the time, and has begun teaching a creative writing course at a local high school. Itís proving to be a wonderful balance of creative energy, and gives her the opportunity to spend time with some truly gifted teachers and exceptional young people. (Chapter 17 of The Wilding is dedicated to her first yearís writing students...they will know why.)

Sadly, both Celiaís writer-father and her mother have passed away. Her father lived just long enough to see her first book published. Her mother is eulogized in the introduction to This Alien Shore, which was written while Celia helped care for her in her final months. Surviving them is Larry, her brother, who has currently written three successful business books, (Getting Partnering Right, The Channel Advantage, and Go-To-Market Strategy) and composes music in his spare time. New to the family is Kim Dobson Friedman, a talented artist who married her brother several years ago, and who helps him with his research and his writing.

Also in the family are Coco, a big black Angora that belonged to Celiaís mom, Shiva, a blue shorthair stray that she rescued in Winchester, and Tasha, an insatiably curious tabby-and-white Maine Coon who insists on being part of the writing process.

Additional Information

As a costumer, are any of her patterns published? Where can I get them?
Her patterns were published by Medieval Miscellanea. They are available through some stores and companies that carry the specialist lines, such as Folkwear and in particular G-street fabrics in DC.

Says Ms. Friedman, "There is also a company called Amazon Dry Goods which is a costumer's dream [2218 E. 11th Street, Davenport, IA 52803-3760 - (800) 798-7979, Catalog $7.00 - ed.]. I published a men's Tudor set, co-published a men's Elizabethan, and a women's Italian Renaissance. The patterns are cool; they have many gaments in each set and historical notes as well as instructions. The only shortcoming is that I think the flared skirt alternative didn't make it into the Italian set (I haven't checked the last printing), so costumers should know that a skirt cut on the curve looks very nice with the early stuff."

"Also note with any historical pattern, make a mock-up first to check the size (there's a warning for this in each pattern , but I'll reiterate it here). The women's stuff is based on Butterick sizing, it ran a little large, and the men's is adapted from period garments, which ran a little....strange. Take a look at it first and make necessary adjustments before you commit that wonderful piece of fabric which can never be replaced."

Who were her early writing influences?
"I devoured a book a day or more, could not get enough, mostly the classic novels. Well, my parents took us on a trip to Europe, and sometime in the second week I ran out of reading material. Fate worse than death! I nagged them until they took me to a touristy drugstore, where I desperately searched for something, anything in English...and wound up with a copy of Asimov's EARTH IS ROOM ENOUGH. And I was hooked from page one. I devoured all the Asimov I could, moved on to Brian Aldiss, Robert Silverberg, others....it was the tail end of what I consider the golden age of the short story, when the *idea* was still king and authors were not yet adding extraneous pages of tedious filler to prove that they were *real* literary writers. Those early stories left me reeling, and I knew -- as my bio states -- that there could be no greater form of literature than this, a genre that could contain all imaginable variations of plot, theme, and character development, AND introduce you to concepts that left your brain buzzing for days afterwards. Why write anything else? (Aside from the fact that everything else pays more, that is. :-) )." - CSF.

How did she get started in writing?
"I worked on pieces of what became IN CONQUEST BORN for years, and never intended to get published, just loved the act of writing. Then one day I looked down at what I had done and I thought, damn, this is good, and maybe I can get published. And I finished it off and sent it in, not because I thought it would get published, but because it was an immense body of work I had to get off my back before I could go on and do *real* writing. Surprise! So I feel quite unique in that I had no aspirations to be a writer, only loved the act of writing so much I couldn't stop! (And boy, having to do it for a living cures that, but fast!)." - CSF

Who are her favorite authors?
" Look up Cordwainer Smith (short stories, not novels) for a real creativity rush; he inspired several aspects of my current novels, and is one of the most unique voices ever to write SF (not recent, so you may have to hunt used shops or reprints). Octavia Butler's early stuff is really intense, telepathic, and edged with complex violence; the later stuff is also good. A Fire Upon the Deep by [Vernor] Vinge is conceptually awesome, it left my mind buzzing for days afterwards; a rare treat. George RR Martin has written very little but it's all worth reading. Barbara Hambly is a genius, I would read the phone book if she wrote it; I consider her Those Who Hunt the Night one of the best vampire novels ever written (And George RR Martin's Fevre Dream another.) Terry Adam's first book for DAW has much the same flavor as In Conquest Born, though not as cohesive; it was unnerving to read. Michael Moorcock's An Alien Heat for the utterly bizarre, and Phillip K Dick's Ubik (with a stiff drink in hand) for the utterly psychotic. I happen to think that the early days of the short story fostered some briliant creativity: look for early story collections by Robert Silverberg, William Tenn, James Tiptree, Robert Sheckly, and Isaac Asimov. Richard Matheson in the same vein for horror. Haldeman, especially his early novels. Stephen Brust, for fantasy addicts; some of his books are brilliant. Tanya Huff writes with marvelous characterization, her stuff looks like simple little fantasy books but it's a real pleasure to read. Check out her vampire series, Blood Price, etc., from DAW; absolutely delightful. Brin is great too.

Oh yes, and for an interesting reading experience...a few years ago a YA novel came out called *The Silver Kiss.* It's a vampire book written for young readers, and oddly enough, it is one of the most moving books of that genre I have ever read. Vampire enthusiasts should definitely search it out. Came out about 1989."

Does Ms. Friedman have an email address?
Yes! You can email her at csfriedman@adelphia.net (home page is in the works). Please do not email her with questions already answered on the FAQ, or with questions that should be answered on the FAQ (email them to me instead).

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