Guest of Honour: Juliet E McKenna
JULIET E MCKENNA was born in Lincolnshire on the 25th of July 1965, but now lives in West Oxfordshire with her husband Steve and their two sons, Keith and Ian. Even from an early age her interest in folk tales and mythology was evident. Her favourite subjects at school (Parkstone Girls' Grammar School, Poole) were History, English, and Latin. This led fairly naturally to a classics degree at St Hilda's College, Oxford where she studied Greek and Roman history and literature. While at Oxford, she joined the Oxford University Speculative Fiction Group, and became interested in tabletop and live action role playing (or LARPing), as well as Aikido.
As time went on, Juliet found herself increasingly writing scenarios for the role playing games she was involved in, and eventually herself and Steve were running an invitation-only LARP club. She says, "One of the most important things this taught me was what makes a good novel, what makes a good table-top adventure and what makes a good LARP scenario do have certain things in common but equally are very different in some crucial respects."
It was during this time she wrote her first novel, a classic youth leaves home, rites of passage tale, which got rejected unceremoniously. Time passed and, after spending some time working in her local bookshop (which allowed her to see the commercial side of the business from the inside), as well as attending the Crime and Mystery Weekends run at her old college in Oxford every summer (which allowed her to meet a number of writers, as well as agents and publishers), she had a much clearer picture of what was needed to stand a chance of breaking into publication. "What you need, I heard, is "the same but different." All of this advice came in useful when she went to submit The Thief's Gamble, which became the first volume of the The Tales of Einarinn, and her first published book.
The Tales of Einarinn is now complete in five volumes, which are, besides The Thief's Gamble, The Swordsman's Oath, The Gambler's Fortune, The Warrior's Bond, and The Assassin's Edge. Since finishing that series, she has started a new series, titled The Aldabreshin Compass, which is set in the Aldabreshin Archipelago, which featured briefly as a backdrop in The Swordsman's Oath. The first volume, Southern Fire, was published in the UK in September 2003, and the second volume, Northern Storm, is now finished and with the publishers, and is due to be published on September 2nd 2004. She is currently working on outlines for the third volume Western Deep, and the fourth volume, whose title is yet to be decided.
Besides all this, Juliet has also written Turns and Chances, an Einarinn novella, which is due from PS Publishing in May 2004; The Wedding Gift - An Illustrated Tale of Einarinn, which is available by mail order as an original 12,500 word short story illustrated by a range of the UK's leading comic book artists; and a Dr Who short story Losing Track of Time, which is available in Big Finish's anthology Short Trips: A Universe of Terrors.
Juliet also somehow finds time to write articles and reviews for The Alien Online, something she has in common with the chairman of the con, fellow guest Ariel, and several of the con’s other attendees.
There is a considerable amount of useful information about Juliet on her website, not only about herself, but also about how she became a writer, as well as a number of useful and enlightening articles on various subjects, a lot of them related to writing.
It gives me a considerable amount of personal pleasure to announce Juliet E McKenna as the Guest of Honour at P-CON II. Not only is she an entertaining, witty, and consummately professional guest and speaker at any convention she attends, but she is also funny, intelligent, and a good friend. We are honoured to have her.
Pádraig Ó Méalóid, Chairman, The Phoenix Convention
Juliet's Picture taken at P-Con I and is courtesy Mike Mc Phail