Author: Carolyn Janice Cherry pen name C. J. Cherryh
Carolyn Janice Cherry (born September 1, 1942), better known by the pen name C. J. Cherryh, is an American writer of speculative fiction. She has written more than 60 books since the mid-1970s, including the Hugo Award winning novels Downbelow Station (1981) and Cyteen (1988), both set in her Alliance-Union universe.
Cherryh (pronounced "Cherry") appended a silent "h" to her real name because her first editor, Donald A. Wollheim, felt that "Cherry" sounded too much like a romance writer. Her initials, C.J., were used to disguise the fact that she was female at a time when almost all science fiction authors were male.
The author has an asteroid, 77185 Cherryh, named after her. Referring to this honor, the asteroid's discoverers wrote of Cherryh: "She has challenged us to be worthy of the stars by imagining how mankind might grow to live among them." Cherryh was the Guest of Honor at FenCon IX in Dallas/Fort Worth on September 21–23, 2012
Cherryh did not follow the professional path typical of science fiction writers at the time, which was to first publish short stories in science fiction and fantasy magazines and then progress to novels. In fact, Cherryh did not consider writing short stories until after she had several novels published.
Instead, Cherryh wrote novels in her spare time away from teaching and submitted these manuscripts directly for publication. Initially, she met with little success. In fact, she was forced to re-write some of her early works when various publishers lost the manuscripts she submitted. Retyping from carbon copies of her manuscripts was cheaper than paying for photocopying, and, in effect, forced her to rewrite those lost manuscripts (using carbon paper to make at least one copy of a manuscript was standard practice until the advent of the personal computer).
Her breakthrough came in 1975 when Donald A. Wollheim purchased both manuscripts she had submitted to DAW Books, Gate of Ivrel and Brothers of Earth. Cherryh stated in an interview on Amazing Stories, "It was the first time a book really found an ending and really worked, because I had made contact with Don Wollheim at DAW, found him interested, and was able to write for a specific editor whose body of work and type of story I knew. It was a good match. It was a set of characters I’d invented when I was, oh, about thirteen. So it was an old favorite of my untold stories, and ended up being the first in print." The two novels were published in 1976, Gate of Ivrel preceding Brothers of Earth by several months (although she had completed and submitted Brothers of Earth first). The books won her immediate recognition and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1977.
Although not all of her works have been published by DAW Books, during this early period, she developed a strong relationship with the Wollheim family and their publishing company, frequently traveling to New York City and staying with the Wollheims in their Queens family home. Other companies that have published her novels include Baen Books, HarperCollins, Warner Books, and Random House (under its Del Rey Books imprint). She published six additional novels in the late 1970s.
In 1979, her short story "Cassandra" won the Best Short Story Hugo, and she quit teaching to write full-time. She has since won the Hugo Award for Best Novel twice, first for Downbelow Station in 1982 and then again for Cyteen in 1989.
In addition to developing her own fictional universes, Cherryh has contributed to several shared world anthologies, including Thieves' World, Heroes in Hell, Elfquest, Witch World, Magic in Ithkar, and the Merovingen Nights series, which she edited. Her writing has encompassed a variety of science fiction and fantasy subgenres and includes a few short works of non-fiction. Her books have been translated into Czech, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish and Swedish. She has also translated several published works of fiction from French into English.
She now lives near Spokane, Washington, with her wife science fiction/fantasy author and artist Jane Fancher. She enjoys skating, traveling and regularly makes appearances at science fiction conventions.