2018-10-31 17:34:29 UTC
Kristin Cashore is a writer whose publications so far sort neatly
into three very unequal parts. This is the first of six posts
dealing with those parts, in vaguely reverse chronological order.
As the first, it continues with some biographical information.
Cashore was born in August 1976; one could probably get the exact
date from August posts to her blog. She grew up in rural
northeastern Pennsylvania. She attended and graduated from Williams
College in the Massachusetts Berkshires, and then began, per her
blog's bio (1st URL below) and some author blurbs, wandering. US
places named include New York City, Boston (where, in 2003 per
Scholastic, 2nd URL below, she got an M.A. from Simmons College's
Center for the Study of Children's Literature), "Cambridge" (probably,
to judge by a journal author blurb, the Massachusetts one), Austin,
"Pennsylvania" (home?), and Jacksonville. Non-US locations named
include Sydney, London, and "Italy". Her first two author blurbs
have the usual quirky list of past jobs, though unusually low on
actual quirk: "a dog runner, a packer in a candy factory, an
editorial assistant, a legal assistant, and a free-lance writer."
She seems to have started publishing non-fiction, and started writing
fiction, while working on the M.A. She lived in Jacksonville when
her first published novel became a major success; she then promptly
moved back north, and now lives in Cambridge (MA) again. She married
not long ago (3rd URL below).
Her first publications seem to have been critical essays on *artists'*
books for children, plus mini-reviews for <The Horn Book Guide>. She
then went on to "educational writing", a minority of which is fiction;
a minority of *that* is fantasy. Because those are the only short
fictions I know she's published, and because I haven't found any
evidence that anyone else has tried to cover this phase of her career
thoroughly, *I've* tried, and mostly failed, in posts five and six.
She has so far written six or seven novels known to me:
a) "a middle grade realistic contemporary novel" written September
2003 to late spring 2004
b) <Graceling>, written late spring 2004 to late summer 2005,
published October 2008
c) "a YA contemporary novel that was a sequel to" a), written late
summer 2005 to late spring 2006
d) <Fire>, written late spring 2006 to late 2007, published
October 2009; related to b)
e) <Bitterblue>, written late 2007 to, at a guess (this is where
the 4th URL below stops), early 2011, published May 2012;
sequels b) eight years later, while its ending sequels d) *much*
f) <Jane, Unlimited>, published September 2017; not obviously
related to any of the above
g) A novel submitted September 2018 (5th URL below)
<Graceling>, <Fire> and <Bitterblue> - her first three *published*
novels - form a loose fantasy trilogy, which her publisher has called,
and English Wikipedia calls, "Graceling Realm", which is dubious (I
don't see any way the main setting of <Fire> can be considered part
of a "Graceling Realm"); the ISFDB calls it "Seven Kingdoms", which
goes beyond dubious to just plain wrong (again thanks to <Fire>, the
trilogy deals with at least eight kingdoms). These books, which
offer a relatively harsh feminism to their young readers, have been
tremendously popular. I cover them in the third and fourth posts.
I was introduced to Cashore by finding an ARC of <Jane, Unlimited>.
I figured that obligated me to write about it; then found the whole
trilogy on the shelves of the library I spend most of my waking hours
in, and expanded the plan, so here we are. <Jane, Unlimited>, though
still speculative, is a major departure from her previous work, both
by having no relationship with the trilogy, and by putting aesthetic
elements front and centre; I review it in post two.
I don't know of anything she's said about her next novel other than
that she's submitted it (I have *not* read her voluminous blog with
any thoroughness, despite all these citations to it), and can't guess
whether it's a) and/or c) in a revised form, a return to fantasy, in
some way an extension of the departure, or who knows what. That said,
part of my point in mentioning a) and c), as well as her "educational"
writing, is that she doesn't seem actually to be, as so many writers
do, an obligate fantasist. <Jane, Unlimited> pushes the bounds of
both YA and fantasy, but I tentatively think her likelier to move
beyond fantasy than to move beyond YA.
Her first four published novels had Kathy Dawson as editor. Dawson
was at Harcourt when she edited <Graceling>, but returned to Penguin,
her former employer, in 2009. Evidently Cashore was able to come with
her. Dawson got her own imprint in 2014, from which <Jane, Unlimited>
appeared. AFAIK, the relationship continues.
A 2013 post to her blog (9th URL below) explains her apparently
continuing strong limits on her online activity (I'd be pretty
surprised if she commented on these posts), and attributes some (but
not much) of the relevant decisions to the "haters" attracted by "a
female writer who creates female characters who sometimes (sometimes!)
choose to have sex outside of wedlock, not to get married, not to
have children, to self-sterilize, generally to make their own
decisions rather than do what society tells them they're supposed to
do". (They're assisted in these choices by all having access to
reliable post-facto contraception.) She's published four novels
whose protagonists are women roughly 18 years of age, but only two
end with the protagonist clearly attached, and none with a
protagonist clearly headed for traditional nuclear-family motherhood.
If all this is an issue for you, well, you're warned.
I was unable to consult the profile(s) in Gale volumes: <Something
about the Author> #206 (2010) and #283 (2015), <Contemporary Authors>
#290 (2010), and <Authors & Artists for Young Adults> #88 (2012).