This biography was written by Cate Tiernan herself, around 2001. So I thank her for the time and effort she put into this.
I was born in New Orleans, LA, in 1961. New Orleans is one of the most
interesting American cities, and it has an incredibly rich and exotic
culture that had a profound influence on me. Kids in other cities have
lemonade stands; we sold voodoo gris-gris and made wax dolls in the
likenesses of our enemies. It's a very beautiful city, and the constant heat
and humidity make gardens grow out of control. There's an air of lassitude
there, a general acceptance of eccentic or flamboyant behavior--the heat
simply makes people do crazy things.
I went to school in New York, and after school went back to New Orleans.
Then I went back to New York (Manhattan) and got a job in publishing and
started writing. My first book, a young, middle-grade chapter book, was
published in 1990.
Living in Manhattan was incredible, even though I didn't have a lot of
money. There was so much to do and see, and so many interesting people to
watch. There was a lot of frenetic energy there, and sometimes that felt
very wearing and hard to live with. After eight years I was ready for a
change, and my husband and I moved back to New Orleans. (Are you seeing a
(While I was in NY, I helped edit "The Secret Circle" by L.J. Smith. I
thought it was great.)
We stayed in New Orleans five years. By the time we had two small
children we knew we had to find someplace safer to live. I was glad my
children were born in New Orleans--I had been born there, and my father had,
and his father had, and his father had and so on. There was something about
the connection of generations of blood coming from one place that I found
very primal and important.
Now I live in a cohousing community in Durham, NC. This is the most
suburban place I've ever lived, and it's very different from living right in
the middle of a city. For one thing, there aren't enough coffee shops.
However, it's incredibly safe, and the community is very important to me.
There are a lot of strong women here, and I find them inspiring.
Am I a witch? Well, no. Even Wicca is too organized a religion for me.
I'm much more idiosyncratic and just need to do my own thing, which is kind
of new-agey and pantheistic. It's not that I don't work or play well with
others, but I need to decide for myself when I do a certain thing, and how I
do it. However, I can really relate to Wicca, and I so appreciate its
woman-centeredness and its essentially female identity. I love those
aspects, among others.
I have several favorite writers. Barbara Hambly has been the biggest
influence on how I describe magic. She's an incredibly imaginative and
empathetic writer with a gift for creating a rich, sensual world. I love
Barbara Pym, an English writer whose books came out mostly in the fifties.
She was a master at describing the thousand tiny moments that make up a
woman's day; how the seemingly small and inconsequential thing can suddenly
take on a huge emotional importance. I greatly admire P.D. James. She's one
of the very few writers who makes me actually look up words in the
dictionary. She has a beautiful, precise, educated command of the language
that leaves me in awe. I love Philip Larkin's poetry. I read a lot of
nonfiction and also have some favorite romance writers. Before anyone
groans, let me say that these women write really well about women trying to
achieve emotional fulfillment, and that's kind of what we're all doing,
right? I also just like reading about sex. Anyway, Jennifer Crusie, Susan
Elizabeth Phillips, and early Linda Howard are my faves.
And then of course there's my dark side, but more on that later.
Last Modified: Thursday, 01/15/09