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This biography was written by Cate Tiernan herself, around 2001. So I thank her for the time and effort she put into this.

Picture taken in Switzerland, July 2007.

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 pattern here?)

(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