Sheri2When I was  four, I was told by my grandmother, who was my main caregiver  that I had a baby brother.  I said, innocently, “I’ll still be your grandbaby, won’t I Nana?”  To which she replied,  with great satisfaction, “I have a grandson now, I don’t need you girls anymore.”  The girls referred to were my cousins and I.  I have never forgotten it.  This is my earliest memory.  It was also my introduction to the worth of females in my world.  In the family of grandparents, parents, uncles, a great aunt, later events only made it more clear.

On the farm where we lived there were no other children anywhere near.  When I went to school at six, I was the only girl there who did not know how to play jump-rope, hop-scotch, or jacks.  (I was also the only girl able to identify ten kinds of snakes which gave me a little street cred with a couple of  boys who had not yet decided to hate girls.)  I asked the girls where they learned.  “the girls on the block.”  It was obvious they weren’t going to interrupt their game to teach me.  I asked Mother if she could do those things, and she said, ‘of course.’  She didn’t offer to teach me, either.   Mother belonged to two bridge clubs, (one for couples, one for women only) one sorority, and two other women’s clubs.  She was very busy.  I spent most of my time alone writing very bad poetry.  It rhymed and scanned well.  It was still very bad, though I didn’t know it at the time.

On graduating high school, I wanted to go to a university that was known to have  a good creative writing course.  My parents told me it was  too far away ”for a girl.”  They had already picked where I was to go.  I therefore did the equivalent of repeating a couple of years of high school in a local two year college for girls:  a kind of holding-tank for girls between high school and marriage.  It had no creative writing course or anything else helpful.  My brother, four years later, asked to go to the university I had chosen (only because I had chosen it) and was sent there without  question.

Therefore, I can honestly attribute any success I may have had in writing to  four years of high school English with a remarkable English Teacher named Dorothea Benkleman.  Dorothea was older, gray haired, rotund, had a raspy voice, and was the butt of many jokes behind her back, mostly by boys who saw no sense in Chaucer or Shakespeare, punctuation or spelling, except that they had to get a passing grade in order to be on the football and basketball teams.   Nonetheless, she was a  fine teacher who loved what she taught, and any skill I may have was learned at her instigation and through her encouragement.   That is the sum and total of my writing education:  I usually don’t read critics.  Too many of them say I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m sure they’re perfectly right.   Mostly I don’t.  Or if I do it right, I don’t know the right literary name for what I did.

It was in the two year holding tank, however, that I was introduced to the ideas of Malthus, and for the first time considered what overpopulation was doing to our planet—perhaps re-discovered, for much of the wild area around the farm where I had grown up was by that time already covered in houses, and the wildlife there had been displaced or killed—probably including all ten varieties of snake.  The farm had been my home, my friend, my family.  I grieved over it more than I grieved at the death of any member of my family because I was closer to it than I was to any of them—or they to me.

I married.   I can admit now, over sixty some odd years later,  that I did it simply to get away from a home that had never been at all nourishing or kind, though it  was not abusive by the standard of that time.  Hitting children wasn’t called abusive unless you did it with a knife or heavy stick.  I was, however, the only one hit.  I never saw anyone hit my brother.   Maybe it wasn’t nice for grown up women to hit little boys.  I worked throughout my marriage in between having the  requisite girl child and boy child.   Except for peeing standing up, the boy-child never got to do anything the girl-child didn’t.   To my astonishment, after five or six years of marriage, my then husband, purely in order to avoid the brief service in the military to which his college education through the navy V12 program had obligated him,  suddenly chose a new career which would have required my lifetime, full time assistance in a field in which I could make no genuine or willing contribution.    We divorced and I subsequently supported the children through a varied job career, with no time left over for writing.

When the position of director of the local Planned Parenthood became vacant, I applied, took the job,  and worked as the director for some twenty years.  I believed in that job and did it out of conviction.    When my children went off to college, I started writing  once more, dibs and dabs., then settled into a year long dedication to work on The Revenantsall   my off-work time., helped by a friend who really listened and offered sensible help!  When I had finished the book, I sent it to a publisher.  They kept it forever.  I phoned to ask that it be returned—700 pages, typewritten, not on computer, and I didn’t have a copy!   They said they rather liked it, but it was too long to publish by a beginning writer, would I give the publisher something more “accessible.”  I put a junior high kid in the front of my mind as the probable reader and  King’s Blood Four was written by the end of the month.   So?  It was a short book.  “Give us another one like that, we’ll publish the first one.” I gave them a dozen all told,  nine in the True Game series and three in the Mariannes.    They did publish the Revenants.

SheriRabbits1So—It is from my tap-root that I come by both feminism and concern for ­ecology (also racial prejudice, which is another true story about a lonely little girl who was not allowed to play with the children of the Syrian farmer who rented our land because he was ‘a darky.’)  All those talking animals and ETs in my books are just different races.  I am eighty-three years old (in 2013), and I remember the whys.

Sheri S. Tepper

(The upper image is of Sheri and husband Gene having a cup of coffee on the patio, and the lower one of her tending her rabbits.)

76 thoughts on “Sheri’s True Biography

  1. Frances

    You are my favourite writer. I return to re-read constantly even though I know everything so well. The only ones that don’t (or haven’t yet) quite worked for me are The Revenants and The Waters Rising and the Horlack one. I love the mysteries too, and ardently hope they will show up as e-books one day because my copies are disintegrating.

    Thank you very much for being!

  2. Eileen Hutson

    Your novels are breathtaking in their nuance and complexity and yet you can convey a scene or setting perfectly in as few as five words. I refer to you and your work frequently in writing groups because you are one of the most superb storytellers and wordsmiths writing today. Your books have given me so much, especially Grass, which came to me at a critical time and which I’ve read several times since.
    Now. Back to searching for a couple of your novels for my daughter who loves your work every bit as much as I!

  3. Avis

    Ms. Tepper,

    To read your biography today, after having read and re-read many of your works – A Gate to Women’s Country; Grass; Raising the Stones and Beauty are my favourites – is to revel in the essence of a wonderful personality. That you had been denied such fundamental guidance and to have been subjected to such abject rejection is frightening not only because it happened to you, but also because the 21 century, this is still happening.

    Like you, my mother (who never attended high school because of a stepfather who preferred that she ‘help work the fields’), raised me and my brother and older sisters like you did yours – we all learned to do what was needed….no changes, no partiality, no jealousy tolerated. My brother can cook as well as I, can and often cleans house from top to bottom with no qualms or grumblings. He does though, comment on how not only he was our mother’s best looking son (he’s the only one), but that he cleans the best. I find similarities in both of you.

    Your works have been an inspiration, an absolute pleasure, books in which I could literally lose myself, in a different space where the story showed like a play in which I could sometimes only observe, sometimes interact with the players…Today I came looking for more books to read and now I know that I have many, many hours of stories and images to behold..

    Thank you very much, and a much belated happy birthday to you.

    1. Trish Magpie

      I’ve fearfully trudged behind so many Tepper protagonists, I am happy today that I heard why created, they breathe meaningful intent, and embody truths in those unexpected epochs of injustice. I enjoyed the biography as it perfectly established the author (also) as a heroine in my eyes.

      Recently, I found a battered hard-cover copy of Raising the Stones in the library sale bin (with Grass) and read the former for perhaps the 5th time. Then I borrowed The Fresco again. I feel I should set about purchasing a robust Sheri S. Tepper collection (yet where are all my other Tepper books?) instead of borrowing from the library networks here. Happily and with selfish regret I lent the “Raising the Stones” copy to my friend who tucked it into her canvas knapsack. In retrospect, with my exuberant faith in these fictions, I doubt a complete collection is even possible.

  4. valerie

    Dear Ms. Tepper,

    Your works have inspired me for years. Many appreciations for your insightful, skilled writing and your commitment to and fire for justice. On the eve of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice, I salute your ongoing desire for social change and your delightful, substantial and universal stories. I have reread all your fantasy and sf books many times and am especially touched by Six Moon Dance, After Long Silence and Gate to Women’s Country. Thank you for your body of work that feeds so many of us.

    Happy 83rd birthday!!!!!

    In gratitude,

  5. Nanci Smith

    Could you get your A J Orde and B J OLIphant books put into nook books. I am downsizing and want to get all of my favorite books on my nook.
    Thank you.

    1. Tesha Post author

      I understand that Sheri has people working on making this happen, tho there are many obstacles. When they let us know, we’ll pass on the info.

      (Because many of us agree with you)

      1. Dana Rees

        I have found solace and answers in your books much like you did in your family farm. Thank you so much!!!

  6. Madelyn

    Your books are the *only* books that I buy as soon as they are listed on Amazon. Sometimes they don’t even have a final title, a cover, or a description at the point where I say “Sign me up to get this book as soon as it is published!”

  7. John T Paterson

    I have been reading Sci-fi and fantasy for over fifty years and am ashamed to say that I often avoided femail authors in spite of the fact that I became hooked on Ann McCaffrey’s ‘Dragon of Pern’ novels. What a mistake to make! I discovered Sherri’s novels around 30 years ago and have loved them, frequently searching for new ones. I think I have read most of those published in the UK. I was unaware of Sherri’s background and her feminism until stumbling on this website in my search for a list of her titles to pass on to a friend’s 13 year old daughter, an avid reader of sci-fi and fantasy. I had been talking to her recently when I discovered her love of this type of story and promised to get her some titles, mentioning, among others, Sherri’s name. Somehow, reading this page, I feel that this was very appropriate for a young girl with big ambitions and the drive and intelligence to acheive her goals.
    Thanks for years of pleasurable and thoughtful reading.

  8. Tina

    Dear Sheri, Thank you so much for all your wonderful books. They take pride of place in a long row on my bookshelves, many read to falling apart. If asked who my favorite author is, I always says Sheri S Tepper, because you are, no doubt about it, my fave author of all time. xxx

  9. Nique Swifte

    Dear Sheri
    I’ve just stumbled across this website. What a miracle! I live in Australia and have also been reading and re-reading your wonderful stories for the last 25 odd years and now I have the chance to say a huge THANK YOU for sharing your wonderful literary gifts. My greatest pleasure in life is reading your books and from reading previous comments on this website I realise I’m not the only one behaving this way!! I had a similar upbringing to yours and your stories have always resonated. I have read The Waters Rising and am looking forward to your next published works.

    After reading the third book in the Marjorie Westriding stories (i.e. Grass, Raising the Stones and Sideshow), I’ve always wondered what Fringe Owldark got up to after all that!!! Ah, but you lead my mind and imagination to wonderful places to dwell. I’ve read all your stories so many times I can visit there in my head, but even so, the shear pleasure of reading it in book form I will always cherish.

    THANK YOU AGAIN AND AGAIN Ms Tepper. You are a legend!!

    With love and appreciation from Nique Swifte in Australia!

  10. Kim Knapp

    Hello, Ms. Tepper,

    I am so honored and happy to have read everything I can find that you have written. Hardbacks for the shelf, paperbacks for regular re-reads. Your books have challenged me, frightened me, thrilled me, astonished me, made me gasp in awe when I considered a new idea… and dropped many fitting pieces into the jigsaw of my questions, philosophies, and explorations. So many things your books communicate resonate with me, like a harmony in the back of my mind. When I am reading your work, time disappears, and I am *there*… whether Hobbs Land, Moss, or Earth of the future or past. It is always a shock to come back to reality, to realize that the wonders you create are not my reality. In some ways I am relieved; your realities can be terrifying, but they also clearly show how we could end up there by simply not changing our attitudes.

    I just wanted to share that you have given me and so many others uncounted hours of what they used to call “a sense of wonder,” as well as the pleasure of fine prose, well-crafted stories, and characters that I want to know. That matters… After so many years of reading your work, I have a difficult time finding other writers whose work can come close to satisfying me as yours does.

    With great respect and affection for your continued well-being.

  11. Estelle

    Hi Sheri

    I am so happy to have found this page and feel blessed to have read your story here. I came across your books via The True Game in the ’80s and have since read and re-read many others. I didn’t know anyone could create worlds such as you have – magic, compassion, empathy and love – What a joy you are and a gift you give us.

    Thank you for being you and sharing with the world.

    In gratitude

  12. Erik Maronde

    Dear Miss Tepper,
    these days I finished reading “Grass”, to which my attention was brought to by John Scalzi, who rated it one of his favorite books ever on his website (“The Whatever”).
    I can only agree to John, you are an excellent, astonishing and ashamingly underrated author. In your written worlds one can truely travel and get lost!
    I wish you all the best, with great respect, Erik

  13. David Henshaw

    Thanks to “Sideshow” given me by my son some 15+ years ago, I am a believer in Sheri’s work. I was fascinated to discover this website and her bi0o; my best friend had a similar childhood – a brother born when she was five made her unimportant, and she considered herself lucky to go to a city college.
    I have never been pro or anti- woman authors – maybe my open perspective comes from being raised bya single mother (whom I was able to introduce to sci fi.) I AM a firm believer in good writing and an interest in character’s thoughts and motives, which Sheri delivers in spades.
    My second book was “… Woman’s Country.” I have shared it with a number of friends – especially females. I put her feminism in the same category as Ursula Leguin: to establish a woman’s place does not require destroying men. It is a quiet feminism which I believe is ultimately more successful in creating converts.
    Like the others here, I thank you and vbless you for what you have given the world.

  14. Noel Conway

    Sheri, if you were a writer of a more ordinary genre many many people would have witnessedyour writings and you would have received the rightful attention you deserve. You are an amazing woman. I love how you weave your themes of feminisism and environmentalism into everything you do, because these things are essential to the everyday matter of fact nature of our lives. We should never forget we live on a small planet amongst the stars.

    I can say that I have been blessed to encounter your stories. They are like a field of dreams, and yet so acute, so real. I don’t have a favourite, I love them all equally. It is breathtaking that you have written so prolifically given the obstacles you faced early on.

    I thank you from the warmest place in my heart. If I could write half as well as you I would call myself an author. You are not just an author, you are a master at your craft.

  15. Jim Michie

    I wrote this review for my monthly book club in Williamsburg Virginia, and it was before I found and read your website biography. I have been reading you since pulling Grass blind off a bookstore shelf.

    WSFBC Review
    by Sheri S. Tepper
    Published in 1991

    This is my second reading of Beauty, and it has inspired me to attempt an unusual sort of book review. Please bear with me, Tepper is worth it. I am going to dissect this book in an attempt to show you what kind of fiction this lady writes rather than give you plot and style details, which would be virtually impossible anyway, since a précis of the plot alone would probably take up ten times the word count I have used in this review, and a discussion of style would probably take up even more since Tepper tends to use significant style variations in differing plot situations.
    If you crave creativity in your fiction, this book has enough for an intransigent addict. There are three types of creativity which stand out in this novel. All of them are stylistic expressions of artists. First, Tepper uses the skills of the collage artist in audaciously selecting bits and pieces of fairy tales, legends, and history; including movie Bowdlerizations of all the above. She laps, stretches, inverts, and glues these clippings into a pastiche of fantasy requiring only a modicum of disbelief, which the reader finds difficult but strangely soothing—and this is only the under-fabric. Second, Tepper sets up a woof of personally creative threads spun with humor, poignancy, and pathos that set the length and width of her primary tapestry, with an internal cross fertilization of ideas clearly discernable to the incisive reader as she or he navigates from the top thread to the bottom. Third, Tepper adds the warp of her raison d’être, human society ratiocination. To explain just what I mean, I offer the following two-paragraph excerpt that occurs when the main character, Beauty, pauses contemplatively in her mad dash through time and place:
    We have been thwarted at every turn by god. Not the real God. A false one which has been set up by man to expedite his destruction on earth. He is the gobble-god who bids fair to swallow everything in the name of a totally selfish humanity. His ten commandments are me first (let me live as I please), humans first (let all other living things die for my benefit), sperm first (no birth control), birth first (no abortions), males first (no women’s rights), my culture/tribe/language/religion first (separatism/terrorism), My race first (no human rights), my politics first (lousy liberals/rotten reactionaries), my country first (wave the flag, the flag, the flag) and above all, profit first.
    We worship the gobble-god. We burn forests in his name. We kill whales and dolphins in his name. We pave prairies in his name. We have retarded babies in his name. We sell drugs in his name. We set bombs in his name. We worship him everywhere. We call him by different titles and commit blasphemies in the name of worship.
    I picked this excerpt as the most blatant expression of social concern in the novel. For the most part, however, her social commentaries are cloaked as subconscious darts seamlessly embroidered into the fabric of her story so deftly that they just niggle away in the back of your mind, hopefully raising “attention” flags in your brain’s social justice database. I found myself in total accord with every social innuendo I was able to discern, and I smiled at every one.

    If you have developed an aversion to time travel plot devices where the author substitute’s paradoxical plot twists for rationally creative plot development, as I have over the years, don’t let it worry you when it rears its head in Beauty between the books start in the mid-fourteenth century to the twenty-first century. It’s just a necessary appurtenance to achieving a tight weave of very diverse elements. Just try to let yourself float—carried along by the raging currents of Tepper’s mind.
    Speaking of Tepper’s mind, let me say that this book is no walk in the park. It is dense and challenging, but the reader is drawn along by the plot pace she maintains from beginning to end, eager for the next creative plot twist or plunge to the dendritic depths of your vocabulary where you store your somewhat remembered but hardly ever used words. Words like caparisoned, parure, confabulation, muniments, and crepitation.
    To make sure you aren’t left with the impression that I think the quality of her writing relies in any way on her social commentary, I offer the following research to bolster my opinion. The earliest publication date for a Tepper book publication is 1983. Thirty years later, she now boasts a list of 37. Eight of these were nominated for prestigious science fiction or fantasy awards.
    While she has always been the bridesmaid for these awards, Beauty was voted Best Fantasy Novel of the Year by the readers of Locus magazine, recognition that I consider more prestigious than some of the awards for which she was a nominee. She is obviously a consistently engaging writer.
    For this group, having a strong bias toward fantasy, a willingness to apply excellent cognitive skills, and a high level of general erudition, I recommend this mid-career book as the place to start, if you haven’t already found and embraced Sheri Tepper.


    I was in a “Help the Aged” charity shop and browsing the book shelves when I spotted “The Fresco” I knew that my daughter enjoyed reading Sheri S Tepper and I needed something to read on the train home, so for 50p why not.
    Serendip! Voltaire meets Cinderella. The Pangloss world made real by SF magic. Wow.
    The theological ideas of reading God’s works rather than man’s and the philosophical ideas all disguised as a SF novel!
    I loved the ‘Ugly Plague’ and the ‘biter bit’ guns. Pregnant male bigots – if only we could.
    OK so the story as a vehicle for ideas is not original – JC used parables, which are only short moral stories – but I think SST has done it well.
    A question for Ms Tepper: “Would you re-write the OT like B did for the Pistach or should we just learn to interpret it through the NT and the Shema?”

  17. Nancy W

    Ms. Tepper,

    I have only just discovered your wonderful books through downloading The Companions on a whim from Amazon. My favorite themes being women’s rights, animal rights and the destruction of our planet in the name of “progress” – I was fascinated by this wonderful book. Your poem The Litany of Animals is amazing and beautiful and I have read as many others of your books as I can find. My favorites are The Family Tree (for the animals) and The Gate to Women’s Country (because I would like to live there).

    I have downloaded your complete book list and carry it with me in hopes of finding any and all of your books in used bookstores.

    I just wanted to say thank you for your writing, I only wish that I had begun reading your books years ago. I am looking forward to reading as many as I can and hope that you will continue to write and share your works as long as possible.

  18. Jeremy Frazee

    Thank you sooo much Ms. Tepper. I am grateful for your work; your stories and concepts consistently challenge me in my understanding of feminism and my own masculinity as a feminist. Reading your words forces me to see my own privilege and participation in the patriarchy we live in. Through your work I have come to be a better man, father and partner, and you’re required reading in my house…. Between you and Octavia Butler I have been inspired to always keep social justice in mind both with the consumption of media and the production of my own. This alone puts you above so many other artists.

  19. Cleo Wolf

    Dear Ms Tepper, thanks for your amazing writing. Your books are among the most important things I have ever read, I can’t even think of what might be more inspiring. I want to be like your Heras and always be present in the magic of the moment like they are- practical, flexible and kind. I want you to know how much I appreciate your work, I hope it cheers you on.

  20. Terri Wales

    Thank you, Ms. Tepper, for sharing your stories with the rest of us. Your novels have actually made me think differently about our society. I read constantly, but few books have impacted me like yours. Thank you.

  21. carin chambers

    Dear Sheri
    I’ve read most all your books the first of which was Revenants. Then the True Game Series and still have most of them. However, I did share them with friends and as a result have lost one of the Mavin Manyshapes books I would love the replenish these books. Is there a chance that they might be available?

  22. Rachel Brock

    Thank you for the intelligence, empathy and thought-provokingness of your writing. Please accept a warm heartfelt hug from the Uk in honour of the immense pleasure I have had reading and re-reading your fiction.

  23. Carla J. Patterson

    My mother, who was 83 in 2010, has told me stories similar to yours in many aspects. I found that many things hadn’t changed institutionally when I was growing up in the 50’s but my parents certainly didn’t promote most of it. Unfortunately, being a mixed race child, I had to deal with a lot of racial prejudice directly, both in school and in the larger society. But, my Mom was Black and came from a long line of proud men and women who survived a lot worse than I experienced so I soldiered on like they had. I had no idea what age you might be or where you came from when I started reading your novels – I came to them late and, for me, that was a wonderful thing because it meant I had dozens of books to look forward to!

    As others have already said, your writing is captivating and full of the kind of imagery that takes the reader on a journey to another world, the world of your imagination. That is the most powerful thing that anyone’s writing can do, as far as I’m concerned. I have been an avid reader my entire life with a penchant for science fiction since I turned 10 years old. In all the years since (I am now 62), I have found only a double handful of unique science fiction writers and you are one of them. I hope you know how well your stories and characters cross all boundaries and speak to anyone who wants to hear a good story.

    Thanks for being you and, as my husband always says to me, perhaps you wouldn’t be such a great writer if you’d had a different childhood or followed a different path. Sometimes I can hear that and sometimes I can’t but I do think it’s a good thing to remind oneself of when remembering the things about our lives which weren’t quite what we had hoped for. (What an understatement!) 😉

    Yours, sincerely,

    Carla J. Patterson

    P.S. If you like music, come and hear some of my songs at the attached URL. I have over 300 songs available free on that site. About half of them are original songs by myself, alone or in collaboration with other musicians. Music is one of the ways I have broken free of limiting aspects of my past and many of my songs speak volumes in their own way.

  24. Delia O' Riordan

    Dear Ms. Tepper,
    I want to thank you for being an inspiration to me and to many other women who were born into a “males only” world of segregated education and professions. My father reflected woefully on his daughters that it was a case of “Three strikes and you’re out”. I always thought it ironic that we were the ones who were “out”, not he. My mother was little better – insisting that we should ‘get a degree’ (but not a real education, a distinction she couldn’t understand) so as to have ‘something to fall back on’. I wanted to be a neuro-surgeon but was told to marry one. I could be a teacher or a nurse. Full stop. After years of university lecturing I finally set out to find another path and stumbled over The Gate To Women’s Country. By then a committed feminist, I had found a way to bring young women to consciousness without using political jargon or references. Beauty and Grass rounded out the ‘fictional’ approach to the issues that the easily intimidated would shy away from if confronted with discussions of ‘women’s rights’. Your fiction was pivotal in giving me the courage to develop a curriculum of women’s contemporary literature against the very heated opposition of male colleagues. You came, you saw and you conquered, Ms.Tepper. You have nothing to apologise for in terms of your education: you created your own and contributed to the education of countless others.
    With my deepest regards,
    Delia O’Riordan (on my 3rd career and counting…)

  25. Linda watkins

    I just gave “The Gate To Women’s Country” to a dear friend. She was inspired by the letters on your website, and says “now the search begins” She doesn’t do Nook. Thanks for being in our world.

  26. Suzy Skye

    i will forever cherish your words, madame tepper.
    you have helped me inspire myself and others to find a core of ethics from within, no matter our ‘training’ or ‘indoctrination’ from a society sick with hubris, avarice and prejudice. while our ‘civil-lies-nation’ makes globacidal choices, everything i have read from you upholds a faith in a natural process, an omniversal champion for interconnectedness. you have been a treasure and i offer you the deepest namasté in honor of the gifts your sharing has bestowed.
    may you always know peace, share love and live with abundant joy in your heart, siSTAR. shine on…

  27. Loretto McCartney

    I was brought up in that same type of family, only I was not allowed to go to even women’s college. Tested at 135 IQ, I was enrolled in secretarial courses and told obedience was was my golden goal. My nonconformity cost me my family, marriage and almost my sanity. The horses I insisted on working with became my best friends, the farm my main nurture of body and mind. I finally went to community college at age of 34. Your books have provided me much enjoyment and solace over the long years. I am glad to finally read your bio, to know you were able to shake off the shackles our culture placed on us in that time. It thrills my old bones. I will read the few books I have missed with deeper delight now that I know a little more of your story.

  28. Diane Hume

    Dear Sheri Tepper,
    I’ve wanted to write and thank you for your books for a long time.
    I found your website today and here we go.
    I love your two mystery series and your sci-fi books. You have the ability to create worlds one can enter and roam around in. I have reread most of your books multiple times because they have the quality that the journey is as or more satisfying than the destination. I love the characters, places, plots, visuals, etc. When your books come out, I purchase the hardcovers sight unseen–something I do with very few authors.
    I’ll wish you to keep up the good work, or take it easy, whatever you prefer 😉
    Thank you for years of wonderful engagement,
    Diane Hume

  29. Murray Donald

    Yes , yes I adore your books , it goes without saying , why else would I search out and find a page such as this
    I,m not a writer, have no aspirations to be one ,. I’m simply a reader and have enjoyed your books for years
    So the question was ” What are your thoughts on Sheri’s biography?”
    I think from what I read , yes you had a hard time growing up , feeling unloved and unappreciated , but isn’t it a relief now to just say it out loud ( or in print – and not feel guilty ( Whats to be guilty about ?) The childhood you had was not ideal ( not your fault ! ) … but really whose is ? Surely you don’t believe everything you see on schmaltzy TV movies.
    ( Broad generalisation alert !! ) Kids never have ideal parents , bad parents sometimes, good parent maybe more often, but every kid in every country has muttered at some time under their breath Mom, – or Dad … I hate you !!! That’s what kids do !! What I,m trying to say is that you need not become a product of your upbringing, you can have ( and you have had ) the power and ability to shape the person you want to be. And from here it seems you did just that
    I think your comment on your reason for marrying was brutally, but refreshingly honest, although don’t be so hard on yourself I,m sure there must have been love there at some point or it would have been intolerable .
    We all make decisions and live by them, you seem to have done so successfully ( leaving when you realised that part of your life story had ended and a new chapter was ready to be written. You made that decision, and you lived by it.
    There’s really no reason to come over all confessional , who are we to judge ? .
    We are all heavily influenced by our childhood and you can almost see how your formative years have influenced your life’s work and produced from ( in your view) a less than satisfactory upbringing- a singular contribution to others lives. All the people above who have commented all speak of the positive influences and experiences from reading your books .
    Take a bow Ms Tepper, you have made one hell of a contribution, and will always be remembered for it.
    I,m sure the child that was Sheri would be so proud of the achievements her adult self has gone on to make

  30. maureen magovern

    I love you! Indeed, as someone above commented “Thank you for being”! For decades the top book on my recommended reading list has been The Gate to Women’s Country. I’m 66 yrs. old and experienced myself (as so many of us have) much of what you describe from your youth. I’m so grateful to you, Sheri S. Tepper, Truthspeaker.

  31. Mary Holland

    I want to add my voice to the many above to say Thank You for all your books and the enjoyment they have given me. I have all of your books on my shelves and I frequently reread them for pleasure and to remind myself that a woman can survive and thrive despite hostility and active malice from those around her. My favorites of your books are Raising the Stones and the Jinian trilogy, although I recently reread The Revenants for the sheer beauty of the writing. Since I’ve stopped my day job I’ve been writing and publishing my own books and when people ask me who are the writers who inspire me I always start with Sheri S. Tepper.

  32. Hawk

    Where’s the new book?! Publication date keeps getting pushed back! I’ve been waiting decades for the rest of Mavin and Lom’s story. Why can’t we get Fish Tales?!

  33. Penny Dunn

    Ms. Tepper, I am rereading your Great Game series again for the first time in thirty years. I had forgotten how wonderful it is. Of all your books, I like “Grass” the best. I’ve read it four or five times and find something new every time. I would also like to say that I find your life an inspiration. You and I have similisr life stories. I fought to get an education and took life paths that set me very far apart from my peers. Your books showed me that others out there think as I do. Thank you.

  34. Helen Lovatt

    I have found this very moving. I’ve loved your books for a long time, and have a busy life as a working mother. To see that you didn’t give up and have written so many great books is exceptionally inspiring. Thank you!

  35. Rosemary Hartigan

    Dear Sheri S. Tepper,

    Thank you so much for your wonderful work. I am a true fan. Years ago I read Gate to Women’s Country and I recently rediscovered your work by reading Family Tree (amazingly inventive). I was so impressed with Family Tree that I urged my husband to read it. He was delighted in the same way with the surprises! I’m now reading Beauty. My plan is to read them all. Your splendid imagination is a great gift to your readers.

  36. Vincent Schrader

    Dear Ms. Tepper…

    I’m a former Catholic kid from a German/Irish parish, where the Monsignor abused the girls and the assistant friars were pedophiles. My mother was severely abused as a child… the “prize” in the poker games my drunken grandfather held. When he lost all his money at the table, she became his “working capital.” My father was a cold man whose return from WWII when I was 5 did little for me except induce depression and anxiety from then until now. He embodied the type of man you often castigate in your writing, but in fairness, he suffered from the “sins of the father,” and could never break the cycle. My mother, in her quiet way, protected me from the horrors of the church. I like to think that I have broken the ugly cycle I was born into. Today I write actively, (I am working on one piece about my 33 year old autistic son).

    But I also read… have always read… and for me, reading what you have written is cathartic, addicting, revelatory, and it often induces shame.

    I’m 72 now, and though I have always been an avid reader, especially in this genre, I only discovered your work a short time ago, thanks to one of my daughters who passed on Plague of Angels. I’ve been devouring your work since, sometimes two books at a time. Thanks to my wonderful wife of over 50 years, I have survived to enjoy such miracles. We also have 5 adopted daughters, and I love them all more than life. I have done everything I know to see that they became strong, educated, independent, socially responsible people. For the most part, this has happened. And now, in addition to my son, I’m raising a granddaughter who lights every day for me with joy (even as a teen-ager!)

    I feel really excited about the fact that you have produced a phenomenal body of work that will keep me engaged… for a good while. The only problem is, it’s keeping me away from my own writing!

    Thanks for laying your heart and mind out there for all….

  37. Kathy Meiklejohn

    Dear Sheri S Tepper
    I have loved your books since my late sister lent me “The Gate to Womens’ Country” about 20 years ago. Thank you for all of your writing and the wisdom I found there.
    Your heroines have been role models , and your imagination my comfort. I count the discovery of your books as one of life’s blessings.
    Thank you
    Be well
    Love Kathy

  38. pat corbett

    Dear Ms. Tepper, Just a note to say how much I have enjoyed all your books over the years (both the SF?fantasy and the mysteries) haven’t read the horror stories. I am 75 and born in July as you were; so I have some experience of all the life paths which have been closed to women. I had to attend college twice to have a career which really interested me as when I was a college student the first time women were supposed to be teachers, nurses, and librarians if educated and secretaries if not able to go to college I spent some years as a librarian which I certainly don’t regret but it was not the career I would have chosen had I had all the choices men had. Thank you again for the inspiration you give us.

  39. Julia M. Hamilton

    I have just learned that Grass has two sequels. A quick review of the plotlines doesn’t reveal any familiar names — can anyone enlighten me, or even let me know why these two novels didn’t show up on the listing for the Science Fiction Book Club? (That’s where I discovered Grass.) Also, if anyone’s looking for a good sci-fi/fantasy writer, I’d also recommend C. J. Cherryh.

    1. atlant


      Grass is followed by Raising the Stones and that is followed by Sideshow. All three take place in the same universe but separated by quite long periods of time. Marjory Westriding is the common thread winding through all three novels though she doesn’t make a direct appearance in Raising the Stones. To tell you much more would be to give you spoilers.

      I will tell you that through this string of novels, Sheri introduces a concept that I think is a positively marvelous idea and that if I were asked “If you could pick one sci-fi technology and make it real, what would it be?”, I would pick the technology eventually revealed here. The books, as you already probably realize from Grass, continue to ponder the question of “Can one be too good to be any good?”, a theme that several other Tepper novels explore as well.

  40. Julia M. Hamilton

    Thanks for this information, and I heartily agree that one can indeed be so good as to be virtually worthless. To me, it’s just as bad as misplaced mercy — I still think Marjorie should have dumped those murderous oafs off the platform, and by not doing so, she freed them to potentially kill again (not that they did, but they woudl have had the chance arisen).

  41. Lindy Carmalt

    We have a set of bookshelves at church, downstairs, where people leave and take books – I was looking the other day and found one of yours – The Fresco. I read the back cover and put my CHF2- in the box, went home and started reading . . . I grew up ( a long time ago) devouring Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, etc., and loving them all. Your book is science fiction with a bit of a different twist – and I LOVE it!!! I could hardly put it down (except when my students came for their lessons, and I had to!)!! Finished it last night and MUST find more of yours soon – so much struck me as being so completely different from what I read growing up – your characters, both humans and aliens, were wonderful (or horrible, as you wanted them to be!), and so much of the story (particularly about Washington & politics) is still (and even more) true today than when you wrote the book in 2000! Thank you so much for this – I will now actively LOOK for your books whenever there are books around! Our church Autumn Fair is next weekend, and I’m on books . . . . will be there to help sort and pull out the ones I want beforehand – hope I find more of yours!! Thank you SO much!!! Lindy Carmalt xox

  42. Edith Rudy

    I just finished Fish Tales. I ordered it December 26, with a gift card from my son. The book is stunning…and the parable at the end reflects so much of what is wrong with us today. I have spent most of my life around Mobwow’s, and I try to avoid being one. I have been working recently on the concept of knowledge vs wisdom, and you already have it down. If knowledge is power, then wisdom must temper both…at least I THINK that’s what I’m trying to get at.
    I finally figured out, a while back, that any god worthy of worship wouldn’t want it (a notion reflected in Fish Tales) and I’ve been trying to build a story around that concept. But how could I possibly do it any better than you have done already?
    I must admit that I get very upset with those who brand you as “feminist”. I believe that the point of all your work is “humanist”, or, perhaps even “person-ist”. Both your male and female characters may tend to be rather broadly portrayed toward one side or the other, but the people (whether two-legged, four-legged, or more) with “bao” are always identifiable, and those are the ones with whom we need to relate.
    I started, as did so many others, with “Gate to Women’s Country”. As did my sister, I kept one copy, and bought new ones for those who expressed an interest in the book, urging them to do the same.
    It’s too bad that those whose minds are closed to new thoughts will remain that way. If only the singing were that simple!

  43. beanie

    Your biography explains so much about the strength of your female protagonists and the themes I so adore in so many of your books.

    I only wish more of your older titles were available in ebook format so I could re-read them; my eyes can no longer handle paper books and have to rely on my memory for some of my favorites such as Raising the Stones and After Long Silence.

    But I eagerly await every new publication of yours!

  44. Nancy Smith

    So many people have enriched my world, and I seldom reach out to tell them so. Ms. Tepper, thank you for your work, and for having the good sense to challenge the boundaries. I also grew up on a farm. I had two younger brothers, no sisters. My brothers certainly tried to teach me my proper place, “You can’t do that, you’re a GIRL!” and, “we will learn to drive first, because you’re a GIRL!” Well, they did learn to drive first, but I was the one who graduated from college. I was lucky, my parents did encourage me to obtain an education.
    At 59 years of age, I’m starting to forget how many “you’re a GIRL!” walls I used to bump into. I imagine that they are still there, but they don’t seem as blatant to me now as they did in the 70s and 80s. Maybe the people who try to impose those boundaries just seem less relevant to me now than they used to.
    Thank you, again, for enriching my world with your work.

  45. Joanne Stevens

    The first book I read of yours was “Gate to Women’s Country”, and I said to myself, my goodness, this is an author with insight and imagination and the brain to put it all together in a riveting, intelligent fashion that won’t let you put it down!! Your books are the only books I’ve kept, lugging them everywhere I’ve moved, re-reading them periodically, and recommending them to every single person I’ve ever seen reading a book (strangers and friends alike): I write down your name and the titles of a few (always “Gate…”) and tell them they won’t be disappointed. Sometimes I say you write “chick sci-fi/fantasy with a political/satiric twist that’s killer accurate and descriptive, vastly entertaining, thought-provoking, and alternately grim, hilarious, witty, fun and never easy to put down, and she’s amazing to read whether you’re male or female!”…I tried to sum up all those books in a way that makes you irresistible so they READ THEM. My delight is in knowing what a literary ride they’re all in for! Your gift of writing has enriched all of us, your readers, soooo very much. I know you’re getting’ up there in age, take care, delightful lady, and keep pumping out those amazing books. The above short bio was revealing, and not un-surprising to us that know your work. You have had the last laugh. THANK YOU for choosing the path you did. With much love, Joanne

  46. Lauren coodley

    The Gate to Women’s Country is one of the finest, most provocative and fully realized novels of ideas that I have ever read. I have never forgotten it. And I believe it has informed my 35 years of teaching and then on to the writing that I finally got to after my retirement. Some of your readers whom it is a privilege to meet on this page might want to know that I wrote a biography of a male feminist, Upton Sinclair, who wrote science fiction, by the way, among other modes of expression. No one has mentioned Gibbons Decline and Fall, but I believe you also wrote that one. If the true story of women’s emancipation during the 20th century is ever fully told, you will have pride of place as one of the most important storytellers and giver of dreams. I am now reading The Visitor for the 1st time and was so enraptured that I decided to look you up. When I was a teacher, my students always wrote to the writers that we read. I have been remiss in not writing you sooner. Thank you for giving us all your story and a chance to tell you what your work has meant.

  47. Devon T. Warnement

    All i need to say is that your book Beauty was one of the best books i could ever read. I’m a high school student in Ohio and ive read only of a view books that ever caught my eye, it was only when my girlfriend gave me her favorite book BEAUTY , i can share for cetain that my girlfriend is not the only one who favorites your book.
    my apologizes if i made any mistakes to the statement.

    Thank You .

  48. Gina

    Just thank you. One of the sanest voices out there. You are a treasure, we don’t deserve you, but there it is — grace given, in spite of all.

  49. Sharon Jackson

    Like all the other commenters here, I want to thank you so very much for the richness your novels have brought to my life. I have read them over and over. And yes, “Grass” is also my favourite. Your thoughts on religion/spirituality have helped define me, I have been completely engrossed in your books, coming back to conscious thought at 2 in the morning when I needed to be up at 6!

    I am on one of my every-three-years Tepper binge. I have just re-read Grass, After Long Silence, Singer from the Sea and am about to start Family Tree.

    Thank you again, I have been meaning to write you for years.

  50. Melissa

    Thank you! Ms. Tepper you are great, genuine, and truly loved. I’ve been reading your great works for years. I’ve just finished Grass. Thank you!

  51. Jeni

    Dear Sheri,

    I have been reading your books for the past 25 years and your insight, empathy, strength and heart has brought me through some very difficult (and also some very good) times. I hope that you have an inkling of how profoundly you have influenced and buoyed so many of us and I hope that you eventually found the support, love and family that you deserved all along.

    I wish you a very happy belated birthday and thank you for not only being my favorite author but for being such a kind and strong role model as well. Especially during my teen years (which were very isolating and difficult) it was so helpful to see a woman being strong, insightful, powerful and profound and to read about women who had things to say and important things to do, you have shaped who I am in a very positive way and I am grateful.

    Thanks and happiness to you!

  52. bernie waugh

    I just finished “Fish Tails.” It was tremendous, and satisfying in the very same ways I have come to expect from Ms. Tepper, as I have read at least 15 of her books over the past 20+ years (not to mention some of her mysteries). These are the traits they all share: (a) An initial puzzlement turns into a sense of wonder as the mysterious details of whatever universe she’s writing about are gradually revealed; (b) A completely quirky and unbelievable world is made to seem perfectly ordinary (Have you ever stopped halfway through a Tepper novel, tried to describe the plot to a friend, and realized how nutty you sound, but it DOESN’T seem nutty as you read it; and (c) Most importantly, the surefire moral compass that runs through all her work, laying the right and wrong bare for all to see — in that sense her books are like songs by Woody Guthrie or Malvina Reynolds.

    I wish there were a way I could thank her enough for all of the pleasure and satisfaction her work has given me over the years.
    Bernie Waugh
    Hanover, NH

    1. Ellen Maloney

      Dear Bernie–I can only echo what you have written here and to add–there is never a cliched plot. My most favorite is probably Grass but I still adore sweet Peter and his shifty ways in The True Game. Thanks to Ms. Tepper for many years of imaginative and though-provoking stories. As I was born in 1960, I still suffered under a society fighting off “libbers”. The honest dismay her feminist (or just female) heroines feel is so easy to remember.
      Ellen Maloney
      East Lyme CT USA

  53. Simone Olivier

    Dear Ms Tepper

    I am very picky about those I call friends, but also a terrible judge of character. Being somewhat solitary and frankly not that interested in people, I tend to avoid human contact. When some poor soul tries to make friends with me, I give them “Women’s Country”. If this converts them to a Tepper addict, slavering at my door for more of my collection, they are welcomed into my world.
    Thank you for being my judgement stone. You haven’t been wrong yet, and I have some wonderful close friends as a result.

    Difficult to get your books in South Africa, though. I’ve given away about 12 copies of Women’s Country (to my established friends) but struggle to find you. Thanks to a cousin in Denver, I’m batting through.

    With love and admiration


  54. Lyn McConchie

    I really enjoy your Jason Lynx books, but I love Shirley Mclintock. I am extremely sorry you never wrote more of her. My own background, allowing for mine starting almost two decades later, was quite similar to yours. Although in my case the money left to me and intended for me to go to University was stolen by guardians. I began writing in my 40s after a crippling accident and my 33rd book(a mystery) was published last month with the 34th (SF/disaster) due in July. I have a small farm with coloured sheep, (a piglet for pork each year and a steer for beef) and free-range geese and hens. I share my 19th century farmhouse with 18lbs of Ocicat named Thunder, and I can honestly say that my writing and way of life make me happy. I always hoped to be able to get to Sante Fe and maybe stay at your guest house but never managed it and I guess now I never will, but I just wanted to say, I loved your mysteries, I read them over and over, and enjoy them every time. If you ever do have time, it would be great to see more of Shirley, J.Q. and Allison.

  55. Lisa Dunphy

    Ms Tepper,
    The first book of your’s I read was “Grass”. I found it at the Masonic second hand book fair in far away Yellowknife, Canada. I picked up the book, it was falling apart and held together by elastic bands (a good sign that it was going to be a good read!) and I read on the flimsy cover that it had been nominated for a Hugo Award (another good sign). I purchased it and many other books that day and I left the sale with books and two small sons in tow. I started “Grass” that night. I simply could not put it down….I did not get dressed for three days. I stopped to feed, bathe and clothe my children, then back to the book! I did not shower, I remember putting the TV on for the boys (I didn’t always do that but I had to out of necessity; I needed to read) and they played, watched TV and crawled all over me as I devoured the book; I have been a fan ever since. This electronic age has allowed me to fill my kindle with your books and I’m so pleased about that. I enjoy your work tremendously and recommend you to everyone. I never read books twice; I read YOUR books twice. It would be a thrill to meet you someday, it’s on my bucket list Do you ever do book signings?

    Thank you for the most amazing journeys


    1. Tesha Post author

      Ms. Tepper tells us that she really loves to hear stories like this – they matter deeply to her, and bring her true joy. I’m afraid she also says that her arthritis is deeply painful and keeps her immobile often. That of course means she doesn’t travel, nor can she hold a pen well… thank goodness for keyboards!

      1. Lisa Dunphy

        Thank you for so much for the reply…I will gladly send her Reike for her arthritis if she is willing to accept it


  56. Denise

    Thank you with all my heart, Ms. Tepper! Your origin story makes me feel like I’m not crazy for the way my life’s path went in feminist directions from the same kinds of early encounters with injustice. These things matter! Thank you for being such a heroic and imaginative force in the world! You’ve changed it, by your presence. I love all of your books so much, and am so thankful.

  57. Frances

    I’m sure all manner of alternative arthritis remedies have been suggested and tried, but I’ll just throw in HiActives Tart Cherry from Swanson which seems to be helping mine. Like chicken soup, it couldn’t hurt!

    Just on the umpteenth reading of Shadow’s End. Adding again my loveand gratitude for your books.

  58. Johnny

    Ms Tepper, you may have written Kings Blood Four for junior high kids, but I’m reading it at 25 and enjoying it enormously. Our generation grew up playing facsimiles of the True Game on computers, and reading your novel rekindles that magic. Thank you for creating such a vivid & deep world, and populating it with such wonderful characters.

    And on a personal note, I’m the lead design engineer of a small company, and work alongside female engineers of every discipline. You’re doing a fine job encouraging girls to pursue their interests and work alongside men as healers, thinkers, etc.

    Best regards.

  59. Karen Wright

    Very dearest lady,
    I first read Gate to Women’s Country shortly after it came out. It changed my life to see that I wasn’t the only woman who thought women often got the back end of a donkey. I just reread it in my 70s and realized it was too too possible that it might come true, even now. I was raised by independently poor women – my mother and grandmother, but abandoned by a fool of a father. When it came to inheriting our ranch, my grandfather left it to my half brother and I just walked away. I have a great and talented, independent daughter and encourage her to read your books also. I hope to pass you along to my granddaughters. I’ve been a book seller for 25 years and have sold hundreds of copies of “Gate” and all your other books which I keep in stock at all times. When asked about a recommendation by any woman, young or old, you are my first thought. There are a number of wonderful woman writers now, but no one else like you. Thanks for your unknowing mentoring!

  60. Peter L. DeWolf

    I went to Chicon IV in August 1982. When I signed in at the registration desk, I was given a bag of “freebies”, which included various books that publishers were touting. One of them was Kings Blood Four, which actually has a publication date of 1983, so this must have been a brand-new “look what’s new!” book.

    I looked at it, shrugged, and put it away. A while later, I looked at it again, read it, and was completely blown away. I went to the bookstore and discovered that the rest of the “Peter” series was out. “Wow,” I thought. “That was quick. Did she have a closet full of manuscripts all ready to go?” I devoured them. And I have bought every single Science Fiction/Fantasy book that you have published since. You, along with Jack Vance (who has since died, alas) and Tim Powers have long been on my “buy new releases automatically” list.

    Thank you so much. You have been a huge inspiration in my creative life for over 30 years now. As a DM for a long-running D&D campaign, I sent my players through a long series of adventures in “the land of the True Game” which they loved – and when I told them where it came from, many of them have also started buying your books.

    You are a jewel, a gem among modern Speculative Fiction authors. Congratulations on your upcoming Lifetime Achievement Award! I cannot think of a more deserving recipient.

    Thanks you.

  61. Tim Priest

    Despite a life of reading SF, intoxicated by Gollancz’ yellow jacketed treasures ever since my mother introduced to them in 1960s England, I have only recently read your stories. I don’t know why: I have long, for instance, been sustained by Ursula LeGuin’s worlds. Thank-you: in difficult times, difficult ideas, but, as a one-time biologist, one-time underwater photographer and physician, the truth is nourishing and, politicians aside, even half-truths aren’t. Thank-you…

  62. A. E. Harvey

    Thank you for so many wonderful stories which express the feminism I feel as well as being awesomely, hugely interesting.
    I have been reading science fiction and fantasy all my life and I can honestly say you are my favorite author.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *