Barbara A. Denz

Writer and Singer


I began my writing career in an after-school daycare program when I was in kindergarten. With the encouragement of my mom and my teachers, my path led to an undergraduate major in Literature at University of California, San Diego's Muir College, with a specialty in Shakespearean and Medieval Lit. My first check for writing came in 1974, although the was never published. Still. $300 for the first time out and with the editorial intention of keeping the story from ever being printed was ... interesting. I submitted the story before the first issue ever hit the streets or I wouldn't have bothered. The magazine was owned by Penthouse and the article was on tubal ligation. Bad targeting.

My first published submission was in a cookbook. Harrowsmith Magazine (a Canadian publication) had a recipe contest. I submitted four recipes, of which two were taken. The three volumes were published in The Complete Harrowsmith Cookbook: All Three Harrowsmith Cookbooks in One Volume, which is still available on but not through the magazine. I don't eat my own recipes in there very often anymore (too much cholesterol), but there are lots of others that I love. Try the Pumpkin Bundt Cake. Yum.

Although raised on mysteries (especially Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) and British and American comedy (P.G. Wodehouse, James Thurber, Ogden Nash), and "girl" favorites (Shakespeare, the Brontes, Victoria Holt, Mary Wallace), the science fiction and fantasy books crept in as soon as I got my own library card for my 8th birthday. First on the list was Robert Heinlein. From there, I just started to inhale books, generally reading all that the library had by any author. It was small wonder that when I settled on a genre to write, it would be Fantasy and Science Fiction.

While living in Kodiak, Alaska, with my husband, David, the local library had all of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover books. At the back of one was an invitation to join the Friends of Darkover. Once the newsletter started coming, so did the announcements of anthologies (Friends of Darkover and Sword and Sorceress, mostly). In 1987, I submitted a story for the anthology Domains of Darkover ("A Gift From Ardais"), and in 1988 I submitted for Sword and Sorceress. Within two months of each other, I received acceptances for both stories, although the one for Sword and Sorceress (called "The Amethyst Carekeeper") ended up in an anthology called Spells of Wonder instead. I was very proud and am still very grateful to Marion for the break. There are several "known" writers today who got their first breaks in those two anthologies. Both books have been out of print in English versions for quite some time now, but I can always find them on Alibris or ABEBooks.

Soon afterwards, I began attending and participating in Science Fiction conventions around the Baltimore metro area. About the same time, I became involved in GEnie and got to know the writers there (now many on Facebook and Twitter). Some have become fast friends and wonderful mentors.

I moved from Baltimore in 1992, and from my home in Washington State, I sold three more stories to Katharine Kerr: "The Will" is in Weird Tales From Shakespeare (DAW, 1994, ISBN 0-886-77605-8 (paperback)); "Everything Has A Place" is in Enchanted Forests (DAW, 1995, ISBN 0-886-77672-4), and "The String Game" is in The Shimmering Door (HarperPrism USA 1996 ISBN 0-812-55173-7 (trade paperback)).

Now that I've retired from my full-time job of Technical Writing and Editing and am living on beautiful northern Vancouver Island, I am back to writing again. My first foray back into the fold is in the Deborah Grabien-edited anthology, Tales From the House Band, Volume 1. My story is called "Saint Rufus Fair" and is a retelling (with considerable changes to the history) of the song MacPherson's Rant. The second volume, Tales From the House Band, Volume 2, contains my story "The Ferrishyn Bargain," which fleshes out the Manx story in a song by my friend Eileen McGann called "Song of the Ferrishyn" on her album Pocketful of Rhymes.

I also an a singer (mostly alto/tenor) with my husband, David -- and in the band Port na Gael, a more "straight ahead Irish" band with Vancouver-based friends that David and I met at Boxwood traditional music "camp" in Nova Scotia (Our first CD, Heart But Not Seen, is available. Contact portnagael at gmail dot com.)

People have asked me what I listen to when I write. Believe it or not, I go for mostly wordless music in just about any form. If it has words, I have to sing along. And then my writing takes a whole 'nother twist.

I'm ruled by ferrets [with an ever-changing total count], and yes, that's a ferret in the background! They've been around as pets and rat- and rabbit-catchers for hundreds of years.

Some book covers to look for on your favourite used book sites or used booksellers. The covers for both Tales from the House Band volumes are links.

  Edited by Deborah Grabien

Tales From the House Band, Volume One  Tales From the House Band, Volume Two
  Edited by the late, great Martin H. Greenberg and the amazing Katharine (Kit) Kerr

Weird Tales From Shakespeare  Enchanted Forests  Shimmering Door (Sorceries)
  From Marion Zimmer Bradley's anthology archives

Domains of Darkover  Spells of Wonder


Document last modified: 1 Dec 2014 by Barbara A. Denz