Storm Constantine Biography


Storm Constantine has written stories all her life. Her interests have always lain in the realms of the fantastical, but she was influenced by the mythology of Ancient Egypt and Greece more than by contemporary fantasy writing. After beginning -- and never completing -- several full-length works, in 1985 Storm began work on the first of her Wraeththu novels The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit. This was completed in 1986, and submitted to Futura Macdonald, who accepted it for publication.

Although characters in the Wraeththu novels inhabited a fantasy world, they were drawn from real people who were part of the alternative night-club/music scene of the mid-eighties. The Wraeththu are hermaphrodites -- male and female in one body -- which mirrored the way people seemed at the time; very androgynous. In writing the Wraeththu books, Storm was determined to destroy the typical image of fantasy literature, of having cardboard characters and derivative plots. She was interested in exploring the concepts of gender and sexuality, which resulting in the books being seen as ground-breaking science fiction/fantasy. Storm herself, however, wishes her work was not rigidly categorised into a genre.

``I wouldn't go so far as to say my work is utterly mainstream, but neither do I see it as straight science fiction or fantasy. I like to think my books appeal to more than hard-core science fiction fans. Letters received by my fan club show that a great number of readers have been led to the genre by my work -- people who would not normally read sf or fantasy.''

The reason for this perhaps stems from Storm's feeling that it is very important for different media to intermingle; writing with music with art with film. She has always worked with rock bands, either as an illustrator or contributing written work, such as when her work appeared on the sleeve of Fields of the Nephilim's albums, ``Earth Inferno'' and their retrospective collection ``Revelations.'' Publicity resulting from her working with, and managing, bands attracted a new audience to her novels.

``I wanted exposure in music/media magazines like The Face and 20/20, not purely in magazines like Interzone or Starburst, who cater exclusively for sf fans.''

The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit was published in 1987, initially in hardback, and was later followed by the concluding volumes of the Wraeththu series: The Bewitchments of Love and Hate and The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire.

During 1988/89, Storm formed the Thirteenth Key project, which comprised a group of writers, artists and musicians, who together produced a magazine, video, and a soundtrack of music to accompany the video, all loosely based on the Wraeththu concept. The video Scrying of Continuum, was shown at sf conventions in 1989, and the magazine, Paragenesis, and the tape, Eyespeech, were sold by mail order.

In 1989, Vikki Lee France and Steve Jeffery formed the information service Inception, which in many respects continued the spirit of Thirteenth Key, and allowed fans to maintain a close contact with Storm's working life. Inception, now in its sixth year, continues to thrive, and produces two regular magazines, Inception, and An Occasional Axolotl. Storm contributes regularly to both zines.

In 1990, Macdonald/Orbit published Storm's fourth book The Monstrous Regiment -- a departure from the territory of Wraeththu, although still, as her editor once put it, ``quintessential Storm''. Aleph, a sequel to The Monstrous Regiment, appeared in 1991.

1991 also saw Storm moving publishers, to Headline, which Storm saw as a major step forward in her career. Her new publishers were more open to her ideas concerning the packaging and promotion of her work, which she felt was a major contribution to the success of Hermetech, her first novel with Headline. Also published in 1991, the book was lavishly produced with magnificent cover artwork and interior illustrations by Carl McCoy of Fields of the Nephilim. The mass market paperback edition went into reprint before publication date on the strength of advance orders. Hermetech was described in a review in Interzone magazine as ``a decorative return to Wraeththu territory... a mythic journey replete with picturesques, grotesques and poisoned earth elegy... Storm Constantine handles her cyber-goth jargon -- and its loopy New Age applications -- with great aplomb.''

In 1991, Storm also took on the management of the band ``Empyrean'', which enhanced her profile in the music world. New fans were drawn to her written work because of this, and her information service was inundated with requests from music fanzines for interviews with Storm. In between managing the band and writing full-length novels, Storm also completed many short stories, which appeared in magazines such as The Gate and Weird Tales (in the US.), and anthologies such as New Worlds, Zenith 1 and 2, Digital Dreams and Temps.

February 1992 saw the publication of Storm's second novel with Headline, Burying the Shadow. This was a reinvention of the vampire myth, incorporating mythology from Paradise Lost and the Nephilim legends. A reviewer in Starburst magazine commented: ``Storm Constantine's writing evokes a sense of unearthly wonder, beauty and poetic aristocratic poise.''

In November 1992, Storm was Guest of Honour at Novacon, the convention held by the Birmingham Science Fiction group. Here, she unveiled the latest of her projects based upon her sixth novel, Hermetech. Working once more with Yash Byzantium, who had produced the music for Scrying of Continuum, several tracks had been laid down, which Storm described as a cross between ``industrial, rave and 4AD music''. Influenced most by Dead Can Dance and Ministry. In March 1993, the first live performance took place at a science fiction convention at Hertfordshire University, where Storm was again Guest of Honour. The taped soundtrack was played to a backdrop of coloured images created by information service members, before which an accomplished shamanic dancer, Ellie, gyrated and writhed. ``We had thought of having a live band to perform the music,'' says Storm, ``and in some ways I was unsure about whether the performance would work just with backing tapes. But I needn't have worried. Ellie just filled the stage!'' The music and dancing were intercut with readings from Hermetech by Storm herself.

Storm's next book, Sign for the Sacred, was published in February 1993. It explores the complexities and manias of religion, and focuses on the antics of a maverick prophet, who might be a master magician or a complete fake.

Storm's ninth novel, Calenture, was published in April 94. It is a lush story of exotic lands, surreal journeys, complete with moving cities, and is based on the short story that appeared in Interzone A Priest of Hands.

Storm is currently working on a new dark fantasy trilogy, which will be published by Penguin through their new Creed imprint. The first volume, Stalking Tender Prey is scheduled for publication in November 1995. The trilogy is based upon the legends of fallen angels, which Storm used as inspiration for Burying the Shadow, and is set in the contemporary world.