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Diane Duane's biography

The short and long versions

The bare facts:

Born May 18th, 1952, NY (Manhattan), NY. Raised (1952-1970) in Roosevelt (L.I.), NY, in the New York City suburbs. Attended high school at Roosevelt Senior High, graduated 1970: attended college at Dowling College (Oakdale NY), studying astronomy, astrophysics (1970-71); then attended Pilgrim State Hospital School of Nursing, Brentwood NY (1971-74). Graduated and passed State Boards 1974 as registered nurse. Practiced as staff psychiatric nurse (one-to-one therapy) at Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic of New York Hospital/ Cornell Medical Center, 1974-76. Relocated to California as writer’s assistant, 1976-78. First novel sale, 1977: first screen sale, 1979. Began working full time as freelance novelist and screenwriter in 1980. Relocated to Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, in 1981, and to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1983. Married Northern Irish novelist and screenwriter Peter Morwood and relocated to the UK in 1987: settled in the Republic of Ireland in 1988.

A more informal version:

Diane Duane was born in Manhattan in 1952, a Year of the Dragon. She was raised on Long Island, in the New York City suburbs. In high school she won a Regents Science and Nursing scholarship, and her first studies in college were toward a degree in astrophysics. Difficulties with calculus and other higher maths drove her instead into the arms of the biological sciences, and she used the nursing half of her scholarship to attend Pilgrim State Hospital School of Nursing on Long Island, from which she graduated in 1974 as a registered nurse with a specialty in psychiatry. She spent the next two years practicing the art at Payne Whitney Clinic of New York Hospital, now part of Cornell/NYH Medical Center, one of the most respected psychiatric clinics in the eastern USA.

She had been writing for her own entertainment ever since she could read (having written and illustrated her first novel in crayon at the age of eight), and it was while working at Payne Whitney that various friends who read Duane’s work told her she should submit it professionally. She began to do so, after a year spent working as assistant to television and science fiction writer David Gerrold. Her first novel, The Door into Fire, was published by Dell Books in 1979. On the strength of this book, she was nominated two years running for the World Science Fiction Society’s Astounding Award for best new science fiction/fantasy writer in the industry.

Since then Duane has published more than fifty novels, numerous short stories, and various comics and computer games; she has appeared several times on the New York Times Bestseller List and garnered numerous awards from such organizations as the American Librarians’ Association and the New York Public Library. (The most recent award received was the 2014 “Faust” Grand Master Award of the International Association of Media and Tie-In Writers.) She has also been honored by being chosen as one of the writer Guests of Honour at the 2019 World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin, Ireland.

She is presently best known for her continuing Young Wizards series of young adult fantasy novels about the New York-based teenage wizards Nita Callahan and Kit Rodriguez. The 1983 novel So You Want to Be a Wizard and its nine sequels have been published around the world over the past three decades, and are now routinely cited by librarians all over the US as “the first books to read when you run out of Harry Potter”. It was these books for which Duane in 2003 received (from the Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation) a special commendation for the entire Young Wizards series in the prestigious Anne Spencer Lindbergh Prize in Children’s Literature. Book 10 of the series, Games Wizards Play, was published in hardcover by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in February 2016 and in paperback in February 2017. Young Wizards book 11 is presently in progress, along with various interstitial background works from short-story to novel length being published under the Interim Errantry title. These works are available from the usual online retailers and at the household’s online ebook store, Ebooks Direct.

Duane’s husband, Belfast-born fantasist and screenwriter Peter Morwood, is a frequent collaborator. So far they share credits for five novels (one, the Star Trek novel The Romulan Way, written on their honeymoon), and for various animated screenplays. Their most recent joint media credit is for the live-action drama Ring of the Nibelungs / Die Nibelungen, which premiered as both a theatrical release in the UK and a TV miniseries Europe-wide in November of 2004, achieving the highest ratings of any German TV movie for that year and the highest ratings for its network (Sat1) of any dramatic production in its history. (SciFi Channel in the US first aired the miniseries in March 2006, retitled as Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King, and still airs it frequently.)

Duane’s solo screenwriting work includes extensive animated and live-action experience (some fifty scripts to date) and one of the first episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the critically acclaimed first-season episode “Where No One Has Gone Before.” Over the course of her career Duane has worked with Star Trek in more forms than any other person alive: television, books, audio, comics, manga, and computer games. She has also worked for the BBC, serving as senior writer on the BBC TV Education series Science Challenge, and has worked with or written for various other national and independent television and screen production companies across Europe.

Duane’s most recently aired solo screen work is the 2010 SyFy TV movie Lost Future, starring Sean Bean. Prose works now in progress include the last novel in her Middle Kingdoms series (The Door into Starlight) and the eleventh “Young Wizards” novel, as yet untitled.

Along with a covey of seriously overworked computers, laptops and smartphones, Duane and her husband live in a pastoral townland set in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, where their recently renovated two hundred-year-old cottage provides an odd but congenial environment for the staging of epic battles between good and evil and the leisurely pursuit of total galactic domination. Diane enjoys travel, which is fortunately made simpler by occasional signing tours and by the various science fiction conventions, on both sides of the Atlantic, that invite her and her husband to appear as guests. She and Peter travel in Europe as much as possible, being especially fond of train travel.

In her spare time, Diane collects recipes and cookbooks, especially those dealing with lesser-known international cuisines. Her own cooking tends toward hearty peasant food, with an emphasis on the cuisines of central Europe and the Mediterranean — an interest that she expresses through her identity as EuroCuisineLady at the household’s hobby website EuropeanCuisines.com, presently celebrating its 25th anniversary online. Diane also gardens (weeding, mostly), studies German and Italian, and dabbles in astronomy, computer graphics and modeling, iaido, amateur cartography (one of her early efforts, a USGS-type map of Roger Zelazny’s fictional city, Amber, hung in the office of the deputy director of the US Geological Survey in Washington), desktop publishing, and fractals.

She is trying to learn how to make more spare time.

Literary representation  |  Screen representation