Dennis Danvers has published ten novels, including NYT Notables Circuit of Heaven and The Watch, and Locus and Bram Stoker nominee Wilderness. Short fiction has appeared inStrange Horizons, Intergalactic Medicine Show, Space and Time, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, F & SF, Realms of Fantasy, Electric Velocipede, Lightspeed,, See the Elephant, Apex Magazine; and in anthologies Tails of Wonder, Richmond Noir, The Best of Electric Velocipede, Remapping Richmond’s Hallowed Ground, and Nightmare Carnival. He taught fiction writing and science fiction and fantasy literature at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia for over thirty years.

Recently I was asked to write a “chatty bio” for Aqueduct Press to accompany Tales From Mnemosyne. Here’s the result:

When I was in fourth grade in Irving, Texas, we were given the assignment—after reading Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill and the like—to write a Tall Tale! I remember the teacher wrote it in tall letters with a big exclamation mark to stir our creative juices. I threw myself into it and wrote a story about a giant raccoon. The plot is lost, but I remember showing it to my mom who laughed quite a lot reading it. Part of the assignment was to read the story to the class, and they laughed too, and most importantly, the teacher, whom I adored, totally cracked up. I was a nerdy kid, a social flop, but apparently, I was funny. And I loved to tell stories, especially fantastical ones, served with a bit of ham.

I loved to read them as well and kept doing so until I had a BA, MA, and PhD in English with an enduring passion for the more fantastical—the Romantics, medieval and Renaissance romance, and Classical literature and mythology. There were quite a few detours along the way, before I landed in Appalachia teaching at a small liberal arts college. I was a stone’s throw from Jonesborough, Tennessee, which calls itself the Storytelling Capital of the World, and they stage an annual festival to prove it. I was teaching Ovid’s Metamorphoses and was struck by the similarity between the playful, irreverent relationship Ovid has with the yarns he’s spinning and that of his Appalachian counterparts to theirs.

As much as I loved the Classical stories, they were much in need of retelling. I’d been a practicing Wiccan for a number of years and could see how the goddesses were getting short shrift, and figured someone, probably men, must be misremembering some of these stories. Who better to set the record straight than Mnemosyne, goddess of memory and mother of the Muses? I toyed with the idea, wrote some early drafts, but I had little time to write fiction teaching five classes each semester plus summers, serving as Chair of the Humanities Division, and generally spending my life teaching, grading, on the phone, or in a committee meeting.

As it happens, my wife at the time was applying to med school. There was a school an easy commute away, but I suggested she broaden her search to better schools—where there were also MFA programs. I figured that would give me space to put writing first. We moved to Richmond in 1987, and that worked out, to say the least. I finished a novel, Wilderness, a science-fictional reinvention of the werewolf myth in which a woman turns into a real wolf and locks herself up like a sane person would. I sold it big on the strength of a big movie deal that was not to be, though there is a little British movie out there, that’s okay except they totally fuck the ending (just saying).

I then did Time and Time Again, a reincarnation story in which the protagonist remembers his past lives and is spurred by that knowledge to change. I lost my wonderful editor in midbook to be replaced by (ahem) a less wonderful one. Then I wrote Circuit of Heaven, the book I’m best known for. I’d had the story of virtual immortality in my head for a long time. I’d read stories in the sixties that used virtual life, but the plot was always the discovery that life wasn’t real but a simulation. Why waste a great idea on a surprise ending? Immortality’s fairly inviting, and our lives are more virtual all the time. I imagined an intentional virtual heaven, and an abandoned world of those who wouldn’t want to go. I was rereading Romeo and Juliet when the idea struck me to tell a star-crossed love story set in the two worlds. I still had more to say about that world and wrote End of Days, which is one of my personal favorites. After traveling in Mexico for a few months in the wake of the Zapatista uprising, I wrote The Fourth World, which is an unsparing critique of neoliberalism and the exploitation of the third world woven around a Mars story. It’s the only book of mine with a space ship on the cover. Then I wrote The Watch which tells the story of Peter Kropotkin, “The Anarchist Prince,” time-traveling from his deathbed to modern day Richmond, Virginia, when the odious Confederate Monuments were still standing. At this point, Harper Collins bid me farewell, and I snuck into bookstores under a pseudonym, Robert Sydney, with a comic noir novel, The Bright Spot, in The Thin Man vein about the dehumanization of labor and Frankenstein. I then did Bad Angels, a reinvention of the fallen angel myth, part Milton and Blake, lots of fun, and atheist-friendly; it’s an unabashed love letter to Richmond. Shortly before the pandemic, I finished two novels, The Perfect Stranger (a woman-ghost love story about genre and authorship) and The Soothsayer & the Changeling (a dark fantasy about climate change and free will) that were released to near anonymity during the pandemic. Leaving the Dead, a story collection came out in 2023. Along the way I’ve published stories in Strange HorizonsApexF&SFLady Churchill’s Rosebud WristletTor.comLightspeedElectric Velocipede, and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, these goddesses kept showing up, and I started reading these stories at ICFA, where, just like in fourth grade, I made the whole room laugh and maybe ponder what it might be like to be something weird like a giant raccoon sitting up in a tiny tree.


9 thoughts on “Biography

  1. Hello Dennis,

    We met at RavenCon 13.5. We were on a Rewriting panel together and you Bud and I had lunch together and chatted about writing. I run the Agile Writers Conference every year and I’d like to invite you to speak at our conference on January 26th. I hope you’ll write back and are interested in participating.

  2. Many years ago I read Wilderness. When I finished it, I put it away in my bookshelf. Several years later as I was organizing my shelf, I saw it and decided to read it again (something I rarely do). Again, I was captured by the atmosphere, story, characters! So, I read it again. It was even better! Well, guess what! I found it and am reading it again. Thank you Mr Danvers for so many hours of pleasurable reading. Here I go, into the Wilderness again.

    • I almost missed this! I’m afraid I’ve been neglecting my website. It brings me joy to know a book I wrote almost 30 years ago still brings someone pleasure. You’ve made my day.

  3. I’m about to begin End of Days after finishing Circuit of Heaven and I can’t express how much I loved the first novel and your blessed writing. I can’t wait to devour all of your short stories and novels! As a hobbyist writer with so much passion for the craft, it’s authors like you that are great titans providing so much inspiration to your readers and fans! Thank you for sharing your stories with the world!

  4. I looked for an address to send a postcard to tell you that The Watch was a wild and incredible and being from Virginia, it is even more exciting. I’d love to share more or mail some post if you have the time to email me back! Thanks!!

  5. Just finished Wilderness and wanted to express my appreciation for the book. Fun plot and a thoroughly enjoyable read during our extended stay at home period here in New York.

    • Sorry it’s taken so long for me to see this! Thank you so much. It’s quite delightful that someone can still enjoy a novel I wrote thirty+ years ago!

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