Profile of Gregory Frost

To understand Gregory Frost, it is first necessary for you to know that in his junior year at Drake University, his apartment caught fire. And to understand the significance of that, you must first know that he was then an art major, that he had invested three years of his life toward becoming a professional illustrator, and that he had recently taken an evening course in writing short fiction. This course changed his life in ways that can no more adequately be put into words than can the transports of love. Suffice it to say that for a long time he was torn between two callings, and unable to choose one over the other.

Then came the fire. In a flash he lost three years of artwork, all his oils, all his charcoal sketches. The little Royal typewriter he wrote with literally melted onto the kitchen table. And right beside it, barely singed, was the story he had just finished writing. It was all that survived.

Greg took this as a sign. He dropped out of Drake and a year later entered the University of Iowa. Because so few of his art school credits were transferable to his new major, it took him an additional four years to get his bachelor's degree.

There were only two science fiction courses at the University of Iowa in those days, and one was dreadful. The other was taught by Joe Haldeman, then a grad student and tolerated by his SF-hating instructors only because he'd already published more fiction than any of them. Joe and his wife Gay took the class to their first SF convention, convinced Greg and classmates Bill Johnson and Larry Marin to attend Clarion, and oversaw their creation of the Science Fiction League of Iowa Students. Then he kicked them out of the nest.

But not before the nascent SFLIS organized the first Icon. Roger Zelazny was GOH and Greg was con chair. Mark Moore, Terry Matz, and Mike Miller (among others) made the convention work. The Haldemans supervised. This year's convention is a direct descendant of that Icon, and something of a homecoming for Greg.

Over the years, Greg has worked as an upholsterer, applied signs to trucks and railroad cars, ghost-written a mystery novel for a Miami gigolo, been a tobacconist, worked in an Arby's, run a bookstore, taught writing, worked for a video animation firm, and run an enrichment program for college-bound students. He's lived in Boca Raton, in North Carolina, in Tennessee, in Philadelphia. He's bicycled the British Isles and been mistaken for a priest.

All of which is mere incident. What matters is that he went on to write Lyrec and Tain and Remscela, bright and striking fantasy novels that I wholeheartedly commend to your attention. (The latter two books in particular are the best retellings of Irish mythology anybody in the field has ever attempted.) He's written the science fictional A Pure Cold Light, a savage look at our totally new future that's currently on the preliminary Nebula ballot, and Mother Of Blood, a horror novel still being marketed. That's three separate genres he's mastered, and Greg has written notable short fiction in all three as well.

Right now, Greg is working on Whom Gods Destroy, a science fiction novel about which I know nothing except that I want to read it, and on Shadowbridge, a fantasy novel with the sort of terrific premise I wish I'd thought of rather than he. I think it's going to be great. I think it's going to be a classic.

This is what you have to know in order to understand Gregory Frost: That he spent seven years to get his degree when four would have sufficed. That six years passed between Clarion and Greg's first sale, during which he supported himself with the kinds of terrible jobs that only aspirant writers seem to get. That fire couldn't stop him, or poverty, or neglect. That he did what it took to get where he wanted to go.

Now you know and now you understand. Gregory Frost has ambitions, and they are not modest ones. Remember this. And read the books.

© 1994 by Michael Swanwick; first appeared in the Icon 19 Program Book.

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