Priest is a Florida native, born in Tampa in 1975. She graduated from Forest Lake Academy in Apopka, Florida in 1993. She moved around quite a bit as a child of an Army father, living in many places such as Florida, Texas, Kentucky, and Tennessee. She moved around regularly until college. In 2001 she left the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with an M.A. in Rhetoric/Professional writing, and in 1998 she graduated with a B.A. from Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, TN. Priest lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee for twelve years and it is there she both set her Eden Moore series and wrote the first two books. She currently resides in Seattle, Washington with her husband and her cat.
Although Priest was raised Seventh-day Adventist, she has no further contact with the church and claims no religious affiliation.
In addition to her novels, Priest was a reviewer for the Bram Stoker award-winning website Chiaroscuro and currently is a staff member of Subterranean Press. She is a regular attendee and panelist at DragonCon and several other genre conventions around the country such as Penguicon and Steamcon. She is also known for giving talks and writing articles about the hobby of urban exploration.
Priest's published writing style thus far falls into the Southern Gothic genre as well as the Horror genre. She has also written a number of short stories, most of which can be categorized as Horror or Science fiction. Priest has expanded her style to include the burgeoning genre of Steampunk which can be best described as a fantastical alternate history or Neo-Victorian often involving modern technology powered by nineteenth century means. Priest has developed a large fan following and is considered one of the vanguards of the genre.
The 2005 edition of her book Four and Twenty Blackbirds, represents an example of the emerging genre of blog fiction, because a substantial part of the work was serialized and promoted on her blog at LiveJournal. It was through this serialization that she obtained a large amount of interest in her work from both fans and industry professionals. It is common for Priest to post teasers of work in progress or finished work on her blog to promote her writing. Priest is very active online and since 2006 has held the distinction of being one of LiveJournal's top 100 bloggers.
In 2003 her first novel Four & Twenty Blackbirds was published by Marietta Publishing. This first edition featured a short story entitled 'Horror at Snodgrass Hill', which the author says was added after layout changes to the first edition required more text. After signing a three book deal with Tor Books, in October 2005 the novel was re-released in a revised and expanded edition by Tor; and a second novel, the sequel Wings to the Kingdom, appeared in October 2006. A third novel Not Flesh Nor Feathers completed the trilogy in 2007.
She has since sold two other novels to Tor that are separate from her initial three book contract: an urban fantasy called Fathom and a steampunk alternate history tale, Boneshaker.
A "mosaic novel" for Subterranean Press was released in 2007. Dreadful Skin was Priest's first hardcover, in a limited edition (1500 copies), signed by the author. It features eight full-page black-and-white illustrations by Mark Geyer (The Green Mile).
Priest's latest release was the critically acclaimed Steampunk novel Boneshaker. In 2010, Tor will be releasing the novel Dreadnought which takes place in the same universe as Boneshaker, The Clockwork Century. The novel Clementine, also a part of The Clockwork Century, will be released in 2010 as well, from Subterranean Press. Her novelette, 'Tanglefoot', will be featured not only on Subterranean Online, but in the forthcoming Steampunk anthology Steampunk Reloaded edited by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer.
Eden Moore Trilogy
The three books she initially sold to Tor Books, including Four & Twenty Blackbirds, compose what she and her fans call The Eden Moore Trilogy after the lead character of the novels. The series does not follow a specific defined trilogy story arc, each of the books follows Eden in its own storyline. Eden is a psychic who possesses various abilities, chief amongst them the ability to see, and communicate with, ghosts. The first novel deals with her understanding and realizing her gifts by solving a mystery related to her ancestry, and the quest to find out more information about her mother and her father.
The novels all, so far, feature cover artwork by John Jude Palencar, with the 2003 edition of Four and Twenty Blackbirds featuring a photographic cover by Aric Annear.
Four & Twenty Blackbirds
The first novel introduces us to Eden, first as a child, later as a 20-something adult. We are shown her abilities when, as a child, she sees the ghosts of three sisters. These three spirits appear to try to protect and guide her through-out her journey in the novel, a journey that she takes to find out her unknown ancestry and discover her deceased mothers story. Her quest takes her to the swamps of Florida via Monks, crotchety old women, witchcraft, and voodoo.
Wings To The Kingdom
Wings to the Kingdom centers around a murder and a monster mystery at the Chickamauga Battlefield in North Georgia. A local legend, Old Green Eyes, has abandoned his post as caretaker of the battlefield, and mute ghosts pester the living in search of answers.
Not Flesh Nor Feathers
Not Flesh Nor Feathers features a supernatural flood that all but destroys Chattanooga, Tennessee with water and zombies. A madwoman's ghost in an old hotel may hold the key to the events, which were prompted by a hundred-year-old hate crime. This book tentatively concludes the Eden Moore trilogy, though the author has not ruled out more Eden books in the future.
The Clockwork Century
On July 11, 2009 Priest announced via her Twitter that she had launched a new website based on the universe of a series of upcoming novels. The novels, while not specifically related, will all be set in the same fictional world which she calls the Clockwork Century. Advertising it as alternate history rather than steampunk she described the world in the following manner:-
Here, it is 1880 (or thereabouts). The Civil War is still underway, drawn out by English interference, a different transportation infrastructure, and a powerful Republic of Texas that discovered oil at Spindletop some fifty years sooner than real life allowed.The competition of war has led to technological progress and horrors unimaginable, and many people have fled the combating states, hoping for an easier life out west.Some of them have found it.Some of have found something else.
At least three novels have been written by Priest that are set in this universe, as well as a short story.
Boneshaker, released September 29, 2009 and published by Tor, combines the steampunk genre with zombies in an alternate history version of Seattle, Washington. It was nominated for the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
Clementine, released July 30, 2010 and published by Subterranean Press, also contained (in the limited edition) the bonus chapbook Tanglefoot. A Steampunk thriller that has been described as "Piracy meets politics head-on" and an "unflinching portrayal of complex race relations" by Publishers Weekly.
Dreadnought, released in 2010 and published by Tor, is the third novel. Like the previous two the story is unrelated but set in the same universe and features characters from the others in side roles.
Aside from several short stories (published in various magazines and collections) Priest has also published three novels, Dreadful Skin, Those Who Went Remain There Still, and Fathom.
Priest's upcoming books include the urban fantasy, Bloodshot in 2010 and the follow-up, Hellbent in 2011. Both from Bantam.She has also recently been involved in the George R. R. Martin's Wild Cards Consortium and her interstitial piece, 'Remember the Rathole', will be included in the next installment, Fort Freak, due out from Tor in 2010.
In March 2006, she won the Lulu Blooker Prize Lulu Blooker Blog: And the Winners are for Fiction for Four and Twenty Blackbirds, becoming the first ever winner in that category.
Her 2006 short story "Wishbones" was part of the Aegri Somnia anthology by Apex Digest, which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award.
Her 2009 novel Boneshaker won a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America announced that Boneshaker made the final ballot for the 2009 Nebula Award for Best Novel.
Boneshaker is a 2010 Hugo Award nominee in the Best Novel category.
Boneshaker won the 2010 Locus Award in the Best Science Fiction Novel category.