Juliet Marillier (born July 27, 1948) is a New Zealand-born writer of fantasy, especially historical fantasy. She currently lives in Western Australia. While Marillier writes mostly for adults, her recent books have included Cybele's Secret, a sequel to her novel for young adults Wildwood Dancing. Cybele's Secret won a 2008 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Novel - Young Adult. Her latest release is Heart's Blood, a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast.
Juliet Marillier was born July 27, 1948 in Dunedin, New Zealand and grew up surrounded by Celtic music and stories. Her own Celtic-Gaelic roots inspired her to write her first series, the Sevenwaters Trilogy. Marillier was educated at the University of Otago, where she majored in music and languages, graduating BA and a B Mus (Hons). She has said in interviews that this academic training strengthened her writing, and that her lifelong interest in history, folklore and mythology has had a major influence on her storytelling style.
She lives in a hundred-year-old cottage in a riverside suburb of Perth. She shares her home with two dogs and a cat. She has four adult children and four grandchildren, all of whom live in Australia. She has been a fulltime writer since 2002, having previously worked at a variety of jobs including music teaching at both secondary and tertiary levels and in the Public Service.
Marillier was diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2009. She has since completed a course of chemotherapy, and in August 2009 will start a six week course of Radiotherapy.
Several of Marillier's books are written in the first person. One of her strengths is her ability to use this point-of-view skillfully, allowing the reader to form a close bond with the main character. Her characters are well rounded and the reader becomes familiar with their strengths and weaknesses, which again encourages immersion in the characters' world. Marillier is also noted for writing sequels that can stand alone: readers of the earlier books in a series will recognise old friends while new readers will quickly feel at home with characters old and new.
Marillier has said that it takes her about a year to finish a novel and that she is often researching one book while writing another and editing a third. She also says that she usually bases a story on two elements: what the main character learns about herself and her world that makes this adventure personally significant; and the bigger picture, showing this character’s role in something outside herself, such as saving a community or forging peace between two warring tribes. The first idea reinforces the second, making the writing both personal and realistic.
Juliet Marillier's books have won many awards, such as the American Library Association’s Alex Award for Daughter of the Forest and the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel for Son of the Shadows, Blade of Fortriu and Wildwood Dancing.
Daughter of the Forest (1999) - based loosely on "The Six Swans" (a story that has many versions, including one by Hans Christian Andersen). The setting is ancient Ireland. A girl (Sorcha) must sew six shirts from a painful nettle plant in order to save her brothers from a witch's enchantment, remaining completely mute until the task is finished. Falling in love complicates her mission.
Son of the Shadows (2000) - sequel to Daughter of the Forest, told from the point of view of Sorcha's daughter, Liadan. Times are changing and the fragile peace will not last. Liadan, a healer, finds herself in the company of the notorious Painted Man, while her sister Niamh is given away in a strategic marriage.
Child of the Prophecy (2001) - finale of the trilogy. Written from the point of view of Niamh's daughter Fainne, sent by her wicked grandmother into the heart of her newly-found family with one purpose: to destroy the child of the prophecy. If Fainne does not obey, her father will die.
Heir to Sevenwaters (Nov 2008) - Written from the point of view of Sean and Aisling's daughter, Clodagh, this stand-alone addition to the series tells of a momentous journey to the Otherworld, whose relationship with the folk of Sevenwaters has broken down.
Saga of the Light Isles
Wolfskin (2002) — A young Viking warrior, Eyvind, joins a voyage of discovery. In the Light Isles (Orkney) he encounters a Pictish priestess, Nessa, and experiences a clash of cultures and faiths. When his blood brother, Somerled, shows his true colours, Eyvind’s integrity is tested to the limit.
Foxmask (2003) — sequel to Wolfskin. Thorvald sets out on a perilous quest to find the father he has never known. With his devoted friend Creidhe and fisherman Sam, he becomes embroiled in a mysterious conflict that will change him forever.
The Bridei Chronicles
The Dark Mirror (2004) — Bridei is sent to the far north of Britain to be fostered by the king’s druid, Broichan. A grand destiny awaits the boy. The unexpected arrival of Tuala, a child of the Good Folk, disrupts Broichan’s plan. The first book in the Bridei Chronicles follows Bridei’s life up to the point where he faces election to kingship of the Priteni (Picts.) The series is loosely based on real history.
Blade of Fortriu (2005) — The second book in the Bridei Chronicles continues the story of Bridei, now King of Fortriu. Interwoven with this is the journey of Bridei’s enigmatic assassin and spy, Faolan, who must escort highborn Ana to the north for a strategic marriage. They reach the isolated fortress of Alpin of Briar Wood and discover all is not as it seems. Meanwhile, Bridei prepares his forces for war with the Gaels.
The Well Of Shades (2006) — The third book in the Bridei Chronicles follows Faolan’s journey home to Erin to face his personal demons and to gather information on influential Christian cleric, Colmcille (St Columba.) Faolan returns to Fortriu with a young woman and a child in tow. The apparent defection of a close ally and the disappearance of another plunges Bridei’s court into chaos. The real enemy, however, may be even closer to home.
The Whistling Tor Series
Heart's Blood (2009) — Caitrin is on the run from her abusive "great aunt" and her son, when she comes to Whistling Tor. She is hired out as a scribe for the Summer, and learns of the places many strange features, while falling in love with its deformed master, Anluan. Along the way she learns to face her past and brings hope to the people of Whistling Tor.
Novels for Young Adults
Wildwood Dancing (2006) — Set in historical Transylvania and loosely based on the fairytale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses", Wildwood Dancing centres on a family of sisters who have a secret bond with the mysterious Other Kingdom, where they go to dance at every Full Moon. When their father must go away for the winter, Jena and her sisters find themselves fighting for everything they hold dear — their home, their independence and the survival of the otherworld kingdom.
Cybele's Secret (2007) — A companion book to Wildwood Dancing, in which some of the same characters appear. Scholarly Paula accompanies her father on a merchant voyage to Istanbul and is drawn into a dangerous cat-and-mouse game over an ancient artifact. A quest lies before Paula, in which the stakes are high indeed. She finds herself on a desperate chase, accompanied by an unlikely pair of companions in adventure. The price of failure may be death, and the reward for success, true love.