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Author with Victoria roots returns to read at UHV (audio)

By Carolina Astrain
Sept. 1, 2013 at 4:01 a.m.
Updated Sept. 2, 2013 at 4:02 a.m.

Science fiction author Elizabeth Hand's last visit to the Crossroads was almost a decade ago.

Hand, 56, returns to Victoria to kick off the University of Houston-Victoria's American Book Review Reading Series' fall lineup at noon Thursday.

Hand's grandmother used to work as the librarian for the public library when it was at the building that is now the Nave Museum. She died in 1994.

Hand's mother, Alice Ann Silverthorn-Hand, moved to Victoria as a teen and attended a Victoria high school.

And to this day, Hand's family has maintained farmland in Victoria, which she used to visit during the summers of her childhood.

"I loved it," Hand said. "I have very fond memories of that part of Texas."

The first book she attempted to write in her early 20s was based on that area, Hand said.

"It was one of those things you put in a drawer somewhere," Hand said. "Maybe I'll take it out after this week."

Her mother and aunt, Elizabeth Silverthorn-Musick, who both made the trip south with the author, will be at the ABR reading.

Her latest collection of short stories, "Errantry," is made up of 10 stories Hand has worked on for the past five years.

In that collection, the short stories "The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon" and "Near Zennor" feature characters dealing with the recent loss of their wives.

"I tend to write a lot about rupture," Hand said. "A lot of times when we experience that sort of rupture, it's because a loved one has passed or there's been a conflict within a relationship."

The author is now working on the third in a series of suspense novels.

"They all feature the same protagonist, who is a total burnout, hot mess of a person," Hand said. "She's really a train wreck but is also a very brilliant old-school film photographer."

When she was 29, Hand decided to quit her job at an air and space museum and started writing full time after attending a writer's workshop in Washington, D.C.

"I always wanted to be a writer and suddenly realized that it was one those now-or-never things," Hand said. "I realized that this was something that I wanted to do my entire life, so I just did it."

Hand is now the author of 17 novels, four collections, six novelizations of movies and TV shows, the comic book "Anima," several book reviews and articles and four Star Wars kids' books.

In her short story "On Zennor," Hand writes about three teenage girls who encounter will-o'-the-wisp, magical ghost lights with Scottish folklore roots.

Hand drew inspiration for a mysterious, spooky encounter from a real-life experience she had in the backyard of her friend's New York home.

"It was the only time I'd ever had a genuinely inexplicable experience that I guess you could classify as paranormal," Hand said. "I still don't know what happened."



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