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Lost Then Found: Elizabeth Hand’s Guide to Hitchhiking

Elizabeth Hand, science fiction and fantasy author, shares a phenomenal coincidence behind her novel Black Light (1999).

Elizabeth Hand


For today’s Fantasy Wednesday post, we’d like to share a story from Elizabeth Hand, a science fiction and fantasy author, about a phenomenal coincidence.

Elizabeth Hand has had many colorful life experiences. After seeing Patti Smith perform, she dropped out of college to write fiction and become involved in the New York City and London punk scenes of the 1970s. Her fiction is highly reminiscent of this lifestyle: Gothic settings, abandoned churches, sinister parties, and powerful cults are common themes.

For lack of better term, her work could be called “literary fantastic.” Her visionary and often semi-autobiographical novels explore transcendence and creativity, and contain elements of horror, gothic fantasy, romance, and mythology.

Hand’s novel Black Light (1999), for instance, takes place in a secluded artist community in upstate New York. Lit Moylan is about to leave for college when her eccentric godfather decides to throw one last party—the party to end all parties. A party to celebrate the apocalypse. As his mysterious guests arrive, Lit is drawn into the dangerous and seductive world of ancient cults and secret societies.

Hand recently told us a fascinating story behind Black Light, too!

“In 1976, I was hitchhiking in Putnam County, New York, with my friend Katy. A guy our age picked us up, we drove around and hung out for a few hours, and he then dropped me back at my parents’ house in Pound Ridge. It was only after I got home that I realized I’d left my journal in his car.

Flash forward to 1999, shortly after Black Light was published. I was visiting my folks in Pound Ridge when the phone rang: I picked it up and a voice asked, ‘Is this Elizabeth Hand?’ It turned out to be the guy who’d picked us up—he’d seen a copy of Black Light in his local bookstore and remembered my name (which was in the journal). And, when he went back and read the journal again (which he’d done back in 1976 as well—hey, I would have, too), he realized that some of the people and places I’d written about in the journal ended up in Black Light.”

You can read more about Elizabeth Hand and her ebooks on her profile page here. There’s also a great video of Hand, filmed at her home in gorgeous coastal Maine, in which the author speaks about her work.

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