Graham Joyce (22 October 1954 – 9 September 2014) was a British writer of speculative fiction and the recipient of numerous awards, including the O Henry Award and the World Fantasy Award, for both his novels and short stories. He grew up in a small mining village just outside Coventry to a working-class family. After receiving a B.Ed. from Bishop Lonsdale College in 1977 and a M.A. from the University of Leicester in 1980. Joyce worked as a youth officer for the National Association of Youth Clubs until 1988. He subsequently quit his position and moved to the Greek islands of Lesbos and Crete to write his first novel, Dreamside. After selling Dreamside to Pan Books in 1991, Joyce moved back to England to pursue a career as a full-time writer. He was awarded a PhD by publication at Nottingham Trent University, where he taught creative writing from 1996 until his death and was made a reader in creative writing.
Graham Joyce resided in Leicester with his wife, Suzanne Johnsen, and their two children, Ella and Joseph.
Joyce was the regular first-choice goalkeeper for the England Writers football team, appearing in international fixtures against Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Israel, Hungary, Turkey and Austrian Writers teams. He described his footballing experiences in his non-fiction book Simple Goalkeeping Made Spectacular.
He was a supporter of Coventry City FC and occasionally wrote pieces for fanzines.
Joyce died on 9 September 2014. He had been diagnosed with lymphoma in 2013.
Both publishers and critics alike have found difficulty in classifying Joyce's writing. His novels have been categorized as fantasy, science fiction, horror, and mainstream literature—with some even overlapping genres. Joyce utilizes a wide variety of settings and character perspectives. Settings include Scotland, The English Midlands, Greece, the Middle East, and the jungles of Thailand. He has penned for both adult and juvenile protagonists, with an emphasis on strong female characters. The greater unity in Joyce's works, however, lies in their thematic and philosophical topics. Bill Sheehan, who wrote the introduction for Partial Eclipse, states:
“Among the issues Graham dramatizes are the inevitability of grief, loss, growth, and change, the primal importance of family bonds, the beauty of the feminine, the life altering effects of parenthood, the nature of the creative unconscious, the overwhelming power of the erotic, the corrupting effects of power, the importance of self-awareness, and the fundamental need for order, meaning, and coherence in the face of a chaotic, inimical universe.”
The mystical or supernatural often play a pivotal role in Joyce's works. For this, he taps the mythical or folkloric associations of his settings. Joyce's treatment of these experiences is what distinguishes his novels from genre fiction. The supernatural is not seen as a conflict or an obstacle to be overcome, but rather an integral part of a natural order that a character must accept and integrate. Running parallel to these phenomena is the possibility of a rational or psychological explanation. This literary approach is influenced in part by Joyce's experiences with his own family:
"My grandmother was one of these old women who used to have dreams and visions and messages arriving. She would fall asleep in a chair, there would be a knock on the door, she would go to the door, someone strange would come to the door and deliver a message. And then she would wake up again in her chair. Now my mother and my aunties told me these stories over and over again. But they just lived with it side by side. They didn't fight it as in a fantasy or horror film. They didn't have to overcome it. It didn't get worse and worse and worse. They just accepted this mystery and then they cooked the dinner."
This particular quality has prompted some critics to classify Joyce as a magic realist in the vein of such Latinamerican writers as Gabriel García Márquez or Julio Cortázar. Joyce disagrees with this, feeling that his lineage is tied more closely to writers of the English "weird tale" such as Arthur Machen or Algernon Blackwood. He calls his style of writing "Old Peculiar."
The short film Black Dust was released in 2012, produced by James Laws of Pretzel Films, scripted by Joyce and Laws. Currently, there are no feature-length films based on Joyce's novels or shorts. However, the film rights to Dreamside, The Tooth Fairy, and Dark Sister have all been optioned. As of October 2010 Dreamside, Do the Creepy Thing (Joyce scripting) The Silent Land and Some Kind Of Fairy Tale are all in development.
Joyce co-wrote song lyrics for French songwriter and composer Emilie Simon on her albums The Big Machine (2009) and Franky Knight (2011).
On 16 January 2009, the site Computer and Video Games reported that Graham Joyce had been hired by id Software to "help develop the storyline potential" of Doom 4.
Adam Roberts stated "Graham Joyce's The Year of the Ladybird showed that he is one of the best writers of ghost stories we have."