Ursula Vernon is a Hugo and Nebula award-winning American fantasy/sci-fi artist and writer. Creator of the Biting Pear of Salamanca (pictured). She has a fairly considerable Internet following, and has created a number of webcomics, including the very notable Digger. Her artwork can be seen here. She is also on Tumblr (personal, kid-friendly) and Twitter.Following the success of her children's series Dragonbreath, her subsequent books for adults have been published under the pseudonym "T. Kingfisher" to reduce the odds of them falling into the hands of her junior fanbase. She has also published a variety of short stories in online magazines such as Strange Horizons, Uncanny and Apex Magazine.Once fought Neil Gaiman to get to free nachos.
Her works include:
- A Conspiracy of Mammals (sadly unfinished)
- Digger (sadly finished)
- Elf vs. Orc (tragically unfinished; however, see below)
- The Hidden Almanac
- Irrational Fears
- Kevin And Ursula Eat Cheap
- Little Creature
- Gearworld (Both a quasi-narrative journal and a generic setting for many paintings; tragically unfinished)
Ebooks (as T. Kingfisher):
- Nine Goblins (a sort-of prequel to Elf vs. Orc)
- Toad Words and Other Stories
- The Seventh Bride (Re-released in print)
- Bryony and Roses
- The Raven and the Reindeer
- Summer in Orcus
Tropes across her works include:
- Animorphism: Occurs in different ways in many stories: In Digger, there's a man named Herne (named for an English folkloric figure) who was cursed to have a deer's head; in The Raven and the Reindeer, a reindeer gives its skin to the protagonist so that she can become a reindeer herself; "Jackalope Wives" applies the myth of Selkies and Wereseals to jackalopes, so that they can be forced to take human form if their skins are hidden; and "The Tomato Thief" (sequel to the previous) features a foreign god who transforms people into birds and thereby forces them to do his bidding.
- Author Appeal: Among other things, most of her protagonists are extremely fond of gardening.
- Footnote Fever: Terry Pratchett would be proud.
- Face Palm: Digger, especially, does this a lot◊.
- Fearsome Critters of American Folklore: "Jackalope Wives" combines the old tall tale of the jackalope with the Celtic myth of the selkie.
- Funny Animal: Particularly weird ones, like wombats, hyenas, coelacanths, snails...
- Funny Background Event
- Inn Between the Worlds: She briefly wrote and illustrated stories of a brothel between the worlds called The House of Red Fireflies.
- Makes Just as Much Sense in Context: Many of her works are pretty weird. And often as not, her explanation is "I don't know either" or "I just paint the things, I don't have to know what they mean".
- Mood Whiplash: She has a very humourous style, and uses it even when describing very traumatic events.
- Mythology Gag: In The Raven and the Reindeer, Gerta attempts to get a prophetic dream of Kay's whereabouts, and instead gets a series of dreams of other young people from various places (and, the narrator says, times). Two of them are recognizable from their descriptions as the protagonists of earlier fairy tale retellings The Seventh Bride and Boar and Apples.
- Not Evil, Just Misunderstood
- Not His Sled: The earliest versions of Beauty and the Beast have a subplot in which Beauty is torn between her growing connection with the Beast and an attractive prince who appears in her dreams begging for help; most modern adaptations skip it, because everyone knows the ending and can easily foresee the revelation that the dream prince is the Beast. Bryony and Roses puts it back in, but the attractive young man in the dreams isn't the Beast — it's the novel's equivalent of the witch who cursed him, trying to distract Bryony so she won't break the curse. Bryony never does get to see the Beast's human form because, in another Not His Sled moment, the Beast opts at the end to remain in the form in which she grew to love him.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Not only that, but every kind of dragon she draws seems to have different physical and mental attributes from the others.
- Our Trolls Are Different: Unlike her dragons, Ursula's trolls are all from the same mold, though very different from most other interpretations. Distant relatives of billy goats, they look like a combination of said ungulate with a giant frog; they are playful, friendly, nocturnal, and incidentally carnivorous, though they seem to eat only goats. They have a simple language that consists of variations on the word "Graah!" and can understand, but not replicate, human speech.
- Perky Goth: The artist herself is close to being one. She is fond of her spiked black leather boots and Fingerless Gloves.
- Petting Zoo People
- Prophecy Armor: Harriet the Invincible is about a fairytale princess who gets cursed Sleeping Beauty-style, but unlike Sleeping Beauty her parents tell her about the curse when they figure she's old enough to understand. Upon realizing that she's effectively invulnerable until the birthday in question, Harriet decides to take advantage of it by going out and having adventures.
- Talking Animal: Played with in The Raven and the Reindeer. Gerta meets a talking raven, who tells her that all ravens talk, but not all humans can understand raven language. Later, she encounters a raft of magical otters who can talk in human speech because their mistress felt it was beneath her to learn otter language. In the end, after Gerta loses the ability to hear raven speech, the raven admits that he too can talk in human speech, but keeps quiet about it because it's difficult and he doesn't like doing it.
- Themed Tarot Deck: With wombats, but only a few cards were made.
- Twice Told Tale: The Seventh Bride (Bluebeard), Bryony and Roses (Beauty and the Beast), and The Raven and the Reindeer (The Snow Queen) as well as most of the stories in Toad Words. The stand-alone short story "Razorback" is based on "Rawhead and Bloody Bones".
- The Verse: There are enough references to shared characters, cultures, and historic events that several of her stories can be inferred to take place in the same world. Particularly Black Dogs, Digger, Gearworld, and The Hidden Almanac.
- Weird West: The Grandma Harken stories, beginning with "Jackalope Wives", are set in a small town in a version of the Southwest where figures from Mexican mythology and Fearsome Critters of American Folklore are real. The second story features an immigrant from Slavic Mythology, and a few beings of more recent vintage such as the Gods of the Railway. The short story "Razorback" published in Apex Magazine, is in the same setting.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: The evils of Mint (see Author Appeal above).