“The best part is feeling like god, knowing that you can take the raw material of people, events, imagination, extrapolation, and remold them all in your own image, make it like it should have been with the power of the Word.” – Jane Gallion, 1990
Jane Gallion was born in 1938, in a tiny rural town in Southern California and raised in a community of religious fundamentalists. When she questioned some of the community’s beliefs and practices, she was sent for psychological intervention at the hands of a member of the same religion and community — so her childhood and adolescence went, as Gallion’s inner life developed with little help from her outer life.
She escaped through an early marriage – not without issues of its own – and eventually became a Pagan. A lifelong science fiction fan, she was an active contributor to fanzines for many years. At age thirty, Jean Marie Stine introduced her to Brian Kirby, editor of the Essex House line of literary erotica. And the rest is history.
Her novels, Stoned, Biker, and Going Down turned the literary world upside down and presented a rare and remarkable woman-centered perspective, for its time, on sex and sexual activity – and, as such, the work was decidedly feminist. Theodore Sturgeon and Michael Perkins were among the earliest to praise her writing, the most noted of which was The Woman as Nigger, a controversial and foundational work of late 1960s feminism.
Of her fiction, she has written, “I think I was the only woman smut writer in America for a good long while. I don’t think I was so much discriminated against as treated like a dancing dog. I loved the acclaim, but shrank from the conflict of being a woman smut writer, and from the spotlight that working in such a field turned on my private life. I quit writing smut when I moved to West Virginia.
“I was asked the other day, […] what my books were about. I said I wrote about love. That IS what I write about, and all that I write about. That is what I want to say to people through my work. My philosophy, if you can call it a philosophy, is that life – and love – has a structure of its own, and if you study that structure and cherish it, it will feed you and nourish you and make, no, encourage you, to grow. Love and creativity are one and the same, because creativity is the dynamic aspect of love. Love is, creativity does. So I feel that I won’t stop creating till I’m dead, and possibly not then.”
Jane Gallion passed away in 2003, after spending several years not only continuing to write, but engaging in other creative pursuits as well, such as her prizewinning quilts. She was indeed a dynamic, creative, loving, honest and groundbreaking writer and person.