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Works by
Barbara Sjoholm
(aka Barbara Wilson)

Profile created March 12, 2007

Books, essays and stories prior to 2002 were published under the name Barbara J. Wilson.

  • The Things That Divide Us: Stories by Women (1985), co-edited with Faith Conlon and Rachel da Silva
    Still frequently used text in women's studies classes of fiction about women's diversity.

  • Backbone: Northwest Women's Writing. Vols 1-4, co-edited with Rachel da Silva (1977-1982)
    See Volume 2, Voluem 4 

  • Steady as She Goes: Women's Adventures at Sea (2003)
    Veteran seafarers and anyone who has dreamed of running away to sea in her very own boat or simply savored the smell of the salty air on the water’s edge will be inspired by this well-crafted and varied collection. Steady as She Goes is both a testament to women’s enduring relationship with the sea and a gripping and illuminating read. Whether commercial fishing in Alaska’s unforgiving waters, racing tall ships off the coast of Australia, kayaking in the enchanting Sea of Cortez, or learning the antiquated mechanics of a New York City fireboat, these women work and play at sea, spinning harrowing adventure yarns and relaying quiet moments of revelation surrounded by the vastness of the ocean. With both original and reprinted material from such noted writers as Linda Greenlaw, Jill Fredston, Tania Aebi, Bernadette Bernon (former editor of Cruising World ), devorah major (San Francisco’s poet laureate), Andromeda Romano-Lax, and Deborah Scaling Kiley, among others, this is the first anthology dedicated to contemporary women's adventures at sea. This unique and long-overdue collection shatters—once and for all—the myth that the sea is solely the domain of men.

  • The Pirate Queen: In Search of Grace O'Malley and Other Legendary Women of the Sea (2004)
    The Pirate Queen begins in Ireland with the notorious Grace O'Malley, a scourge to the most powerful fleets of sixteenth-century Europe. This Irish clan chieftain and pirate queen was a contemporary of Elizabeth I, and a figure whose life is the stuff of myth. Regularly raiding English ships caught off Ireland's west coast, O'Malley purportedly fought off fierce Algerian pirates just hours after giving birth to her son. She commanded two hundred men (and a couple of husbands), and acquired lands and castles that still dot the Irish coastline today. But O'Malley was not alone, especially in the waters of the North Atlantic where author Barbara Sjoholm traveled through coastal communities and seafaring ports to collect these little-known stories. Since ancient times, women have rowed and sailed, commanded and fished, built boats and owned fleets. Yet their incredible contributions have been nearly erased from the history books, as have the myths of seal women, Finn wives, and storm witches. In The Pirate Queen, Sjoholm brings some of these extraordinary stories back to life, taking the reader on an unforgettable journey in this meticulously researched, colorfully written, and truly original work. Illustrations and maps add to these intriguing swashbuckling tales.

Cassandra Reilly Mysteries
  1. Gaudi Afternoon (1990) -- Co-winner 1990 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Mystery
    Ben Stevens has vanished without a trace. His wife thinks he's hiding out in Barcelona, and she asks Cassandra Reilly for help. On the trail of the elusive Ben, Cassandra is soon chasing people of all persuasions and motives in a madcap caper.
    Movie:  Susan Seidelman, director with Judy Davis and Marcia Gay Harden. 

    DVD  VHS

  2. Trouble in Transylvania (1993)

  3. The Death of a Much-Travelled Woman: And Other Adventures with Cassandra Reilly (1997)

  4. The Case of the Orphaned Bassoonists (2000)
    Cassandra Reilly arrives in Venice to see why her best friend Nicky Gibbons, bassoonist extraordinaire, has been accused of stealing a Venetian family heirloom. With an international cast of characters, the luminous backdrop of Venice, and the author's trademark wit, the mystery is as thrilling as a vaporetto ride.

Pam Nilsen Series
  1. Murder in the Collective (1984)
    Introducing Pam Nilsen, her twin sister Penny and the Best Printing collective, a Seattle print shop hovering on the brink of a merger with lesbian-owned B. Violet Typesetting. When sabotage and murder erupt, Pam follows a trail of suspects ranging from the politically correct to the sexually intriguing, and discovers as much about her own heart as about who-dunnit..

  2. Sisters of the Road (1986)

  3. The Dog Collar Murders (1989)

  • Thin Ice and Other Stories (1981)

  • Ambitious Women: A Novel (1982)

  • Walking on the Moon: Six Stories and a Novella (1983)

  • Cows and Horses (1988)

  • Miss Venezuela (1988)
    Short stories (title story included in Pushcart Prize XIV); includes stories from two earlier out of print collections, Thin Ice (1981) and Walking on the Moon (1983).

  • If You Had a Family (1996)
    "Barbara Wilson has received critical praise for her mystery novels--including the great Murder in the Collective--and her award-winning translations from Norwegian. If You Had a Family is her first non-genre novel, and it is wonderful. Warm, empathetic, and knowing, If You Had a Family details the childhood and adult life of an artist coming to terms with the loss of her mother, her emerging lesbianism, and her attempts to locate herself in the world of adult emotions and responsibilities. Wilson is a writer of enormous intelligence and compassion, both of which shine through in this novel." -- Amazon.com

  • Salt Water and Other Stories (1999)
    "Against the spare landscape of new lesbian fiction, the stories in Salt Water stand out as unusually distinguished and affecting--realistic portrayals of longing and disconnection between women. Award-winning author Barbara Wilson was a cofounder of Seal Press and winner of a 1998 Lambda Literary Award for her memoir, Blue Windows. In this new collection, she traces meetings of mind and body, for the most part with sober detachment, but sometimes with unexpected humor. In "Is This Enough for You?" Wilson tracks the rapid escalation of a "conference crush." The securely coupled Ellen finds herself attracted to a fellow teacher named Nan, also in a long-term relationship. In the space of a few hours, Ellen moves from a calm awareness that Nan was "becoming beautiful in her mind" to a conviction that Nan was "one of the most attractive women she'd ever met." And despite their attempts to be good, despite their firm resolutions, their bodies persist in bringing them together, "like two dogs their owners are trying to pry apart." Seriously good fiction from a seasoned writer." -- Regina Marler, Amazon.com

Young Adult
  • A Clear Spring (2002)
    Strong and open, fierce and funny GIRLS FIRST! is the bold and spirited new series for middle-grade readers that seeks to capture the independent spirit of girls and young women from all over the world. By publishing international novels, the series celebrates both the differences and commonalities in the experiences of girls. By featuring strong female protagonists, GIRLS FIRST! Provides positive role models within exciting stories full of mystery and adventure.

    From the heat of Chicago, Willa C. Lopez is heading to green, lush Seattle to spend the summer with her aunt Ceci, her aunt's partner Janie and multicultural, extended family. While there, precocious Willa and her curious cousin Tabby discover someone or something is polluting a local watershed. What follows is a take of new friendships, new discoveries and more adventure than they bargained for.

    This funny and captivating mystery is the first for young readers by award-winning and acclaimed mystery writer Barbara Wilson (Case of the Orphaned Bassoonists, Trouble in Transylvania).  Grade 4-6

  • Blue Windows: A Christian Science Childhood (1998) -- Winner 1997 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Biography/Autobiography
    From Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Church of Christian Science, to Deepak Chopra, Americans have struggled with the connection between health and happiness. Barbara Wilson was taught by her Christian Scientist family that there was no sickness or evil, and that by maintaining this belief she would be protected. But such beliefs were challenged when Wilson's own mother died of breast cancer after deciding not to seek medical attention, having been driven mad by the contradiction between her religion and her reality. In this perceptive and textured memoir, Wilson surveys the complex history of Christian Science and the role of women in religion and healing.

  • Incognito Street: How Travel Made Me a Writer (2006) -- Finalist 2006 Lambda Literary Award for Biography (Lesbian)
    Barbara Sjoholm arrived in London in the winter of 1970 at the age of twenty. Like countless young Americans in that tumultuous time, she wanted to leave a country at war and explore Europe; a small inheritance from her grandmother gave her the opportunity. Over the next three years, she lived in Barcelona, hitchhiked around Spain, and studied at the University of Granada. She managed a sourvenir shop in the Norwegian mountains and worked as a dishwasher on the Norwegian Coastal Steamer. Set on becoming a writer, she read everything from Colette to Dickens to Borges, changing her style and her subject every few weeks, and gradually found her voice. Incognito Street is the story of a young woman's search for artistic, political, and sexual identity while digesting the changing world around her. As she sheds the ghosts of her childhood, we come to know her quiet yet adventurous spirit. In moments that are tender, funny, bewildering, and suspenseful, we see an evocative look at Europe through the blossoming writer’s maturing eyes.

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