Two of Emma’s favorite childhood memories are of typing out nonsense words on her parents’ black Royal manual typewriter, and watching the neighbor mow the lawn. She went to Beloit College, where she majored in English, then moved to Minneapolis, where there are two seasons: Snow removal and road repair. (Or, as it sometimes seems, snow repair and road removal.)

After that, she moved back to her native southern California, where she would’ve driven with the top down if she’d had a convertible. She was a resident of the Republic of Bisbee (AZ) and loved it (except on the few days of the year when there was snow). And now she’s living in Tucson, Arizona, where she would ride the range if she had a pony. But she does have a great cowboy hat.

She’s written novels, screenplays, a children’s book, and short stories. She and her husband, Will Shetterly, are members of the Interstate Writers’ Workshop, aka The Scribblies. Emma and Will conduct writing workshops now and then; they’ve taught in Los Angeles, at Clarion West, the Pima Writers Workshop, and elsewhere.

Emma played guitar and sang in the Flash Girls, a goth-folk duo. She was a member of Cats Laughing, a psychedelic improv folk-jazz band that included Steven Brust, Adam Stemple, Lojo Russo, and Bill Colsher.

She is the producer for Shadow Unit, a webfiction project she shares with Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, Will Shetterly, and Amanda Downum. It combines novella-length episodes of a series story with hypertext “DVD extras” and character on-line journals. Contributing writers in its eight-episode second “season” include Holly Black and Leah Bobet.

  1. […] possible terms to go and check it out. If you’re a book person, think of this as a free new Emma Bull story for you to read. If you’re a TV person, think of this as the pilot episode of a new […]

  2. […] a reader, I lean more toward science fiction, but a well-written fantasy novel is a delight, and Emma Bull’s <i>Territory</i> kept me up half the night. It’s one of the best books […]

  3. Steven Anderson says:

    It looks as though your arm has healed just fine, I have very little contact with anyone that we knew, any more, I think I still have a few of your books, it would not surprise me if I am not remembered, winter solstice has not been as much fun for many years, I am a good friend of Kari’s, and a ( I believe, still) a friend of Lojo’s, altho since the moves, I have seen neither of you for years, and up until a few months ago, I had not seen Brust either. I miss seeing the old ambulance here and there, and of course the younger body I had LOL! hope this finds you well.
    The guy with the flaming red Norton who frequented Nicolet Island, and the witch’s hat tower where some of the oaks lived. The guy who could fix anything electronic

  4. Bone Dance… the first of Emma’s stories I’ve read. Seemed one I’d pass over in a bookstore but the attitude of it’s essence made me do a double-take and give it a chance. I had the opportunity as my fiance’s book collection was sitting right there for me to explore and I needed something to give me new dreams to add to my old ones from my previous read. I was actually kinda surprised (or smug of my street-soul) that I understood the language of the book (getting better at it with each chapter till I was riding the story like a Horseman) – which made me feel smart and in on some secret – one that if you’re on the ball with it, you’re one of the chosen who will do something extraordinary in life in a precise moment when all others can’t or won’t and you’re one of the few that survives – perhaps in a different form afterwards, but much stronger. And damn will they all know you when that happens. From start to finish, and mirroring a few beliefs-of-the-universe of mine that I thought only I thought on, I was entranced and in love. Gods this woman is smart.

  5. […] a long time now, I’d heard mixed reviews of both War for the Oaks (Emma Bull’s classic) and Parable of the Sower (Octavia E. Butler’s classic), and had been […]

  6. […] opening scene of Territory by Emma Bull features a recently shot cowboy placed upon Doc Holliday’s poker table. The fun only […]

  7. […] I got home, I settled into our favorite reading chair and devoured the rest of War For the Oaks by Emma Bull. This is, by all accounts, the novel that defined the term “urban fantasy”. And wow. […]

  8. Madison Hallman says:

    I’ve been courious about your book, War for the Oaks. Is Phouka black? yes, isnt he?

  9. Emma Bull says:

    #8: Madison, to a human, he’d look like an African-American man, yep. To one of the Fae, he’d look like a member of the Seelie Court. He’d probably tell you, in his best infuriatingly smug way, that neither observation fully encompasses his wonderfulness. *g*

  10. Emma Bull says:

    Addendum to #9: Dan is, however, an African-American human. (Though everyone who plays in that band has also acquired a certain amount of fae chemistry through contact…)

  11. Douglas R. Cobb says:


    I’m working on a review I’m doing of your latest edition of Bone Dance coming out in July. I wondered if you could please let me know who the cover artist is, as I need to include that in the review heading.
    It’s a great book–it’s my first time reading it. It’ll be in paperback, correct?


  12. grandpawz says:

    from the ‘witches cap’ to the ‘golden west, which way to bordertown. where is Orient when you need him. thanks for taking us to the Nevernever. (and beyond)

  13. Mary MacVoy says:

    Hi Emma,
    I just finished reading “Territory” and am dismayed that I can’t seem to find another book due out to tell me what comes next!!!
    I really enjoyed “Territory” and was intrigued by your notions of magic, people’s place in society, and the responsibility that individuals chose to take or not take for their actions. I want to read much much more about this world you’ve Created.
    Hoping you will be writing more in it soon,

    • Richard A Hoaglund says:

      Mary MacVoy: If you’ve had luck finding a copy of _Claim_ [besides the auctioned galley proof of years ago], PLEASE let me know. If you’ve had contact with Ms. Bull since she fled Livejournal [as did I] circa 2010[?] PLEASE tell her I’ve been trying to email her and Will to no avail. If nothing else, maybe a group of us Territorialists can crowdfund demand-printed copies of _Claim_?
      Richard Hoaglund
      aka Swede
      aka Cerrberus

      • Nora K Narum says:

        Just finished re-reading Territory again and yes! yes! If Claim exists I want to read it! Ready to throw dollars into a solution!

      • Richard A Hoaglund says:

        I fear that Emma and Will have retired….

  14. Cat Miller says:

    I “discovered” your writing a couple years ago via Steven Brust and “Freedom and Necessity”, after which I read “Territory”. I enjoyed them both immensely. Here’s my problem: This Xmas I was blessed/cursed with the gift of a Kindle. I went looking for your “War for the Oaks”, and was disappointed that it’s not offered in that format. Any chance it may be at some point in the not too distant future? In the meantime, “Bone Dance” is sitting on my giant time-sucking black hole of a Kindle, waiting to be enjoyed. 🙂


  15. Carol Schmidt says:


    I am trying to find who to contact to get information about how to request Ms. Bull for a speaking/workshop engagement.

    Please help.

    Thanks in advance.

  16. Donalbain says:

    I am glad I found your website on digg. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my roommate were just preparing to do some research about this. I am happy to see such good information being shared freely out there.
    Best wishes,
    Clovis from Raleigh city

  17. Sharon C. says:

    Hi, I first heard your name from “Freedom and Necessity”. I discovered “Territory” about two months ago and have since then read it four times. I’ve also picked up “Finder” and “Bone Dance” since then.
    My point?
    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    Just being a gushy fan,

  18. AirborneVet says:

    Howdy. It’s Jen Germain here. David was very happy with the books I brought him and we discussed the two Emmas of Bisbee. I was right- the other one I had pictured in my head was a high school student when Nick (David’s son) was there. She was in the teen version of Spoon River Anthologies. We couldn’t remember her last name, but we’re pretty sure now it wasn’t the same as yours. 🙂 What a funny world this is to have run into you and all this time mixing up you and the “other Emma in Bisbee”. Ha! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

  19. Mary Pritchard says:

    Well, I was at my daughters a few months ago and said something about needing something new to read. She loaned me War of the Oaks. Since then I have read all of your books. Now I am going to start on the anthologies. I think Bone Dance was my favorite. I love when I find a “new ” author to read. And I love that your books are stand alone books. I don’t have to wait for the next one a year from now. I do hope you are working on a new book! Thanks for the hours of enjoyment.

  20. mitey says:

    its really amazing, i am a teenager growing up in the age of ‘vampires and werewolves’, where Twilight is believed to be the first real urban fantasy, but woah! war of the oaks is exceptional! the characters i just adore and the phouka! how can any one not love him? now im recommending this book out left right and center to any one who will listen. its amazing, considering it was emma bulls breakout novel. well done to her!

  21. […] Emma Bull and Will Shetterly […]

  22. […] Author and editor Terri Windling is also an artist of note.  Many artists are also musicians.  Emma Bull has played in bands, no doubt a big influence on her novel War for the Oaks, which is about a […]

  23. […] wings on Emma Bull‘s earrings, punctuating the magical conversation we had with this generous and talented […]

  24. […] came next? Oh! Emma Bull’s “Incunabulum.” Oh, man, Emma Bull. Did you know that she co-wrote with Steven Brust […]

  25. John Church says:

    By The Way. Who was the neighbor you liked to watch mow the grass?
    I hope that wasn’t because I ran over your evergreen bushes once.
    Congratulations on your career.

  26. […] #1 highlight of the convention for me was when one of my personal hometown heroes Emma Bull sat down beside me, and we got the chance to chat. For those who don’t know, Emma Bull wrote […]

  27. […] aforementioned book curse was by Emma Bull, who so inscribed my new edition of War for the Oaks. I had loaned a previous copy to a friend, who […]

  28. […] you love contemporary fantasy such as Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, Emma Bull‘s War for the Oaks or Charles de Lint’s novels (Jack the Giant Killer is a personal fave), […]

  29. Dear Ms. Bull,

    I was one of the panelists at the WFC Lands of Islam panel, and regret that I didn’t have a chance to chat with you and your husband. I saw you both in the “forum” in front of the convention hall around 4:30 that same day and briefly forced my way into the conversation group, but was already running late for a meeting. I thought it would be fairly rude to interrupt the conversation about Cat Valente and say hello, let alone interrupt, say hello, and then flee, and I never bumped into either of you again.

    So here is a cyber greeting. I hope we can talk at some point in the future.

    Warm Regards,
    Howard Andrew Jones

  30. […] trip to Tucson, including our photoshoot with Kyle Cassidy, Gabriella van Diepen, Jeroen Medema and Emma Bull at the base of Sabino […]

  31. Vic2ria says:

    I wish she would write more books…

  32. […] Emma Bull started this coolio writing project based on her love of Man from U.N.C.L.E., Shadow Unit! […]

  33. […] The Urban Fantasy Anthology Author: Peter S. Beagle, Joe R. Lansdale, Emma Bull, Charles de Lint, Neil Gaiman, Jeffrey Ford, Kelley Armstrong, Norman Partridge, Carrie Vaughn, […]

  34. Emma,
    Phillip Harrison here just tripped over Cats Laughind doing “Gloomy Sunday” my FAVORITE!!! The roads, the miles, the trips taken, journeys well worth it all. i’d love to say more but don’yt want to dilute this blog with junk. please drop me an email

  35. […] strikes me as pretty right. The only books I can think of along these lines are Emma Bull‘s Territory (2007), which retells the story of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and the shootout at […]

  36. Zarana says:

    Just wanted to say thanks for your writing. I came across “Silver and Gold” on, and then sought out others like “Joshua Tree.” Your understanding of loneliness and desire in its many flavors – to live fully, to belong, to be, to be loved, to be free – all often warring with each other – fell like rain on dry earth and I felt less alone. I hope your inner life continues to get what it needs. Peace and blessings.

  37. […] Story Board Ep 1: ”Urban Fantasy: Threat or Menace?” featuring Emma Bull, Diana Rowland & Jim […]

  38. C.D. says:

    dead link to Wil Shetterly’s WordPress site.

  39. […] on choice by Emma Bull and Steven […]

  40. Gamin says:

    Love the song/poem “for it all”.
    Read Rosemary Edgehill’s The Empty Crown
    and noticed her chapter headings are the lyrics ‘for it all’. Did she contribute to the anthology ‘life on the border’?

  41. Bob says:

    Well, Em, it’s a long way from Tralfamidore Tool and Die. Looks like you’ve done well – famous in fact! Where are you in 3D space these days? I saw Nina (she’s back on the farm) and Dobson weekend before last – they are doing well in their different ways. I’m beginning to think about retirement; it’s a concept I haven’t bquite got a grip on yet.
    Rob (
    PS- Do you have an email for Cyn?

  42. Roger Lee says:

    any news on the sequel to Territory?

  43. […] the SF Squeecast regulars Elizabeth Bear, Paul Cornell, Lynne M. Thomas, and SPECIAL GUESTS Emma Bull and Kelly […]

  44. […] the SF Squeecast regulars Elizabeth Bear, Paul Cornell, Lynne M. Thomas, and SPECIAL GUESTS Emma Bull and Kelly […]

  45. […] Sunday I attended a discussion with fantasy author Emma Bull, hosted by the Minnesota Speculative Writers Meetup Group. Ms. Bull is the author of many books, […]

  46. […] for the Oaks by Emma Bull I have never read this and it is, possibly, the very first piece of urban fantasy. It was published […]

  47. Avi Nahir says:

    Thanks for that book! Years later, I remember nothing of it but I totally remember loving it!

  48. My favorite version of Darkness, Darkness and Gloomy Sunday was Emma’s’ when in “Cats Laughing”. They played a few times at The Seward Café while I was a Stewart of that venerable societal edifice.

  49. […] Khanna, creative nonfiction writer John Hildebrand, science fiction and fantasy writer Emma Bull, literary translator Ebba Segerberg, and triple threat (young adult writer, nonfiction writer, and […]

  50. Gregory Ryan says:

    It’s always a sad day of spirit until we take off the blinders. Finally stumbled upon the works of Emma and have to say am thanking the creadiety.

  51. […] connect with them in a generous, meaningful way. This year we were thrilled to welcome Eric Smith, Emma Bull, Ebba Segerberg, John Hildebrand, and Vandana Khanna. Keep an eye out for our lineup for next year, […]

  52. Roger Lee says:

    Really enjoyed the cons in AZ where I met Emma and Will. Sat in on her panels and readings. Found her novel Territory in Tuscon and enjoyed it. Has anybody heard if she is working on a sequel? Thanks

    • Will Shetterly says:

      It’s going slowly (obviously!), but she is working on the sequel, currently titled Claim.

      • Jackson Maddox says:

        I’m glad to hear that. I found Territory a very enjoyable read with the twists on the usual story of the OK Corral. Thanks for the update.

  53. Roger Lee says:

    Thanks alot for the feedback. You and Emma are 2 of my favorite authors. I remember how delighted she was to see how pristine my 1st/1st printing of War for the Oaks was after 20 years or so. I appreciate the thought you both put in your works. Thanks again, Roger

  54. joeypernice says:

    Emma Bull- Would it be possible for me to purchase “The Princess and The Lord of Night” in hardcover, directly from you? I found out about you from Susan Gaber, the illustrator. She is a friend of mine. Thank you.
    -Joey Pernice.

  55. Zenguin says:

    I’ve read “Finder” and I wanted to say that it’s a rare story about a world so compelling that my heart aches because it does not exist. To listen to the characters and see the longing in their hearts that I never gave voice to in mine makes me wish that this book had been given more widespread notice. It’s an old story to just now come across but it’s a story I’ll return to time and time again because it’ll always pull at that part of me that wishes for something I cannot name.

  56. Mary Erangey says:

    Hello Emma. I’m reading your novel War for the Oaks. Loving it. As a Minneapolis native who loved dancing at First Avenue and live music at 7th Street Entry, the scenes you’ve written feel intoxicating like home. It is just 4 days since Prince died and I have just read the truce party scene. Your description of the Phouka in his gorgeously conspicuous clothing made me suddenly see Prince in my mind’s eye. Was Prince part of your inspiration for the Phouka? I am enjoying your novel very much.

    • Emma Bull says:

      Yes! Prince–and First Avenue–were, and are, a big part of the creation of the novel. Without First Avenue, I don’t know if I would have imagined the magical battle of the bands that prompted me to write War for the Oaks. And Prince–real-world shapechanger and trickster that he was–was the ideal starting point for the Phouka.

      • Richard A Hoaglund says:

        Have read WftO several times, and not too long ago. But what I’ve read oftener, and more recently, was my cherished copy of _Territory_, the Western Fantasy half-a-novel.
        So I plead again for some means of getting that other-half-a-Western Fantasy noel, _Claim-.

  57. Steven Bybee says:

    “I believe I am being inconvenienced”…….Emma Bull, how could you do this to me?
    As a fan of science fiction (Heinlein, Card, Crichton) and the old west nonfiction (“And Die In The West”, et al), I, of course enjoyed “Territory” immensely. But, the story cries out for more!
    I know what happened to Holliday, the Earps, Clanton and the McLaurys, but what became of Mrs. Benjamin, Mr. Fox and Chu?! For some strange reason, Paul Mitchell Marks did not include their outcomes in her book.

    • Richard Hoaglund says:

      I’ve also been waiting a geologic era for ‘Claim’ to be published and available.

  58. I have a Flash Girls t-shirt that I have finally decided I’m never going to fit into. It seems a shame to just give it to charity and people without an emotional attachment to the band, and I wondered if you knew anybody who desperately needed one.

    • John Hayden Dossett says:

      Just finished Territory and hoping to read the sequel. This is a very old blog but your audience continues to grow Ms. Bull

  59. […] Emma Bull – Hugo and Nebula nominated science fiction and fantasy author who wrote the spectacular War for the Oaks, a book that changed the way I think about fantasy stories. Seriously. Read it.  […]

  60. Richard Hoaglund says:

    I’ve been entreating Ms. Bull for years for a release of the *already completed* _Claim_.
    I reckon some publishing industry sh…enanigans have that long-awaited sequel sequestered from so many of us long suffering fans.

    • Will Shetterly says:

      I’m afraid Claim is not “already completed”. Some things are just harder to finish than others.

      • Richard Hoaglund says:

        Mr. Shetterly,
        I know a bound galley proof had been completed, so assumed the story was substantially done.
        I do realize that under the vagaries of the publishing world, that does not mean “ready to be published.”
        I hope Ms. Bull and you are well.
        It’s just that I’m famished for the magic.

    • John Hayden Dossett says:

      Endlessly optimistic. Her writing and use of language is so meaningful, there is always an audience for more Emma Bull.

  61. Will Shetterly says:

    I think you must be thinking of another bound galley proof, perhaps of Territory. Anyway, no worries. She is making progress on it!

    • Richard Hoaglund says:

      I Dunno…we’d already acquired and read Territory by then and I was web searching for any news on Claim. IIRC, a Claim galley was up on a charity auction & I was outbid because we were impecunious then. Regretted it since.
      Thanks much for giving me hope on Claim.
      Nowadays we buy paperbacks for space and reading ease considerations, but I’ll be glad to buy a first run HB as soon as available.
      Territory is one of few books we buy when it crops up in used bookstores, to gift to reading friends (although not directly benefitting the author).

  62. Justin Malcolm says:

    I just read Territory Which, in addition to being marvelous, made me homesick for Arizona. Thank you for that. It ended a bit abruptly, were you planning a sequel?

  63. Mary Wallace says:

    Dear Emma Bull,
    A few years ago I read everything of yours I could get my hands on and loved it all. Then life intervened, as it does, and all was chaos and disillusion for probably 10 years or so. Recently I acquired a Kindle edition of the Green Man anthology and started reading in my current front-to-back way. Since the calamitous 2016 election my former ability to become lost in a book has been fragmented. I just read Joshua Tree, and so disordered is my attention span through doom-scrolling all day, halfway through the story I had forgotten that it was your work. When I got to the end I saw the end notes, your name, and said to myself, “Ah, of course.” And, “Where is my copy of War for the Oaks”? Time to start reading good stuff again. And getting my hands on anything I haven’t read yet. Thanks. I needed that.

  64. […] words on her parents’ black Royal manual typewriter, and watching the neighbor mow the lawn. Emma Bull went to Beloit College, where she majored in English, then moved to Minneapolis, where there are […]

  65. […] fiction that I had been most familiar with was contemporary fantasy. Charles de Lint, Holly Black, Emma Bull, – these were the novelists whose work I was very familiar with. Especially Charles de Lint, […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s