Katherine Neville was born in the midwest and spent a great deal of her youth in the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Northwest. From childhood, she loved action adventure stories, and she wrote down the tales that she heard from storytellers (the “oral literature”) told by African Americans along the rivers, and around campfires by Native Americans and old-time “mountain men” of the Rockies. At age nine, she wrote her first stories–though it would take another three decades to complete and publish her first novel.
After college, Neville worked in New York, in the fast-growing field of data processing, developing computer systems in transportation and energy. In the next twenty years, her career as an international consultant would take her to live and work in seven countries on three continents and half the states of the USA. Among her employers and clients were IBM, the Long Island Railroad, the Algerian Ministry of Industry and Energy, the US Department of Energy, and the Bank of America. Between jobs, she supported herself as a busboy and waiter, fashion model, commercial photographer, and professional artist. She draws upon these myriad experiences to enrich her novels.
“Ever since I was really young, I could draw,” Neville says. “From an early age, I paid for my art lessons and supplies by modeling for portrait classes and fashion shoots. So later, whenever I found myself unemployed, I’d sign on with a local modeling agency, or I’d paint portraits, myself, of people’s children or dogs. But what I really wanted was to be a great storyteller.
“In all my careers,” she adds, “I’ve enjoyed a worm’s-eye view from inside the apple. It’s unlikely that I’ll ever run out of material for fiction.”
(See Careers for details)
-In the early 1970s, Neville helped design a balance-of-trade system for the newly independent Algerian government, and shortly after her arrival in North Africa, the OPEC petroleum embargo took place, rationing the world’s oil supply–which planted the seed of her first novel, The Eight, and its sequel, The Fire, about a giant chess game taking place for centuries, all over the world, in a quest for power.
-In the mid-1970s, stranded without work in Colorado, during a long economic downturn, Neville set up her own commercial photography business, with the advice and support of the many local photographers she’d worked with in the past, and for three years she shot high-end fashion and ski catalogues, department store ads, theatre programs for the Denver Civic Ballet, and the very first “Colorado Calendar.”
-At the end of that decade (1970s), she was in Idaho at the Department of Energy’s premier research facility, designing systems to track toxic, hazardous and transuranic (nuclear) waste. This experience would later form the core of her book The Magic Circle—about uranium, Uranus, and ancient predictions for the turning of the Aeon, the 2000-year cycle that began at the dawn of the Roman Empire and the Christian era.
-In 1980, Neville moved to San Francisco where, as vice president of the Bank of America–then the largest bank in the world–she was inspired to conceive her international caper novel, A Calculated Risk—a tale of high-stakes intrigue and skulduggery in the world of international money markets, a book that provides eerie premonitions of what is transpiring in today’s global economy.
-In 1988, upon the purchase of The Eight and A Calculated Risk by Random House/Ballantine, Neville left the computer world, and moved–with her companion, the noted brain scientist, Dr Karl Pribram–to Austria and Germany, where they were living, just when the Berlin Wall came down. Another inspiration for The Magic Circle which moves “from the rise of the Roman Empire to the fall of the Berlin Wall.”
Since January of 1989, when The Eight was launched on the Today Show, Katherine has been a full time author, living in Santa Fe, Washington, DC, and Europe.
Katherine was the first author ever invited onto the Advisory Board of the Smithsonian Libraries in Washington, DC, where she has served a full three terms and is now emerita. She currently serves as a Board Member of the Authors Guild Foundation in New York. She is an original sponsoring co-founder of International Thriller Writers.
As a longtime supporter of libraries and books, Neville is co-creator and sponsor of two international Library Awards, and co-producer of a series of short film clips by famous authors, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Smithsonian Libraries:
-Neville created the Neville-Pribram Mid-Career Educators Award for the Smithsonian Libraries, along with Dr. Karl Pribram. It is the only grant in America for mid-career teachers in Middle School, High School, and College to pursue ongoing studies.
-Neville is the co-creator and initial sponsor of the first award jointly presented by two prestigious institutions: the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. This unique award, Art in Literature, The Mary Lynn Kotz Award, honors excellence in writing about art, in multiple categories, including history, biography, fiction, poetry, journalism, social history of art, young adult books, and museum catalogues.
-In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Smithsonian Libraries, Neville created–with co-producers with Maggie Linton and Kim Alexander (of Sirius XM Book Radio)–a series of short film tributes to libraries by fifty famous authors.