Patricia Aakhus

Last updated
Patricia Aakhus
Born Patricia McDowell
(1952-05-17)May 17, 1952
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Died May 16, 2012(2012-05-16) (aged 59)
Evansville, Indiana, U.S.
Pen name Patricia McDowell [1]
Occupation Academic, writer
Notable awards Cahill Award

Patricia "Patty" Aakhus (May 17, 1952 – May 16, 2012 [2] ), also known by her maiden name and pseudonym, Patricia McDowell, was an American novelist and director of International Studies at the University of Southern Indiana. [3] She specialized in Irish themes and won Readercon's Best Imaginative Literature Award in 1990 and the Cahill Award for The Voyage of Mael Duin's Curragh. [1]

The University of Southern Indiana (USI) is a public university located just outside Evansville in Vanderburgh County, Indiana, United States. Founded in 1965, USI enrolls 10,929 dual credit, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students in more than 80 majors. USI offers programs through the College of Liberal Arts, Romain College of Business, College of Nursing and Health Professions and the Pott College of Science, Engineering, and Education. USI is a member of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. It is also a Carnegie Foundation Community Engaged University which offers continuing education and special programs to more than 15,000 participants annually through outreach and engagement.

Readercon is an annual science fiction convention, held every July in the Boston, Massachusetts area, in Burlington, Massachusetts. It was founded by Bob Colby and statistician Eric Van in the mid-1980s with the goal of focusing almost exclusively on science fiction/fantasy/slipstream/speculative fiction in the written form. Past guests of honor have included authors such as Greer Gilman, Gene Wolfe, Octavia Butler, Samuel R. Delany, Karen Joy Fowler, Brian Aldiss, Nalo Hopkinson, Joe Haldeman, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Peter Straub, and China Miéville, and editors such as Ellen Datlow and David G. Hartwell. The convention also makes a point of honoring a deceased author as the Memorial Guest of Honor. In 2009, for instance, the guests of honor were the living writers Elizabeth Hand and Greer Gilman and the memorial guest of honor was Hope Mirrlees.


Early life and education

McDowell was born in Los Angeles in 1952 to Lowell and Betsy (nêe Nichols) McDowell, both of whom preceded her in death, as did a brother, Mark. She earned a BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an MFA from Norwich University. [3]

University of California, Santa Cruz public University of California campus in Santa Cruz

The University of California, Santa Cruz is a public research university in Santa Cruz, California. It is one of 10 campuses in the University of California system. Located 75 miles (120 km) south of San Francisco at the edge of the coastal community of Santa Cruz, the campus lies on 2,001 acres (810 ha) of rolling, forested hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Monterey Bay.

Norwich University Military college in vermont

Norwich University – The Military College of Vermont is a private university in Northfield, Vermont. It is the oldest private military college in the United States. The university was founded in 1819 at Norwich, Vermont, as the American Literary, Scientific and Military Academy. It is the oldest of six senior military colleges and is recognized by the United States Department of Defense as the "Birthplace of ROTC".


Her debut novel, The Voyage of Mael Duin's Curragh , dramatically retells the ancient Irish legend of Mael Duin, [4] an adopted son of a chieftain's widow who accidentally learns of his true parents. He unearths the truth that his mother is a madwoman living in a cave and his father was killed by Viking raiders. He seeks to avenge their death and builds a large curragh, and sets out for the Viking lands with 16 men. They are caught in a storm near enemy territory and drift through mystical islands, which permits the writer Aakhus to increase the magical aspect of the subject matter, as the novel becomes increasingly enchanted with prophetic visionary. [5] Other publications include Astral Magic in the Renaissance: Gems, Poetry and Patronage of Lorenzo de' Medici.Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft and the short story The Spy . [3]

The Voyage of Mael Duin's Curragh is a 1990 novel written by Patricia_Aakhus. The novel was Aakhus' first published book, and retells the ancient Irish legend of Mael Duin, an adopted son of a chieftain's widow who accidentally learns of his true parents. The novel retrieved significant acclaim upon its release, including a national review by the New York Times on January 28, 1990.


A currach is a type of Irish boat with a wooden frame, over which animal skins or hides were once stretched, though now canvas is more usual. It is sometimes anglicised as "curragh".

As educator

Aakhus was the Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies and program director of International Studies at the University of Southern Indiana. She also taught classes on classical and world mythology, the history of magic, and international studies. [6]


She died from cancer in Evansville, Indiana on May 16, 2012, the day before her 60th birthday. She was survived by her husband, two children, three siblings, and other members of her extended family. At that time, she was working on a contemporary novel, Dogtown. [3]

Evansville, Indiana City in Indiana, United States

Evansville is a city and the county seat of Vanderburgh County, Indiana, United States. The population was 117,429 at the 2010 census, making it the state's third-most populous city after Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, the largest city in Southern Indiana, and the 232nd-most populous city in the United States. It is the commercial, medical, and cultural hub of Southwestern Indiana and the Illinois-Indiana-Kentucky tri-state area, home to over 911,000 people. The 38th parallel crosses the north side of the city and is marked on Interstate 69.


International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.


  1. 1 2 Internet Book List
  2. "Patricia Aakhus (1952-2012)". Evansville Courier and Press. May 20, 2012. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  3. 1 2 3 4 University of Southern Indiana Archived 2008-09-07 at the Wayback Machine .
  4. Mackillop, James, "Imram Curaig Maíle Dúin." (2004), A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology
  5. Reed Business Information, Inc. (1989)
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2011-04-19.

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