Doris Elaine Summers was born to Viola and Dewey Summers on October 11, 1928, in a remote Appalachian valley near Fairmont, West Virginia. She came from a large family, and had six sisters and two brothers. The "country" girl grew up there and attended Fairmont State College. She worked as a lifeguard while earning a teacher's degree in Physical Education. She was a big, blond, shy girl (I surmise), and although teaching was one of the few jobs that society approved for a woman (since Rosie the Riveter was no longer needed), she didn't really want to do it. She graduated in 1950, and in her own words, "realized that the next logical step was to get a job teaching, so [I] climbed on a bus to Pittsburgh (about 70 miles north of Fairmont) and joined the Navy."
She served in the Navy for four years. In 1953, at the age of 25, she married Joseph John Piserchia, an Army man, and then left the Navy in 1954 after the birth of their first child. She and Joe traveled "all over the world," and Doris gave birth to two sons and three daughters. Doris and the children settled in Utah, while Joseph took a tour in Vietnam. Apparently their youngest child was independent enough for Doris to go back to school; as Doris put it, she was bored with "baby-sitting."
In 1963, at the age of 35, she began taking classes at the University of Utah in educational psychology, working toward a Master's degree. According to an earlier bio, she discovered science fiction during this time and began to write stories.(1) She gave up her degree program in 1965, again avoiding becoming a teacher, but continued writing, and published her first short story, the humorous "Rocket to Gehenna," in 1966.
During the next few years, while presumably writing a lot, she published nothing until 1972. Her older children were in their teenage years during this period, and quite likely, she was focusing more of her efforts on them than on her editors. Also, her husband returned from Vietnam with a "wrecked heart." He underwent successful heart surgery in April, 1972, but did not completely recover. In Orbit 12 (in which "Half the Kingdom" was reprinted), before the surgery, Doris wrote, "I live in a madhouse and my nerves are shot. Perhaps this is the reason why I rarely attempt a serious story. Such an attempt would be very easy for me, but I'm afraid to tap the vein right now." In Orbit 13 ("Naked and Afraid I Go," "Idio"), she wrote that "she still lives in a madhouse" and that "writing is her lifeline."
As of 1973, she continued to ride horses, "take care of a large noisy household," and write. Her first book, Mister Justice, was published in 1973 and her thirteenth and last, The Deadly Sky, appeared in 1983. She had a short story in the works for Harlan Ellison's Last Dangerous Visions collection, but that is still unpublished.
Her husband and parents are deceased, and her younger brother died in July 2000. Ms. Piserchia, however, survives, as do a number of siblings, children, and grandchildren.(2) May she get back in print within her lifetime...
1. More recently, Doris has amended this to say that she
read science fiction as a child, but stopped reading it in her 30s.
2. Other biographical information can be found in an interview with Doris elsewhere on this website.