TTLG Author/Illustrator Profiles

Richard Harland

Richard Harland

Richard Harland (born 15 January 1947 in Yorkshire is an English fantasy and science fiction writer, living in New South Wales, Australia. He was born in 1947 in Huddersfield, United Kingdom and migrated to Australia in 1970. He has been an academic, performance artist and writer, publishing 14 full length works of fiction, three academic books, short stories and poems.

He is the author of the Eddon and Vail science fiction thriller series, the Heaven and Earth young adult fantasy trilogy and the illustrated Wolf Kingdom series for children. He has been awarded the Australian Aurealis Award on five occasions for his fiction.

Richard Harland completed undergraduate studies at Cambridge University, graduating with a BA and majoring in English. After graduation, he planned an ambitious doctoral thesis, focusing on a global theory of the language of poetry and approached numerous universities around the globe seeking funding for his research. Support was unforthcoming until an offer from the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, consequently he migrated to Australia in 1970 to take advantage of this opportunity. He originally only intended to remain in the country until his PhD was completed, but after some months decided to settle permanently.

Work on his thesis was slow, and he eventually reduced its scope to an MA, before moving away from his studies for several years, while he worked as a singer, songwriter and poet in and around Sydney. He published poetry and short stories during this period in a number of literary magazines. He returned to academic life in the 1980s through a tutoring position at the University of New South Wales and continued work on his doctoral thesis, which was published as Superstructuralism: The Philosophy of Structuralism and Post-Structuralism in 1987. The volume sold well, was well received, and secured him a lecturing position in English at the University of Wollongong, where he remained for ten years. During his academic career he published full length works and a number of articles on literary theory.

He scored an early success in childhood with a short story which won a prominent United Kingdom competition, and also wrote and distributed stories while at school, exchanging ongoing installments for sweets and other tokens when other pupils were reluctant to part with legal tender.

He is best known for several series of novels, but commenced his novel writing career relatively late in life. He had been eager to write full length tales from late childhood but suffered from writer's block, which prevented him making significant headway with novel projects (and also many short stories) for much of the next 25 years. He was able to produce academic books during this period, however, and he attributes the writer's block partly to his belief that he had to write serious literary novels rather than what he found most enjoyable to work on. It was not until writing the comic horror novel The Vicar of Morbing Vyle (1993) that he managed to conquer this obstacle. owever he had published short stories prior to this, some of which were collected in Testimony (1981), which also included his poetry.

He was still lecturing at the University of Wollongong when he wrote The Dark Edge, the first novel of his "Eddon and Vail" science fiction thriller series. His senior lecturing role was a secure tenured position, much sought after by professional scholars, however, with a sequel to The Dark Edge having been commissioned by his publisher, Pan Macmillan Australia, set to appear the following year, he felt unable to juggle the demands of full time academic life with fiction writing. Despite an uncertain future in a small Australian publication market, where relatively low volume sales are considered a bestseller and there are few full time writers, he resigned his position in 1997 to concentrate on his fiction. He has been a full time writer ever since. He remains an Honorary Senior Fellow in English at the University of Wollongong. He has also taught summer courses at the university, most recently on children's and young adult fantasy literature.

Many of Harland's novels contain maps. He has confessed to a fascination with maps, sometimes spending hours studying them. He has also admitted to often viewing his fictional worlds as though seen from an elevated distance, something he feels is a common feature among fantasy writers.

Following the 1999 publication of Hidden from View, the final volume in his Eddon and Vail series, all of his novels have been written either for young adults or children, with the exception of The Black Crusade (2004). Some of his novels have also been published as audio books.