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Author Information: Robert J. Harris

 
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Harris was born in Dundee, Scotland, a city at that time famous for jute, jam and journalism. Nowadays it is famous as the home of Captain Scott's ship the Discovery and for its meat pies. He grew up making comics and games and writing stories, to the detriment of his social skills. In his teens he was a voracious reader of science fiction and of the new genre called 'heroic fantasy'. In those days fantasy consisted of 'The Lord of the Rings' and old books by the likes of William Morris and Lord Dunsany, all of which came with introductions by Lin Carter.

He attended St. Andrews University because a) it had a fine reputation for classics and b) it was close enough to Dundee for him to take his laundry home at weekends. While studying Latin and Greek, he broadened both his reading and his social skills to the point where he could talk to several people at once and pronounce most of the names in 'War and Peace.' He was the first student in 20 years to write Latin poetry as part of his honours course, a fact which has so far failed to impress anyone who gets out more than once a month.

Eventually he achieved a first class honours degree in Humanity (Latin) to the surprise of some and the relief of others. After graduating he made his first trip to the USA. He then spent time as a nursing auxiliary and worked as a voluntary helper at a religious conference centre before returning to St. Andrews to pursue research.

While failing to complete a doctorate on the writings of the early Church Fathers (if you think it's easy, you should try it some time!) he co- wrote, co-directed and co-starred in a short, topical musical comedy entitled 'The Ayatollah And I' (he played Jimmy Carter). His performance made such an impression on the audience that to this day some of them can almost remember it.

That summer he travelled extensively around the north-eastern USA. He ate his first oysters in Baltimore, his first lobster in Boston, and his first knish in New York. In Washington he dropped in on some Iranians who were on hunger strike outside the White House. None of them recognized him. That same day he was approached by some Moonies who generously offered to recruit him. He politely declined, claiming a previous appointment.

Back in St. Andrews Bob's life changed forever when he met American Rotary Scholar Debby Turner who was then working on her first novel. They found that they had much in common: eating, drinking, dancing and discussing the classic introductions of Lin Carter (see above). After they had travelled across Europe sharing a small tent they realised they were fated to marry. So they did.

Bob had abandoned academia to work as a bartender which gave him invaluable experience of changing beer barrels and being threatened. In the meantime he designed his board game 'Talisman' and signed a deal with Games Workshop for it to be published. At roughly the same time Debby had sold her first book. Soon they were making enough money that Bob abandoned the bar to take care of their first baby, Matthew, while Debby worked on her next two novels.

Some years later the couple had three young sons and Debby had several novels under her belt (uncomfortable, but it means that people can tell just by looking at you that you're a novelist). They had also become good friends with the famous and successful American author Jane Yolen who happily spends a good part of every year in St. Andrews.

With the aid of an electron microscope and a ouija board Jane managed to detect Bob's literary potential. She cunningly lured him into a writing career by employing the ancient Highland strategy of suggesting there might be money in it. First they wrote a couple of short stories together, then Bob sold some solo stories. Then they wrote 'The Queen's Own Fool'. After this they were signed up to write the 'Young Heroes' series of novels, and the rest is mythology.

Over the past several years Bob has worked occasionally as a salesman and an actor. Today he regularly works as a professional role-player in assessment and training programmes for large businesses.

When he isn't writing Bob likes to listen to blues and jazz, read, play board games, watch Fred Astaire movies and follow the NFL. He still dabbles in games design, so watch out! He plays squash regularly, tennis irregularly, and really should get back to fencing. He can play two tunes on the harmonica: one is 'Oh Susanna' and the other one isn't.

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