Life in the States
Deborah Turner Harris was born in Pennsylvania and was raised in Daytona Beach, Florida, one of the great biker capitals of the world. Her mother was a nurse in the Emergency Department of the local hospital. They shared their home with a menage of dogs and cats over the years. (The horse was compelled by city regulation to live on a farm at the edge of town.). Debby majored in English at Stetson University in Deland, Florida (which was indeed named after John B. Stetson, the man who invented the hat). After teaching English at Flagler High School in Bunnell, Florida, she got time off for good behavior, and went on to study medieval English literature at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Here she completed a doctoral thesis on medieval bestiaries. As well as writing about medieval beasts, she was also working on her first novel.
During her penultimate year at F.S.U. ("Go, Seminoles!!!") she was awarded at Rotary International scholarship - quite possibly (one suspects) on the strength of her ability to spin a colourful yarn on the spur of the moment. The scholarship took her to St. Andrews University, Scotland, where she met her future husband, Bob Harris, a tolerably good looking classics graduate working on his own doctorate in Latin. After only a short acquaintance, it was clear to them both that a higher power had brought them together. Once again the Rotary Club had wielded its vast influence to advance Transatlantic relations.
The following summer, Debby and Bob hitch-hiked across Europe. More by luck than by judgement, they wended their way from Amsterdam to Paris, south to Lyons, across the Alps to Turin, Florence, and Rome, ending up in Athens whence they flew back to the UK. After six weeks sharing a tent they decided that they got along pretty well and could just about tolerate spending the rest of their lives together. Debby spent a further year teaching high school (Deland High School, Florida) in the course of which she and Bob crossed the Atlantic to visit each other. After a final fling (two weeks rafting down the Colorado River), Debby returned to Scotland where she and Bob were married. And so began a life of happy but creative poverty in St. Andrews where they remain to this day, just as happy and creative but not quite so impoverished.
Debby the Author
During the first year of their marriage, Debby submitted a first draft of her fantasy novel to semi-retired publisher, Betty Ballantine. Betty and her husband Ian, the founders of Ballantine Books, had introduced JRR Tolkien to the USA, and had for many years been promoting the genre. Betty was excited by Debby's book and worked with her as an editor. She then submitted the manuscript to Tor Books where it was published to rave reviews as 'The Burning Stone', the first volume in the 'Mages of Garillon' trilogy. Subsequent volumes in the series appeared under the titles 'Gauntlet Of Malice' and 'Spiral Of Fire'.
At the World Science Fiction Convention in Brighton, Betty introduced Debby to Katherine Kurtz. Betty had been responsible for publishing Katherine's first novel as well. The two quickly became friends, and Katherine subsequently invited Debby to collaborate with her on the first of the 'Adept' novels. The pair have since written four more Adept novels, plus two historical novels linking the Knights Templar with Scottish patriots William Wallace and Robert Bruce. All seven books have been critically acclaimed, making them one of the most successful writing teams in the fantasy genre.
During the same period Debby wrote the three volumes of the saga of Caledon ('Caledon of the Mists,' 'The Queen of Ashes' and 'The City of Exile'). These stories were inspired by the history, folklore and music of Scotland.
A Woman of Many Talents
In addition to writing novels, Debby collaborates with Bob in raising their three sons. Having (perhaps ill-advisedly) acquired a secondhand station wagon, she has taken up an auxiliary career as a taxi driver, chauffeuring the aforementioned boys (and miscellaneous mates) to various musical, sporting, and social engagements. She is also an Honorary Lecturer in the English department of St. Andrews University where she teaches Old English, the Gothic Novel, and Creative Writing.
Debby sings, plays the guitar and celtic harp and has composed many songs. Over the years she has learned to ride, fence and shoot a bow (if not expertly, at least well enough to imagine what it would be like to be really good at it.) Her ultimate secret fantasy, however, is to be the bass player in an electric blues band. (Everybody's got a dream, right?) In the meantime, she looks forward to future writing projects, including (hopefully) a series set in Carolingian France. (Watch this space.)
The Writer's Craft
Regarding the writer's craft, she has gone on record as having these words to say: "For me writing a novel is a bit like becoming embroiled in a series of high school love affairs. I start off becoming infatuated with an idea or a set of characters. For a while everything is hearts and flowers, then some awkward twist in the plot comes along to throw everything into a state of upheaval. No sooner do the book and I make up, when a new problem arises and a fresh quarrel flares. The result is a love/hate relationship that doesn't resolve until I consign the finished manuscript to the hands of an editor. Moral: You may only be young once, but you can be immature forever."
E-mail Deborah Turner Harris (Debby) at: firstname.lastname@example.org