The young author contemplating a tricky plot problem
Ian grew up in a forest and spent his entire childhood reading books and climbing trees (and frequently both at once, to the terror of his parents). He had no interest in writing as he’d always wanted to be a scientist. After much procrastination and mucking around Ian gained a Ph. D. from the University of Sydney, somehow becoming an expert in the management of contaminated sediments in the process.
Work has since taken him all across the eastern hemisphere, including to such locations as Bali, Mauritius, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Mongolia, Papua-New Guinea, Fiji and Western Samoa. This provided absolutely no inspiration for his books as Ian prefers to send his characters to unpleasant places, there tormenting them to the limit of human ingenuity.
Doing cutting-edge science, 1976
Ian began the creation of his Three Worlds fantasy environment in the late 1970’s, as an escape from the horrors of writing his doctoral thesis. Before he’d finished world-building, Ian had covered the walls of his flat and his thesis was a year and a half late.
Sumatra, 1983. Researching the gruesome leech scene in A Shadow on the Glass
On graduating in 1981, Ian joined an international consulting firm but, after leading two ill-fated environmental expeditions to Sumatra (the first a mere fiasco, the second a complete and utter cockup) concluded that project management was not for him. He set up his own consulting firm and resolved to concentrate on science.
Science proved insufficient. Beset by creative urges that by 1987 had become irresistible, Ian got out his maps and histories and began writing the first book of what was to become his ‘Darwinian’ fantasy quartet, The View from the Mirror. He worked on it continually until the final volume was published in 1999, and has been a full-time writer ever since.
2003. Contemplating the future
Selfie with Robin Hobb and Tom Taylor, 2014.
2015. Ian with granddaughter Gwenevere
Ian lives with his family in the mountains of northern NSW. He is currently working on his new Three Worlds trilogy, a sequel to The View from the Mirror. This series will finally answer the question of what happened to Karan and Llian, and their children. Among other things. It’s a big story.