Harris, Robert J. 1955- (Bob Harris)

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Harris, Robert J. 1955- (Bob Harris)

Personal

Born 1955, in Dundee, Scotland; married Deborah Turner; children: three sons. Education: St. Andrews University. degree. Hobbies and other interests: Blues and jazz music, reading, playing board games, watching Fred Astaire movies, football (soccer).

Addresses

Home—St. Andrews, Scotland. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Author. Worked variously as a bartender, salesman, nurse, and actor. Creator of Talisman (fantasy board game).

Writings

"SCOTTISH QUARTET" HISTORICAL NOVELS; FOR YOUNG ADULTS

(With Jane Yolen) Queen's Own Fool, Philomel (New York, NY), 2000.

(With Jane Yolen) Girl in a Cage, Philomel (New York, NY), 2002.

(With Jane Yolen) Prince across the Water, Philomel (New York, NY), 2004.

(With Jane Yolen) The Rogues, Philomel (New York, NY), 2007.

"YOUNG HEROES" NOVEL SERIES

(With Jane Yolen) Odysseus in the Serpent Maze, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

(With Jane Yolen) Hippolyta and the Curse of the Amazons, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

(With Jane Yolen) Atalanta and the Arcadian Beast, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

(With Jane Yolen) Jason and the Gorgon's Blood, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.

'YOUNG LEGENDS" NOVEL SERIES

Leonardo and the Death Machine, HarperCollins (London, England), 2005.

Will Shakespeare and the Pirate's Fire, HarperCollins (London, England), 2006.

OTHER

(As Bob Harris; with Alan Mcfadzean) The Queen's Heid (radio play), produced on BBC Radio Scotland, 2005.

(As Bob Harris; with Alan Mcfadzean) The Knox Factor (radio play), produced on BBC Radio Scotland, 2008.

Contributor to anthologies, including Tales of the Knights Templar, edited by Katherine Kurtz, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1995; In the Shadow of the Gargoyle, edited by Nancy Kilpatrick and Thomas S. Roche, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1998; and Ribbiting Tales, edited by Nancy Springer, Philomel Books (New York, NY), 2000. Contributor to periodicals, including Asimov's Science Fiction.

Sidelights

Robert J. Harris, who developed the best-selling fantasy board game Talisman, has written several novels in collaboration with celebrated children's author Jane Yolen. Born in Dundee, Scotland, Harris developed an early interest in both science fiction and fantasy, and this interest influences his work today. "I aim to write well-plotted novels with strong characters and lively dialogue," Harris stated on his home page. "I want each story to be a page-turning adventure filled with mysteries that will draw the reader on."

Harris and Yolen first joined forces on the "Scottish Quartet" series of historical novels that focuses on the history of Scotland. Narrated by Nicola Ambruzzi, an orphaned court jester, Queen's Own Fool examines the life of Mary, Queen of Scots, the sixteenth-century royal who claimed the crowns of four nations during her reign and who was imprisoned for nearly two decades by her cousin, Elizabeth I of England. "Yolen and Harris do an excellent job of weaving historical information into the story," remarked School Library Journal contributor Cheri Estes, and Kliatt reviewer Claire Rosser praised Harris's "gifts of plotting and characterizations."

In Girl in a Cage, another "Scottish Quartet" novel, Harris and Yolen tell the story of Marjorie Bruce, the eldest daughter of Robert the Bruce, king of the Scots. At age eleven, Marjorie was taken prisoner by enemies of her father and held in England for eight years. Readers "will welcome this … tale of a strong-minded young woman coming of age," noted a critic in Kirkus Reviews.

A thirteen-year-old Highlander fights for Bonnie Prince Charlie at the pivotal Battle of Culloden in Prince across the Water, called "a spirited historical adventure" by Booklist critic Carolyn Phelan. Prince across the Water concerns Duncan, who leaves his family farm to join his cousin and other clansmen in the last great Jacobite uprising. Horn Book critic Anita L. Burkam called the novel "a well-told story set in an intriguing era that will leave readers mulling over thoughts of war and peace." In The Rogues, the fourth and final work in the series, tenant farmer Roddy Macallan is rescued from certain death by outlaw Alan Dunbar, a man who then serves as Roddy's mentor. Harris and Yolen "deftly weave historical facts into their action-packed adventure," observed Cheri Dobbs in a School Library Journal review of The Rogues.

Harris and Yolen also teamed on the "Young Heroes" novel series, which draws on Greek mythology. In Odysseus in the Serpent Maze the epic hero is depicted as a brash, adventurous thirteen year old who battles the deadly beasts in Crete's famed labyrinth. Booklist critic Gillian Engberg complimented the tale's "cliffhanger chapter endings, snappy humor, and breakneck adventure." In this novel an Amazon princess undertakes a dangerous mission in Hippolyta and the Curse of the Amazons, described as "a detailed, compelling story" by Beth L. Meister in School Library Journal. According to a Kirkus Reviews critic, the authors of Hippolyta and the Curse of the Amazons provide "accurate details from both history and myth that will give readers a taste of what the classical stories themselves have to offer."

In Atalanta and the Arcadian Beast, another "Young Heroes" novel, Harris and Yolen's twelve-year-old protagonist sets out after the winged creature that killed her father, accompanied by boastful and skillful Orion the hunter. "Atalanta is a strong female hero," Angela J. Reynolds remarked in School Library Journal, "and her adventures will thrill readers." Jason, the future leader of the Argonauts, battles evil centaurs as he undertakes a perilous quest in the collaborators' novel Jason and the Gorgon's Blood. "There is plenty of action to keep mythology enthusiasts happy," Reynolds noted of the myth-based work.

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 15, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of Odysseus in the Serpent Maze, p. 1561; February 1, 2003,

John Peters, review of Atalanta and the Arcadian Beast, p. 996; November 15, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of Prince across the Water, p. 585; September 15, 2007, Anne O'Malley, review of The Rogues, p. 63.

Horn Book, November-December, 2004, Anita L. Burkam, review of Prince across the Water, p. 720.

Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2002, review of Hippolyta and the Curse of the Amazons, p. 54; August 15, 2002, review of Girl in a Cage, p. 1240; February 1, 2003, review of Atalanta and the Arcadian Beast, p. 244; September 15, 2004, review of Prince across the Water, p. 923.

Kliatt, November, 2000, Claire Rosser, review of Queen's Own Fool.

New York Times Book Review, Jane Resh Thomas, "Off with Her Head," review of Queen's Own Fool, p. 58.

School Library Journal, June, 2000, Cheri Estes, review of Queen's Own Fool, p. 156; July, 2001, Angela J. Reynolds, review of Odysseus in the Serpent Maze, p. 116; March, 2002, Beth L. Meister, review of Hippolyta and the Curse of the Amazons, p. 240; October, 2002, Starr E. Smith, review of Girl in a Cage, p. 178; February, 2003, Angela J. Reynolds, review of Atalanta and the Arcadian Beast, p. 150; February, 2004, Angela J. Reynolds, review of Jason and the Gorgon's Blood, p. 154; December, 2004, Kimberly Monaghan, review of Prince across the Water, p. 154; September, 2007, Cheri Dobbs, review of The Rogues, p. 212.

ONLINE

Robert J. Harris Home Page,http://www.harris-authors.com (October 15, 2008).

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