Fantasy author Dave Duncan was born in Dundee, Scotland, in 1933. His father was Norman Duncan, a Dundee businessman, who married Winnifred Anderson. She taught household management until she married and became the mother of two sons. Dave was the elder son. He studied geology at the University of St. Andrews. He moved to Canada in 1955, and lived in Calgary, Alberta, working for the next thirty years as a geologist and businessman.
Duncan and his wife, Janet, have been married since 1959, and have one son, two daughters and four grandchildren. They live in Calgary and Victoria, British Columbia. Duncan regards his wife as his in-house editor and critic. Without her input, he believes that his stories would still be moldering in slush piles. "She really ought to be listed as co-author," Duncan says in an autobiographical essay posted on his Web site. "Although she is an omnivorous reader, she doesn't much care for fantasy or science fiction, which may be why she does such a good job of identifying my mistakes."
Duncan's brother had commented to him once when they were young men that he would like to be a writer. Duncan's response then was that he would never want to be a writer, but that he would like to write a book one day. As a child, Duncan scribbled stories in notebooks and taught himself to type with two fingers, on a Remington 4 machine that he found in the attic.
Something of that wish to write must have risen in him as time went on. He took a writing course and worked on several short stories without much success, or as Duncan puts it, "I took up the secret vice of writing in my fifties." In 1984 he began writing a novel for his own amusement. After an encouraging rejection letter from a publisher, he worked on other novels as well.
He made his first sale at age fifty-three, two weeks after a cyclical slump in the oil business put him out of work for the first time in his life. He never looked back. Within a year and a half, he had two novels in print and had sold four others.
Duncan enjoys writing, and he works as hard at it as he ever did as a geologist. He now types using four fingers, on a word processor. Writing every morning can be very lonely, but he is an active member of both the Science Fiction Writers of America and SF Canada, the Canadian SF writers association. "Even after thirty or so books, it gets no easier," Duncan admits. "I try never to repeat myself and...
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