Tara K. Harper was born in 1961, in the year of the first, manned, suborbital hop. Although she was
raised in northwest Oregon with cats, dogs, chickens, rabbits, and horses, hers was a truly nuclear
family. Her father had worked in a nuclear lab analyzing radioactive cloud samples from Russian
atomic test blasts; her mother had been a uranium buyer. Tara K. Harper's first electronic toy was
Competitive, driven, and passionate about her beliefs, she freely admits that she can be as
irritating as a two-ounce flea in a sleeping bag. She enjoys a good discussion, refuses to take
herself too seriously, and is often accused of being a thrill-seeker. In four words? Eclectic,
eccentric, opinionated, blunt--but as some say, that's just her dark side...
In 1979, Harper won a journalism honor and a communications scholarship, and enrolled at the
University of Oregon. She worked nights in a cannery, fished to feed her cat, and lived in a
filbert orchard while studying physics, mathematics, and journalism. Uncertain as to whether she
should pursue a career in physics, music, writing or space science, she attended the Oregon
Institute of Marine Biology. At the same time, she served an internship as science journalist on
The World newspaper (Coos Bay, OR).
In 1984, Harper graduated from U of O with a Bachelor of Science. She returned to northwest Oregon
and immediately took a job with a company in R&D high-tech, test and measurement. This allowed
her to make enough money to support her personal research (aka vacations) in engineering,
genetics, virology, and other disciplines. Her fiction writing was, at that time, a
hobby--something for weekends and evenings.
By the end of 1988, Harper had completed four science-fiction novels. Under forcible pressure from
a friend, she sought an agent. Her first novel was accepted at Del Rey Books (an imprint of Random
House) six months later, and she saw Wolfwalker published in 1990. The novel was an
immediate best-seller, and Harper's career moved quickly forward.
Currently, Harper is the author of nine science-fiction
novels, including the best-selling and critically acclaimed Wolfwalker series and Cat
Scratch series, as well as other stories. Her work is available internationally in a variety of
languages and as books on tape. Two of her novels, Cat Scratch Fever and Wolf's Bane,
were nominated for the Oregon Book Awards. She has also received numerous awards for science
writing, has been Guest of Honor at several conventions, and was nominated in 1999 to a University
of Oregon inaugural Hall of Achievement. In late 1999, she was a Guest Speaker at the Library of
Congress, in Washington, D.C.
Harper credits the realism of the action in her novels to a lifetime of competition and
participation in outdoor and athletic activities. She attributes her overall success as a novelist
to a diverse academic background; extensive experience in fending off wild and feral animals; a
continuing involvement in science; and in-depth experiments in drowning. Other activities have
included archery, shooting, rock-climbing, waterpolo, soccer, sailing, scuba diving, fencing, and
martial arts. In the latter two fields, she competed nationally and internationally. (She also
earned the nickname TKO, but that is a different story.) Active in community service, Harper
currently teaches creative writing for an alternative school, trains youth in wilderness skills,
and serves on the board of directors for a youth treatment center.
In winter, she travels with heavy-duty hiking boots, snowshoes, and an emergency stove; in summer,
she leaves the snowshoes behind--sometimes. She refuses to buy any more fire extinguishers--she
claims that buying an extinguisher guarantees she will have a fire. Upon reflection, she says she
really doesn't know why so many things keep happening to her. Although she claims to have only one
good joint left in her body (her left elbow), Harper continues to hike, shoot, camp and canoe, and
still claims she wants to be a stunt-person.