John Heffernan (1949–) Biography
Personal, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1949, in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; Education: University of New England, B.A., Dip. Education, B.Ed., and M.A. (with honors; education).
Writer, grazier, and farmer.
Notable Book Award, Children's Book Council of Australia, for Spud; Environmental Award for Children's Literature shortlist, Wilderness Society, for Rachael's Forest; Australian Children's Book of the Year for younger readers, 2002, for My Dog; Australian Children's Book of the Year shortlist for picture book, and Crichton Award shortlist, both 2004, both for Two Summers.
Spud, Margaret Hamilton (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1997.
Rachael's Forest, Margaret Hamilton (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1998.
Pete Paddock-Basher, illustrated by Stephen Axelsen, Margaret Hamilton (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1999.
CBD (science fiction; volume 1 of "Mythos" trilogy), Margaret Hamilton/Scholastic Australia (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.
More than Gold, Margaret Hamilton/Scholastic Australia (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.
My Dog (picture book), illustrated by Andrew McLean, Margaret Hamilton/Scholastic Australia (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.
Chips (sequel to Spud), Margaret Hamilton/Scholastic Australia (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2001.
Pup (sequel to Chips), Margaret Hamilton/Scholastic Australia (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2002.
GBH (science fiction; volume 2 of "Mythos" trilogy), 2003.
Two Summers (picture book), 2003.
A Horse Called Elvis, Scholastic Australia (Sydney, Australia), 2004.
The Mind Master (volume 11 of "Quentaris Chronicles"), Lothian (London, England), 2004.
The Island (picture book), Scholastic Australia (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2005.
Haunted Australia, Scholastic Australia (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2005.
Contributor of fiction to Cricket magazine.
A writer of picture books and novels for children, Australian author John Heffernan has written two series for young readers, including the "Mythos" trilogy, which contains the novels CBD and GBH. The "Mythos" trilogy is a science-fiction series set in the far future, where the city of CBD is facing severe onslaught from barbarians. According to Heffernan, the novel "has a rural component, but is largely set in the city. A futuristic book for young adult readers, CBD tells the tale of a powerful tribe that has built its tiny walled city in the ruins of what had been Sydney's central business district."
Heffernan's first book, Spud, and its sequels Chips and Pup, introduce readers to a family of cattle dogs who live and work in the countryside of Australia. "Spud is about a blue heeler," Heffernan once noted, adding that the novel "gives a picture of life on the land through the dog's eyes." Spud was chosen as a notable book by the Children's Book Council of Australia.
For animal lovers who enjoyed the dog stories in Spud and its sequels, Heffernan has penned another animal adventure, A Horse Called Elvis, and authored the picture book My Dog. Featuring illustrations by Andrew McLean, My Dog focuses on a young boy named Alija whose unnamed dog helps him to endure a period of adversity while he searches for his family in war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Discussing his books, Heffernan once told SATA: "Rachael's Forest takes up the theme of rural recession and a family's fight to save their farm. This book was shortlisted by the Wilderness Society for the Environment Award for Children's Literature. My third book, Pete Paddock-Basher, is for younger readers, and tells three fast-moving stories about an old farm car who dreams of kicking his heels up and going to town. More than Gold is about the start of an Olympic journey, not just for one boy, but for a whole town."
In addition to his books for younger readers, Heffernan has also contributed to the popular "Quentaris Chronicles," a British fantasy series for which he wrote the eleventh volume, The Mind Master. He has also collected ghost stories for Haunted Australia.
Heffernan once described his life as a writer to SATA: "I live on a sheep and cattle property in northern New South Wales, Australia, with my wife, Victoria, my two daughters, Hermione and Ophelia, three cats, a house dog and seven working ones, a swag of horses, hundreds of cattle, and thousands of sheep. Perhaps understandably therefore, my first three books have a solid rural setting." On his home page, he commented on the pattern of his daily life: "On an average day I do farmer-type things: like racing around on a motorbike or quad, or a horse, breaking down in the old tractor, chasing sheep and cattle like a lunatic, and getting red-faced shouting at too many dogs. But on some days (and most nights) I write."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Australian, January 3, 2004, Robin Morrow, review of Two Summers, p. B13.
Australian Book Review, September, 2001, Jody Fickes Shapiro, review of My Dog, pp. 62-63.
Australian Bookseller & Publisher, April, 2000, Anne Austin, review of CBD, p. 37.
Australian Review, December 21-22, 2002, Jenny Pausacker, review of Pup, pp. 8-9.
Canberra Times, March 10, 2001, Leanne Younes, review of My Dog, p. 40; September 11, 2004, review of The Mind Master, p. 19.
Central Coast Express Advocate, June 4, 2004, review of Two Summers.
Classroom, 2004, review of Two Summers, p. 37.
Fiction Focus: New Titles for Teenagers, 2001, Vanessa Rankin-Hume, review of More than Gold, p. 38; 2000, review of My Dog, pp. 16-17; 2004, Donna Gardiner, review of Two Summers, pp. 27-28.
Magpies, November, 1997, review of Spud, p. 35; November, 1998, review of Rachael's Forest, pp. 34-35; November, 1999, review of Pete Paddock-Basher, p. 34; May, 2000, Anne Briggs, review of CBD, p. 37; July, 2000, review of More than Gold, p. 21 May, 2001, Alison Gregg, review of My Dog, p. 31; November, 2002, Debbie Mulligan, review of Pup, p. 35; May, 2003, Fran Knight, review of GBH, pp. 33-34; November, 2003, Annette Dale Meiklejohn, review of Two Summers, p. 31; March, 2004, "Know the Author," p. 16, and Liz Derouet, review of A Horse Called Elvis, p. 36; September, 2005, review of The Island, p. 6.
Reading Time: Journal of the Children's Book Council of Australia, November, 1989, Eleanor Stodart, review of Spud, p. 33; February, 1999, Judithe Hall, review of Rachael's Forest, p. 24; February, 2000, Laurie Copping, review of Pete Paddock-Basher, p. 18; August, 2000, Lynne Babbage, review of CBD; November, 2000, Laurie Copping, review of More than Gold, p. 26; February, 2003, Laurie Copping, review of Pup, p. 20.
Sydney Morning Herald, April 21, 2001, Meg Sorensen, review of My Dog, p. 4.
Viewpoint, autumn, 1999, Rosemary Worssam, review of Rachael's Forest, p. 40; spring, 2003, Geraldine Mackey, review of GBH, pp. 47-48; spring, 2004, Bronwyn MacNamara, review of A Horse Called Elvis, p. 45.
John Heffernan Home Page, http://www.spudplus.com (February 14, 2006).
Department of Education and Training of Western Australia Web site, http://www.eddept.wa.edu.au/ (February 14, 2006).