In Memoriam: Dave Wolverton

Yesterday I was shocked to find out Dave Wolverton (who published under the name of David Farland) passed away quite suddenly. In many ways, Dave changed the course of a big chunk of my life. I had just finished my mission, and I was back at BYU. One of the courses that caught my eye was ENG 218R: Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’d dabbled in writing off and on, and I’d always thought I’d like to write a book someday, but it was the same way many people talk about it. Something they’d like to do, but never really got around to doing.

I remember sitting in class the first day. Dave came in and introduced himself. He was the author of the Runelords series. That really impressed me right away. Here was an actual, real life author teaching this class. And not just an author, but an author with Tor Books. He led off by telling us all that he’d heard too often too many people say it’s almost impossible to make it as an author.

“I’m here to tell you that’s wrong. You can totally make it, if you keep at it.”

He went through the rest of the semester breaking down just how possible that was. He did a great job not just teaching a topic, but showing how it was actually done in the real world. He talked about how to plot, how to create characters, how to get an agent, how to get published. It wasn’t just the craft, it was the business.

That class really connected with me. I started writing that semester, and I haven’t stopped since.

After that class, I continued to connect with Dave. He encouraged us to go to national sci-fi/fantasy conferences. I went to my first one in Madison, Wisconsin back in 2005, when I went to the World Fantasy Convention. That was a pretty epic conference for me. I flew out to Milwaukee with Isaac Stewart, and we rented a car and drove to Madison, where we met up with Brandon Sanderson and Dave, who were doing a book tour as part of the trip, as I recall. The four of us split a room in Madison, and it was Brandon and Dave who really showed me the ropes of how to navigate a conference. I met my future agent at that conference, and I never would have gone without Dave and Brandon’s encouragement.

Dave continued to be a mentor for me in the years since. He served as a great resource for questions about the business, and I continued to talk to him at conferences right up to FanX this past September, where I chatted with him again briefly. He was only 65, so this all feels very sudden.

He was very active in the sci-fi/fantasy community, and I know he was a good mentor to many, many other authors besides me. He was a real force for good in the field, and I’m very sad to hear he’s gone.


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