Sean Williams was born in Whyalla, SA in 1967. He started reading science fiction at an early age, and was writing his own genre short stories as young as Grade 5. His parents were teachers (his father later became an Anglican priest) and that meant a lot of moving around. He has lived in places as far apart as Darwin and Mount Gambier, but has managed to spend most of his time in Adelaide. From an early age, he has equated this “big country town” (rather than a small city) with home.
He studied sciences and music at Pulteney Grammar and matriculated third in his year (1984), topping the state for Music Composition. That same year, he won the Young Composer’s Award for a theme and three variations for string quartet with flute, oboe and trumpet soloists called “Release of Anger”. (Its original title was “Cowled they the Rampant Gargoyle Down” but his music teacher thought something sensible would be greeted more warmly.) His interest in music has remained strong, with occasional forays back into composition. Writing fiction takes up most of his time at the moment, however, so he has to content himself with buying CDs and occasionally DJing for parties. (For a list of Sean’s favourite albums, click here.)
When he finished school, he was unsure of what he wanted to do with his life. Instead of leaping straight into further full-time study, he worked for two years for the Australian distributor of Yamaha musical instruments. His experience in the workplace convinced him that he needed a decent job and that a sensible degree would help him obtain one, so he enrolled in a Bachelor of Economics at Adelaide University. It was a disaster, but a necessary one. It took him three years to realise that he would be better off doing something he enjoyed, and hoping to make a career out of it one day, than working in a job he hated with the intention of doing what he enjoyed only when he could afford to retire. On the heels of that realisation, and after a great deal of soul-searching, he decided that, as he had been writing science fiction on and off most of his life, he would make a serious go of it. He would give himself ten years to have a book published, otherwise he would try something else (which would probably have been music-related).
Those ten years proved to be lean times. He went through a lot of part-time jobs. In the first year he worked as a sound engineer, a petrol station attendant, a pizza delivery driver, an usher and a retail clerk, as well as studying music part-time (in a vain attempt to finish his degree) and writing full-time. There were numerous ups and downs, including the birth of his niece and the death of his father, and the making (and breaking) of several emotional attachments that served to educate him as much about himself as it did about other people.
In that time, he managed to write over 100 short stories and beat his self-imposed deadline by four years. His first solo novel, Metal Fatigue, was published in 1996.
Now, in his sixteenth year as a professional writer, things are definitely looking up. And up. He is happy to be doing the job he has always dreamed of doing, while finding time to try new things like DJing and caving. He enjoys his busy schedule of writing two (or more) books a year, but still hopes one day to write some music. Given that he expects anti-ageing technology to allow him to live several centuries (at least), there’s a good chance that might happen …