Patrick Fanning was born in Manhattan Beach, a small coastal town in southern California. He grew up mostly reading science fiction and dreaming while his schoolmates were playing baseball or surfing. His father is an electrical engineer and Eagle Scout, which may account for Patrick’s love of tinkering with machinery and do-it-yourself projects. His mother was a quiet, nurturing soul with a flair for the decorative, who always caught the first fish and had a wry word for the pretentious.
He abandoned the Los Angeles basin at his earliest opportunity to attend the University of San Francisco, where he received his B.A. in English. He did some graduate work in creative writing at San Francisco State and began publishing the odd short story or poem. With his college friend Matt McKay he put out a few numbers of a literary magazine called Medusa. He got married, moved across the bay to Richmond, and worked for four different publishing operations. His last day job was with the University of California Agricultural Publications.
Pat and Matt weren’t seeing much of each other, so they needed a project to work on together. They invested in a ream of letterhead for a mostly imaginary company called Harbinger Publications. Under that imprint they published a children’s book, a business handbook, and finally a self-help workbook on relaxation. They would get together most Sunday afternoons to write, edit, and paste up pages. A local high school student typed invoices and shipped the books from Pat’s garage. As a Ph.D. therapist, Matt contributed the psychological content and Pat applied the step-by-step approach he’d learned from do-it-yourself manuals. The psychology material turned out to be profitable. Three or four hundred books later, New Harbinger Publications is the premiere publisher of evidence-based self-help psychology trade and textbooks.
In his nonfiction publishing career, Patrick Fanning has authored books on stress, addiction, depression, anxiety, anger management, couples therapy, communication, and cognitive therapy. He still contributes to the occasional self-help book, but these days concentrates on fictional projects such as novels, stories, songs, and screenplays. A lifetime lover of science fiction, his novels have a decidedly sci-fi flavor.
He has been called a Renaissance man, because of his notoriously short attention span and wide-ranging interests in restoring classic cars, building barns, wood carving, filmmaking, flying, songwriting, guitar building, and so on.