Frederic S. Durbin

Frederic S. Durbin grew up in the countryside of rural Illinois, where he spent his childhood exploring the fields and climbing trees, usually barefoot, immersed in the stories contained in books. His parents opened the town’s first bookstore, and his mother created the libraries for the four local elementary schools and served as head librarian there after many years of teaching fourth grade. As a student, FSD particularly enjoyed acting in musicals and performing with the band and chorus. He attended Concordia College, River Forest, Illinois (now Concordia University Chicago), where he majored in classical languages, devoured English literature and ancient mythology, edited the fine arts page of the college newspaper, and graduated summa cum laude. He traveled to Japan as a church volunteer, then taught English and creative writing at Niigata University for over twenty years.

In summer 2011, he relocated to Pittsburgh, where he was fascinated by the bridges and the meandering city stairways; he believes the forested hills must be full of stories that need telling. He married in 2013; he and his wife reside among the wooded hills of western Pennsylvania.

The author of two published novels and many short stories for adults and children, he has conducted literary interpretive programs and creative writing workshops for students of all grade levels. He is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. In recent years, Fred has served as a co-editor of the fiction anthology series COLD HARD TYPE, published by Loose Dog Press. His novel A Green and Ancient Light was named a Year’s Best Fantasy by Publishers Weekly and a Reading List Honor Book by the American Library Association.

Find Fred on his website, here.


  • Standalone
    A Green and Ancient Light
    Frederic S. Durbin
  • Standalone
    The Star Shard
    Frederic S. Durbin
  • Standalone
    Frederic S. Durbin



A Green and Ancient Light
“The prose is frequently as beautiful as the images it evokes [...] This gentle, engaging, and very personal coming-of-age story is mythic in its universality.”

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“This is a magical book that will appeal to those who loved Neil Gaiman’s THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE and John Connolly’s THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS.”

Library Journal, Starred Review

“A GREEN AND ANCIENT LIGHT is a beautifully written, gently melancholy tale.”

Fantasy Literature

“Durbin’s rhythmic prose and carefully honed imagery are so engrossing, I was completely disoriented by the sound of an elevator dinging outside my apartment in the midst of reading. The green of the forest—the leafy canopy and trickles of light through the branches—evoke a tangible atmosphere unlike any other book I’ve read this year.”

Chicago Review of Books

“Frederic S. Durbin’s A GREEN AND ANCIENT LIGHT. is a charming tale that combines fantasy and history into a quiet yet suspenseful story about a boy’s wartime summer in a small coastal town [...] Fans of fantasy authors such as Patricia McKillip will find a rewarding read.”

The Missourian

“A GREEN AND ANCIENT LIGHT combines beautiful writing, [...] romance, war, mystery, and faery fantasy into one compelling, delightful story suitable for grownup or not so grownup readers alike. Read on!”

Champaign News-Gazette

“This book didn’t feel long enough — not because of any flaw on the authors part — and that’s mostly because of the incredible writing, and how real everything about this book felt. I wanted it to go on forever. Isn’t that the true mark of a fantastic book? You never want it to end? And when it ended, it almost brought me a physical pain. This book is magic. The words are magic. The characters are magic. I wish I could read it for the first time over and over again. This is one of the best books I’ve read all year.”

Bookworm Blues

“I LOVE THIS BOOK. It left me breathless [...] A Green and Ancient Light is SO GOOD [...] It brings an eloquent calm to the page reminiscent of Bradbury.”

Black Gate

“If you like being pulled into a story, enjoy characters that spring off the page and revel in a tale that makes you ache for more, A GREEN AND ANCIENT LIGHT will certainly shine for you. On a scale of five stars, give this a five, brightly.”

The Perry News

“A GREEN AND ANCIENT LIGHT by Frederic S. Durbin is a reading experience to savor.”

On Starships & Dragonwings

“Within a few pages, I found myself disarmed in a way I hadn’t been since my childhood, in the days when I routinely gave myself over to a book with full trust in the author to pilot my craft to its destination. Durbin earns this trust with a potent combination of lucid prose, tender introspection, and life-and-death suspense. A Green and Ancient Light is an intensely personal story that unfolds with the soft-focus nostalgia of a remembered childhood summer, but beneath its velvety surface hides a double-edged tale of political urgency and unyielding love. Some readers have compared it to Gaiman or Connolly, but I am taken back further, to Lewis and L’Engle. This is the sort of book a bright child might adore at age 10, then read again at 20, and at 40, to discover the layers she missed.”

Mishell Baker, author of BORDERLINE

The Star Shard
“Durbin has created a world that, though mainly confined to a single mobile city, comes alive with fantastic creatures and a varied cast of supporting characters. Cymbril herself is a strong heroine–loyal, resourceful, and brave. While this story is satisfactorily concluded with surprise revelations and limited loose ends, there is plenty of scope for a follow-up.”


“Akin to Philip Reeve’s Hungry City Chronicles but in a kid-friendly way […] a delightful fantasy”

School Library Journal

“Evocative imagery, an enthralling world, and a fully realized storyline that does not depend on future installments make this a standout among recent pre-YA fantasies.”

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (University of Illinois)

“Durbin expertly weaves magic, mystery, and music throughout the story, giving it a depth that is sometimes lacking in such children’s stories. THE STAR SHARD teaches important lessons about loyalty and determination and how both should be rewarded. It is, truly, an inspiring tale.”

Indie Reader Houston

“Durbin held us spellbound. [His] fantasy world is woven in tantalizing detail. His characters are multi-dimensional and original. He leads us through his world with equal measures of heart-stopping adventure and awakened awareness […]THE STAR SHARD is a must read for fantasy fans of any age.”

The News-Gazette

“This gentle adventure is just right for readers who dream of the beauty of fairy realms more than the dangers lurking therein.”

Shelf Awareness

“I loved this book […] the plot was very intriguing.”

Sacramento Book Review

“I highly recommend THE STAR SHARD to fans of fantasy and coming of age stories. Anyone that enjoys middle school or young adult novels with cleverly drawn characters will enjoy the book.”

Yahoo! Voices

“An engrossing, fascinating tale that is as imaginative [as] and reminsicent of Hayao Miyazaki’s beautiful stories, including Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, THE STAR SHARD is a wondrous fantasy read.”

Paranormal Indulgence

“THE STAR SHARD exceeded expectations [...] With a plot fraught with twists and turns, skeleton keys and potion-induced beauty, THE STAR SHARD reads like a clear well of water. It’s refreshing and free of angst or love triangles. Just pure adventure.”

A Thousand Little Words

“A pleasure to read. The ebb and flow of the action was perfectly paced [...] very charming.”

Kiss the Book

“Reading THE STAR SHARD made me feel the magic and excitement I felt when I first discovered this genre as a young adult. Fantasy fans and those looking to try out the genre for the first time — should put this on their to-read list for 2012.”

Operation Geek

“The charm of old-school fantasy blends with the mechanics of steampunk […] the lush, almost poetic prose is something readers will want to linger over.”

Project Muse

“I recommend this book to everyone without reservations.”

Bookworm Lisa

“At heart this is an old-fashioned tale of good vs. evil made distinctive by its roots in childhood fears and its gothic scenery, like a quirky campire story made large, or a warper celebration of Halloween.”


“Perhaps the most interesting volume published recently by Arkham House is DRAGONFLY […] As a horror-fantasy amalgam, DRAGONFLY is a marked success. Durbin is gifted with a prodigious fantastic imagination […] the verve, panache, and assurance with which DRAGONFLY is written make us marvel that it could be a first novel; Durbin is a 'find' in whom Arkham House can rightly be proud.”

Weird Tales

“On the line with Clive Barker’s THE THIEF OF ALWAYS. One thing is for sure, it will change some of your thoughts about Halloween.”


“Fans of Lovecraft and other horror writers will quickly learn to relish the name of Durbin […] hours of enjoyable reading. An outstanding story packed with many unexpected twists and turns.”

The Bookwatch

“A lot of fun in many places.”

Science Fiction Chronicle

“A fine new book […] There are shards of profound beauty in this land of Harvest Moon.”


“A series of exciting and scary adventures in which the familiar tropes of the horror genre (vampires, werewolves, ghoulish creatures, sentient shadows) are used in clever and surprising ways […] The protagonists find some very surprising and interesting allies as well. I’m glad I was willing to give this one a try because it was so imaginative and rich in atmosphere–creating suspense, not relying on gross-outs and gore, which here were kept to tolerable minimum. This is a perfect book for the Halloween season (think of an even more twisted version of A Nightmare Before Christmas) and worth a try for something different and for those delightful chills up the spine you get from a great suspense yarn!”


Awards & Accolades