Rich Penney grew up in Southern Ontario, in the city of Stoney Creek. Though he didn't know it at the time, he was a writer at the tender age of seven, acting out elaborate stories with his action figures. He discovered a love of science-fiction and fantasy with J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time. Within six months of reading those series, he knew what he wanted to do with his life.
An alumnus of Saltfleet District High School and McMaster University, Rich was known as a bit of an odd duck throughout his teenage years. With a goofball sense of humor and an intense hatred for social hierarchies, he was the sort of young man who made waves everywhere he went, pissing off bullies and making friends with all sorts of geeks.
Rich began building the world for the Justice Keepers Saga at the age of 16. His initial plan was to pen a fantasy epic, but he scrapped that when he realized that he had no interest in writing long journeys by horseback. At age 18, he reworked the Keepers Saga into something like what you see today, designing each of the worlds in his series and fleshing out the characters of Jack, Anna and Harry.
Throughout his twenties, Rich bounced from job to job to job, dabbling in a little bit of everything while he honed his skills as a writer. Rich has been a bank teller, a classroom teacher, a sales clerk and a software tester, just to name a few. He never really felt at home in any of these positions, but it was a case of failing eyesight that coaxed him into pursuing his dream of writing a series of science fiction novels.
In 2013, Rich was diagnosed with keratoconus, a condition in which his corneas slowly warp and his vision slowly degrades. Much of this damage has been corrected through surgery, but he still lives with periodic bursts of dizziness and headaches. The loss of much of his vision caused Rich to briefly sink into a depression, a depression he overcame, in part, thanks to time spent writing Symbiosis.
Rich is an activist and a futurist, an advocate of global sustainability and a proponent of social justice. He has given talks in Toronto, Athens and Brisbane, covering a wide variety of topics from environmental sustainability to social equality.
Rich credits Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, J. Michael Stracynski and Joss Whedon as being some of his biggest influences. Whenever possible, he works to give new authors a chance to showcase their writing.
Rich's blog is best summarized with one sentence. “The conventional wisdom is often wrong. He was always the sort of person to be most skeptical of the ideas that everyone else took for granted, the ideas that no one ever questioned. Nine times in ten, he will choose the devil he doesn't know over the safe and familiar path.
On top of all that, he's a total scatterbrain with a unique talent for losing small knickknacks and important pieces of paper. He tends to buck authority, and the older he gets, the less willing he is to apologize for that.
Rich is brave, clever, kind, headstrong, disorganized, forgetful, a bit of screw up, an expert in pissing off people who can ruin his life, and one hell of a friend.