Sylvia Kelso was born in North Queensland, Australia and grew up on a cattle station (ranch), in a family of readers that included wonderful oral anecdotists, and two poet aunts. She was telling stories before she could write them down, though she has always tended to wear two hats, if less exciting than some other people's competing headwear, in her case, as an academic and as a writer of poetry and fiction.
After a BA with 1st Class honors in English, she had some poems accepted for a '70s anthology of Australian women's poetry, then spent the later '70s overseas, writing a historical novel on Hannibal, that was eventually shelved as structurally flawed. Coming back to Australia, to another station further inland, she began writing fantasy novels after the sentence, "Where the dragon came from nobody knows," tapped her on the shoulder in the shower. Being in the Australian bush, she found herself using analogue Australian settings, inventing names for Australian flora and fauna, and sometimes using local idiom as well.
Returning to her hometown on the Queensland coast in the '80s she began working at James Cook University, where she taught English and is still an adjunct lecturer, and in the '90s took her PhD, on the interactions of feminism(s), the Gothic, and science fiction. Writing fiction became a strongly flowing imaginative anabranch that paralleled this enterprise, and in 2002 she joined the streams for her MA in Creative Writing, awarded for an SF/alternate history novel set in an alternate Queensland.
In 2004 she actually published her first fiction, the short story "Slick," also set in the Queensland bush, and from 2005 to 2008 her first series of fantasy novels came out. The second, The Moving Water, was shortlisted for best fantasy novel in the 2007 Aurealis Australian genre fiction awards. At the same time, Amberlight was released, the first novel in a series begun as an experiment "in the field" while Sylvia was working in her PhD on the distinctions between SF and fantasy. Amberlight was also shortlisted for the Aurealis, in 2008. Shorter fiction is beginning to come along more frequently, but she is currently working on the 4th book in the Amberlight series. The second, Riversend, is due for release in February-March 2009.
Sylvia now lives in Townsville, on the North Queensland coast, in a house with a rampant garden. Apart from reading and writing, she likes to run long-distance and play the pennywhistle with friends. She is currently learning to play the fiddle as well.