S.J. Hartland is an Australian journalist and foil fencer who has spent too many holidays wandering around obscure castles and is obsessed with anything medieval. She is originally from Townsville, north Queensland, lived in Sydney for many years and now calls the Darling Downs home. The 19th Bladesman, the first in the Shadow Sword series, is her first book. The second in the series, The Last Seer King, will be released in May 2019.

Visit her website at for more information.

The 19th Bladesman (2018)

Biggest literary influencer:

Frank Herbert, Michael Moorcock, Stephan Grundy. I was mentored by the amazing Dr Kathryn Heyman who taught me everything journalists don’t know about writing – turns out it’s quite a lot!

Last book read:

Circe by Madeline Miller

The book that changed your life:

I remember the world building in Dune took my breath away.

Your favorite literary character:

This will sound like a strange choice for a fantasy writer, but I’m more than a little obsessed by Gregg Hurwitz’s character Evan Smoak. There’s a vulnerability about Evan, almost something fragile, even though he was an off-the-books special ops ‘Orphan’. I guess I love vulnerable characters! I was on Evan’s side from page one of the first book in the series “Orphan X”.

Currently working on:

The third in the Shadow Sword series, The Sword Brotherhood. The second in the series, The Last Seer King, is with the editor. I also have a new series under way and am desperate to find time to finish the first in that. Hopefully soon!

Advice to new and aspiring authors:

I was an early reader of Game of Thrones and remember thinking at the time: What the heck am I doing writing fantasy? Write the book that only you can write. That’s stayed with me.