I’m a multi-prize winning author of historical fiction, contemporary fiction and non-fiction, social commentary, screenplays and academic essays. I’ve written seven novels, four of which are translated and distributed internationally.
I hold a Doctor of Creative Arts degree, have lectured in Canada, England, France, Spain, Germany, New Zealand and Australia. I have also worked as a professional musician and exhibited paintings and sculpture in London, Toronto, Vancouver, Nassau as well as
Sydney for over 40 years.
Sweet Water - Stolen Land won the David Unaipon Award for Black Literature. A work of fiction set in 1869, it is based on the true accounts surrounding the brutal settlement of McLaren’s own ancestral lands. This book is about Aboriginal connection to land, English aristocracy and decadent royalty, academic landscape painting, love and interracial lust, German Lutheran missionary fervor and unbridled schizophrenia, cold blooded homestead murders and the large scale massacre at Myall Creek, hangings and hope of reconciliation. This fast paced story became a national top-ten bestseller.
Scream Black Murder is a crime novel set in the present day on the black streets of Sydney. Two black cops were hastily appointed to work on Aboriginal murders – numerous cases were seen as neglected. A serial killer is murdering black women and white Australia doesn't care… until he accidentally kills a white woman. This book takes on important social issues – government enforced genocide (a whole generation of black children taken and placed in orphanages or with white families, known as the stolen generation), black deaths in police custody and institutionalized racism - and was short listed for a Ned Kelly Crime Writers' Award.
Lightning Mine is a thriller, set in the present day and concerned with a huge multinational corporation intent on mining sacred Aboriginal land in the north of Australia, and of the inspirational fight to stop the desecration by the black custodians. This is the sacred resting place of Namarkon, the Lightning Spirit. The story is about contract arson and assassination, employing an illegal mercenary security force, law and trial by media, government bribery and corruption at the highest level and industrial espionage. In spite of everything the mine goes ahead… then the awesome wrath of the awakened lightning spirit is finally unleashed as a massive monsoonal storm cell moves in. In the final graphic scenes the entire mining operation is spectacularly reduced to rubble.
Utopia is a real place in the red Australian desert. This is the story of a reformed alcoholic surgeon who is frustrated in providing medical services (with an under-staffed, under-funded medical centre) to a neglected Aboriginal community in the red centre of Australia. A white man, he falls in love with a powerful black woman and becomes swept up in a gruesome ritual killing. As in real outback communities, he has to assist the state coroner in gathering evidence and find the killer. It deals with cultural art of the desert, mysticism, alcoholism, delivery of modern medicine at the edge of western civilization, and harsh life in this extremely remote community. The killer is revealed as the tribal executioner
There’ll be New Dreams. Sophisticated and profound, human, pacy and funny, There'll Be New Dreams is a shuttle-ride of a novel. Philip McLaren gives us a view of the world through realistic, yet highly individualistic characters, in a journey from earthy country town to city rhythm and the wonderful harbour of dreams. A voyage of talent through marriage, official kidnap, family roots, mystic Clevermen, music, art, courtroom battles, the charm of youth and the tragedy that lurks in a darkened alley or a splash of molten metal in a foundry: Love, choice, chance and hidden forces, those sometimes eerie, somehow right patterns of life, bring the unforgettable Lottie to her ultimate fate. How could a busker on the New York subway have anything to do with this?
West of Eden: Philip McLaren returns to the historical novel after an absence of 22 years. Based on research that is noted in his bibliography, he presents this controversial story about ‘Toby’, a respected black horseman from the Snowy River. In real life this young aboriginal Australian rode the high plateaus and steep-mountain gorges chasing brumbies (wild horses). His feats became legendary, documented.
This story also features Kurnai tribal leader, Bunjileenee and his wife, Lauren Tucker, a white woman who in real life he rescued from a shipwreck on his tribal beach at the mouth of the Snowy River. It tells of celebrated explorer Angus McMillan who has at least eight monuments erected in his honour, who with his gang of vigilantes was responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of Snowy River families.
It’s also about the Omeo gold rush; professional foot running and portraits of the real-life characters from that time and place. And it’s a love story; Aboriginals Toby and Louise wrestle with how they might fit into the new Australia of British imperialism.
(‘The Man from Snowy River’ is an Iconic Australian poem written in 1890 that is learned in all Australian schools. My research showed that he was black, shocking all who assumed he was white; I include endnotes and a bibliography even though it is written as fiction. The colour of his skin was not written).
Innocent Abroad contrasts traditional Australian desert life with the cultured high end of art society in Paris. It's a story about art fraud, lust, love and murder.
Emerging Aboriginal artist Tommy Mullabah from a small desert community in Australia is encouraged to go to Paris to step onto the world stage. He doesn’t speak French and has never been to a big city. He has a lusty liaison with Martine, a wealthy art patron who introduces him to the Paris art world. Then he meets Erica, a TIME magazine art critic who comes to Paris to interview him. He falls in love with Erica and we have a classic triangle amoureux. Forgeries of Tommy’s paintings begin to flood the auction houses at the same time as his patron, Martine, is brutally murdered. Tommy learns that he is the prime suspect and he runs.