Philip McLaren was born in Redfern, although his family comes from the Warrumbungle Mountain area, New South Wales and he is a descendant of the Kamilaroi people.
McLaren has worked as a television producer, a director, designer, illustrator, architect, sculptor, lifeguard and copywriter. He has been a creative director in television, advertising and film production companies both in Australia and overseas.
His filmography includes, as art director, The Mavis Bramston Show (1964), The Mike Walsh Show (1973), Grand Old Country (known in the USA as The Ronnie Prophet Show) (1975), and It's a Knockout (1985) and, as production designer, The Beachcombers (1972), Country Joy (1979), and the 1983 film Hostage.
After this varied career, McLaren focused on writing and was among the first Aboriginal writers to write a thriller. His first novel, Sweet Water -- Stolen Land, won the David Unaipon Award in 1992. He subsequently published a number of other novels, including crime thrillers Scream Black Murder, Lightning Mine, and Murder in Utopia: the latter won the 2010 Prix Litteraire des Recits de l'ailleurs, a French award for international literature.
McLaren holds a Doctor of Creative Arts and has worked as a lecturer at Southern Cross University.
Murder in Utopia2007single work novel crime 'A reformed alcoholic, New York doctor Jack Nugent, takes on the challenge of running the medical centre at utopia in remote Central Australia. After two and a half years of advertising the position, there were no other applicants for the job. Nugent becomes engrossed in the exotic Aboriginal people and culture and is outraged by the government neglect he sees everywhere. Unexpectedly, he is swept up in a bizarre ritual murder investigation, in such a remote place he must assist the state coroner by gathering evidence and provide police with his forensic findings. Vital evidence goes missing and every avenue Nugent takes is blocked. He falls in love with Carla, a black lawyer, who helps him overcome the obstacles police and the Aboriginal community place in his path, a better social outcome for this ancient desert community depends largely on them.' (From the publisher's website.)
There'll Be New Dreams2001single work novel 'A human and pacey novel about marriage, kidnap, courtroom battles, the charm of youth and the tragedy that lurks in a darkened alley. A dynamic work done by one of Australia's most highly regarded Indigenous writers.' Source: Publishers blurb.
Sweet Water : Stolen Land1993single work novel historical fiction 'The destinies of two families, black and white, are fatally interwoven... in this frontier novel. Racial brutality and the tragic account of the Myall Creek massacre underscore the story of Ginny and Wollumbuy, Kamilaroi people of Warrumbungle Range. Mysterious killings follow the arrival Karl and Gundrun Maresch, a German couple who establish a Lutheran mission near the young settlement of Coonabarabran.' (Source: Publisher's blurb)