Katharine Kerr was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and given the name Nancy Brahtin. She describes her family feeling more like "British-in-exile" than American. She describes her inability to spell properly using either the British or American systems as a result of having been taught to read solely with British books. While still a schoolgirl, her family moved to Santa Barbara, California. Katharine was horrified to discover first that no major league baseball teams existed there yet (baseball being a great passion of hers along with reading and cats), and then that beaches were considered more important in Southern California than books.
In 1969, she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, eventually moving to San Francisco itself. She spent time studying at Stanford University but dropped out in the mid-sixties to join in several revolutions. She then worked in several low-paying jobs, including work at a Post Office.
In 1973, she met up with Howard Kerr, an old friend of hers from secondary school. Both shared a love for cats, books and baseball. They were married that same year.
In 1979, a friend gave Katharine her first fantasy-role playing game, which she refers to as "the fatal gift". This gift led her to a fascination with the gaming and fantasy field, which in turn led her to write articles for gaming magazines. She spent time as a contributing editor to Dragon magazine and contributed to gaming modules for both TSR, Inc.; and Chaosium, Inc.
Katharine now dedicates herself exclusively to fiction and is known for her fiction novels, especially her novels of Deverry.
The novels of Deverry are perhaps Kerr's best-known works. Originally envisioned as a short story or novella, the project grew into a series of fifteen full novels.
The series is written in a non-linear style: the principal narrative is frequently interrupted by flashbacks to events that occurred decades, or even centuries, before. These flashbacks concern the prior incarnations of characters in the principal narrative, and provide insight into the relationships of the characters in their current incarnations.
Kerr has likened the series to a play, breaking the story into several acts:
Act one: Deverry
Darkspell (1987) ... later reissued in an "author's definitive edition" ISBN 9780553568882
The Bristling Wood (1989) ... US title; issued in the UK as Dawnspell: The Bristling Wood ISBN 9780553285819
The Dragon Revenant (1990) ... US title; issued in the UK as Dragonspell: The Southern Sea ISBN 9780246135582
Act two: The Westlands
A Time of Exile (1991) ISBN 9780553298130
A Time of Omens (1992) ISBN 9780553290110
Days of Blood and Fire (1993) ... US title; issued in the UK as A Time of War ISBN 9780586211977
Days of Air and Darkness (1994) ... US title; issued in the UK as A Time of Justice ISBN 9780006478591
Act three: The Dragon Mage
The Red Wyvern (1997) ISBN 9780553572643
The Black Raven (1998) ISBN 9780553579192
The Fire Dragon (2000) ISBN 9780553582475
Act four: The Silver Wyrm
The Gold Falcon (2006) - US title; issued in the UK as the fourth book of The Dragon Mage ISBN 9780756404192
The Spirit Stone (2007) - US title; issued in the UK as the fifth book of The Dragon Mage ISBN 9780756404772
The Shadow Isle (2008) - US title; issued in the UK as the sixth book of The Dragon Mage ISBN 9780756405526
The Silver Mage (2009) - US title; issued in the UK as the seventh book of The Dragon Mage ISBN 0756405874
Polar City Blues (1990)
Polar City Nightmare (2000) ... with Kate Daniel
Palace (1996) ... with Mark Kreighbaum (The second book in the series, The Eyes of God, is written only by Mark Kreighbaum)
Resurrection (1992) ISBN 9780553298345
Freeze Frames (1995) ISBN 9780812551730
Snare (2003) ISBN 9780812551747
Weird Tales from Shakespeare - Fanfiction based on Shakespeare's works (1994) ... with Martin H. Greenberg
Enchanted Forests (1995) ... with Martin H. Greenberg ISBN 9780886776725
The Shimmering Door (1996) ... with Martin H. Greenberg