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Dave Farland: Writer, Teacher, and Lifelong Mentor

BYU has so many wonderful alumni and emeriti who have served the community; it would be impossible to recognize everyone. But from time to time, we recognize a few individuals who have lived particularly exemplary lives of service, mentorship, and impact. Dave Wolverton (Farland) was such an individual—not just to the Latter-day Saint writing community but to any aspiring writer—and is worthy of mentioning as an example to us all.

Dave Farland headshot

Dave Wolverton (pen name David Farland), former English adjunct instructor at BYU and renowned New York Times Bestselling author, passed away in January 2022. Dave was a talented author and teacher, and a charitable man; his generosity and his choice to share his light and gifts with others blessed the lives of many students and authors.

Dave was born in Springfield, Oregon, in 1957, where he was raised on the family farm. “From an early age,” his obituary describes, Davie “dreamed of becoming a storyteller, and he wrote stories, his imagination . . . filled with magic and wonder.” Dave attended Ricks College and BYU, where he studied to become a writer. He later published many short stories and novels, including the Runelords series and many other science fiction works. In 1999, Dave began teaching creative writing at BYU. There and in many, many workshops, he helped shape the lives of young writers and novelists “including Brandon Sanderson, Brandon Mull, Jessica Day George, Eric Flint, James Dashner, and Stephenie Meyer,” whose later works also became best sellers.

His life of service and influence is shown in the numerous comments made by former students, friends, and colleagues. “There are people in your life who are pure magic,” says Jennifer Bennett. “When they leave this world, a piece of light leaves. My dear Dave Wolverton . . . was my writing mentor, a great friend, a jokester, and a wizard at all he did. I’m grateful to have been a part of knowing him—Grateful that he shared that twinkle with me.”

Author Brandon Sanderson, who now teaches the same creative writing class at BYU that Dave once did, says that Dave contributed greatly to his budding writing career and was a mentor and friend for many years. “Dave was one of those strikingly kind individuals who, in a soft-spoken way, finds out what you need, then gives you that—and much more. So many of us in the local community are wearing coats straight off Dave’s back. I’d have assumed he lived his life cold—except for the fact that he had a warmth about him that no chill could extinguish. . . . I’ll be forever grateful for the coat of his I still wear, taken and given freely by a veteran to a young man facing his first storm.”

Artist Howard Lyon says, “Dave gave me my first job as an illustrator, doing work for The Sum of All Men. He always expressed his belief in me and offered encouragement along the way. I'll miss the stories he wasn’t yet able to share and treasure the ones he has written.”

Dave was a mentor and a friend to practically everyone he met. He taught and gave others his time generously, and never wanted any attention or praise for it. As Dave’s son Spencer Wolverton says, “Dave had a special way of seeing the potential in people. He will surely be missed.”