Author Biographies: P.L. Travers

Pamela Lyndon Travers was born Helen Lyndon Goff on August 9, 1899 in Australia. Her poetry was first published when she was a teenager when she began working briefly as a Shakespearean professional actress. Upon emigrating to England, she changed her name to Pamela Lyndon Travers when she was twenty-five in order to act on the stage. In 1933, she started writing the first of eight Mary Poppins novels under the pen name P.L. Travers. Mary Poppins was published in 1934, followed by seven sequels, the last of which was published in 1988.

Travers traveled to New York City during World War II while working for the British Ministry of Information, and it was there that Walt Disney first contacted her about selling the rights to Mary Poppins to Disney Studios for a film adaptation of the novel. After nearly twenty years of contact, which included visits to her home in London, Disney did obtain the rights, resulting in the release of the popular film Mary Poppins in 1964, which pulled elements of the novels Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins Comes Back. Travers famously disliked the adaptation of her novel, from the musical numbers to the added animation, and consequently ruled out any future films. The 2013 film Saving Mr. Banks is based largely on this period of her life.

Travers never married or had any biological children, but instead adopted a baby boy at the age of 40 from Ireland she named Camillus Travers Hone, who was the biological grandson of Joseph Hone, poet W.B. Yeats’ first biographer. He was unaware of his parentage until his twin brother arrived on his doorstep at the age of seventeen. Travers was later appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1977. She died on April 23, 1996 at the age of 96.

Mary Poppins Returns, a sequel to the 1964 Disney film, Mary Poppins, will be released on December 19, 2018. This film will bring to life the magical nanny for a whole new generation of children (and adults).

Happy Reading!

Author Biographies: Winston Graham

Winston Graham was born Winston Grime on June 30, 1908 in Manchester, England. He changed his name to “Graham” after he began publishing his novels. At the age of seventeen, he moved the Cornwall where he lived for thirty-four years. He had always known he wanted to be a writer, so after his father died, his mother supported him while he wrote novels by hand and attempted to get them published. He published his first novel (a thriller), The House with the Stained Glass Windows, in 1925.

In 1939, he married Jean Williamson, whom he had known since she was thirteen years old. She helped him with book ideas and details until her death in 1992. It is said that his famous character DemelzaRoss Poldark’s wife, is based off of her. Graham died on July 10, 2003 in London at the age of ninety-five. His autobiography was published the same year as his death.

Graham is best-known for his Poldark series, a gripping family saga that begins just after the end of the American Revolution. The first book in the series was published in 1945, with the last book published in 2002. A remake of the popular television series has just finished its third season on PBS.  In addition to the twelve-book series, Graham also published thirty-two additional titles in his lifetime. His books have been translated in twenty-seven languages.

The Aurora Public Library District owns copies of the first two seasons of the television show on DVD, as well as many of the books as physical and digital copies on the Indiana Digital Download Center. If there’s a title you want that we don’t have, we would be happy to get it for you through our Interlibrary Loan services.

Happy Reading!

Author Biographies: J.K. Rowling

Monday, July 31 was an extremely important day:

Harry Potter — the Chosen One, the Boy Who Lived– turned 37 years old. This means that the Battle of Hogwarts took place 19 years ago (Do you feel old yet?). July 31 was also J.K. Rowling’s birthday! To her, we Potterheads are eternally grateful.

Joanne Rowling writes under the pen names of J.K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith. She was born in Gloucestershire, England in 1965 and knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a writer. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Exeter University in French and Classics. The idea for Harry Potter came to her in 1990 while waiting for a train, and she began writing immediately when she got home. Over the next five years, she planned the seven books in the series and continued to write mostly in notes on napkins and scraps of paper. Rowling wrote whenever she could, finishing the manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1995. Rowling was initially rejected by publishers, but the first book in the series was finally published in the United Kingdom in 1997.

Rowling is best-known for the Harry Potter series, but she has also written novels for adults, screenplays, spinoff novellas, and essays. She is a philanthropist who is involved in numerous charities and organizations, as well as founding Lumos, an international children’s charity. She has received numerous awards for her writing and charity work. Currently she lives in Edinburgh with her husband and children.

It isn’t often that a children’s series can influence generations of readers, but Rowling has managed to do just that. Stop by the Aurora or Dillsboro branch today to relive, re-read, or enjoy for the first time the Harry Potter series. You can also check out audiobooks of the series or DVD’s based on the series. Or you can check out the books Rowling has written for adults, too! And don’t forget the Indiana Digital Download Center to take your favorite books and audiobooks with you on the go!

Happy Birthday, J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter! And Happy Reading!

Liane Moriarty

I’ve recently discovered a new author and she’s drawn me in from page one. Liane Moriarty writes about the normal every day secrets in what seems like perfect families. Whether you’re into romance, chick lit, or even mysteries, she’s the gal for you!

The first book I’ve read by her is Big Little Lies and it’s such a great and easy read it’s no wonder that it’s a television show on HBO starring Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, and Shailene Woodley.

Big Little Lies tells the stories of Madeline, Celeste, and Jane. Madeline’s life is in turmoil, her ex-husband and the father of her oldest daughter enrolled his new daughter into the same school Madeline’s youngest daughter goes to. Her oldest daughter is pulling away towards her father’s new wife, Bonnie. Celeste has two twin boys in the same class as Madeline’s daughter and her ex-husband’s daughter. She and her husband Perry, seemingly have the perfect life, but what meets the eye isn’t all there is. Then there’s Jane. She’s a young mother who just moved to the beach with her son, Ziggy. Jane is literally a ‘Plain Jane’ and is secretive. At the orientation, her son is accused of choking a little girl. From there, we learn how Celeste’s, Madeline’s and Jane’s lives intertwine without their knowledge and the big blowout at the end will have us all gasping for breath!

After finishing this book, I fell in love with the way Liane’s writing made me feel. So I picked up another one of her books and checked it out!

Liane is an Australian author of six internationally best-selling novels with two number 1 New York Times bestsellers.

Her fifth novel, ‘The Husband’s Secret’, sold over three million copies throughout the world and was the number one UK bestseller, an Amazon best book of 2013, and has been translated into over 40 languages. It’s spent over a year on the NYT bestseller list, and CBS currently holds film rights.

She’s also written a children’s book series under the pseudonym L.M. Moriarty.

Liane currently lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, son and daughter. She has two younger sisters, award winning author Jaclyn Moriarty and Nicola Moriarty.

Liane has sold over six million copies of her novels worldwide.

 

 

Author Biographies: Rita Mae Brown

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Rita Mae Brown was born on November 28, 1944 in Hanover, Pennsylvania to an unwed, teenage mother and her married boyfriend. Brown was left at an orphanage by her mother before she was rescued and adopted by a cousin of her mother’s and her husband.

In 1962, Brown attended the University of Florida at Gainesville, but in 1964 she was expelled from the university for participating the the Civil Rights Movement. Throughout the ’60’s, Brown was involved in a number of movements, such as the Feminist, Anti-War, and the Gay Liberation movements.

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Between 1964 and 1969, Brown lived (sometimes homeless) in New York City as she attended New York University. She received a degree in Classics and English. She also received a certificate in cinematography from the New York School of Visual Arts. Brown also went on to achieve a doctorate in Literature from Union Institute and University as well as a doctorate in Political Science from the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C.

Brown has written poetry, novels, nonfiction, fiction, and screenplays. In 1982, Brown wrote a parody screenplay poking fun at horror films, but producers took the film seriously and released a movie into theaters for a limited time. She has been nominated for an Emmy and has won other awards regarding her screenplays. Brown writes in a variety of genres, but one of her most well-known works is the Mrs. Murphy mystery series, which she co-authors with her tiger cat, Sneaky Pie. Start with Wish You Were Here.

Author Biographies: Anne Rice

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Anne Rice was born in New Orleans on October 4, 1941 as Howard Allen Frances O’Brien to devout Catholic parents. She only changed her name to Anne when she started Catholic school and a nun asked her what her name was; she replied “Anne” because she thought the name was pretty and her mother didn’t correct her. Her name was legally changed in 1947.

Her mother was an alcoholic until she died when Anne was fifteen. Her father remarried and moved the family to northern Texas, where she met her future husband, Stan Rice, in a journalism class they had together. Rice completed her freshman year of college at Texas Woman’s University and then transferred to North Texas State College, but dropped out when she ran out of money. She then moved to San Francisco with friends and began taking night classes at the then-all-boys San Francisco State University. She received her Bachelor’s in Political Science as well as her Master’s in English and Creative Writing from San Francisco State University.

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Anne and Stan married in 1961 and had their daughter Michele in 1966. In 1972, she passed away from a form of leukemia. Soon after, Rice developed OCD. As therapy for her OCD, Rice attended a creative writing workshop, where she met her future literary agent. In 1976, her first novel, Interview With The Vampire was published. In 1978, the Rice’s had their son Christopher.

Rice is known for her popular vampire series, The Vampire Chronicles, but she has also written other works both under her name and under her two pseudonyms, A.N. Roquelaure and Anne Rampling. She has written over thirty novels in genres ranging from Christian literature, gothic fiction, and erotica. It is said that Rice’s vampire writing has had a major impact on later vampire fiction because she identifies with the vampire instead of the victim. Start with Interview With The Vampire.

Author Biographies: Eloisa James

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The name Mary Bly might not be one you are familiar with, but you might have heard of her alter-ego Eloisa James. Eloisa James writes romance fiction set in England’s Regency and Georgian periods, while Mary Bly is a tenured professor of Shakespeare at Fordham University in New York City. Mary Bly is also the Director of Graduate Studies in the English Department as well as the head of the Creative Writing Program at Fordham University. So how in the world does she find the time to write novels between her staggering academic workload?

Mary Bly is the oldest of four children born to the poet Robert Bly and the short story writer Carol Bly. The family did not own a television; instead they had over 5000 books. At a young age, Mary Bly became hooked on romance novels and convinced her father to let her read one romance novel for every classic novel she completed. Mary Bly graduated with her Bachelor’s degree from Harvard, went on to receive a Master’s of Philosophy from Oxford, and then her doctorate in Renaissance Studies from Yale.

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Bly only began writing romance novels when her husband wanted to postpone having a second child until they had paid off their student loans. She wrote Potent Pleasures and had two publishers fighting over it, which allowed her to receive a sum of money that paid off her student loans in full. Bly decided to write under the the pseudonym Eloisa James because she was worried that her colleagues wouldn’t take her seriously as an academic if they found out she wrote romance novels.

Bly disguised herself by wearing contacts instead of glasses when she was Eloisa James. When one of her novels made it onto the New York Times Bestseller List, Bly decided to “out” herself at a faculty meeting on February 16, 2005. Once she had revealed herself, she wrote a piece for The New York Times defending the romance genre.

Currently, Bly still works as a professor as well as writing her novels, which allude heavily to Shakespearean themes. She still continues to write under her pen name. Currently, we have several available print and digital books available by James. Start with Much Ado About You.

Happy Reading!

Author Biographies: Rick Riordan

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Rick Riordan was born in San Antonio, Texas on June 5, 1964. After graduating high school, Riordan first attended North Texas State for the music program because he wanted to pursue a music career, as he was the lead singer of a folk rock band. He then transferred to the University of Texas in Austin, studying English and History. He received his teaching certificate from the University of Texas in San Antonio. Riordan taught middle school English and Social Studies at Presidio Hill School in San Francisco for eight years. Riordan married his wife on June 5, 1985, as they shared the same birthday.

While he was still teaching, Riordan wrote an adult hard-boiled mystery series about Texan private eye Tres Navarre. However, the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series is what really put Riordan’s name on the map. The story began as a bedtime story Riordan told his youngest son, Haley, who was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, just like Percy and the other heroes at Camp Half Blood. When he completed the first novel, Riordan had some of his students read it and give him feedback, offer suggestions, and help him come up with the title.

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Riordan has also gone on to collaborate with other authors to write the 39 Clues series. He has also turned some of the books from various series into graphic novels, as well as crossover short stories and tag along books to his different series that add more depth and background information to characters and myths.

Having been a history teacher, it is no wonder that Riordan’s children series are steeped in Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Norse myths. Each of his series allow children to learn about ancient cultures while they think they are reading just for fun. Each series includes believable and lovable characters, as well as crossover characters and references to other series. It really is interesting to see how the individual series work together and add more depth to Riordan’s writing. And in case you couldn’t tell, he’s my favorite author! Start with The Lightning Thief.

Author Biographies: Diana Gabaldon

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Diana Gabaldon was born on January 11, 1952 in Arizona to Jacqueline Sykes and state senator Tony Gabaldon. She received a Bachelor of Science in Zoology from Northern Arizona University, a Master’s in Marine Biology from the University of California, San Diego, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, and a doctorate in Quantitative Behavioral Ecology also from Northern Arizona University. She also has an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Gabaldon spent twelve years as a university professor teaching environmental studies at Arizona State University, helping to create the field of scientific computation. She founded the scientific journal Science Software Quarterly while she taught and wrote comic books for Walt Disney. She has written several scientific articles and textbooks as well as being the contributing editor on the MacMillan Encyclopedia of Computers.

In 1991, Gabaldon decided to write a novel “for practice, just to learn how,” with the intention of never showing it to anyone. She wrote Outlander entirely through research she did through library books, without visiting Scotland first. She went on to write seven more novels in the series (and is working on the ninth installment), quitting teaching to write full-time.

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Aside from the Outlander series, Gabaldon has written a “sub-series” to Outlander, featuring one of the minor characters and a graphic novel retelling events that take place in the books from different points of view. She has also co-produced the popular television series adapting her novels, having written the script for one of the episodes, and appearing as a cameo in another episode. There has also been some talk of an Outlander musical!

She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and three children. Her son is the fantasy writer, Sam Sykes.

Gabaldon’s novels merge multiple genres at a time, which make it difficult to discern where they “belong” in terms of one particular genre. But, the plus side of this is that they can appeal to everyone who likes historical fiction, romance, mystery, adventure, science fiction, and fantasy!

Author Biographies: Suzanne Collins

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Suzanne Collins is most likely a household name at this point. Of course, everyone recognizes her to be the author of The Hunger Games trilogy, but did you know she used to write for children’s television programs? She never would have gone into writing books for children and young adults if it weren’t for children’s author James Proimos.

Suzanne Collins was born in Hartford, Connecticut as the youngest of four. Her father was a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force who served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, so the family moved around a lot while Collins was growing up. She graduated from the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham as a Theater Arts Major. She also received her Bachelor of Arts from Indiana University and her Master of Fine Arts in dramatic writing from New York University Tisch School of the Arts.

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In 1991, Collins began her career as a writer for children’s television shows, including Clarissa Explains It All, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, Little Bear, and Oswald. She was also the head writer for Clifford’s Puppy Days.  It wasn’t until she met children’s author James Proimos that she decided to write children’s books herself. She started with a picture book about a boy who is addicted to video games.

Her first novel, Gregor the Overlander, was released in 2003. For the next four years, Collins released one novel per year in The Underland Chronicles. In 2008, the first book in The Hunger Games trilogy was released and remained on The New York Times Bestsellers List for 60 consecutive weeks. The following two books in the series were released in 2009 and 2010, respectively. In 2011, The Hunger Games began the process of being adapted into a movie, which was co-written by Collins and released in 2012. Also in 2012, Collins was named the best-selling Kindle author of all time.