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.

Author Biographies: Roald Dahl

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Roald Dahl has been said to be one of the most-beloved children’s authors of all time. It’s hard to find someone who has never read a book by Dahl in their childhood, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to Matilda, to The BFG. Many of Dahl’s stories were inspired by his own childhood, but he was initially published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1942 with his story about how his fighter plane crash-landed in Egypt. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that he began publishing children’s books. So what happened in between?

Roald Dahl was born in Wales on September 13, 1916 to Norwegian immigrant parents. He was sent to two different boarding schools, both of which inspired the stories featured in many of his children’s books, such as the invention of the “Everlasting Gobstopper.” In school, his teachers repeatedly told him that they didn’t think he was talented enough in his English and writing classes to amount to much. After he left school, he traveled to Canada and then to East Africa, where he worked for an oil company until World War II broke out. Dahl then enlisted in the Royal Air Force and became a pilot.

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In 1940, Dahl’s plane crashed between the Allied and Italian forces. Dahl suffered injuries to the head, nose, back, and was temporarily blind from the accident. It only took him six months to recover and then he was back in action as a fighter pilot. In 1942, Dahl came to the United States to work in the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., where he served as an intelligence officer for Great Britain, passing information along to Winston Churchill. The author C.S. Forester was commissioned by The Saturday Evening Post to write an article about Dahl’s plane crash. Forester asked Dahl for some notes for the article, but Dahl ended up writing the entire story that was printed in 1942.

Dahl’s first children’s book, James and the Giant Peach, was published in 1961, followed rapidly by the rest of Dahl’s collection. Dahl also wrote screenplays for television shows and movies, including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and short stories. He died on November 23, 1990.

Roald Dahl’s children’s stories often feature good children and evil adults, and are typically told from the point of view of a child. Dahl acknowledges that children are important, maybe even more important than adults sometimes.

 

Author Biographies: Jeffrey Archer

I thought it would be interesting to do a series of blog posts about the biographies of different authors. It is always fascinating to see what lies outside of the novels that authors write. What gives them their inspiration? Is each novel really just a tiny autobiography of the author? Are there pieces of the author’s own personality and story in each book he or she writes?

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Jeffrey Archer was born in London, England and raised in Somerset. He attended Wellington School in Somerset and also Brasenose College, Oxford, where he excelled in sports and became President of the University Athletics Club. At the age of 29, Archer was elected as a Member of Parliament for Louth. However, after only five years of serving on Parliament, Archer resigned after becoming victim to a fraudulent scam and losing almost £500,000. Fearing bankruptcy, Archer began writing his first novel, which was then made into a BBC radio serial and later a television show for the BBC in 1990.

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Jeffrey Archer returned to politics in the 1980’s, where he became Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party in 1985. However, he once again resigned after only a year in office due to another scandal that ended in a trial in 1987. In 1999, Archer was selected by the Conservative Party as a candidate for the London mayoral election in 2000. After a few months, Archer withdrew his candidacy after it was discovered that he committed perjury in his 1987 court case. In February 2000, Archer was expelled from the Conservative Party for 5 years. Later that year in September, Archer was charged with “perjury and perverting the court of justice” from his 1987 libel trial. He was sentenced to four years in prison, but was released in 2003 after serving half of his sentence.

Throughout his tumultuous life, Archer continued to write, publishing over twenty-five novels, short stories, and plays over the years. Archer writes political thrillers as well as historical fiction and family sagas. His novels will keep readers second-guessing every detail, right up until the very end. Start with The Eleventh Commandment.

Happy Reading!