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: 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.