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Biography

Karen Cushman
I was born in Chicago. My favorite things about Chicago were snow, summer lightning storms, and my grandparents. When I was 10, we moved to Los Angeles where there were none of those things. It was too hot. I was grumpy. You can read The Ballad of Lucy Whipple to see how I felt.

I loved books and would read anything I could get my hands on: Little Lulu comic books, Rufus M. and The Middle Moffatt, Homer Price and the Doughnut Machine, Mad magazine and Seventeen and cereal boxes. And I wrote enthusiastically: poems, play, short stories, and even a novel (six chapters in three pages!). I didn’t know anyone else who wrote and certainly no adult who wrote for a living so I never thought about being a writer. I just wrote. For my real job I wanted to be a movie star or a ballet dancer, an archaeologist or a brain surgeon, depending on what book I had just read.

In 1959 I went to college at Stanford University. What a change from Los Angeles. It was the first time I realized I didn’t have to get married and do laundry and spend my life making bologna sandwiches for my kids’ lunches.

Now I live on a soft, green island near Seattle with my husband, Philip, who is a professor. Our daughter, Leah, is a book buyer at Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon. The love of books runs in the family.

I’m now at work on a new book. It took me forty-nine years of preparation—of reading and writing and making up stories in my head—to be ready to write. Now I do not intend to stop.

It seems to me that all that can be said about me has already been said: I started writing at 49, like to write about gutsy girls figuring out who they are, and have no plans to stop writing until I am at least a hundred.

REALTalk interviewed me for “Karen Cushman on Writing.

Watch A Writer's Place, a video about my inspirations

The Authors Road: Read this interview, listen to the podcast, and watch the video about Karen Cushman.

Karen Cushman books Catherine, Called Birdy The Midwife's Apprentice The Ballad of Lucy Whipple Matilda Bone Alchemy and Meggy Swann Will Sparrow's Road The Loud Silence of Francine Green Rodzina Grayling's Song
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