Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

As far back as I can remember, I loved to write books, and made up stories long before I could put the words down on paper. My parents read aloud to us every night. They sang to us, too, and many of their songs were really stories. I can hardly believe I'm so lucky to be able to make writing my life's work. I'm not happy unless I spend some time every day writing. When my work is going well, I wake early in the mornings, hoping it's time to get up. When the writing is difficult and the words seem flat, I'm grouchy and not very pleasant to be around.

Since grade school, "writing books" was my favorite hobby. I rushed home from school each day to write down whatever plot had been forming in my head, and at sixteen my first story was published in a church magazine. In college, where I was studying to be a clinical psychologist, I was able to pay my tuition by writing stories. When I got my bachelor's degree, I decided I wanted to write more than anything else, so I gave up plans to go to graduate school and began writing full time.

Getting an idea for a book is not hard for me; keeping other ideas away while I'm working on one story is what's difficult. My books are based on things that have happened to me, things I have heard or read about, all mixed up with my imaginings. The best part about writing is the moment a character comes alive on paper, or when a place that existed only in my head becomes real.

I write every book twice in longhand before I put it on my word processor, and I revise until I can't find one paragraph, one sentence, one word I want to change. At that point my husband, my critique group, and my editor have a go at it, and I discover it wasn't so perfect after all.

I live in Bethesda, Maryland, with my husband, Rex, a speech pathologist. Our sons, Jeff and Michael, are grown now, but we often enjoy vacations together, in the mountains or at the ocean. When I'm not writing, I like to hike, swim, play the piano, and attend the theater.

If you like to write, you may want to read my autobiography, How I Came to Be a Writer. To learn more about me or my books, try my Alice web site:


Phyllis Reynolds Naylor has written over 100 books for children and adults, 2000 stories and articles, and has received 10,337 (really!) rejection slips from publishers.

Her Shiloh Trilogy has been honored with nearly 40 awards, the first of which, Shiloh, won the prestigious Newbery Award, given to the most distinguished book of children's literature in the United States published during that year. The Shiloh Trilogy has also been translated in ten languages. The first two books, Shiloh, and Shiloh Season, have been made into feature length movies.

When her family moved to Joliet, Phyllis started 7th grade at Washington school, then graduated from both Joliet Township High School and Joliet Junior College. During her years at JTHS, Phyllis was a member of the Acappella Choir, the Madrigals, and the cast of the senior class play.

She was also active in the Richards Street Methodist Church. Phyllis' father was sales manager for Gerlach-Barklow, and her mother was a kindergarten teacher at Taft Elementary school. In 1986, Phyllis received the Alumni Achievement Award from the Joliet Junior College Alumni Association.

One of her books, One of the Third Grade Thonkers (published 1988), a story about bravery and courage, takes place in Joliet, and mentions many streets and familiar places in town.



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