In 1954, Christopher Paul Curtis, son of Herman and Leslie Curtis, was born in Flint, Michigan, and like the characters in The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, Curtis grew up there. Delaying his pursuit of a college education, he went to work on the assembly line at the Fisher Body Automobile Plant in Flint from 1972-85. Curtis also worked at Automatic Data Processing in Allen Park, Michigan, and as an assistant to Senator Don Riegle in Lansing, Michigan, before becoming a full-time author of young adult books.
He finally started college at the University of Michigan on a part-time basis, graduating in 1996. During that time, he started writing stories and won the University's Hopwood prize for a rough draft of The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. Confident of his ability, Curtis's wife and family encouraged him to take a year off work and see what he could do with his writing. Unlike many writers who write from an office at home, Curtis wrote the entire manuscript for The Watsons Go to Birmingham— 1963 in longhand at a table in the children's room at his local library. His son, Steven, typed his handwritten notes into the computer each evening. By the end of 1993, Curtis had completed his story and entered it in a national writing contest where it caught the attention of Delacorte editors. They enjoyed his story and wanted to publish it. The success of The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, Curtis's first book,...
(The entire section is 248 words.)