Orson Scott Card was born on August 24, 1951, in Richland, Washington, the son of Willard Richards, a teacher, and Peggy Jane Park Card, an administrator. He earned his B.A. at Brigham Young University in 1975, interrupting his studies to spend two years as a volunteer Mormon missionary in Brazil, from 1971 to 1973. His experience in Brazil is reflected in several of his stories and novels, perhaps most vividly in Speaker for the Dead, though more literally in the short story “America.” He married Kristine Allen on May 17, 1977.
Card began his artistic career at Brigham Young University, writing and producing a number of plays on Mormon themes during his college years. After college, he began publishing short stories in science-fiction and fantasy magazines. Completing his M.A. in 1981, he began a doctoral program in literature at the University of Notre Dame with the idea of becoming a teacher and writer, but he abandoned this program to devote himself to writing fiction. When Card won the Hugo and Nebula best novel awards two years in a row, 1985 and 1986, he was firmly established as one of the best young writers in science fiction. The appearance of the first volume of Tales of Alvin Maker in 1987 won for him a wider audience, especially among younger readers and their teachers. In 1990, Card published a collection of short fiction entitled Maps in a Mirror, bringing together stories that had appeared in ephemeral sources or that had been absorbed into his novels, as well as his best stories that were no longer in print. During the 1990’s Card continued to add to both the Ender saga and the Alvin Maker series. He also completed the five-volume Homecoming series and branched out into historical fiction: Stone Tables (1997), the supernatural thriller Homebody (1998), the modern fantasy Enchantment (1999), and the illustrated fairy tale Magic Mirror. Card and his wife settled in Greensboro, North Carolina, with their five children: Geoffrey, Emily, Charles, Zina Margaret, and Erin Louisa.