Biography

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 405

Gary Blackwood was born October 23, 1945, in Meadville, Pennsylvania, the son of Roy and Susie (Stallsmith) Blackwood. He grew up in the small town of Cochranton, Pennsylvania, dreaming of becoming a writer and studying with that in mind. He graduated with a B.A. in English from Grove City College in Pennsylvania. While a college student, Blackwood published his first short story, "Cliffs of Gold," in Twelve/Fifteen magazine. He quickly learned that writing alone would not support him and turned to other sources for income. His work experience varies from copy-writing, teaching, creating advertising art, and managing a book store, to working in a cannery, loading meat trucks, and carpentry.

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Blackwood's first book, an adult historical novel, The Lion and the Unicorn, was self-published in 1982, but it was not until the publication of Wild Timothy five years later that his writing career really gained momentum. His works since that time include six plays that have been produced on stage and a series of novels that were all written for a young adult audience. Additionally, Blackwood has written nonfiction for young adult, middle-grade, and young readers. Blackwood has a particular interest in Elizabethan England and originally wrote a novel that centered on an adult main character who attempts to steal the script of Shakespeare's Hamlet by using a shorthand code to copy the dialogue. Years later Blackwood decided the book would work much better if a young apprentice—whom he called "Widge"—used the secret shorthand to steal Shakespeare's play. Keeping the basic idea of his adult version, he changed the plot to allow his former adult main character to become a minor character in the young adult book.

The Shakespeare Stealer has been translated into three languages and has been recorded for the audio market. The novel has also received numerous awards, including being named to several 1998 honor lists, including Children's Books to Read and Own by the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Library, School Library Journal's Best Books, ALA Notable Book, ALA Best Books for Young Adults, and the Smithsonian Notable Children's Books. The volume was also named as a Junior Library Guild Selection and was a Selector's Choice on the National Council for Social Studies and Children's Book Council list.

Blackwood lives in the Missouri Ozarks with his wife, Jean, and their two children. He is currently working on a sequel to The Shakespeare Stealer, a novel with the working title of The Gypsy Players.

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