Author Gary D. Schmidt teaches English at Calvin College, specializing in children’s and medieval literature. He was born in Hicksville, New York, and raised Baptist, but he went to a school that was primarily Catholic and Jewish—an experience that clearly provided the basis for Holling Hoodhood’s isolation in The Wednesday Wars. Because Schmidt was born in 1957, he, like Holling, came of age as the Vietnam War divided the United States. This too colors The Wednesday Wars, especially in how the war affects the Hoodhood family.
Schmidt stumbled into both teaching and writing. While he attended Gordon College in Massachusetts, the most likely careers he had considered were, as he said in an article in The Calvin Spark, “a lawyer or town manager or soldier.” However, throughout his studies, Schmidt had been taking—and enjoying—English classes, and he eventually realized his calling. He also met his wife, Anne, around this time; the couple have six children. During a break from all the studying, Schmidt began to write fiction, with substantial success. Schmidt’s life has not been without challenge, however: in 1996 he was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer, beating the disease through an extensive round of treatments.