John Thomas Sayles was born in Schenectady, New York, on September 28, 1950, and attended Mount Pleasant High School in Schenectady, earning letters in basketball, baseball, track, and football. After being turned down by the U.S. Army, in 1968 Sayles enrolled at Williams College, where he took creative writing classes and acted in dramatic productions. Following his graduation in 1962, he worked in a variety of jobs, including one in a meatpacking plant, and hitchhiked thousands of miles. In 1975 he published his first novel, The Pride of the Bimbos, and won an O. Henry Award for “I-80 Nebraska, m.490-m.205.” In 1977 he published his second novel, Union Dues, and began writing for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures. The Return of the Secaucus Seven (1979), his first feature film, was a critical and financial success; and in the same year he published his collection of short stories, The Anarchists’ Convention. Aside from writing and staging his one-act plays in 1981, the rest of his career has primarily been devoted to working in films as an actor, screenplay writer, editor, and director. Two of his screenplays (Alligator, 1980; Wild Thing, 1987) are based on his short stories. In 1991 he published his third novel, Los Gusanos, but Sayles has become primarily a filmmaker rather than a writer of fiction.