In the years since 1983 when she published her first book, Pam Conrad has proven to be a prolific writer. She has completed twelve books in eleven years and currently has other works in progress. Although consistently productive, Conrad is anything but repetitive. Her work is marked by its diversity and includes a picture book, a mystery, a biography, historical novels, problem books for young adults, and humorous books for young elementary-age readers.
Conrad was born Pamela Stampf in New York in 1947. Her father was a teacher and her mother a businesswoman. She attended the High School of Performing Arts, Hofstra University, and the New School for Social Research where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1984. In addition to New York, she has lived in Colorado and Texas. She married Robert Conrad, a designer, in 1967, and was divorced in 1982. She has two daughters, Johanna and Sarah, and she has said they are the inspiration for the juvenile books she writes.
With the publication of Prairie Songs in 1985, Conrad emerged as a leading writer of children's books. She has been praised for her sensitive characterizations, her lyrical prose, and the strong emotional relationships between characters she creates. She writes frequently of realistic problems confronting today's young adults, such as divorce, single parenthood, domestic violence, and substance abuse. Her presentation is graphic and clear, and even when the plot seems somewhat unbelievable, the author's exploration of the issues is honest, perceptive, and thought-provoking.
Conrad states that while the activity of which she is fondest is writing, she also enjoys needlework, country music, jogging, and reading. She continues to live in New York with her daughters.
Pam Conrad was born June 18, 1947, in New York City, to Robert and Doris Stampf. She has two brothers, David and Jonathan, and a younger sister, Missy. Conrad began writing when she was seven and ill with the chicken pox. Her mother gave her colored pencils and paper for drawing, but Conrad wrote poetry instead. Although she continued to write poetry and fiction throughout her childhood and adolescence, Conrad's real aspiration was to become a dancer. To this end, she enrolled in New York City's High School of Performing Arts. Her marriage to Robert Conrad in 1967, one year after high school graduation, and the birth of two daughters, Johanna (1971) and Sarah (1974), placed her creative energies on hold for the next few years.
When Sarah was three-and-one-half years old, Conrad decided to go to college, initially at Hofstra University, and finally at the New School for Social Research in New York, where she earned a B.A. in 1984. While in college, Conrad's urge to write returned; her first children's book, I Don't Live Here, was published in 1981. Since then, Conrad has become a very prolific, much-acclaimed author of books for both children and young adults. Her range is wide, including picture books, fantasy, contemporary realism and historical fiction. Although young people are the main characters in all of her novels, it is a disservice to categorize Conrad as a children/young adult author. The best of her works appeal to an audience that cuts across all age lines. This is not surprising since Conrad says she does not write with children or a young adult audience in mind: "I don't write for any child, but from the child that I am." Furthermore, her intensely personal work is rooted in her real life. She, or at least some aspect of her personality, always appears in the characters she's writing about: "Each book is like a dream for me because, as in a dream, each character is an aspect of myself." She describes herself as "a spiritual person," but adds that she doesn't "follow any particular religion."
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