Pamela Smith Hill

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Biography

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Award-winning author Pamela Smith Hill's roots are in Springfield, Missouri, the setting of this young adult novel. Hill was born in 1954 in Springfield, Missouri. Her father is a retired minister and painter and her mother, Carolyn Clark Hill, is a homemaker. Hill says that she grew up on Bible Stories and old television Westerns. Perhaps that is why she enjoys writing about the past. Also she admired the writing of Louisa May Alcott and particularly enjoyed Jo March's character in Alcott's novel Little Women. Hill says that Jo was a tomboy and longed to be a writer like she did. During Hill's college years, she served as editor of the student newspaper, the Southwest Standard at Southwest Missouri State University, and as a newspaper staff writer for the Springfield Leader and Press.

Hill's newspaper career in Springfield covered all facets of writing community life: weddings, Girl Scout Jamborees, Water Piks, Navajo rugs, and basketball shoes. That background in newspaper writing led her to careers in Kansas, Colorado, and Oregon. In 1994 she left the news industry and began a new career, writing novels. In 1996 Hill's first novel, Ghost Horses, was published, chosen as a Junior Literary Guild Selection, and won the Heartland Regional Emmy. This Western-based story's protagonist is sixteen-year-old Tabitha Fortune, the daughter of a preacher who believes that a woman should serve only her husband and God. When an expedition comes to the area to find dinosaur bones, Tabitha disguises herself as a boy so that she can participate. She fools her father and the leader of the dig, Professor Parker.

Hill's second novel, A Voice from the Border, is a historical fiction published in 1998. In 1999 this novel was nominated for the Michael Shaara award for excellence in Civil War fiction, was named a Best Children's Book of the Year by Banks Street College, and was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Presently Hill is the director of the professional writing program at Washington State University, where she teaches writing classes and continues writing young adult fiction. Hill and her husband live in Portland, Oregon, with their retrievers. Their daughter is a student of mathematics at Bryn Mawr College.