Norma Fox Mazer
New York, NY
Norma Fox Mazer sees literature as a way of making sense of a chaotic world. “Stories,” she asserts, “bring us the essential human emotions we all share, reassure us of the links between us — between young and old, between races and nations.” Mazer's commitment to this idea is evident in her writing: her characters face realistic problems and rely on the strength of their relationships to pull them through trying times.
Mazer and her husband, novelist Harry Mazer, provided each other with a similar kind of strength when the two first decided to begin their writing careers. “At the age of 28, I became serious about writing. At that time, I had already gone through at least 10 years of dreaming of being a writer, beginning stories but never finishing them, making excuses to myself about my lack of consistency. When, at last, I had done enough dithering around, I made a pact with Harry that each of us would write an hour a day.” Since that time, Mazer has written a series of popular and critically acclaimed books. Her second novel, A Figure of Speech, was nominated for a National Book Award. The science fiction fantasy Saturday, the Twelfth of October won a Lewis Carroll Shelf Award. Her collection of short stories Dear Bill, Remember Me? was a New York Times and School Library Journal Notable Book, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and won both the Christopher Medal and Lewis Carroll Shelf Award.
Mazer has also written a Newbery Honor book, After the Rain, an engaging story of getting to know a grandparent. Some of her other novels include: Downtown, Silver, Mrs. Fish, Ape and Me, The Dump Queen, and Taking Terri Mueller, an Edgar Allen Poe Award winner.
After writing for nearly 20 years, Mazer began to consider ways in which she might gain more readers of her books. “Into my mind popped the bounce-the-ball game we played on the street as kids. 'A, my name is Asa and I arrive in Albany with an alert angora angel....' A, My Name Is...Yes!
“I liked that. The titles, traveling up the alphabet, would give kids that cozy feeling of reading a series. But in fact I'd write each book as an independent, stand-on-its-own novel. I made up in my mind to definitely affirm the importance of girls' friendships.” “I wrote the first one, A, My Name is Ami. Then B, My Name is Bunny. I was set to do C, My Name is Celia when a boy asked me, 'Why do you just write for girls?' What could I say? Because I'm female? Because it's easier? This boy was right, he was feeling excluded. Then and there I decided that C, My Name Is... was going to be about two boys, their lives, and their friendship.” Norma Fox Mazer grew up in Glens Falls, New York, in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains and attended both Antioch and Syracuse Universities. She and her husband, Harry Mazer, whom she met when she was 15, have four children.
Norma Fox Mazer passed away on October 17, 2009 after a battle with cancer.