As a child in West Virginia, Cynthia Rylant never dreamed of becoming a writer. In her free time, she devoured Archie comic books and paperback romances and enjoyed the outdoors. But after taking one college English class, she was "hooked on great writing... I didn't know about this part of me until I went to college -- didn't know I loved beautiful stories." And one night, inspired by the Southern writer James Agee, she sat down and wrote When I Was Young in the Mountains. Named a Caldecott Honor Book and an ALA Notable Book, it was an instant success.
Since that night, Rylant hasn't stopped creating wonderful books. Her stories explore friendship, love, grief, and other mysteries, and often draw on her memories of growing up in Appalachia. "I get a lot of personal gratification thinking of those people who don't get any attention in the world and making them really valuable in my fiction -- making them absolutely shine with their beauty."
She lives with her many pets in the Pacific Northwest.