Joan Bauer was born in 1951 in River Forest, Illinois. The eldest of three sisters, Joan grew up writing stories, poems, and entries in her diary. Joan’s mother was a high school English teacher and her grandmother, who lived at home, was a professional storyteller. When Joan was eight, her parents got divorced and her father, who was an alcoholic, dropped out of her life. As a teen, Joan was a self-described “rebel” who was trying to find her place in the world without a father figure. She credits her early jobs and love for books as positive influences that helped keep her on the right track.
In her early twenties Joan began a career in sales and advertising in Chicago. At the age of 30, she married a computer engineer named Evan Bauer, who encouraged her to pursue her passion for writing. For a while, she wrote articles for magazines and newspapers. Then she decided to become a screenwriter. But just as Joan Bauer was trying out her newest career, she was seriously injured in a car accident. Forced to give up the daily demands of screenwriting while recovering from surgery, Bauer began writing a story about a girl in a pumpkin-growing competition. This story became Squashed, a novel that won the Delacorte Press Prize for a First Young Adult Novel.
After trying out many different careers, Joan Bauer finally found her calling as a young adult novelist. Her subsequent novels earned many more awards, including a prestigious Newberry Honor for Hope Was Here. Over the years, Bauer has learned that some of her most powerful writing comes from tapping into the adversity that she has faced throughout her life. Rules of the Road, for example, deeply affects readers who have struggled with alcoholism in their own families. Writing it was also a healing and cathartic experience for Bauer herself.
Today Joan Bauer and her husband in Brooklyn, New York. When Joan is not writing, she loves to read, cook, walk, laugh, travel, and watch movies.