Life and Background
Even though Sharon Creech has lived in England and Switzerland since 1979, her main characters are American because that is Creech's "natural narrative voice." To create realistic plots and characters, Creech relies on personal experiences. Her protagonists are sensitive young adults who have a sense of humor in spite of the dilemmas they face throughout adolescence. Creech's novels are usually multilayered and are about topics such as grief, loss, love, and interior journeys. She writes with the intent to expand her readers' horizons; she hopes to increase their awareness and understanding of people who are different from them.
Creech was born on July 29, 1945, in Cleveland, Ohio. She was raised in a Cleveland suburb in the midst of a large, noisy family that gathered around the kitchen table to tell stories. Because the stories were exciting, Creech learned early on to embellish her stories and exaggerate, as a guarantee that family members would listen. Throughout elementary school and high school, writing piqued Creech's interest. She attributes her enthusiasm toward writing to her natural inclination to write and to teachers who taught her writing skills and provided encouragement. Creech was fascinated with writing instruments such as pens and pencils, paper, and books. She stockpiled these instruments and treasured them. Creech was also an avid reader. Although she doesn't remember many titles of the books she read, Creech recalls the experience of reading. She loved reading the legends of King Arthur, Greek myths, American Indian myths, and Ivanhoe in particular. The most thrilling career she could imagine was that of a writer or a teacher, because teachers use books every day.
After graduating from high school, Creech attended Hiram College, where she received a bachelor's degree, and then George Mason University in Washington, D.C., where she earned a Master of Arts degree. While in graduate school, Creech's interest in writing grew when she took a writing course taught by John Gardner and attended workshops where writers such as John Irving and James Dickey talked about their craft.
During the time Creech was in graduate school, she worked at the Federal Theatre Project Archives and later at the Congressional Quarterly as an editorial assistant. She didn't particularly enjoy being an editorial assistant, because the work involved facts and politics, subjects that do not appeal to Creech. For the next several years, Creech remained in Washington, D.C. She was married, had two children, Rob and Karin, and was divorced. In 1979, Creech got a job teaching literature at an American school located in a Surrey village in England. She and her children packed up and moved. In 1981, Creech married Lyle D. Rigg, the assistant headmaster (assistant principal) at the school in England where Creech was teaching. Like Creech, Rigg was originally from Ohio. Soon after getting married, Rigg was transferred to The American School in Switzerland (TASIS) in Lugano, Switzerland. Rigg, Creech, and Creech's two children lived in Lugano for two years. In 1984, the family returned to the TASIS in England where Creech teaches American and British literature and her husband is headmaster.
Creech concentrated on her family and her teaching for many years. It wasn't until her father had a stroke and was unable to speak that Creech began writing her first novel. She was fearful that her words would be locked inside her forever, as they had been for her father during the six long years before his death. Creech's first two books, The Recital (1990) and Nickel Malley (1991), were published in England for adults under the name Sharon Rigg. Her first novel for young adults, Absolutely Normal Chaos, published in 1991 also in England, is a book about a large, rowdy family like her own. Walk Two Moons was published in the United States in 1994, earning Creech the Newbery Medal Award in 1995, the School Library Journal Best Books Award (1994), the Notable Children's Books Award (1995), and the Young Reader's Award (1997).
Creech maintains a loose connection between her novels. The fictional town of Bybanks, Kentucky, on the Ohio River plays a part in the life of almost all of her protagonists. Often a character mentioned in one novel will surface in another novel. For example, Mary Lou Finney who is a minor character in Walk Two Moons (1994) is the main character of Absolutely Normal Chaos (1990).
Along with writing novels, Creech has published poetry and short stories. She has also written a play that was produced in New York City in 1992 entitled The Center of the Universe: Waiting for the Girl.
Today, Creech continues to write novels for adolescents and to teach and live in England with her husband. Creech and her husband live in England during the school term; during the summer months, they live in Chautauqua Lake, New York. Creech enjoys seeing her children, who both live in the United States, and spending time exploring her home country.
Creech's Selected Works
Absolutely Normal Chaos (1991)
Walk Two Moons (1994)
Pleasing the Ghost (1996)
Chasing Redbird (1997)
The Wanderer (2000)
Fishing in the Air (2000)