TTLG Author/Illustrator Profiles

Cynthia Voigt

Cynthia Voigt

Life is never predictable. This is just what Cynthia Voigt's life has proven. After completing college, she swore that she would never be a teacher, which is just what she ended up doing. Cynthia's dream was to be a writer, but that dream was put on hold when she got married and started teaching, which she ended up enjoying. When her son was born, she found time to write, getting the idea for the book Building Blocks from watching her son. Her life took another twist when she started working on the book Homecoming and put the book Building Blocks on hold. She published Homecoming and her career as an author finally began.

Cynthia Voigt, a young adult author, has written many books for middle school aged children. Some of her books share the same characters, some do not. However, all of her books are read by many young adults. Cynthia's life-her childhood, family, hobbies, and influences-and how she gets ideas for books and writes them are important parts of who Cynthia Voigt is and how she became a popular young adult author.

Voigt was born on February 25, 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts as Cynthia Irving. In her family were her mother, Elise Keeney and her father Frederick C, Irving who was a corporate executive. She was the second child of four (Senick, 13: 224) and grew up in southern Connecticut. (Hile, 79: 209) Voigt went to Smith College where she got a bachelor's degree. (Hile, 86: 209) She did graduate work at St. Michael's College (Junior Discovering Authors) and later got a teacher's certification at Christian Brothers College. (Hile, 79: 209)

Voigt held a few jobs in her life. She worked for an advertising agency. She has also been a secretary, and she was a high school English teacher in Glen Burnie and Annapolis, Maryland. She was the English department chair from 1971 to 1979 and now she is an author. (Hile, 79: 209) Cynthia Voigt likes to read, eat well, play tennis, and see movies. She also likes "hanging around with our children and considering the weather." (Hile, 79: 209)

Cynthia Voigt first married in September 1964. She divorced in 1972. In August 1974, she married Walter Voigt, a teacher. She has two children, Jessica and Peter. (Hile, 79: 209) She also had a dog named Rosie. Family life has influenced Cynthia because she has less time to write. (Senick, 13: 225) Cynthia Voigt and her family have lived in Annapolis, Maryland, New Mexico, and they currently live in Deer Isle, Maine. She says that she lived in Annapolis because it is both rural and urban; it has a southwestern sky, it has mountains and water, and it has an "everyman-kind-of state." (Senick, 13: 224)

Voigt first decided to become a writer when she was in high school because she liked books. (Hile, 79: 210) When she was teaching, she decided to write books for young adults. (Junior Discovering Authors) She wrote short stories and poetry in high school and college. (Hile, 79: 210) Voigt started writing Building Blocks first, but Homecoming was the first book that she finished and published. (Senick, 13: 224) It was published in 1981 by Atheneum. (Junior Discovering Authors) Since then, Cynthia Voigt has written six other books about the Tillermans. She has won many awards. She won the Notable Children's Trade Book in the field of social studies for Homecoming, the Newbery Medal, ALA in 1983 for Dicey's Song, and the Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1984 for The Callender Papers, just to name a few. Among the other books she has written are A Solitary Blue, the Runner, Seventeen Against the Dealer, Izzy, Willy-Nilly, Come a Stranger, Sons from Afar, Tell Me if All Lovers Are Losers, and Tree by Leaf. (Hile, 79: 209-10)

Some of Voigt's books deal with "child abuse, verbal abuse, racism, and coping with amputation." (Hile, 79: 212) Some of her books are mystery or fantasy. (Hile, 79: 212) Voigt bases the characters in her books on different people. "In some cases a character may be part of myself, but not really." (Senick, 13: 24) She says that Dicey Tillerman is the child that she would have liked to be and Gram is the lady that she would like to become. Sammy Tillerman is similar to her son. (Senick, 13: 224) Cynthia gets plot ideas from different places. For the book Homecoming, she saw kids sitting in a car and wondered what would happen if no one came back for them. (Hile, 79: 211) For the book Building Blocks, Cynthia was watching her son play with cardboard blocks and she started to wonder "what would happen if . . . ." (Senick, 13: 224) The settings of her books are based on real places. (Senick, 13: 224)

Ideally, she would be able to write from eight a.m. until noon, but things such as grocery shopping cut into that time. To write her books, she first makes an outline of the plot and a map where by can write what will happen in each chapter. She likes stories based on fact and she enjoys doing characterization. Voigt has trouble creating a plot. (Senick, 13: 223-24)

Cynthia Voigt's books are enjoyed by many, but most of her readers do not know about her life and how she got where she is today. By learning about the life and writing process of an author, a reader can appreciate her writing even more. Cynthia Voigt, a young adult author, should be remembered not only as a writer, but as a mother, a teacher, and a wife. She has contributed many realistic fiction, fantasy, and mystery books. Her seven books about the Tillermans are read and enjoyed by many. Her numerous awards, such as the Newbery Medal prove her importance to the world of literature.