Sebold in New York City, October 2007
September 6, 1963 |
Madison, Wisconsin, United States
|Genres||literary fiction, memoir|
|Notable work(s)||The Lovely Bones, The Almost Moon, Lucky|
Sebold was born in Madison, Wisconsin. She grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and graduated from Great Valley High School in Malvern, Pennsylvania in 1980. She then enrolled in Syracuse University. In the early hours of May 8, 1981, she was raped while walking home through a park off campus. Her attacker dragged her into a tunnel and brutally sodomized her, even urinating on her and causing severe injuries. She reported the crime to the police, who took her statement and investigated, but could not identify any suspects.
Sebold returned home to Pennsylvania to live with her family for the summer before beginning her sophomore year at Syracuse. After some months at home Sebold returned to Syracuse to finish her bachelor's degree and to study writing. On October 5, 1981, while walking down a street near the Syracuse campus, she recognized her rapist. Eventually, with the help of her family, she found the courage to help police identify her assailant and even took to the witness stand during his trial where he was convicted.  He received the maximum sentence.
Following graduation from Syracuse, Sebold went to the University of Houston in Texas for graduate school. She did not complete her graduate studies. Then she moved to Manhattan and lived there for 10 years. She held several waitressing jobs and tried to pursue her writing career. Sebold wanted to write her story through poetry, but that, and attempts at writing a novel, did not come to fruition. She used heroin recreationally for two years, but claims she never became addicted. Sebold recounted her substance abuse to students at an Evening of Fiction workshop by saying that, "I did a lot of things that I am not particularly proud of and that I can’t believe that I did."
Sebold left New York for Southern California, where she became a caretaker of an arts colony, earning $386 a month and living in a cabin in the woods without electricity. She would write under a propane lamp. In 1995, Sebold applied to graduate school at University of California, Irvine (UCI).
While at UCI, Sebold began writing Lucky, a memoir of her rape. The police had told Sebold that she was lucky to be alive; not long before Sebold's attack, another young woman had been killed and dismembered in the same tunnel. The story began while she was writing a ten-page assignment, though Sebold eventually wrote 40 pages for her class.
After Lucky, Sebold published the bestselling novel The Lovely Bones. The book is a novel about a 14-year-old girl who is raped, murdered and dismembered. The main character tells her story from her personalized version of Heaven, looking down as her family tries to cope with her death and her killer escapes the police. In an interview conducted by Ann Darby of Publishers Weekly, Sebold said of The Lovely Bones: "I was motivated to write about violence because I believe it's not unusual. I see it as just a part of life, and I think we get in trouble when we separate people who've experienced it from those who haven't. Though it's a horrible experience, it's not as if violence hasn't affected many of us." The novel was adapted into a 2009 film of the same name by Peter Jackson. Because of its extraordinary sales, it became a popular misconception that The Lovely Bones was chosen by Oprah Winfrey for her bookclub, but this was never the case.
Sebold edited The Best American Short Stories 2009. The process, she said, required her to read and choose twenty of over 200 short stories she was presented with to put in the book.
Sebold won the American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award for Adult Fiction in 2003 for The Lovely Bones and the Bram Stoker Award for First Novel in 2002. She was also nominated in the Novel category in that year. Sebold is an alumna of the Ragdale Foundation.
- Lucky (memoir, 2002; originally published in 1999), Back Bay Books, ISBN 0-316-66634-3
- The Lovely Bones (novel, 2002), Little, Brown, ISBN 0-316-66634-3
- The Almost Moon (novel, 2007), Little, Brown, ISBN 0-316-67746-9
- McCrum, Robert (2007-10-14). "Adventures in disturbia". London: The Observer. Archived from the original on 16 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Meet the Writers". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2007-12-24.
- Alice Sebold
- Viner, Katharine (2002-08-24). "Above and beyond - Interview". Guardian Unlimited (London: The Guardian). Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- Cue, Ehzra (2001-04-30). "Award-Winning UCI Author Alice Sebold Discusses Works". New University (Irvine, California: University of California, Irvine). Archived from the original on 2005-04-11.
- Darby, Ann (2002-06-17). "PW Talks with Alice Sebold". Publishers Weekly. Reed Business Information. Archived from the original on 20 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-10.[dead link]
- Eyes on the Prize- The Atlantic
- "The Book Sense Book of the Year". BookWeb. American Booksellers Association. Archived from the original on 24 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- "Past Stoker Nominees & Winners". Horror Writers Association. 2007. Archived from the original on 13 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Alice Sebold|
- Alice Sebold at the Internet Movie Database
- The Lovely Bones at the Internet Movie Database
- Meet the Writers at Barnes & Noble (includes detailed interview from the July/August 2002 issue of Book magazine)
- Interview at Powells.com
- Video clip showing the BBC interview
- The Lovely Bones reading group guide
- Lucky reading group guide