Tamora Pierce

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Tamora Pierce
Pierce at the Boskone science fiction convention in Boston, February 2008
Pierce at the Boskone science fiction convention in Boston, February 2008
Born (1954-12-13) December 13, 1954 (age 66)
South Connellsville, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, US
GenreChildren's and young adult fantasy
Notable worksThe Song of the Lioness
Notable awardsMargaret A. Edwards Award

Tamora Pierce (born December 13, 1954) is an American writer of fantasy fiction for teenagers, known best for stories featuring young heroines. She made a name for herself with her first book series, The Song of the Lioness (1983–1988), which followed the main character Alanna through the trials and triumphs of training as a knight.

Pierce won the Margaret A. Edwards Award from the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the American Library Association in 2013, citing her two quartets Song of the Lioness and Protector of the Small (1999–2002). The annual award recognizes one writer and a particular body of work for "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature".[1]

Pierce's books have been translated into twenty languages.[2][3][4]


Pierce was born in South Connellsville, Pennsylvania in Fayette County, on December 13, 1954. Her mother wanted to name her "Tamara" but the nurse who filled out her birth certificate misspelled it as "Tamora".[5] When she was five, her sister Kimberly (on whom she based Alanna)[6] was born and a year later her second sister, Melanie, was born. From the time she was five until she was eight, she lived in Dunbar. In June 1963 she and her family moved to California. They first lived in San Mateo on El Camino Real and then moved to the other side of the San Francisco Peninsula, in Miramar. They lived in Miramar for half a year, in El Granada a full year, and then three years in Burlingame.

She began reading when she was very young and started writing when she was in the sixth grade. Her interest in fantasy and science fiction began when she was introduced to J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and so she started to write the kind of books that she was reading. After her parents divorced, her mother moved her and her sisters back to Fayette County in 1969, where she spent two years at Albert Gallatin Senior High. When her family moved again, she spent her senior year at Uniontown Area Senior High School, acting, singing, and writing for the school paper. She is an alumna of the University of Pennsylvania.

While at Penn she wrote the books that became The Song of the Lioness quartet. The first book of this quartet, Alanna: The First Adventure was published by Atheneum Books in 1983.

Pierce lived with her husband Tim Liebe (Spouse-Creature) in New York City, with their four cats and multiple other pets, until they moved to Syracuse, New York.[7]

In 2008, she donated her archive to the department of Rare Books and Special Collections at Northern Illinois University.[8][9]

Writing process[edit]

On her homepage, Pierce states she gets most ideas from things she stumbles upon. Her concept of magic as a tapestry of threads comes from her experiences in crocheting, and in her world, all mages are somehow based on British naturalist David Attenborough after watching his nature documentaries. Fantasy novels and Arthurian legend were the base of the worlds she thought up as a girl, and later she added contemporary issues like youth crime and cholera outbreaks in Africa. In general, Pierce states: "The best way to prepare to have ideas when you need them is to listen to and encourage your obsessions."[10][11]

Pierce draws on elements of people and animals around her for inspiration. The character of Alanna is loosely based on Pierce's sister.[12] Thayet's appearance is based on a friend of Pierce's. Beka's pigeon friends in Provost's Dog are all based on actual pigeons of Pierce's acquaintance.[13]

Tamora Pierce first started writing to escape from the drama of her parents' divorce. She wrote fan fiction based on her favorite stories, imitating them closely.[12] Pierce says she decided to write her stories about strong female characters because she noticed a lack of them in the books she read when she was young.[14]

Selected awards[edit]

The Circle of Magic Series – Nomination for the 2000 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature

Lady Knight – 7th place for the 2003 Locus Best Young Adult Novel

Trickster's Choice – 7th place for the 2004 Locus Best Young Adult Book

Mastiff – 12th place for the 2012 Locus Best Young Adult Book

Beka Cooper series – Nomination for the 2012 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature

Won – 2005 Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction - Skylark


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Edwards Award 2013" Archived 2017-03-24 at the Wayback Machine. Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). American Library Association (ALA).
      "Edwards Award" Archived 2012-04-05 at the Wayback Machine. YALSA. ALA. Retrieved 2015-02-08.
  2. ^ "Search results for 'Tamora Pierce' > 'Book'". WorldCat.
  3. ^ "Pierce, Tamora". Index Translationum. UNESCO.
  4. ^ "Tamora Pierce". Goodreads.
  5. ^ Pierce, Tamora. "Tamora Pierce Biography". Tamora Pierce: Author of Young Adult Fantasy. Tamora Pierce. Archived from the original on 5 October 2014. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  6. ^ Bonnie Kunzel & Susan Fichtelberg Tamora Pierce: A Student Companion, Hardcover, Greenwood Press, 2007
  7. ^ Pierce, Tamora. "Acknowledgments." Bloodhound: Beka Cooper Book Two. New York: Random House Children's Books (2009). p 551.
  8. ^ "Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) Collection". Northern Illinois University. Archived from the original on 2011-07-20.
  9. ^ "Tamora Pierce Papers, 2006-2017". Northern Illinois University.
  10. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions - Tamora Pierce". tamora-pierce.com. Archived from the original on 20 April 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Book Buzz". readergirlz. December 2009. Archived from the original on 2016-07-30. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  12. ^ a b Pierce, Tamora. "Tamora Pierce Biography". Archived from the original on 2013-06-13. Retrieved 2013-08-15.
  13. ^ Pierce, Tamora (2006). Terrier. New York: Random House. ISBN 9781439518830.
  14. ^ Kacelnik, Chally (27 December 2010). "Iconography: Tamora Pierce and All the Feminist Fantasy Heroines You Could Want". bitch. bitch media. Retrieved 2019-12-16.

Other sources[edit]

External links[edit]