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 68)
South Connellsville, Pennsylvania, U.S.
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]

Early life and education[edit]

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 in Philadelphia.


While at the University of Pennsylvania, Pierce 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]

Pierce was also actively involved in moderating and discussing her novels on a message board called Sheroes Central from about 2001-2006, at which point it was acquired by a third party. [10][11][12][13][14]

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."[15][16]

Pierce draws on elements of people and animals around her for inspiration. The character of Alanna is loosely based on Pierce's sister.[17] 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.[18]

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.[17] 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.[19]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Nominee/Work Category Result Ref
2011 Goodreads Choice Awards Mastiff Best Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction Nominated [20]
2003 Locus Award Lady Knight Best Young Adult Book Nominated[21]
2004 Trickster's Choice Nominated[22]
2012 Mastiff Nominated[23]
2013 Margaret Edwards Award The Song of the Lioness Series Won [24]
Protector of the Small Series Won
2000 Mythopoeic Awards Circle of Magic Series Best Fantasy Series Nominated [25]
2012 Beka Cooper Series Nominated
2005 Skylark Award Tamora Pierce Won [25]


Year-end lists
Year Publication Work Category Result Ref
2012 NPR Circle of Magic Series 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels 86 [26]
The Immortals Series 83
Trickster's Choice Duology 81
The Song of the Lioness Series 50
2018 Paste Trickster's Queen The 50 Best Fantasy Books of the 21st Century (So Far) 17 [27]
2019 Trickster's Choice Duology 10 Exceptional Audiobooks Written and Narrated by Women 4 [28]
2020 Time Alanna: The First Adventure 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time [29]


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. ^ "Sheroes Central - Women Heroes in Real Life and Fiction". web.archive.org. 2001-08-14. Archived from the original on 2001-08-14. Retrieved 2022-12-27.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  11. ^ "Sheroes Central Home Page". web.archive.org. 2001-07-02. Archived from the original on 2001-07-02. Retrieved 2022-12-27.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  12. ^ "Welcome to Sheroes!". web.archive.org. 2011-07-20. Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2022-12-27.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  13. ^ Francis, Madeleine. "Links". Tamora Pierce. Retrieved 2022-12-27.
  14. ^ Rosenberg, Alyssa (2011-06-03). "Tamora Pierce on 'Twilight,' Girl Heroes, and Fantasy Birth Control". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2022-12-27.
  15. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions - Tamora Pierce". tamora-pierce.com. Archived from the original on 20 April 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Book Buzz". readergirlz. December 2009. Archived from the original on 2016-07-30. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  17. ^ a b Pierce, Tamora. "Tamora Pierce Biography". Archived from the original on 2013-06-13. Retrieved 2013-08-15.
  18. ^ Pierce, Tamora (2006). Terrier. New York: Random House. ISBN 9781439518830.
  19. ^ Kacelnik, Chally (27 December 2010). "Iconography: Tamora Pierce and All the Feminist Fantasy Heroines You Could Want". bitch. bitch media. Retrieved 2019-12-16.
  20. ^ "Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction". Goodreads. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  21. ^ https://www.sfadb.com/Locus_Awards_2003
  22. ^ https://www.sfadb.com/Locus_Awards_2004
  23. ^ https://www.sfadb.com/Locus_Awards_2012
  24. ^ "Edwards Award 2013". alga. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  25. ^ a b "Tamora Pierce: Lit by Fire". 13 July 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  26. ^ "our Favorites: 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels". NPR. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  27. ^ Jackson et all, Josh (11 April 2018). "The 50 Best Fantasy Books of the 21st Century (So Far)". Paste. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  28. ^ Gunderson, Alexis (21 March 2019). "10 Exceptional Audiobooks Written and Narrated by Women". Paste. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  29. ^ "100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time". Time. Retrieved 13 October 2021.

Other sources[edit]

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