• Where—Newark, New Jersey, USA
• Education—B.A., Bryn Mawr College; M.F.A, Sarah
• Awards—several philanthropical (below)
• Currently—lives in Wilmington, Delaware
Rachel Simon is an American author of both fiction and non-fiction. Her six books include the 2011 novel The Story of Beautiful Girl and the 2002 memoir Riding The Bus With My Sister. Her work has been adapted for film, television, radio, and stage.
Simon was born in New Jersey and spent most of her first sixteen years in the New Jersey towns of Newark, Millburn, Irvington, and Succasunna. During that time, she began writing short stories and novels, which she shared widely with friends and teachers but never submitted to editors. When Rachel was eight, her parents split up. She and her three siblings remained with their mother for eight years, and then moved to Easton, Pennsylvania to live with their father, with Rachel also becoming a boarding student at Solebury School in New Hope, PA.
Rachel studied anthropology at Bryn Mawr College and graduated in 1981. She then moved to the Philadelphia area and worked at a variety of jobs, including supervisor of researchers for a television study at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 1988.
Just before graduating, she won the Writers At Work short story contest, and when she attended the Writers At Work conference that June in Park City, Utah, she decided to be more courageous than she’d been as a teenager. She brought multiple copies of a collection of short stories, Little Nightmares, Little Dreams, that she’d just completed and handed them to every agent and editor who was interested. An editor from Houghton Mifflin bought the manuscript six weeks later and published it to critical acclaim in 1990.
Until 2011, when The Story of Beautiful Girl was published, Rachel Simon was best known for her memoir, Riding The Bus With My Sister (2002). A national bestseller, it became a seminal book in the disability community and a frequent selection on high school reading lists. It was also adapted for a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie in 2005 and has been rebroadcast frequently on the Hallmark Channel. The film stars Rosie O' Donnell as Rachel’s sister Beth and Andie McDowell as Rachel, and was directed by Anjelica Huston.
The success of the book and adaptation of Riding The Bus With my Sister led to Rachel becoming a widely sought-after speaker around the country. The book has also received numerous awards, including a Secretary Tommy G. Thompson Recognition Award for Contributions to the Field of Disability from the US Department of Health and Human Services; a TASH Image Award for positive portrayals of people with disabilities; and a Media Access Award from California Governor's Committee for Employment of People with Disabilities.
Other adaptations of Rachel Simon’s work include the title story from Little Nightmares, Little Dreams (1990), which has been adapted for both the National Public Radio program Selected Shorts, and the Lifetime program “The Hidden Room.” Another story from that collection, “Paint,” was adapted for the stage by the Arden Theatre Company (Philadelphia).
Rachel’s other titles are the novel The Magic Touch (Viking, 1994), the memoir The House on Teacher's Lane (2010); and an inspirational book for writers, The Writer's Survival Guide (1997). She has received creative writing fellowships from the Delaware Division of the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, and the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation.
She is married to Hal Dean, an architect whom she met shortly after she graduated from college. Their highly unusual, nineteen-year-long path to marriage, is recounted in The House On Teacher’s Lane. They now live in Wilmington, Delaware. Rachel visits frequently with her sister Beth, whose love of bus riding is chronicled in Riding The Bus With My Sister, and who does still ride the buses. (From Wikipedia.)
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