Laurie Schneider grew up in a small town in central Wisconsin dominated by paper mills, cranberry bogs, and corner bars. As a child she took refuge at the T.B. Scott Free Public Library, a 23-room mansion replete with dumbwaiter and carriage house, that began its life as the home of a local banker. She can still remember where the Ramona books were shelved beneath a window seat with a view of the Wisconsin River. Though she hasn’t lived there since she left for college, her writing often circles back to that town and the frigid winters and mosquito-plagued summers she thought she’d left behind.
Laurie began writing poetry in high school and continued to write and study poetry at Oberlin College, where she earned a BA in English. After graduation, she worked for nine years as an editor at UC Berkeley before leaving to get her master’s degree in American Studies at Washington State University. Her thesis–a collection of poetry focused on Jewish identity–included several poems about her great grandparents, who were part of a small group of Jewish homesteaders in central Wisconsin in the early 1900s. Years later, those poems became the inspiration for her first middle-grade novel, Gittel.
Laurie has worked as a freelance writer, editor, and photographer and is a long-time member of SCBWI. For two years she was news editor for “From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-grade Authors,” a website aimed at writers and readers of middle-grade books.
She lives in Norman, Oklahoma, with her fellow former Wisconsinite poet, professor, husband, and hiking partner Crag Hill. By day, she works as a technical services specialist at the Dulaney-Browne Library at Oklahoma City University. By night, she moonlights as a bookseller in Norman, where she is thrilled to hand-sell her favorite middle-grade books–stories that still fill her heart and take her back to that window seat overlooking the river.