Tracey Dils never had a hard time deciding what she wanted to be when she grew up: "I decided to become a writer when I was only in third grade." That decision, paired with winning a national creative writing contest and being published twice in high school, helped seal the deal. "Seeing my name in print inspired me even further. It wasn't so much because it helped my ego, although that was a part of it. It was the idea that I had created something that would remain and be part of the world long after I was gone."
Dils was born in Cincinnati and raised in Granville, Ohio; her father was a doctor, her mother a homemaker. Like so many female writers, Tracey Dils says Louisa May Alcott (Little Women) was her inspiration.
A 1980 graduate of the College of Wooster, Dils' first jobs out of college were as editors for two Columbus, Ohio-based publishing companies. Two years after her 1984 marriage to chemist Richard Herrold, Dils' life took a fateful turn when she accepted a job at Willowisp Press, a children's book publisher in Worthington, Ohio. That job, paired with the birth of her first child, helped Dils realize her true calling -- that of a children's author: "Children's writers have the power to influence young minds and, most importantly, to create a new generation of lifelong readers."
Before leaving Willowisp in 1990 for a marketing position at The Ohio State University Press, Dils published her first children's book, Words, Words, Words, in 1988. Every year after, for the next four years, Dils published one or two more. By 1992, she had seven juvenile fiction books under her cap.
With the publication of a 1992 book about George Washington, Dils ventured into factual and biographical accounts for children as well; future titles in this genre would include books about coral reefs, Mother Theresa, the critically acclaimed actor Samuel L. Jackson, and the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.
By 1993, Dils was established enough as an author to quit her job at The Ohio State University and venture into teaching, consulting, and guest lectures; she has served as an instructor for seven different writers' conferences and conventions, she lectures at elementary schools, and she has served as a faculty member at the Institute of Children's Literature and as a consultant for Guideposts for Kids magazine. She also directs her own company, A Writer's Place, as well.
To date, Dils has published thirteen books; two more are currently in progress. Tracey Dils lives in Upper Arlington, Ohio with her husband and two children.