"One of the things that helps to create a writer is to be a lonely child -- the younger the better -- so that one learns to be alone and to amuse oneself in solitude." These words by Helen Mary Hoover offer some insight into the science fiction writer's life, and what made her into the writer she is today.
Born in Stark County, Ohio, Hoover spent her childhood in a generations-old family farmhouse overflowing with books. Both her mother, Sadie Hoover, and her father, Edward Hoover, were school teachers and "amateur naturalists," and passed on to Hoover (and her three siblings) a love of books, a respect for nature, and a fear for the future of our planet. The latter two would become recurring themes in her future books.
Hoover attended the local public school, but soon found herself bored with the elementary-level curriculum. "I slowly decided that if people's first exposure to reading was Dick and Jane, it was probable that for the rest of their lives, the very sight of a book might induce anxiety and the mad urge to cry 'Run, Self! Run! Run!'"
She felt much more challenged in high school -- both socially, because she was overweight, and academically, because she actually had to pay attention in class and do her homework to maintain good grades.
Hoover took an office job after graduation at a Canton, Ohio steel company, then another near the campus of Mount Union College in Alliance, where she began to work toward a college degree. Mid-coursework, though, she took off on a whim to Los Angeles, where she entered nursing school in 1956. Six months later, she realized her "total unsuitability for the profession," dropped out, found another job, and resumed college coursework at Los Angeles City College.
Two years later, wanderlust struck again; this time Hoover found her way to New York. There, she held numerous office positions -- none of which particularly interested her -- until, in 1969, she decided to ditch traditional jobs and pursue a career in writing. She gave herself four years in which to succeed. As luck would have it, getting published took Hoover every single day.
Finally, in 1973, Hoover received word that her first book, a juvenile science fiction tale entitled Children of Morrow, was to be published. A point of interest -- Hoover changed her pen name to H.M. Hoover before Children came out because there was already a children's author named Helen Hoover.
Hoover's second book, The Lion's Cub, was a children's historical fiction novel - the story of an 1800s Muslim boy living in Russia during a holy war. Though she did write other books in the historical fiction genre, Hoover found it easier to stick to fantasy. "Writing science fiction is far easier than writing historical fiction. You can make up your own world, your own self-authenticated details, and so long as you stay true to yourself, no one can contradict you." As a result, the majority of the twenty books Hoover has written are science fiction; all are children's titles. Hoover creates sympathetic characters in her books and a frequent theme in Hoover's work is maintaining an open mind in the presence of what is misunderstood.
Over the course of her twenty-three-year career as a writer, H.M. Hoover has won eight awards for her writing, including three Best Book for Young Adult designations from the American Library Association and two Parent's Choice Honor Awards. Another Heaven, Another Earth received the Ohioana Award in 1982.
H.M. Hoover currently lives in Burke, Virginia. Her last published work was The Whole Truth - And Other Myths: Retelling Ancient Tales, in 1996.