Beck McDowell is a YA author with emphasis on the Adult in Young Adult. She loves intelligent books with strong plots and quirky characters written in simple, creative language. Her young adult thriller THIS IS NOT A DRILL (Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin, 2012) tells the story of two teens who must protect the first graders they tutor when a soldier, returned from Iraq and suffering from PTSD, opens fire in the classroom when not allowed to check out his son.
Her non-fiction work, LAST BUS OUT, is the story of Courtney Miles, who stole a bus after Hurricane Katrina, and drove over 300 people to safety.
Beck is a former National Board Certified middle and high school AP English teacher who's sponsored newspapers, literary magazines, Shakespeare festivals, medieval banquets, book fairs, art exhibits, and trips to museums, operas and plays. Together, she and her students built the website www.notrequiredreading.com to share their reviews and book trailers - and a 14 foot round table for their class discussions. After years of taking students to Europe on summer trips (oh, the stories!), she now travels most often to New Orleans, her hometown. She loves keeping up with her 3000 former students on Facebook and Twitter - and chatting with them over coffee (not all of them at once) about life and love and literature.
Beck's love affair with books started at an early age. Today she reads tree books and e-books, blogs and websites, interviews and essays, fiction and non – on the porch, at the beach, in bed, on planes, at the library, in coffee shops, and on the couch. She has been known to read aloud to anyone who sits still long enough for her to share an amazing phrase she's found. Be forewarned.
Although she wrote poems at age eight (pretty terrible ones) and was on the staff of her high school and college newspapers, she didn't begin writing seriously until 2006. Writing creatively late at night was her way of winding down after teaching all day.
Beck lives in Huntsville, Alabama with her lawyer husband, David; her two adult children, Emily and Drew, also live there. She's not a fan of routine so she writes anywhere from two hours a day to fourteen hours, sometimes in pajamas (but occasionally in pearls,) usually in the morning, but now and then all night. Beck loves being allowed to "pay it forward" in honor of favorite writers who hooked her on reading at a young age. She values the process of writing above any product; time spent learning to do something well is never wasted.