Ceil Cleveland grew up in the tiny town of Archer City (pop. 1,400), a wind-blown speck on the West Texas plains. Daughter of a rancher and a teacher, she became a sunburned book nerd, having little else to occupy her. She entered North Texas University as a voice and drama major, switching after two years to English and creative writing. She took the B.A. degree from Whitworth College in Washington state and returned to Texas for the M.A. in English at Midwestern University. Later she studied graphic arts at the University of Cincinnati and studied in the Writing Program at Columbia University.
Now an English and writing professor (for the past eight years at New York University), she spent ten years at Columbia as chief editor of Columbia Magazine, then a half dozen years as vice president for communications at Queens College and the University at Stony Brook. She recently (2004) moved to the Research Triangle of North Carolina to write full time.
Actually, she had been writing what most sane people would call "full time" all along. Requiring little sleep, she had been writing in the dark all these years when normal people were snoozing and not using up the good ideas in the air. She has written six books and edited two, along with two journals. She has also contributed more than one-hundred freelance articles to publications as diverse as Redbook and House Beautiful and The Journal of Behavioral Psychology and Readings for the Aspen Institute.
Unfortunately, Ceil's books are diverse, too, making her hard for agents and book publishers to pigeon-hole. She has written fiction, memoir, nonfiction, and academic/pedagogical books. She says she wishes she sometimes didn't get interested in so many things, so she could stick to one genre. But she is impossible, as her husband Jerry Footlick, also a writer, is fond of telling her. Together she and Jerry, a former editor of Newsweek magazine, have five grown (finally!) and brilliant (of course) children.