Childhood-I grew up around Ann Arbor, Michigan, although I was born in San Diego, California, in 1940. My parents were divorced when
I was small, and I lived with my mother and grandparents. Our house was just outside of town where there were fields and and woods
to roam around in. I spent a lot of time outdoors and still do. In third grade I went to a rural one-room school with no indoor plumbing.
Did I walk there, through blizzards in the winter? Absolutely! I love blizzards. That school was never closed for a snow day.
summer too, and every summer I spent weeks with my other grandparents, at their little cottage on Zuckey Lake fishing with my grandfather.
They were wonderful people, and I try to follow their example, now that I am a grandfather.When my mother remarried, a remarkable
thing happened. We moved to Shemya, Alaska, a small island in the western Aleutians where my step-Dad worked on airplanes. Here is
a picture of me at 12 on my snowshoes in front of our house. We lived there for almost two years, and I developed a life-long taste
for adventure and the North. Childhood is not always easy and mine was no exception, but I studied hard in school and was surrounded
by a caring family. Most of my books are based on the interests in nature that I developed as a kid.
College Life- I was always a student of science, and after high school I went to the University of Michigan to study chemistry. All
my friends in college, however, were artists, writers, and folk singers. (I still play guitar and lover to sing.) Associating with
them, I got the idea that it would be really wonderful to write and illustrate children's books. I loved the idea, as I was always
an amateur artist. That career would have to wait for later, as I was married young and had two kids by the time I finished my Ph.D.
at Cornell University.
The Chemist turns Writer-I had a lot of interesting jobs as a chemist: researcher, college professor, and running a drug testing lab
for race horses, but somehow chemistry wasn't right for me. And so, after a divorce, I decided to reinvent my career. Once I began
my work in children's books I never looked back. It wasn't easy to get published, but after years of rejections, things came around.
Now I use my scientific training as a writer, researcher, and lover of nature and the outdoors.
Our House- Ssoon after I began writing, I decided to build a house that would inspire my new work. I chose a spot in the woods and
used rocks and trees from the land in the structure. My friends called it the "hobbit house" as it was very tiny at first. Here is
is picture of the house in deep winter.
That was years ago. I kept adding on to the house as you can see in the photo below. The far
windows are the studio that Helen, who is also and artist, and I work in. The dormer is a sleeping loft. This is a passive solar house.
There are lots of south windows, and the painted concrete floor stores heat on sunny days. Additional heat comes from a wood stove
in the living space and a propane stove in the studio.
Ooutdoor life suits us. Here, on the edge of the Adirondack Mountains, We are out in the woods most everyday. In the winter we often
cross-country ski going past the big rock which is just down the hill from the house in the deep woods. When the snow is good we also
downhill ski at Gore Mountain and also other areas in the east. Sometimes we travel west to ski in the Rocky Mountains.
In summer we
hike, bike, and paddle our kayaks in the lakes and rivers nearby.
Work, Family, and Travel- I spend a lot of time in my studio, always trying to make my writing and illustrations better. It is a wonderful
place to work, full of light and books and art supplies.
We also travel quite a bit. Visits to see my kids and grandchildren, as well
as cousins and other relatives of both Helen and myself take us from coast to coast and sometimes to England and beyond as well. Travel
is a wonderful way to connect with other people and learn how customs and foods differ from place to place.
Research trips for my
books sometimes find me in remote places, like the tundra or the desert. I always carry a sketchbook and a small watercolor set wherever
I go. I did this sketch of mountains while traveling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alaska.
An Artist/Writer's Life- I feel most fortunate to be able to do this kind of creative work. Once when I was doing a program in a grade
school, a student asked me if I was rich. I thought a moment and then answered, "Yes, but not in the usual way, not in terms of money."
I hope you understand what I mean. A rich and varied life is about doing things you love and not about acquiring enormous wealth.
About Me-Bruce Hiscock
The short version: I am a self-trained artist and writer who studied chemistry in college winding up with PhD.
I live in the woods of eastern New York State with my wife Helen in a cozy studio/house I built myself. I have two married kids and
grandchildren, too. I absolutely love writing and illustrating nature books. To learn more than you may want to know about me, read