Libba Bray (born Martha Elizabeth Bray; March 11, 1964) is an American writer of young adult novels including the Gemma Doyle Trilogy, Going Bovine, and The Diviners.
She lived in Texas until she was 26 years old. After that she moved to New York City, where she now lives with her husband and fifteen-year-old son. Her father was a preacher and her mother, a teacher. In her autobiography on her official site she states:
“My dad was a Presbyterian minister. Yes, I am one of those dreaded P.K.s-Preacher's Kids. Be afraid. Be very afraid…”
Life and career
Bray was born in Montgomery, Alabama. She and her family moved to West Virginia for a brief period, then to Corpus Christi, Texas and finally Denton, Texas, where Bray attended high school. At the age of eighteen, three weeks after graduating high school, Bray was involved in a serious car accident. She had to undergo thirteen surgeries over six years to reconstruct her face, and has an artificial left eye because of the accident.
Bray graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1988 as a Theatre major. As a budding playwright, she felt it important to be in New York City. When her childhood best friend, already living in Manhattan, called saying she was looking for a roommate, Bray was soon on her way to New York. Her first job was in the publicity department of Penguin Putnam, followed by three years at Spier, an advertising agency specializing in book advertising.
Bray was encouraged to write a young adult novel by her husband, Barry Goldblatt, a children's book agent and Ginee Seo, an editor at Simon & Schuster. Before this, using a pseudonym, she had written three books for 17th Street Press (a publisher of romances).
Her first novel, A Great and Terrible Beauty became a New York Times bestseller. In November 2006, a video promoting the book was a part of The Book Standard's Teen Book Video Awards. She wrote two more books to finish the trilogy she had started with A Great and Terrible Beauty: Rebel Angels and The Sweet Far Thing.
Libba is friends with many young adult authors such as John Green and Maureen Johnson. Bray is also good friends with fellow YA fantasy authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare; all of them are represented by Bray's husband, a literary agent.
Going Bovine was published by Delacorte in 2009 and won the annual Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association recognizing literary excellence in young adult literature. It is a dark comedy about a 16-year-old boy named Cameron who has mad cow disease and a 16-year-old dwarf named Gonzo whom he met in the hospital. Gonzo is a video gamer who thinks that everything is trying to kill him. Cameron has visitation from a punkish angel named Dulcie who has a propensity for spray-painting her wings. They are all on a mission to cure Cameron's mad cow disease.
Beauty Queens, about a group of beauty pageant contestants whose plane crashes on an island, was published by Scholastic Press on May 24, 2011.
Bray's newest novel, The Diviners, was published on September 18, 2012. It centers around Evie O'Neill, a seventeen-year-old with a special power who has been sent to live with her uncle in New York City in 1926. The sequel, Lair of Dreams, was released in August 2015.