Bradley Steffens (1955–) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1955, in Waterloo, IA; Education: Attended Macalester College (St. Paul, MN), 1973–74. Religion: Lutheran. Hobbies and other interests: Racquetball, golf, aerobics.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, KidHaven Press, 15822 Bernardo Center Dr., Ste. C, San Diego, CA 92127.
Deluxe Check Printers, Inc., St. Paul, MN, copywriter, 1982–87; Gelbach Lee, St. Paul, copywriter, 1987–88; Mitchell International, San Diego, CA, copywriter, 1989–94. San Diego Book Awards Association, member of board and chairperson, 2000, president, 2004–.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Contemporary Writers Series awards, Depot Arts Center (Duluth, MN), 1985, 1987; winner of Emerging Voices competition, The Loft (Minneapolis, MN), 1987; poetry prizes from Artemis, New Worlds Unlimited, St. Paul Chapter of American Association of University Women, and White Bears Arts Council.
(With Harry Nickelson) Vietnam, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 1989.
(With James House) The San Francisco Earthquake, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 1989.
Working Mothers, Greenhaven Press (San Diego, CA), 1989.
Animal Rights, Greenhaven Press (San Diego, CA), 1989.
Printing Press: Ideas into Type, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 1990.
The Children's Crusade, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 1991.
Photography: Preserving the Past, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 1991.
Free Speech: Identifying Propaganda Techniques, Greenhaven Press (San Diego, CA), 1992.
Phonograph: Sound on Disk, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 1992.
The Fall of the Roman Empire, Greenhaven Press (San Diego, CA), 1994.
Addiction: Distinguishing between Fact and Opinion, Greenhaven Press (San Diego, CA), 1994.
Censorship, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 1994.
Loch Ness Monster, Greenhaven Press, 1995.
Censorship, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 1996.
Emily Dickinson, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 1998.
(With Robyn M. Weaver) Cartoonists, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2000.
(With Dan Woog) Jesse Jackson, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2000.
(With Diane Saenger) Life as a POW, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2001.
Furman v. Georgia: Fairness and the Death Penalty, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2001.
Understanding Of Mice and Men, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2002.
J.K. Rowling, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2002.
(With Craig L. Staples) The Trial of Charles Manson: California Cult Murders, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2002.
(Editor) The Free Speech Movement, Greenhaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2004.
Giants, KidHaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2005.
(With Don Nardo) Cyclops, KidHaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2005.
Pageant of the Masters (radio play), produced in Minneapolis, MN, 1979.
Last Stand, produced in Minneapolis, MN, 1979.
Virodha-Bhakti: A Sequence of Pageants, produced in Minneapolis, MN, 1980.
The Cursing of the Fig Tree, produced in Minneapolis, MN, 1982.
Contributor of poetry to periodicals, including Crosscurrents, Bellingham Review, Stone Country, Bellowing Ark, and Loonfeather. Contributor of commentaries and opinion pieces to periodicals, including Los Angeles Times, Minnesota Literature, and San Diego Writer's Monthly.
A former copywriter who also authored plays early in his career, Bradley Steffens has penned a number of nonfiction titles for young readers, his books ranging from a discussion of John Steinbeck's well-known novel Of Mice and Men and biographies of Emily Dickinson and Jesse Jackson to several volumes in KidHaven Press's "Monster" series. Cartoonists, which Steffens co-authored with Robyn M. Weaver, is part of Lucent's "History Makers" series. The book begins by providing readers with an in-depth history of cartoon art that includes discussions of the work of six high-profile artists: Charles Schulz, Chuck Jones, Garry Trudeau, Cathy Guisewite, Matt Groening, and Scott Adams. "The writing is clear, unbiased, and interesting," commented Linda Wadleigh in School Library Journal, adding that Cartooning will likely inspire young readers to search out the works of "some of their favorite cartoonists."
Steffens contributes the volumes Cyclops and The Loch Ness Monster to the 'Monsters' series, which is designed to appeal particularly to middle-grade reluctant readers. The series, which seeks to educate readers on the mythology and history surrounding the origins of legendary creatures, explores literature, folklore and myth, toys, and most importantly, modern film to trace each creature's impact on human society. Discussing the series as a whole, Ginny Gustin praised the "Monsters" books as "clearly written and contain[ing] fascinating information that will satisfy both casual browsers and serious report writers." A monster of a different sort is the focus of The Trial of Charles Manson: California Cult Murders, which Steffens coauthored with Craig L. Staples. This examination of one of the most high-profile murder cases of the twentieth century—the Tate/LaBianca murders of 1969—includes trial excerpts, photographs, and a backdrop to the crime, victims, and murderers in a volume that School Library Journal reviewer Tracy Ansley cited as "useful to students writing reports as well as those interested in famous cases."
Steffens once told SATA: "I first thought about being a writer in eleventh grade. My creative writing teacher, James Malone, told our class to write something about the automobile culture of Los Angeles, where we lived. It could be anything, Malone said—an essay, a poem, a short story, the first chapter of a novel. Wanting to avoid homework, I dashed off a twenty-line poem in class and turned it in. The next day, Malone sat on the corner of his desk with a piece of paper in his hand. 'Someone has turned in the first assignment,' he said, 'and I want to share it with you.' He began to read my poem aloud. A trained actor, he read with sensitivity and passion. When he finished, the room was silent. He looked up from the page. 'That, boys and girls, is poetry,' he said. He walked over to my desk and laid the paper in front of me. 'Publish it this semester, and I'll give you an "A" in the course,' he promised. 'You won't have to do another thing.'
"That morning changed my life. I changed my high school major. I changed the college I planned to attend. I began to write in earnest. I sent the poem out, and kept sending it out after it was rejected. Two years later, that poem, 'Automobile,' was accepted by the editor of River Bottom, a small literary journal published in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. After that, I never considered doing anything but writing."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, February 15, 1995, Merri Monks, review of The Loch Ness Monster, p. 1074; February 15, 1996, Hazel Rochman, review of Censorship, p. 1004.
School Library Journal, May, 1992, p. 128; May, 1993, p. 135; February, 1995, Elaine E. Knight, review of The Loch Ness Monster, p. 102; June, 1998, Kate Foldy, review of Emily Dickinson, p. 170; August, 2000, Linda Wadleigh, review of Cartoonists, p. 208; September, 2002, Tracy Ansley, review of The Trials of Charles Manson: California Cult Murders, p. 252; October, 2002, Kathleen Simonetta, review of J.K. Rowling, p. 194; February, 2005, Carol Fazioli, review of The Free Speech Movement, p. 153; April, 2005, Ginny Gustin, review of Cyclops, p. 144.
LocalAuthors.com, http://www.localauthors.com/ (November 6, 2005), "Bradley Steffens."
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