22 March 2009

Marijane Meaker


"I was very much formed by books when I was young. I was a bookworm and a poetry lover. I think of myself, and what I would have liked to have found in books those many years ago. I remember being depressed by all those neatly tied-up, happy-ending stories, the abundance of winners, the themes of winning, solving, finding -- when around me it didn't seem that easy. So I write with a different feeling when I write for young adults. I guess I write for myself at that age."

Marijane Meaker was born in Auburn. She received her undergraduate education at the University of Missouri. She then moved to New York City and sold her first story to Ladies' Home Journal in 1951. As M.J. Meaker, she wrote Hometown, a novel set in "Cayuta," a small city in the Finger Lakes region whose street names, people and other attributes comprised a thinly-disguised portrait of the author's native city.

Under the pseudonym Vin Packer, she published a series of "pulp fiction" paperback novels. Among them was Girl on the Bestseller List, also set in "Cayuta," which tells the story of a young woman who is murdered after writing a thinly-veiled novel about her hometown. In 1990, Meaker permitted that novel to be reprinted as a fundraiser for The Cayuga Museum, and in that year she was the featured speaker at the museum's annual dinner.

Her books for young adult readers have been published under the pseudonym M.E. Kerr. the first of these, Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack! (1972) met with critical and popular success and was adapted into an ABC-TV "Afterschool Special." It was followed by Gentlehands (1972), If I Love You, Am I Trapped Forever? (1973), The Son of Someone Famous (1974), Is That You, Miss Blue? (1975), Love Is a Missing Person (1975), I'll Love You When You're More Like Me (1977), Little Little (1981), What I Really Think of You (1982), Me Me Me Me Me: Not a Novel (1983), Him She Loves? (1984), I Stay Near You (1985), Night Kites (1986).

As Mary James, she has published works for children, including Shoebag.

Meaker resides in East Hampton.

For Further Research

Aileen Pace Nielsen, Presenting M.E. Kerr, Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1986.