Alex Hiam’s studio is in a black barn shaded by hemlock trees and full of old paintings from his favorite time period, the late 1800s and early 1900s, so it’s no surprise that turn-of-the-Century Boston is featured in his latest magical tale for teen readers. Alex grew up in and around Boston and majored in anthropology at Harvard College, where he also wrote and illustrated articles about natural history, and won the English Department’s Arnold Prize. But the honor he is most proud of was being entrusted as a student with the key to the iron gates of Mount Auburn Cemetery, where he would let himself in at dawn on Spring mornings to study the migrating birds before the rest of Cambridge awoke. Now Alex divides his time between his studio in Amherst and a cabin in the Berkshires. His magical novels include Blood (a new spin on vampires), Silvia, Princess Silver (popular on Wattpad), and Norah and the Crow Witch (officially his role in that project is illustrator). This Spring marks the (Ingram Spark) launch of Silent Lee and the Adventure of the Side Door Key, the first in a series set in contemporary Boston and a magical side world that is a century out of date.
His large family includes daughters ranging from pre-teens into their twenties, and his strong, nontraditional female leads are written for them. He teaches Making Writing Exciting! at North Star, a learning center for self-directed teens, has taught at U Mass Amherst and has sailed the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, logging thousands of nautical miles (he plans some day to write a book about pirates). He grew up visiting his Great Grandmother in her mysterious mansion on Dartmouth Street in downtown Boston, which really was in an earlier century, and provides inspiration for some of the settings in Silent Lee. Adopted along with his twin, and the father of biracial children, his personal experiences weave thematically into his magically adventurous tales.