Once, a publisher asked me to write a biography of Gary Paulsen. I wasn't sure how to go about it; how to contact him. And because there was very little already written about him, I had no resources to draw from. At that point computers were white letters on a blue screen or black letters on a green screen and the internet was just being organized - just words, no pages, no pictures. So I went on to other projects.
But today you can read his life story as written by himself.
Gone to the Woods, Surviving a Lost Childhood (NY: Farrar Straus Giroux publisher) is the autobiography you should read. Full of grit and growing up, this tale tells how he practically raised himself because his parents were drunks. And he tells it like an adventure tale, even referring to himself as 'the boy.'
He preferred to be in the woods or working on someone else's farm and kept running away from home. From school. Finally, when he was a teen, he discovered that libraries were warm places to lurk in. Then -- the librarian gave him a book. He couldn't read well, but the librarian gave him more books and he became a person who devoured books. And then -- the librarian gave him a notebook and he wrote a story.