Cheryl Byrd was born on 9 June 1947 in Clarksville, Tennessee, USA, daughter of Nancy, a sales manager, and Smith Henry Byrd, a military officer. As an army brat, she has lived in Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, Kentucky, the Mississippi Gulf Coast, southern California, Great Britain, and Germany. Growing up, she changed schools ten times in twelve years. She has been an Anglophile since she discovered the Dr. Dolittle books at about the age of seven. After enduring serious frustration when she could not learn to talk to the animals, she stuck to reading and devoured the Mary Poppins series, the Borrowers, and anything else English she could find, enjoying, as she grew, many British writers including the wonderful Jane Austen and even the Bard himself. And somewhere along the way, the writing bug bit, as well.
On 2 June 1967, she married Q. J. Wasden, a sales manager. They had two children: Quinton John and Michelle Nicole, and divorced in September 1979. On 20 June 1982, she married Charles O. Zach Jr., the president of a die casting company, who died on 1990. She obtained a BA (1968) and MA (1977) in English Literature at Austin Peay State University. She worked as high school English teacher in Harrison County, MS, 1970-71; as freelance journalist, 1976-77; high school English teacher in Dyersburg, TN, 1978-82; before stopping to write full time.
As Cheryl Zach, she wrote Young Adult and romance novels, she also used the pseudonym of Jennifer Cole. So after publishing over thirty books in various genres, she was thrilled to write books. But, she loves history, most of all English history, and most wanted to write historical adventure set in the English Regency period–Jane Austen’s era. The first books as Nicole Byrd were written with her daughter Michelle Nicole Wasden Place. When Michelle became too busy with a growing family to do more than function as the world’s best critique partner, the later books were written on her own. The books in the Sinclair Family Saga have been a delight to write, and the characters have become as familiar and beloved as old friends.
Her book Benny and the No-Good Teacher was a nominee for the South Carolina Children’s Book Award and her book, The Class Trip was an International Reading Association/Children’s Book Award. Zach is the first young adult writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America’s Hall of Fame. She was also the first recipient of Young Adult Network’s Silver Diary Award. Her historical novel, Hearts Divided, won the 1996 Virginia Romance Writer’s Holt Medallion in the Young Adult category. Her articles have appeared in The Writer magazine, Children's Writer, and the Writer's Handbook. She is the current chairperson of the SCBWI Regional Advisors.