TOM McNEAL is a fiction writer with strong ties to the Sandhills of northwestern Nebraska, where he spent part of his childhood and where he set his first novel, Goodnight, Nebraska (Random House, 1998). His short fiction has appeared in Playboy and elsewhere. He was educated at the University of California and at Stanford University, where he was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in the creative writing program and a Jones Lecturer in Creative Writing. McNeal has always been fascinated by his mother's stories of her girlhood in a remote Nebraska town, and knew that he eventually wanted to write about this region. He spent several years in Hay Springs, Nebraska, a town even smaller than the fictional Goodnight. He lives with his wife, Laura, and their two children in Fallbrook, California. Together they have written several young adult novels. Their second, Zipped, won the 2004 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Children's Literature.