Author Meredith Sue Willis was born in Clarksburg on May 31, 1946. She was raised in Shinnston, where both her parents were educators. After graduating from Shinnston High School, she attended Bucknell University for two years before dropping out to become a VISTA volunteer. She later earned undergraduate and graduate degrees and became an artist-in-residence in New York public schools and in New Jersey. She was also adjunct assistant professor of creative writing at New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies.