In addition to all the reading she was doing, she began writing in elementary school - everything from writing her own stuff to scribbling down bits and pieces of jokes and conversations and other things she overheard. "Writing down what people say," she says, "is a great way to learn what they might say, if you wanted them to."
Later, she became a lawyer, got married, and worked as a public defender, but still wrote stories as time allowed. By the time she had had her second son, Ms Stead's writing time became severely curtailed.
Then one day, she says, she "read a wonderful newspaper article about a scientist who studies climate change by camping out in the arctic each summer and watching birds." Shortly after that, her younger son accidentally pushed her laptop off of the dining room table, and in one fell swoop, she lost all of the short stories saved on it that she had been working on for years. And so, between the article and the accident, she found a spark for writing something new, and that something eventually became her first novel, First Light. Mrs. Stead alternated between writing the book and doing research for it, until completion. First Light was published in 2007, and her latest novel, When You Reach Me, came out in July 2009.
Rebecca Stead still lives in New York City, in the same Manhattan neighborhood she grew up in, with her husband and two sons.