Victor Martinez was born in Fresno, California on February 21, 1954. He was the fourth of twelve children in a family of migrant farm workers. He attended California State University at Fresno and Stanford University. Before becoming a full-time author, he worked as a field laborer, welder, teacher, and office clerk. He wrote culture reviews for El Tecolote and published a magazine called Dinton. His poems, short stories, and essays have appeared in several journals and anthologies. His books include Caring for a House and Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida, which won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 1996 and the Pura Belpré Award. He died of cancer on February 18, 2011 at the age of 56.