Terry McMillan was born in Port Huron, Mich., in 1951. She discovered the world of books while working as a shelver at the local library. She received a Bachelor's in Journalism form the University of California, Berkeley, studied film at Columbia University, and enrolled in the Harlem Writer's Guild. After overcoming a substance-abuse problem in the early 1980's, she became an associate professor at the University of Arizona. She was a judge for the National Book Award for Fiction in 1990. McMillan's books include "Disappearing Acts," "Mama," "Waiting to Exhale," and "How Stella Got Her Groove Back;" the latter two were adapted as major motion pictures.
Writer John Edgar Wideman was born in Washington, D. C., on June 14, 1941. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, studied at Oxford University, and was the second African American to become a Rhodes Scholar. He taught at the University of Pennsylvania and eventually founded and chaired the African American studies department. He also taught at the University of Wyoming and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Wideman is the author of more than a dozen books. Sent for You Yesterday won a PEN/Faulkner Award in 1984, and Philadelphia Fire received one a decade later. Fatheralong was a finalist for the National Book Award (1994) and Brothers and Keepers was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award (1995).