Robert Cormier began writing novels for adults, but established his reputation as an author of books for young adults, earning critical acclaim with three books, each of which were named New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year: The Chocolate War (1974), I Am the Cheese (1977), and After the First Dark (1979). Cormier was born on January 17, 1925, in Leominster, Mass., where his eighth-grade teacher first discovered his ability to write. Cormier worked as a commercial writer at WTAG-Radio in Worcester, Mass. He also worked as a newspaper reporter and columnist at the Worcester Telegram and Gazette and at the Fitchburg Sentinel. Cormier received the Best Human Interest Story of the Year Award from the Associated Press of New England in 1959 and 1973. He also earned the Best Newspaper Column Award from K.R. Thomson Newspapers, Inc., in 1974. Cormier, who is sometimes inspired by news stories or family events, is known for having serious themes in his work, such as manipulation, abuse of authority, and the ordinariness of evil. These themes are also evident in many of his more than 15 books.