Jean Ferris, born on January 24, 1939, was an American writer of young adult literature. She was born in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, where her father was stationed at the army hospital. Her childhood was lonely at times because her family moved often. Although it took her until her adulthood to realize it, Ferris later came to realize that she had had the perfect childhood for a writer. Books became her friends and comfort, so she read often. Her favorite books in childhood were the L. Frank Baum Oz books.
Ferris did several things in childhood which helped develop her writing skills. First of all, whenever her family moved to a new location, which was often, she would listen in on other people's conversations in order to find clues to the local ways of doing things. At dusk, while she and her father drove down the streets, Ferris would also peek into the lighted windows of other people's homes as another means of learning the local ways. Additionally, Ferris kept a diary which was especially helpful for her writing. These three activities were the starting point of her stories that she initially just wrote for herself. Ferris focused on what she heard, saw, and felt. Throughout her life, she claimed to eavesdrop, peek, and keep a journal.
Because of the army life, which involved regular moving, Ferris attended three different high schools. Once she completed her childhood education, Ferris attended Stanford University where she received both a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in speech pathology and audiology. At the time it just seemed like the right thing to do. Ferris later realized that not only was she poorly suited for the work, but she also didn't enjoy it. What she didn't notice at the time was that whenever she had openings in her class schedules in college, she took English classes. Ferris also didn't take notice that she had stacks of stories. Writing had become such a habit for Ferris since the age of seven, but she had never even considered publishing her works. Finally, while in her mid-thirties, Ferris's husband commented about the numerous boxes of stories. She finally thought about publishing some of them.