Gary Paulsen was born May 17, 1939 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is best known for writing novels about the wilderness and "coming of age" of his characters.
Paulsen has a sister, Paulette, and a half-brother Bill. Paulsen didn't meet his father until he was seven and spent most of his childhood being raised by his grandmother, aunts and other relatives. Paulsen has been married twice and has three children, Lance, Lynn, and James.
Paulsen, liked both of his parents, dealt with alcoholism early on in his adult life and was in poverty for awhile, as well. He struggled as a writer for many years before becoming successful.
An interest of Paulsen's was dog sledding. In 1983, he entered a 1,150-mile dog sledding race and finished it in 17 days, 12 hours, 38 minutes and 38 seconds, good for 41st place out of 56. Paulsen had to give up dog sledding after a battle with heart disease, in 1990. He called this "the difficult decisions his has ever made."
Paulsen typically writes realistic fiction novels, although he has written an autobiography, as well. A few of his most popular books are The Hatchet, Brian's Winter, and Brian's Return. The theme for these books is classified as "Man vs. Nature".
The Hatchet is about a teenager, named Brian Robeson, that was in a plane crash and basically left for dead, alone, in the wilderness. He is able to hunt for his own food, whether it is berries or fish. After almost two months he is rescued by a helicopter and returned home. He had lost about 17% of his body fat, an extraordinary amount.
Brian's Return is about returning to the wilderness after realizing that being back with humanity wasn't the right fit for him.