Harper Lee was born and raised in Monroeville, the inspiration for the fictional town of Maycomb in her classic novel. The Monroe County Courthouse, where Lee watched her father practice law as a child, currently operates as a museum.
The University of Alabama alumna lived in Monroeville, just a short drive from the Mockingbird Grill and Radley's Fountain Grille, until her death in 2016.
In her memoir, Jeannette Walls examines her struggles in her youth to overcome poverty and become self-sufficient. Her family moved like nomads across the Southwest, but the first place she remembers living is a small trailer park in Arizona.
A veteran of "writing what she knows," Walls also published a biography of her grandmother, an iron-willed Arizona cattle rancher, titled "Half Broke Horses."
California's most treasured author, John Steinbeck captured the beauty and (at times) unforgiving nature of the Golden State in his novels "The Grapes of Wrath," "East of Eden," "Cannery Row," and "Tortilla Flat." The Salinas native attended Stanford University.
Considered a founding father of the counter-culture movement of the 1960s, Ken Kesey was born in La Junta, Colorado, to dairy farmers. His works promoted drug use as a path to individual liberation and bridged the beatnik and hippy generations.
Christopher Castellani is a proud product of Wilmington's Little Italy neighborhood. His father's journey emigrating from Italy and pursuing the American Dream on the East Coast inspired the events in Castellani's trilogy.
The protagonist, a young woman who faces the challenges of a 1950s immigrant, learns that the city of Wilmington will be enough for her small family.
Carl Hiaasen is a New York Times best-selling author who has mastered both the mystery thriller and children's books genres. He graduated from the University of Florida and has written for The Miami Herald since he was 23 years old. His column still regularly appears in the opinion section.
His most popular books, including "Hoot," "Flush," "Tourist Season," "Skin Tight," "Strip Tease," and "Skinny Dip," take place in Florida.
Flannery O'Connor shuttled between Savannah and Milledgeville, Georgia, as a child. When she was diagnosed with lupus in her 20s, she returned to Andalusia, the family's farm. She spent her remaining years writing two novels and dozens of short stories, known for their grotesque characters, regional settings, and low humor.
Armine Von Tempski grew up on a cattle ranch on the slopes of Haleakalā, a massive volcano that forms most of Maui, and shared the sights and natural wonders of the islands in her memoir and book-turned-film, "Hula."
She once described her career ambitions to The Honolulu Advertiser: "The desire grew within me to write a literature of Hawaii that was authentic, to picturize the life as I, a child of the Isles, knew it."
Photo Credit: Amazon
**Featured photo is from the silent film about Armine's life
Ernest Hemingway found his passion for writing in the upscale Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois, where he was born. In high school, he wrote for the school's newspaperand yearbook. After graduation, he left Illinois to report for The Kansas City Star.
In 1986, during a visit to North Central High School, he said, "All my jokes are Indianapolis. All my attitudes are Indianapolis. My adenoids are Indianapolis. If I ever severed myself from Indianapolis, I would be out of business. What people like about me is Indianapolis.”
(Photo by Mike Slaughter/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Before travel and history writer Bill Bryson shot to fame in the UK, where he currently lives, he was Des Moines' hometown boy. He attended Drake University for two years and wrote about his 1950s Middle America upbringing in his memoir, "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid."
Former President Herbert Hoover, who was also born in Iowa, features prominently in Bryson's book, "One Summer."
Best known for his Academy Award-winning screenplay, "Splendor in the Grass," William Inge channeled his Kansas pride into his two books. The University of Kansas at Lawrence alum set his novels in the fictional town of Freedom, a play on his hometown of Independence.
Editor's Note: Like many of the Midwestern states, Kansas did not have an obvious pick for this list. We went with Inge, a playwright by trade, because of his superior state pride.
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Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Anne Rice brings the city to life in her Gothic fiction. The French Quarter provides a setting for "Interview with the Vampire," and her house in the Garden District serves as the fictional home of her characters in the "Lives of the Mayfair Witches" series.
It's rumored that Rice purchased a tomb at the St. Louis Cemetery in New Orleans, where her vampire character goes to brood, for her eventual use.
Stephen King is the quintessential Maine author. He was born in Portland, graduated from the University of Maine at Orono, and still lives in Bangor. His red Victorian home, surrounded by a black, wrought-iron fence decorated with cobwebs, is hard to miss.
King's fictional Maine topography provides a backdrop for many of his novels, including "Carrie," "It," "The Dead Zone," "Insomnia," "Salem's Lot," and others.
Born in Silver Springs, Maryland, romance novelist Nora Roberts still lives in the same Boonsboro home she moved into as a newly wed teenager. In 2011, her family owned eight properties in the town, including the Turn the Page Bookstore where she hosts frequent book signings, and Inn BoonsBoro, the bed-and-breakfast setting for her trilogy of the same name.
Editor's Note: Baltimore native Tom Clancy, who passed away in 2013, was also a contender for the state of Maryland.
(Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter," considered one of the great American novels, explores sin, guilt, and dignity in 17th-century Puritan Salem. Coincidentally, the Salem native is the descendant of a judge who ruled in the Salem witch trials.
Editor's Note: Being that "The Scarlet Letter" is a literary staple read by almost every high school student, Hawthorne was our pick for the state of Massachusetts. Other Massachusetts-born contenders included Sylvia Plath, Jack Kerouac, Dr. Seuss, and Henry David Thoreau.
Jeffrey Eugenides found inspiration in the economic turmoil of Detroit, Michigan, for his first novel, "The Virgin Suicides." The Motor City native told NPR, "That whole feeling of growing up in Detroit, in a city losing population, and in perpetual crisis really was the mood that made me write 'The Virgin Suicides' in the first place."
His Pulitzer Prize-winning "Middlesex" is also set in Michigan.
F. Scott Fitzgerald was born and raised on a tree-lined street in St. Paul's Ramsey Hill neighborhood. In his writing, Fitzgerald described himself coming from small means, when in reality, the family lived in an upscale apartment.
Born and raised in Helena, Montana, Maile Meloy has written books for kids and adults. The Harvard College graduate is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Times, and has been dubbed "the first great American realist of the 21st century" in a review of her work by The Boston Globe.
Nicholas Sparks was born in Omaha, Nebraska, to a business professor and an optometrist's assistant. He wrote his first novel the summer after his freshman year at Notre Dame and, though the novel went unpublished, it was the beginning of a blockbuster writing career.
At age 24, Sparks wrote his first best-seller, "The Notebook," which spent over a year on the bestseller's list. He writes a new book nearly every year, many of which have been made into films.
(Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)
NEVADA : Nevada Barr
Known for: "Track of the Cat" (Anna Pigeon book series)
Nevada Barr (whose name earned her points in making this list) essentially grew up in an airport in the Sierras, where her parents worked as pilots and mechanics.
The Yerington, Nevada-born author wove her experiences working in national parks as a park ranger into a series of mystery novels that take place there.
Dan Brown grew up on the campus of Phillips Exeter Academy, where his father taught math and where Brown eventually attended. Brown doubted religion from a young age, which led to themes of conspiracy and and religious skepticism that are found in many of his books.
He wrote three books before "Da Vinci," which put him on the map as a best-selling author.
Editor's Note: Novelist John Irving, author of "The World According To Garp" and "The Cider House Rules" is also from New Hampshire.
NEW JERSEY: George R.R. Martin
Known for: "A Song of Ice and Fire"
While the books that inspired "Game of Thrones" take place in far-off, mythical lands, George R.R. Martin grew up in Bayonne, New Jersey, a peninsula located just south of Jersey City.
"My world was a very small world. For many years I stared out of our living-room window at the lights of Staten Island. To me, those lights of Staten Island were like Shangri-La, and Singapore, and Shanghai," Martin told Rolling Stone.
Overall he had a happy, active life of hunting, fishing, and exploring the plains of New Mexico, but many of his less-positive experiences — like questioning his place in the world as a Latino, or a diving accident that almost killed him at age 16 — inspired his canonical Chicano literature.
While the book was a huge success, it was met with a ton of controversy back home, as more than 200 characters were based on Asheville residents, including his own family. The outcry was so bad that it led to Wolfe exiling himself from Asheville for almost a decade.
Before his writing career took off, Ellison left his home of Oklahoma City to pursue music at the Tuskegee Institute. It wasn't until Langston Hughes introduced Ellison to Richard Wright that Ellison was encouraged to take up writing.
Beverly Cleary's hometown in Oregon was so small, it didn't have a library. Still, she developed a love of books early on. Once she got to school, the librarians suggested she write children's books for a living, and Cleary made that her ultimate goal.
She published her first book, "Henry Huggins," in 1950, and developed many more beloved characters throughout her career.
Peggy Parish spent years teaching elementary school before bringing her beloved children's book character, Ameia Bedelia, to life. The "Amelia Bedelia" books — about a housekeeper who interprets all of her employers' instructions literally — have sold more than 35 million copies since it was first published over 50 years ago.
Parish grew up and attended school in South Carolina, but taught for many years in New York before returning to her home state.
Pictured: Peggy Parish and her nephew, Herman, who continued to write the book series after her death
Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Adam Johnson grew up hearing tales of wilderness survival from the men in his family. He recalls their survivalist skills and the obstacles they faced in his back-in-time debut novel, "Parasites Like Us."
Raised in Henning, Tennessee, Alex Haley is best known for his works depicting the struggles of African Americans. He said he based his groundbreaking novel, "Roots" on his own family's history, though Haley was accused of plagiarizing parts of the Pulitzer-winning book.
His first book, "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," is based on a series of interviews he conducted with the civil rights leader for Playboy.
Saying Katherine Anne Porter lived a hard life would be an understatement. Her mother died when she was two. Porter married young and suffered domestic violence during her first and later marriages. She almost died, twice, from two different pandemics, and endured poverty and infertility.
Still, Porter persisted. Her hardship is evident in her writing, which often explores human fallibility.
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Though Thomas Savage is best known for his Montana-set novels, the Wild West author was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. He followed his mother to a Montana ranch when she remarried, and there gained inspiration for many of the books he later wrote.
His last book before his death, "The Corner of Rife and Pacific," follows the joys and sorrows of a family in a small, fictional town.
Ralph Nading Hill was born and raised in Burlington, Vermont, and remained in the Northeast for college, where he attended Dartmouth. An authority on the Green Mountain state, Hill spent many years as the editor of Vermont Life magazine, during which time he also authored a number of Vermont-centric books, including "Contrary Country."
Editor's Note: It was surprisingly difficult to track down Vermont-born authors. Poet Robert Frost wrote in and about the state, but was born in San Francisco; and Rudyard Kipling wrote "The Jungle Book" while living in Brattleboro, but was born in India.
David Baldacci describes himself as a "lifelong Virginian." He got his undergraduate degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and attended law school at the University of Virginia.
He practiced law in DC for many years before making a career as legal thriller writer. Almost every one of his books has made the New York Times bestseller list, the majority of them in the No. 1 spot.
(Photo by Steve Sands/WireImage)
WASHINGTON: David Guterson
Known for: "Snow Falling on Cedars"
David Guterson was a high school English teacher when he wrote his most popular book, "Snow Falling on Cedars." The novel examines the undercurrents of prejudice and fear in a community of fishermen and strawberry farmers in Puget Sound, Washington, where Guterson also lived.
He captured the mood and landscapes of the area as only a local could. It sold four million copies.
Other books from her "Little House" series were also based on the places she'd lived, including Kansas, South Dakota, and Missouri. All but one of her books were nominated for the prestigious Newbery Medal for exceptional children's literature.
. (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)