Paul Zindel, best known among young adult readers for his novel The Pigman, was a high school chemistry teacher who said his works were influenced by his own erratic, traumatic upbringing on Staten Island, New York.
His 1970 play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, the Obie Award for Best American Play and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. It was made into a movie directed by Paul Newman and starring Joanne Woodward; Zindel wrote the screenplay.
Zindel, who died in 2003 at age 66, wrote more than 100 young-adult classic novels, as well as several action/horror works and eight books in the P.C. Hawke mystery series. The author said he based the character Beatrice, in "Gamma Rays," on his mother; The Pigman was inspired by a teen and a grandfatherly man he met. Lorraine, another character in The Pigman, was based on a sensitive girl in his chemistry class. In a memoir, Journey to Meet the Pigman, Zindel told of his experiences and how he developed the characters.
Zindel wrote that he didn't read much as a child, so he aimed to make his young adult books appealing to middle school boys who also don't read a lot. Raptor, Rats and Night of the Bats fit the bill. He also wrote books for younger readers, as well as plays, screenplays, short stories and essays.