The bare facts:
Born May 18th, 1952, NY (Manhattan), NY. Raised (1952-1970) in Roosevelt (L.I.), NY, in the New York City suburbs. Attended high school at Roosevelt Senior High, graduated 1970: attended college at Dowling College (Oakdale NY), studying astronomy, astrophysics (1970-71); then attended Pilgrim State Hospital School of Nursing, Brentwood NY (1971-74). Graduated and passed State Boards 1974 as registered nurse. Practiced as staff psychiatric nurse (one-to-one therapy) at Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic of New York Hospital/ Cornell Medical Center, 1974-76. Relocated to California as writer's assistant, 1976-78. First novel sale, 1977: first screen sale, 1979. Began working full time as freelance novelist and screenwriter in 1980. Relocated to Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, in 1981, and to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1983. Married Northern Irish novelist and screenwriter Peter Morwood and relocated to the UK in 1987: settled in the Republic of Ireland in 1988.
A more informal version:
Diane Duane was born in Manhattan in 1952, a Year of the Dragon. She was raised on Long Island, in the New York City suburbs. In high school she won a Regents Science and Nursing scholarship, and her first studies in college were toward a degree in astrophysics. A total inability to handle calculus and other higher maths drove her instead into the arms of the biological sciences, and she used the nursing half of her scholarship to attend Pilgrim State Hospital School of Nursing on Long Island, from which she graduated in 1974 as a registered nurse with a specialty in psychiatry. She spent the next two years practicing the art at Payne Whitney Clinic of New York Hospital, now part of Cornell/NYH Medical Center, one of the most respected psychiatric clinics in the eastern USA.
She had been writing for her own entertainment ever since she could read (having written and illustrated her first novel in crayon at the age of eight), and it was around this time that various friends who read Duane's work told her she should submit it professionally. She began to do so, after a year spent working as assistant to television and science fiction writer David Gerrold. Her first novel, The Door into Fire, was published by Dell Books in 1979. On the strength of this book, she was nominated two years running for the World Science Fiction Society's John W. Campbell Award for best new science fiction/fantasy writer in the industry.
Since then Duane has published more than fifty novels, numerous short stories, and various comics and computer games; she has appeared several times on the New York Times Bestseller List and garnered numerous awards from such organizations as the American Librarians' Association and the New York Public Library. She is presently best known for her continuing Young Wizards series of young adult fantasy novels about the New York-based teenage wizards Nita Callahan and Kit Rodriguez. The 1983 novel So You Want to Be a Wizard and its eight sequels have been published around the world over the past two decades, and are now routinely cited by librarians all over the US as "the first books to read when you run out of Harry Potter". It was these books for which Duane received her most recent award, when in 2003 the Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation awarded the entire "Young Wizards" series a special commendation in the prestigious Anne Spencer Lindbergh Prize in Children's Literature. Book 9 of the series, A Wizard of Mars, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in April 2010: the paperback edition was released early in May 2011.
Duane's husband, UK-born fantasist and screenwriter Peter Morwood, is a frequent collaborator. So far they share credits for five novels (one written on their honeymoon), for various animated screenplays, and (most recently) for the live-action drama Ring of the Nibelungs / Die Nibelungen, which premiered as both a movie and a miniseries in Europe in November of 2004, achieving the highest ratings of any German TV movie for that year and the highest ratings for its network (Sat1) of any dramatic production in its history. (SciFi Channel in the US first aired the miniseries in March 2006, retitled as Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King, and still airs it frequently; the DVD is available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.) Duane's solo screenwriting work includes extensive animated and live-action experience (some fifty scripts to date) and one of the first episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Emmy-nominated "Where No One Has Gone Before." (Over the course of her career she has worked with Star Trek in more forms than any other person alive: television, books, audio, comics, manga, and computer games.) She has also worked for the BBC, serving as senior writer on the BBC TV Education series Science Challenge, and for various other national and independent television and screen production companies across Europe.
Duane's most recently aired screen work is the original SyFy TV movie Lost Future, starring Sean Bean, which aired in November 2010. Prose works now in progress include the last novel in her Middle Kingdoms series (The Door into Starlight) and the tenth "Young Wizards" novel (Games Wizards Play).
Along with a covey of seriously overworked computers, laptops and smartphones, Duane and her husband live in a pastoral townland set in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, where their recently renovated two hundred-year-old cottage provides an odd but congenial environment for the staging of epic battles between good and evil and the leisurely pursuit of total galactic domination. Diane enjoys travel, which is fortunately made simpler by occasional signing tours, and by the various science fiction conventions, on both sides of the Atlantic, which invite her and her husband to appear as guests. She and Peter travel in Europe as much as possible, being especially fond of train travel, and of Switzerland. In her spare time, Diane collects recipes and cookbooks, especially those dealing with little-known ethnic cuisines; her own cooking tends toward hearty peasant food, with an emphasis on the cuisines of central Europe and the Mediterranean. Diane gardens (weeding, mostly), studies German and Italian, listens to shortwave and satellite radio, and dabbles in astronomy, computer graphics and modeling, iaido, amateur cartography (one of her early efforts, a USGS-type map of Roger Zelazny's fictional city, Amber, hung in the office of the deputy director of the US Geological Survey in Washington), desktop publishing, and fractals.
She is trying to learn how to make more spare time.