Orson Scott Card was born in Richmond, Washington in 1951 and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. As a boy he read all the books in the children's section at the library and then sneaked into the adult section, where he discovered science fiction. But he didn't stop there, reading about history, politics, medicine, archeology, and more. Some of the memorable and influential books he read in his youth include Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper (read at age eight), historical novels by Joseph Altsheler and Elswyth Thane, Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, Bruce Catton's The Army of the Potomac (read at age ten), William L. Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, The Book of Mormon and the Bible. When a childless family friend bought a collection of the Great Books, he encouraged Card to read them, which he did, including works of Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, and Plutarch. Today Card tells young writers that their best education is to "learn everything about everything" through reading.
Card "inherited a love of performing from his mother," especially enjoying the music of Broadway. He entered Brigham Young University as an archeology major, but switched to theater. This is where he began to "school himself" as a writer, because "it's the best training in the world for a writer to have a live audience." Now as he writes novels and creates characters, Card explains that he "doesn't so much write his novels as improvise them in front of an invisible audience."
Card served an LDS mission to Brazil, returning to finish his degree at BYU. He got a job as a copy editor at the BYU Press and founded a theater company in Provo. Despite success, the expenses of the theater company forced him to close it and look for a way to pay his debt. He turned to writing science fiction. The short story version of "Ender's Game" was the result, appearing in Analog in 1977. Card's first novel, A Planet Called Treason was published in 1979. However, money was still tight, especially because Card ended a three-year courtship with Kristine Allen by marrying her in 1977 and starting a family. So Card took a job as an editor for the LDS Church's magazine, The Ensign, where he also at times submitted and published stories.
Card earned a master's degree in English from the University of Utah in 1981. That summer he moved his family to Indiana so he could begin doctoral work at Notre Dame. But the recession forced Card to take a job and move to Greensboro, N.C., an experience that Card used as the background for his most autobiographical novel, The Lost Boys (1992). Around this same time, Card began reworking his short story "Ender's Game" into a novel. Published in 1985, Ender's Game won the Hugo and Nebula awards; its sequel Speaker for the Dead (1987) won both awards as well, establishing Card as one of the leading voices in science fiction.
Soon after the move to Greensboro, Card made the leap to full-time author, gaining success with works ranging from traditional science fiction to biblical novels. His LDS faith plays an integral part in his writing, and he has produced book series based on Book of Mormon stories and LDS church history. Currently, Card teaches writing and literature at Southern Virginia University and still makes Greensboro his home.