Douglas Preston was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1956, and grew up in the deadly boring suburb of Wellesley. Following a distinguished career at a private nursery school--he was almost immediately expelled--he attended public schools and the Cambridge School of Weston. Notable events in his early life included the loss of a fingertip at the age of three to a bicycle; the loss of his two front teeth to his brother Richard's fist; and various broken bones, also incurred in dust-ups with Richard. (Richard went on to write The Hot Zone and The Cobra Event, which tells you all you need to know about what it was like to grow up with him as a brother.)
As they grew up, Doug, Richard, and their little brother David roamed the quiet suburbs of Wellesley, terrorizing the natives with home-made rockets and incendiary devices mail-ordered from the backs of comic books or concocted from chemistry sets. With a friend they once attempted to fly a rocket into Wellesley Square; the rocket malfunctioned and nearly killed a man mowing his lawn. They were local celebrities, often appearing in the "Police Notes" section of The Wellesley Townsman. It is a miracle they survived childhood intact.
After unaccountably being rejected by Stanford University (a pox on it), Preston attended Pomona College in Claremont, California, where he studied mathematics, biology, physics, anthropology, chemistry, geology, and astronomy before settling down to English literature. After graduating, Preston began his career at the American Museum of Natural History in New York as an editor, writer, and eventually manager of publications. (Preston also taught writing at Princeton University and was managing editor of Curator.) His eight-year stint at the Museum resulted in the non-fiction book, Dinosaurs in the Attic, edited by a rising young star at St. Martin's Press, a polymath by the name of Lincoln Child. During this period, Preston gave Child a midnight tour of the museum, and in the darkened Hall of Late Dinosaurs, under a looming T. Rex, Child turned to Preston and said: "This would make the perfect setting for a thriller!" That thriller would, of course, be Relic.
In 1986, Douglas Preston piled everything he owned into the back of a Subaru and moved from New York City to Santa Fe to write full time, following the advice of S. J. Perelman that "the dubious privilege of a freelance writer is he's given the freedom to starve anywhere." After the requisite period of penury, Preston achieved a small success with the publication of Cities of Gold, a non-fiction book about Coronado's search for the legendary Seven Cities of Cibola. To research the book, Preston and a friend retraced on horseback 1,000 miles of Coronado's route across Arizona and New Mexico, packing their supplies and sleeping under the stars--nearly killing themselves in the process. Since then he has published several more non-fiction books on the history of the American Southwest, Talking to the Ground and The Royal Road, as well as a novel entitled Jennie. In the early 1990s Preston and Child teamed up to write suspense novels; Relic was the first, followed by several others, including Riptide and Thunderhead. Relic was released as a motion picture by Paramount in 1997. Other films are under development at Hollywood studios. Preston and Child live 500 miles apart and write their books together via telephone, fax, and the Internet.
Preston and his brother Richard are currently producing a television miniseries for ABC and Mandalay Entertainment, to be aired in the spring of 2000, if all goes well, which in Hollywood is rarely the case.
Preston continues a magazine writing career by contributing regularly to The New Yorker magazine. He has also written for National Geographic, Natural History, Smithsonisan, Harper's,and Travel & Leisure,among others.