The birth of Douglas Preston in 1956 marked the beginning of a new era of terror for the citizens of the quiet Cambridge suburb of Wellesley, though it's doubtful anyone knew it at the time. Before too long, he and his brothers Richard and David were running rampant, and their exploits with home-made rockets and incendiary devices gave them their first taste of celebrity in the "Police Notes" section of the local paper. It wasn't all fun and games for the author-to-be, however. At the tender age of three he lost the tip of a finger to a bicycle, and later suffered numerous broken bones and the loss of two front teeth to brother Richard. (It should be noted that Richard Preston must have suffered deep psychological damage at his brother's hands; he would later voluntarily enter a cave suspected to be the epicenter of Ebola outbreaks in Africa while researching The Hot Zone and go on to write The Cobra Event.
After miraculously escaping his childhood alive, Preston went on to be rejected by Stanford University and finally attend Pomona College in Claremont, California. Like his future partner in crime, he appears to have been a bit of a dilettante, studying a wide variety of topics from mathematics to biology, anthropology to physics, and many points in between, before finally graduating with a degree in English literature.
For the eight years following his graduation, he worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, rising through the ranks to become manager of publications. He wrote several articles about the Museum for its magazine, which eventually caught the attention of an editor at St. Martin's Press looking to commission a book about the Museum's history. This culminated in the birth of both the nonfiction book Dinosaurs in the Attic and the partnership between Preston and the young editor, Lincoln Child. Before too long, they were collaborating on their first novel, a thriller set in a natural history museum called Relic. Preston also kept busy during his time at the Museum teaching writing at Princeton University and serving as managing editor for Curator.
In 1986, Preston decided to give up New York City life and become a starving full-time writer in Sante Fe, New Mexico. There he and a friend nearly killed themselves following 1,000 miles of Coronado's travels across New Mexico and Arizona as research for his book Cities of Gold. He followed up with more books on the history of the American Southwest, Talking to the Ground and The Royal Road, and started his fiction career with Jennie and the release of his first novel with Lincoln Child, Relic.
In addition to collaborating across 2,000 miles to produce several more thrillers with Lincoln Child, Preston maintains a magazine writing career with regular contributions to The New Yorker as well as articles in magazines such as National Geographic, Smithsonian, and several others. He continues to pursue his interest in anthropology and the American Southwest as a Research Associate at Sante Fe's Laboratory of Anthropology and as a member of the board of the School of American Research. He is also a member of the literary association PEN New Mexico. His broad set of interests can be easily seen in the wide variaty of topics covered by his books (solo and collaborations).
With Lincoln Child:
Author information in the Preston/Child novels