Nancy Kress was born Nancy Anne Koningisor in Buffalo, New York. She grew up in East Aurora, New York, then a sleepy upstate town given to cows and apples, where she spent most of her childhood either reading or playing in the woods. She went to college at State University of New York at Plattsburgh, earning a degree in elementary education, which she put to use for the next four years teaching the fourth grade. She liked this.
In 1973 she left teaching and moved to Rochester to marry Michael Joseph Kress. They had two sons, Kevin Michael Kress and Brian Stephen Kress, and divorced in 1984. It was while Nancy was pregnant with Brian that she started writing fiction. She had never planned on becoming a writer, but staying at home full-time with infants left her time to experiment. She was not good at embroidery or quilting, her previous choices, and so became a writer. Her first story, the eminently forgettable “The Earth Dwellers,” appeared in GALAXY in 1976. Her first novel, THE PRINCE OF MORNING BELLS, appeared in 1981 from Pocket Books.
In 1984, Nancy went to work for Stanton & Hucko, an advertising agency that has since been bought by Young & Rubicam. She wrote corporate copy for the next six years, writing fiction part time, raising her children, and occasionally teaching at State University of New York at Brockport, where she had earned an M.S. in education (1977) and an M.A. in English (1979). In 1990 she went full-time as an SF writer. The first thing she wrote in this new status was the novella version of her most popular work, “Beggars in Spain.”