Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Hastings, Forest County
Born in Hastings, Mary Kuczkir authored more than 60 books that have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list under the name Fern Michaels.
Born in Hastings, Pennsylvania, in 1933, Mary Kuczkir has become one of the most popular romance novelists in the United States. After marrying Michael Kuczkir and raising five children, Mary Kuczkir began to write collaboratively with friend Roberta Anderson, using the pseudonym “Fern Michaels.” Kuczkir obtained full legal rights to the name “Fern Michaels” in 1989, and has gone on to write over 67 books, most on the New York Times Bestsellers list, and to establish The Fern Michaels Foundation, which gives scholarships to students who cannot afford college. Mary Kuczkir currently lives outside of Charleston, South Carolina.
Romance novelist Fern Michaels was born Mary Ruth Kovak in Hastings, Pennsylvania, in 1933 to Albert and Lucy Kovac. At a young age, Mary became an avid reader, enjoying adventure and mystery books like The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. In 1952, she married engineer Michael Kovac, and together they had five children. After moving to New Jersey, Kuczkir and fellow homemaker Roberta Anderson decided to try writing together under the pseudonym Fern Michaels.
Together, Kuczkir and Anderson wrote 26 novels, most becoming national best-sellers; the more popular being Captive Passions, Valentine, Captive Embraces, Crown Jewels and The Delta Ladies. After a divorce from her husband and ending collaborative efforts with Roberta Anderson, Kuczkir obtained full legal rights to the name “Fern Michaels” in 1989. Most of her romance novels focus on women who persevere and prevail in difficult situations. Over 70 million copies of her books are in print, and most of her novels have appeared on the New York Times Bestsellers List. Her most popular novels since the split with Anderson have been the Texas Series, the Vegas Series, the Kentucky series, and Finders Keepers.
After establishing herself as a strong female novelist, Kuzcir also took on the role of philanthropist. In 1990, she founded The Fern Michaels Foundation. Each year, she grants four two-year scholarships to deserving students who cannot afford a university education. Soon after establishing this foundation, Kuczkir opened a handful of preschool and day care centers for single moms with affordable rates. In 1995, Kuczkir was inducted into the New Jersey Literary Hall of Fame. Hall of Famers must meet four criteria: sell one million or more copies of books, make the New York Times Best-Seller list, receive nominations or awards of national or international literary recognition, and make a marked contribution to American Literature. As Kuczkir writes on her website, she considers the day she was inducted as “awesome.”
In 1997, Mary Kuczkir ended her contract with Ballantine Books and parted with her agent, relocating from New Jersey to South Carolina. Now writing for Simon and Shuster publications, she lives quietly with her five dogs in a remodeled, haunted plantation home, away from the public eye.