Tom Biel was born in Sidney, Montana, and grew up in Portland, Oregon; Glendive, Montana; and Rock Springs, Wyoming. He is a graduate of Dawson County High School, home of the Red Devils, in Glendive. Following his high school graduation, Tom worked and traveled, based in Rock Springs, Wyoming for a few years before going to college at the University of Montana, in Missoula.
Taking the slow route (when a college education was still affordable), he earned a BA in English and Education in 1980, and then began his teaching career. He taught in Whitehall, Montana for eight years before moving up to Libby, Montana for one year. From Libby, he moved to Greeley, Colorado to attend graduate school at the University of Northern Colorado where he enjoyed two years of graduate study in English and earned his Masters.
From Greeley, Tom sought out teaching jobs in international schools and ended up in San Jose, Costa Rica before continuing south to Quito, Ecuador. He taught for three years in each of those cities and learned Spanish. In Quito, he met and fell in love with Lena, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who encouraged him to write plays, and whom he married in 2000 back in Wisconsin, where they live and teach today.
Tom’s written for most of his life, writing what he describes as “some of the worst poetry you’ll ever read” for years before those poems turned into plays, and then the plays into short stories. He thinks the words worked better as plays and stories than they did as poems. Starting his play writing while in Quito, he has written five plays, four of which have been produced, some multiple times.
When he moved to Milwaukee and continued his teaching career, he also began writing and working with writers at Redbird Studio in Milwaukee. Redbird (now called Redbird/Redoak) is an active enclave of writers founded by Judy Bridges of Milwaukee. With fellow writers critiquing, the stories that make up Badlands were developed.
What Tom does most of the time, other than in the summer, is teach. Both he and his wife, Lena, are teachers for Milwaukee Public Schools. Tom is proud to be a teacher in public schools and proud of his school, Rufus King, which is nationally recognized and leads the way for Wisconsin Public Schools also. Rufus King, a large urban high school, has both dynamic academic programs and incredible athletics and multiple and varied and diverse after school clubs and organizations. Tom is an ardent and active supporter of the public in PUBLIC SCHOOLS because he sees in the public school one of the essential foundations of a democratic, secular, tolerant, and non-corporatized society.
When he can, he writes. Badlands is his first published book.