"Although Salinger had long since cut me out of his life completely and made it plain that he had nothing but contempt for me, the thought of becoming the object of his wrath was more than I felt ready to take on.""At Home in the World is the story of a young woman, raised in some difficult circumstances, and how she survives. It tells a story of redemption, not victimhood.""For 25 years, I did take my responsibilities as a pleaser of others sufficiently seriously.""I believe every one of us possesses a fundamental right to tell our own story.""I believed my story would be helpful to young women my daughter's age, who are still in the process of forming themselves as women, and in need of encouragement to remain true to themselves.""I compromised my ability to tell my story, at the most basic level.""I continued to protect him with my silence.""I have long observed that the act of writing is viewed, by some, as an elite and otherworldly act, all the more so if a person isn't paid for what she writes.""I wonder what it is that the people who criticize me for telling this story truly object to: is it that I have dared to tell the story? Or that the story turns out not to be the one they wanted to hear?""If a man wishes to truly not be written about, he would do well not to write letters to 18-year-old girls, inviting them into his life.""If I told you about all the stories I don't tell, I would be violating the very boundaries I set for myself.""It is not the task of a reader to please her subjects.""It's not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.""Long after Salinger sent me away, I continued to believe his standards and expectations were the best ones.""Many women my age have known the experience of giving up crucial parts of themselves to please the man they love.""My job is writing. I get paid to do it. When was the last time you heard someone challenge a doctor for making money off of cancer?""Not only did I avoid speaking of Salinger; I resisted thinking about him. I did not reread his letters to me. The experience had been too painful.""Nothing like being visible, publishing one's work, and speaking openly about one's life, to disabuse the world of the illusion of one's perfection and purity.""Some literary types subscribe to the notion that being a writer like Salinger entitles a person to remain free of the standards that might apply to mere mortals.""Teach a child to play solitaire, and she'll be able to entertain herself when there's no one around. Teach her tennis, and she'll know what to do when she's on a court. But raise her to feel comfortable in nature, and the whole planet is her home.""The painter who feels obligated to depict his subjects as uniformly beautiful or handsome and without flaws will fall short of making art.""The portrait of my parents is a complicated one, but lovingly drawn.""The silence was part of the story I wanted to tell.""The vehemence with which certain critics have chosen not simply to criticize what I've written, but to challenge my writing this story at all, speaks of what the book is about: fear of disapproval.""To share our stories is not only a worthwhile endeavor for the storyteller, but for those who hear our stories and feel less alone because of it.""Women writers have been told, forever, that our stories were not valuable. Not as valuable as men's stories about wars, business, power."
Maynard grew up in Durham, New Hampshire, and attended the Oyster River School District and Phillips Exeter Academy. She won early recognition for her writing from The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, winning student writing awards in 1966-8, 1970, and 1971. As a young woman, she wrote regularly for Seventeen magazine. She entered Yale University in 1971 and sent a collection of her writings to the editors of The New York Times Magazine. They asked her to write an article for them, which was published as " An Eighteen Year Old Looks Back On Life" in the magazine's April 23, 1972 issue. The article prompted a letter from J. D. Salinger, then 53 years old, who complimented her writing and warned her of the dangers of publicity.
Relationship with Salinger
They exchanged 25 letters, and Maynard dropped out of Yale the summer after her freshman year to live with Salinger in Cornish, New Hampshire. Maynard spent ten months living in Salinger's Cornish home, during which time she completed work on her first book, Looking Back, a memoir that was published in 1973. Her relationship with Salinger ended abruptly just prior to the book's publication; according to Salinger's daughter Margaret, he ended things because Maynard wanted children but Salinger felt he was too old. According to Maynard's memoir, he cut off the relationship suddenly while on a family vacation with her and with his two children; she was stunned and begged him to take her back. According to Maynard, she had dropped out of Yale to be with him, forgoing a scholarship. She never finished college.
During the 1980s, Joyce Maynard bought a house with some of her book advance and lived alone in the town of Hillsborough, New Hampshire. Two years later, she married and had three children. While living in Hillsborough, she wrote a novel about people who live in small towns.
Maynard gained widespread commercial acceptance in 1992 with the publication of her novel To Die For, which drew several elements from the real-life Pamela Smart murder case. It was adapted into a 1995 film of the same name, starring Nicole Kidman, Matt Dillon and Joaquin Phoenix and directed by Gus Van Sant. In the late 1990s, Maynard became one of the first authors to communicate on a daily basis with her readership by making use of the Internet and an online discussion forum, The Domestic Affairs Message Board (DAMB).
For many years, Maynard chose not to discuss her affair with Salinger in any of her writings, but she broke her silence in At Home In the World, a 1999 memoir. The same year, Maynard put up for auction the letters Salinger had written to her. In the ensuing controversy over her decision, Maynard claimed that she was forced to auction the letters for financial reasons, including her children's college educations; she would have preferred to donate them to Beinecke Library. Software developer Peter Norton bought the letters for $156,500 and announced his intention to return them to Salinger.
Maynard has subsequently published in several genres. Both The Usual Rules (2003) and "The Cloud Chamber" (2005) are Young Adult titles. Internal Combustion (2006), was her first in the true crime genre. Although nonfiction it had thematic similarities to the fictionalized crime in "To Die For", dealing with the case of Michigan resident Nancy Seaman, convicted of killing her husband in 2004. "Labor Day", an adult literary novel, was published in 2009.
Maynard and her sister Rona (also a writer and the retired editor of Chatelaine) collaborated in 2007 to jointly examine their sisterhood. Rona Maynard's memoir My Mother's Daughter was published in the fall of 2007.
Joyce Maynard has lived in Mill Valley, California since 1996. She was an adjunct professor at the University of Southern Maine and a visiting professor at Sarah Lawrence College. She runs (and teaches at) the annual Lake Atitlan Writing Workshops on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. She also lives and works near San Marcos, Guatemala, part-time.
In January 2010, Maynard came into the spotlight when her former lover JD Salinger died of natural causes at age 91. She expressed sadness, but some relief about being able to look forward from now on.
In February 2010, Maynard adopted two Ethiopian girls, Almaz (10) and Birtukan (7).