Melanie Thernstrom is the author of three books: the best-selling memoir The Dead Girl (Pocket, 1990), Halfway Heaven: Diary of a Harvard Murder (Doubleday, 1997) and The Pain Chronicles: Cures, Myths, Mysteries, Prayers, Diaries, Brain Scans, Healing, and the Science of Suffering (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010).
The Dead Girl—originally written as Melanie’s senior thesis at Harvard University, titled Mistakes of Metaphor—is an account of the disappearance and murder of her best friend Bibi Lee. Halfway Heaven—the story of a murder-suicide of two students at Harvard University—began as an article for The New Yorker. It explores murder from the point of view of the killer, based on diaries discovered after the deaths.
Melanie's third book, The Pain Chronicles: Cures, Myths, Mysteries, Prayers, Diaries, Brain Scans, Healing, and the Science of Suffering, a New York Times Bestseller, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in August 2010.
Melanie served as a member of the Committee on Advancing Pain Research, Education and Care of the National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine, created in 2010 in response to a congressional mandate to investigate the state of pain treatment in the United States.
A Contributing Writer for The New York Times Magazine, Melanie has reported on subjects as diverse as high-end matchmaking, mediated divorce, the Lord’s Resistance Army in Northern Uganda, medicine, and fugitives. She has also written for Vanity Fair, The Wall Street Journal, Food and Wine, Travel+Leisure, Elle, and other publications. She has taught creative writing at Harvard University, Cornell University, and in the MFA program at University of California at Irvine. She has received fellowships from the corporation of Yaddo, the Edward Albee Foundation, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
She is currently at work on a book about third-party reproductive technology. She lives with her husband and twin toddlers, Violet and Kieran, in Palo Alto, California.