Clare Bell was born in 1952 in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England and moved with her family to the United States in 1957.<1><2> While growing up in Palo Alto, California, she became fascinated by prehistoric mammals and pored over Charles R. Knight's paintings in books on paleontology. After attending the University of California, Santa Cruz <3> she used her training in biology and chemistry by working as a hydrological and geological field technician for the US Geological Survey, serving on the USGS research vessel Polaris, based in Redwood City, California. Returning to college under the Women in Engineering Program at the University of California, Davis, she then joined IBM in San Jose, California as an electrical engineer.
Inspired since childhood by Olaf Stapledon's novel Sirius: A Tale of Love and Discord, about a sheep dog with human-level intelligence, she began writing Ratha's Creature, the first novel of the Named series. Published in 1983 by Margaret K. McElderry Books, this first novel won the International Reading Association's Children's Book Award<4> and the PEN USA Literary Award<5> for that year. Ratha's Creature was also adapted for television animation and aired as a CBS Storybreak episode in the late 1980s.
Leaving IBM in 1990 to begin a full-time writing career, Bell also became interested in electric vehicles. After converting a VW beetle to electric with a conversion kit, she began building, racing, repairing, designing and racing electric cars. From 1992 to 1999 also became the editor of the Electric Auto Association's (a nationwide US electric car club) monthly newsletter, Current Events. As part of the Women's Electric Racing Team, she competed in the Arizona Public Service utility company's APS Solar and Electric 500 and APS Electrics electric vehicle races, held in Phoenix, Arizona from 1993 to 1997.
She also turned her electric vehicle experience into a profession, working as an electric vehicle engineer for CALSTART and private companies until 2003.
Bell found to her surprise that books written nearly twenty years ago still had fans and had been kept alive on the Internet. The first four Ratha titles were reissued as Firebird paperbacks in Summer and Fall 2007, and a new book, Ratha's Courage, was published by Imaginator Press in October, 2008.
Bell and her husband live in the hills west of Patterson, California, where they have built their own solar, wind and hydroelectric systems.