"It takes an act of faith to live today".
This was the attitude that Robert Cormier had when he was writing. He believed that people were living in terrifying times that would leave individuals powerless and fending for themselves (Stines 107). Robert Cormier felt that the children of today needed to be exposed to reality and not to fiction. In all of his writings Cormier used realistic story lines that often left critics objecting to his writings. He frequently drew on experiences from his own childhood and that of his son to make his stories more realistic. Born as the son of Lucien and Irma Cormier on January 17, 1925 in Leominster, Massachusetts, Cormier often used his own life experiences to help him with his writings (Bryfonski 133). As a child Cormier attended a strict Catholic school. Cormier found the experiences there not very positive. Some of the teachers he had were not very nice. He found the nuns rather hard to deal with and he felt that his abilities were not well recognized. "You know, I think our lives are driven by guilt. With me it all goes back to the nuns - making us feel so darn guilty about everything," (Campbell). However, it was when one of his teachers read a story he wrote and told him he had a natural talent, he decided to pursue writing (Stiens, 111). In spite of his negative school experiences, he continued to be a practicing Catholic and his own children attended Catholic school.
Writing as a journalist in 1948 for the Fitchburg Sentinel, was Cormier's first job in writing. Later Cormier began working at a radio station where he delivered news broadcasts. Cormier also worked as a reporter for several local newspapers.
Cormier used his own life experiences to develop his writings. His father's death from cancer was the prompt for his first novel Now and at the Hour (Bryfonski 133). It was the story of a New England mill worker who was dying of cancer. In his fourth novel The Chocolate War Cormier uses his own son's refusal to sell chocolate as a school fund-raiser as a prompt.