Perhaps most famous for her American Book Award-winning memoir Ecology of a Cracker Childhood (2000), Ray is also known for her 2010 poetry collection A House of Branches and for her 2005 nonfiction work Pinhook: Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land.
After briefly attending North Georgia College, she completed her bachelor's degree at Florida State University and went on to earn her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Montana.
An environmental activist as well as an author, she penned nature-themed pieces for Orion and Audubon magazines and also contributed to the NPR program Living on Earth.
The child of impoverished Christian fundamentalists Franklin and Lee Ada Ray, she grew up in Baxley, Georgia. She later gave birth to a son named Silas Ausable.
She and Judith Cofer both penned acclaimed childhood memoirs.