If you’ve clicked through this far, I assume you want to know a bit more about me. Suit yourself.
I’m a native West Virginian, born and raised around Charleston. I spent seven years in Morgantown at West Virginia University, where I got degrees in History and Law. Seven years in Morgantown in just about enough for anybody, let me tell you. I live near Charleston now, along with my wife, K, and a some critters:
Maia, the One-Eyed Wonder Pup:
And Kali, ruler of the sun room:
Until recently there was also Uzume, who also only has one eye, but has her sister beat in that it doesn’t work. She ran into things a lot:
Sadly, Uzu passed away while we were on our belated honeymoon in Cambodia.
I mention them here because, first, who doesn’t love cute critter pictures? And, second, I’ll probably mention them once in a while, hence the introduction.
You noticed I have a law degree, right? I’ve been practicing law for over fifteen years. After a brief stint with Legal Aid doing divorce and domestic violence work, I transitioned into working as a public defender, first on the state level and then in federal court. That’s my day job. I enjoy it, and I’m good at it (I hope).
You’re probably more interested in my reading habits and the whole writing thing, though, I bet.
I’ve always been drawn to what’s broadly lumped under the heading “speculative fiction” – science fiction, fantasy, and (to a lesser degree for me) horror. I can’t remember one book that turned the light on in my head, but while I was in elementary school I was already reading Brave New World, 1984, and the like. For whatever reason I never really got into Tolkien, although I was a fan of Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Pyrdain.
From there I was on to Kurt Vonnegut and, perhaps most impressionable to my young mind, Douglas Adams. My older brother, Todd, is responsible for that, introducing me to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, both in book and cheesy BBC TV form. The idea that space could be so sprawling, odd, and funny really struck a chord with me. I can’t say I’ve grown up to write like Adams, but I think the influence is there.
During my seven-year stint in Morgantown I developed an interest in movies, particularly the weird ones you couldn’t find at the local multiplex and older things. I remember driving across town to find the one copy of Todd Solodnz’s Happiness, which the nearby Blockbuster wouldn’t stock because it was rated NC-17, and, years before, my room-mate and I scouring said Blockbuster late one night and stumbling on Clerks, which was the funniest thing I’d seen in a very long time. On the more sci-fi edge, I also discovered a love for directors like Terry Gilliam and Akira Kurosawa and the weird wild world of anime.
More recently I discovered Neil Gaiman, thanks to my wife’s forcing a copy of Sandman on me, along with John Scalzi, George R.R. Martin, and Iain Banks. As with Adams, none of this is to say I write like any of them, but there’s probably something there, anyway.
As for writing, I’ve always been a writer, in one form or another. I write briefs for a living, after all. But I didn’t start writing fiction with any kind of seriousness until about ten years ago. I had always had ideas that I thought could make good stories, but never really acted on them.
I toyed around with a few short stories, but didn’t really get into things until I discovered National Novel Writing Month. The object of NaNoWriMo is to write a “novel” (defined as 50,000 words – pretty short, by modern standards) in one month, specifically November. It comes out to about 1700 words per day. The idea is not that anybody can write a book, but that actually doing the writing (if you’re so inclined) is more a matter of persistence and drive than anything else. In other words, if you put your butt in the chair and write every day, sooner or later you’ll have a book.
It was a great motivator. Although my first NaNoWriMo project crashed and burned, my second let me claim “winner” status and, more than anything, convinced me I can finish one of those beasts. It wasn’t very good and quickly got stuff in a closet, but I keep it around, as a reminder. In the years since, using NaNoWriMo as an organizing event, I’ve written several other manuscripts that are now in various stages of completion. One involves zombies in the West Virginia hills, while another is the start of a trilogy set on a different world with very different looking people on it.
Who knows what the next one will be about?