I grew up in North Central Wisconsin but I’ve also lived in Colorado, New Mexico, Missouri, Texas, and currently Manta, Ecuador, with my wife, urban fantasy author Katrina Wells.
I’ve been writing stories since I was little. My mom still has a lot of them. As an only child living in the country, I had a vivid imagination and spent an awful lot of time pretending. I guess the world never was quite what I wanted it to be, and it still isn’t, but that’s why readers read and writers write, right?
My earliest stories tended to take dark twists with supernatural elements, and these still appeal to me. But a mistake I made when I was younger was to think that the ability to turn a phrase and use big words made me a good writer. No one told me differently, and so a lot of what I wrote was eloquent for its own sake. I know now how useless eloquence is, though I still appreciate elegant, old-school construction. For an example, look no further than Lincoln’s famous Bixby letter, as read by George Marshall in Saving Private Ryan. I love that shit.
I wanted to be a writer when I was a kid, but I grew up believing that this was the province of a select few. In rural Wisconsin, no one aspired to be anything so unattainable.
In college, I took an honors elective in creative writing led by author Robert Boswell. On a short story I wrote called “Brookside,” he wrote (and I’m paraphrasing): “The quality of the prose is exceptional. You could have a real career as a writer.”
I didn’t really take that to heart, and I didn’t ever really seize what I know now was an opportunity to have a mentor. So dumb.
Around 1998, I met a legit screenwriter who was a member at the club I worked at in Denver. He wrote a couple scripts that became full-bore movies with actual stars. We struck up a friendship and I salivated at the idea of selling a script for six figures or more. M. Night Shyamalan had just sold his spec script for The Sixth Sense for $3M. I loved writing and I loved movies, so I thought, “Yes! That’s what I should do!”
I wrote a script that was sort of a modernized sequel to Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. It wasn’t very good, but my new mentor encouraged me to continue. So I did. Ultimately I wrote 8 full-length screenplays that now collect dust in a box. One of them felt like it would work better as a novel, so I novelized it. That’s in a box, too (digitally speaking).
But it turns out my screenwriter friend was disillusioned with Hollywood. The bottom dropped out of the spec script market, and he decided to do his own thing in Denver, writing and producing plays. So, no mentor. Disheartened, I gave up on that, too. I think the last screenplay I wrote was around 2004. The novel I mentioned before (based on the screenplay) was mostly written after I got laid off from my corporate gig. I didn’t do anything with it.
By then, I’d settled into a career as a communications professional—PR, corporate comms, that sort of thing. I didn’t have the time or interest to write much in my free time, but I pecked away at it just the same. Once I have an idea lodged in my head, I have to get it out and onto a page.
Over the course of about three years and six full drafts, I completed The Perfect Generation in late 2017 and published it in February 2018
My dystopian trilogy, The Cytocorp Saga, became my obsession for the next two years. I’m really proud of it, but since we were deep into a real dystopia by then, it never quite found an audience. I hope it does someday. It would sure make a cool movie.
The writing of a dark trilogy during a dark time, personally and in the US, just about did me in. I needed something light and fun. Reassembly came out of that need, and boy am I glad I wrote it. It saved me in more ways than I can even think of now. Is it “crude and sophomoric” as one reviewer put it? Yeah, I guess. But there’s some really good sci-fi in there, too, and layers and textures that reward careful readers.
So now I live in Ecuador, where I can spend more time writing and less time worrying about societal collapse. I hope you like my work, but if you don’t, that’s okay. We can still be friends.