It really comes down to storytelling. The story itself is the essential thread of my fate. When I was a kid, I enjoyed story and storytelling because it was an escape from the trying times of my childhood. I had the wonderful benefit of having two loving and affluent and principled parents. The downside was that my mother had cancer at a very early age. She battled it for 11 years of my life, until she succumbed to it when I was just about to leave for college.
The whole notion of having to find a silver lining to a situation and to find strength in difficult times, was one that embodied my family, and also drew me to stories. Books were a refuge, and sharing story's a way to give joy and strength to others. I especially enjoyed table top role playing games when I was a kid, and was often the one that created these roles for me and my friends. I wouldn't say that we were social rejects, but certainly we weren't necessarily like the—Well, we didn't have the most pages in the yearbook. Let's put it that way. Dungeons and Dragons, Shadowrun, all these games created different kinds of stories in which I was the one telling them to the others. This led to my passion for writing.
I decided that I wanted to be a professional writer at an early age. The professional part was also very important to me. I didn't want to work at 7-Eleven, or as a mortgage banker, or lawyer and do stories on the side. I wanted something that involved writing. I decided to go into marketing. I got a Professional Writing Masters from University of Southern California and decided I would write novels on the side. I would at the same time write professionally in terms of ad copy and fliers, and other various things. I found my first job with a group called Arbonne International.
Where this is going is, and why it's relevant, is that I knew my wife from online writing and role playing. She lived in Tennessee at the time, though I like to say she's like a Johnny Cash song. She's been everywhere. She's from New York. She's from Florida. She's from Tennessee. She's from Mississippi. She's from North Carolina. She's from Canada, which is where I met her. We were co-writers together on blogs, on role playing games, and all kinds of things. In 2009, as I was working and looking to get published, she gave me the advice to not overthink it, and just write stuff and get it out there. Sure enough it worked like a bet.
Simply writing little short stories soon got me involved with other writers, which led me to have an agent, which led me to the point where I was getting my first novel sold. The unfortunate thing is that the publishing company that bought it called Dark House effectively collapsed. This was at the same time my wife was moving in with five kids from a prior marriage. I focused on going from bachelor writer to father of five awesome teenagers.
My wife and I continued to write together. We wrote short stories. We did text role playing games. Now we're at the point, since a lot of the kids have grown up, that we're beginning to write a book together; a post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi novel. I like to describe it as The Handmaid's Tale meets Mad Max. She really drove the concept of that one. It's a little bit darker than my own, which is more surreal book based largely on marketing 150 years in the future. It involves a lot of the techniques, principles, and concerns of today, such as privacy, optimization, so on and so forth.
Today, our kids are doing phenomenally well. In fact, our youngest lives locally but a lot of the others have moved on back to Tennessee, where they have more roots. I think that they feel more grounded there. It's the culture that they grew up in. The youngest one, she grew up here, for the large part. She lives 10 minutes away. We see her every week. She’s got a car, she's got a job, she's doing fantastic.
I fell in love with Gina because she too is a survivor and passionate about story, telling her story. And our five children, it’s thrilling. I feel like I have a clear path.