A Little About You……….
I was born and raised between the Appalachians and the Mon Valley, north of the Mason-Dixon Line, south of the Steel City. The geography let me grow up playing in old mine shafts and coal tipples.
But as I got older, I needed a bigger playground, and drifted toward the mountains and wild rivers of Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia. The best thing to come out of the early Nineties were the experiences I had on the rapids of the Cheat and Youghiogheny Rivers. My day-to-day consisted of navigating big waves, staring down big rocks (which never got out of the way) and scanning the ground for copperheads and rattlesnakes. All this in addition to getting ninety paying rafters back home safely. Being a guide seemed like the only education I’d ever need.
The woman I loved introduced me to the biggest playground of them all. Together, Heidi and I have climbed Yucatecan pyramids, trekked into the depths of the Colorado Plateau, tangled with Russian cabbies in Prague, peered into Costa Rican volcanos and braved the wilds of Central Florida. And that was where I started typing a little something to remind myself of all the things we’d left back home. And I’m still typing to this day.
A Little About Your Writing……….
The things that interest me seem to just sit outside of the mainstream. The authors I enjoy the most aren’t easily categorized as straight horror or straight fantasy. I like the stuff that blurs the lines, and I like to blur the lines in my own writing. It’s literary with a speculative slant, magical realism with strong genre elements. I like to think it sits in the center of a Venn Diagram where Neil Gaiman, Gabriel García Márquez, and Chuck Klosterman meet. Or maybe Kerouac, I don’t know.
What Inspired You To Start Writing?
We moved to Florida to work for The Walt Disney Company as an escape from reality, but reality found us. When I started putting my rafting stories on paper, I discovered I could create my own reality.
How Has Writing Changed Your Life?
Writing has been an extension of the idealism that probably led me to teaching way back when. I suppose the idea that my work occupies space in somebody’s head—even if only temporarily—is a humbling and scary proposition. And now, as a writing mentor and instructor, I get to help other writers down that same path of expression. To that end, writing didn’t change my life. Writing is my life. Lucky for me, I get to share it with the person I love the most.
What Is Your Favourite Book, Ever?
Favorite book ever? C’mon now. That’s like asking somebody which of their kids they like the best, or which John Lennon song. (True story, somebody asked me that when I was wearing a Lennon t-shirt and I froze because I didn’t want to go into the whole explanation about how it depends on the time of year, my mood, etc.)
I read Dharma Bums a few times in my twenties, but haven’t been back to it in a long time. Loved One Hundred Years of Solitude but probably didn’t give the book the attention it deserved. Lately I’ve been into Carlos Ruiz Zafón—The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game are both books I wish I would’ve written. But I have to say, the last book I loved as a reader was Christopher Moore’s Sacré Bleu. So for the time being, we’ll call it my ‘favorite book ever.’
What Is The Best Piece Of Writing Advice You Could Give, And Why?
Write every day.
If You Were A Dragon, What Kind Of Dragon Would You Be?
Don’t know if this counts, but I’d be one of those lazy dragons that enjoys fine food and drink. Like a Zen dragon? I wouldn’t be down for terrorizing villagers and all that. It’s all work and no reward.