Funny, even though I know I’m infinitely fascinating, it never occurred to me to put a bio up. But I shall rectify that now.
I was born 50-odd years ago in England, to an American father (working civil service on a base there) and an English mother. I grew up in Stanmore, a little village in Middlesex County. So little I usually just say “Harrow” which is a nearby town—it’s much more likely someone’s heard of that.
My dominant influences, as much as I can remember them were Dr. Who, British kids’ books (Anthony Buckeridge, Enid Blyton, Richmal Crompton), comic books and animals. I was fascinated by the animal kingdom and knew from childhood that some sort of zoological career was my destiny. Though in hindsight Dad buying me Justice League of America #30 when I was six had much more of an impact on my future than any of the natural history books I read. It introduced me to a world where everything was a 100 times more amazing than life in elementary school. Flying through space, working magic, outwitting villains, mind-controlling people—what’s not to love? It gave me a love for the more-than-ordinary that never wavered.
Come 1969, my father landed a job on Eglin AFB in Florida so we upped and moved stakes across the Atlantic. Our destination: Fort Walton Beach, a small, very conservative tourist town on the Northwest Florida coast (variously known as the Panhandle or more specifically the “Redneck Riviera.”). The culture shock was intense at times: I vividly remember asking for tea when we stopped for dinner after getting off the boat and they brought me tea … cold. With ice in it.
I went from sixth grade through 12th grade in FWB, graduating in 1976, the bicentennial year. My commitment to science never wavered. I did, however, get a new passion when I took a theater class in 11th grade and my life changed as much as when I read that first comic. I was a rather withdrawn kid, but Jo Yeager was an awesome drama teacher and her classes were warm, friendly and fun. Looking back, I think that’s when the plant I had been began to flower.
After graduation I went off to Oberlin College for the next four years. More flowering followed, but my enthusiasm for a science career began to wane. By graduation, it was gone; whether it was my taste changing or more exposure to the field, I don’t know.
During senior year I’d begun work on an Arthurian fantasy. Looking at graduation with no particular career plans I figured well, why not try being a writer? So I did. My parents, who had anticipated me progressing through grad school until probably my Ph.D., were gobsmacked and not happy.
Much to my surprise, I liked writing. And I was even good at it, for a rookie. Of course that’s a long way from making a living at it: I sold my first story in the early 1980s for a big $10, and maybe one more in the decade. So I spent the era working a variety of grungy jobs and branching into nonfiction. I sold several articles to Dragon and more to a variety of trade magazines. Enough to help me stay afloat, but not enough to be a full-timer.
In the late 1980s, I began working as a stringer (freelancer) for one of the local papers. After a couple of years, I decided it might be possible to freelance full-time, so I quit my day job and tried it. After a year, I was job-hunting again. The two fatal weaknesses were me (back then I just didn’t have the discipline for the gig) and the paper cutting its budget big-time so my steady stream of assignments dwindled away.
Fortunately I landed on my feet. Instead of jobs I hated I wound up working at Waldenbooks (sibling to Borders) which I loved and as newsletter editor for a local construction-industry group, plus freelancing on the side. That kept me going (if not flush with cash) until 2000, when I began work at the Destin Log as a full-time reporter. Where I still might be if I hadn’t met TYG in 2008 at a Mensa convention. After moving up here in 2010, I began freelancing while I tried to find a job—and I’ve been full-time ever since.
TYG and I married in 2011. An even bigger moment than finding that awesome issue of JLA.
(Cover by Mike Sekowsky, rights with current holder)