Adventure. Excitement. Jedi Master Yoda might give those things a derisive sneer, but I love them. The first books I remember reading were the adventures of a horse named Blaze and his youthful owner, Billy, written and illustrated by Clarence William Anderson in the mid-1930’s. Billy and Blaze always found themselves in the middle of some crisis and with courage and heroics, never failed to save the day. Hooked, I tried to write adventure stories of my own. I was four.
A few years later, I discovered Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Couldn’t read a word! If you’ve tried reading the unabridged version, you understand. Verne put so much geography, biology and zoology into that book it’s a daunting read even for adults. But I kept checking it out of Kansas City, Missouri’s Saint Peter’s Catholic School library because it was a big illustrated edition and the images alone took me off to the adventure land of my imagination.
In the end, it was Batman, Daredevil, and Conan the Barbarian who taught me how to read. In the fourth grade, just about anything published by DC or Marvel Comics were my reading and vocabulary textbooks. Thanks to their superb use of language, my spelling, writing, and vocabulary became my only true academic strengths. Graduation from reading comic books alone to including real honest-to-goodness books came when I discovered that Conan and Tarzan both originated as novels. I still own complete sets of both!
I was a typical ten year old for that era. I was out of the house as early in the morning as I could escape, not to be seen again until the streetlights popped on. My days were spent exploring wooded and undeveloped parts of my neighborhood, construction sites my friends and I knew good and well we were supposed to stay out of, parks, playgrounds, creek beds, and the drainage pipes that stretched for miles beneath my little part of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. What rogues we were! I was the rogue that read and tried to write.
My first post-move-to-Texas memory is of waking up on my thirteenth birthday to my dad telling me, “You’re probably going to be a pain in the rear-end, just like every other teenager.” The big grin on his face let me know he was OK with that, within limits of course.
Unfortunately, I was a bit of a burr under Mom and Dad’s saddle. High school was a bland time for me. I hated it. That’s not anyone’s fault. It was simply a case of my personality and the traditional high school environment being a poor match. Aside from Art (I was, at one time, pretty handy with pencil and paint) and writing assignments, I nearly flunked out.
High school was such a nightmare that college was out of the question. I entered the Army and became an infantry paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. That is where I really began to come into my stride. I served four years and experienced first-hand an incredible wealth of adventures.
I took up skydiving, scuba, made a few bungee jumps, studied martial arts, and learned to play the guitar. College wasn’t out of the question any longer and after my discharge I earned a psychology degree, a master’s degree in social work, and worked in pediatric mental health for roughly ten years. Dissatisfied with where pediatric counseling and therapy was headed, I returned to college and earned a degree in Computer Science and Software Engineering and worked in that field for roughly seven years.
The greatest adventure of my life has been, hands down, being married to an absolutely fantastic woman and raising two children I couldn’t be more proud of. All three inspire me.
But, what about writing?
At every stage of my life, people have complemented me on my writing. Those kind words were always followed up with, “…but you can’t make a living out of doing that,” and I was dumb enough to listen. I was a kid! What did I know?
So here I am, living out my childhood dream. My wife, (did I mention how spectacular she is?) has given me all the support and encouragement any man could ask for. Though I’ve written on and off since my beginnings, I’m now writing on a daily basis. Other writers and publishing professionals have told me they think my stuff is pretty good, so I’ll keep at it because, Wow! What an adventure this is!