About the Author
Who Was that Masked Writer?
In the grand scheme of things, I'm undoubtedly much
less famous than my
TV-celebrity namesake. Still, I've had a long and
enjoyable writing career, and you might well have encountered my
work through Dragon®
Magazine's "The Role of Books" review column (may it rest
in peace), read one of my short stories, or crossed my path at a
science fiction convention (OryCon,
for instance). Perhaps we've met in "real life",
during the decade or so I spend as a technical writer in Oregon's "Silicon Forest". And then again, perhaps you've just stumbled across
this site via random Web-jump and you don't have the faintest idea
why you're here.
A Writer's Life
If you believe the book jackets, writers lead
fascinating lives. We've held all manner of strange and
wonderful (or strange and boring) jobs, we've been to any number of
exotic places and lived to tell the tale, and we've acquired closets
full of nifty souvenirs as mementos of our adventures.
The truth is that writers -- the ones whose books
you're likely to buy, anyway -- spend a lot of time in libraries,
sitting in front of computers, and staring off into space (or into
their latest cup of coffee, on which they likely spent $1.29 at 7-11
instead of $3.50 at Starbucks) trying to think of what to type next.
Which isn't to say that some of us haven't had
unusual jobs or traveled around the world. But the unusual
jobs probably didn't pay a lot, a lot of the world tours involve
wearing a uniform and carrying a gun, and the staring off into space
happens entirely too often.
Meanwhile, Back in Suburbia....
And me? No world tours -- I've spent nearly
all my life right here in the
Northwest. My parents still own, and live in, the house
they bought when I was just short of three years old. There are
several thousand more books in it now than there were then, but
that's another story.
Funky jobs? Not here. I did the
burger-flipping thing in college, poked my nose briefly into the
telephone-survey industry, counted office furniture one summer, and
have been the "person Friday" in a small specialty stock brokerage.
Mind, I know people with exotic careers -- the lawyer living in the
Middle East, or the friend who spent a number of years working for
Walt Disney, first as a candlestick and later as a very nasty lion. (More recently, he's done a successful Broadway turn as
Dr. Seuss's Grinch.)
All things considered, though, my life is probably
plain enough to be a statistical anomaly. There were no soap
operas in my childhood, my family only needed the white picket fence
and the extra three-tenths of a child to be stereotypically average,
and my relatives all, mostly, still talk to each other.
Outside the Carpool Lane
Fast forward to the present, in which I'm still a
statistical anomaly. I get along with my parents and sibling,
aka the Kid Brother, who lives in southern California with his wife
and my niece and nephew (ages eleven and nine at present), thus
confounding those who insist that there's no such thing as a
non-dysfunctional American family. I also don't drive, drink
coffee, inhale (as distinguished from breathing), or
indulge in spiritous liquors, though probably not for the reasons
you think.* I just never liked the taste of any of the liquid
or aromatic vices, and not driving saves fantastic amounts of $$
that don't have to go for gas and insurance and car payments.
When you're an impoverished writer-type, this is non-trivial.
Like most English degrees, mine has failed to make
me rich and famous, although it did eventually launch me on a wildly
multi-faceted writing career, documented elsewhere in these (Web)
pages. Bruce Wayne has stately Wayne Manor; I have a too-quiet
bachelor apartment stuffed full of books, techie-toys, and empty
cardboard boxes that used to have books in them. After much
too long, I've finally started flattening and disposing of the
boxes. (If I ever move -- not likely in the near future, but one
never knows -- I'm going to need a big truck.)
*Tea also used to be on my
"doesn't drink" list, but in the last year or so I've been wading very
gingerly into these waters. I may never become exactly fond of tea,
but I can no longer claim I've got an aversion to it.