I'm a retired public servant who moved on from memos and other legal mumbo jumbo to more personal prose, both fiction and non-fiction. My work has appeared in various on-line and print publications, including my hometown paper, "The Buffalo News". If you click on the WORKS button above you'll find links to some of these pieces, most of which are free to access.
If you're interested in what brought me to this place...
The motivation to begin writing in earnest arose from two things: the encouragement and support of my wife, Camille, and an illness that left me housebound and tethered to an oxygen tank 24/7.
I'd spent 34 years in local government service when, in 2007, I quit and never looked back. Retirement went smoothly the first few years, but a chronic lung condition came to dominate my life. That's when, with a push from Camille, I began to spend serious time at my desk.
My literary influences are broad, beginning at the age of six with those superstars of youth literature: Jane, Dick and Spot. When I turned ten, the most exciting moment in my short life occurred—the opening of a branch library a few blocks from my childhood home in Columbus, Ohio, an air-conditioned oasis in the midst of Midwest heat and boring summer vacations.
Sports biographies were my first passion, a phase that lasted until hormones kicked in. That's when I found my father's trove of Harold Robbins novels and got my first taste of fiction written for adults - the kind that, when you dropped the paperback on the floor, always fell open to the same part. You know—that part about our parts?
My reading as a teenager shifted to science fiction, with Bradbury, Heinlein, Clarke, and Asimov leading the way. Each of them revealed truths about the human condition in stories that went beyond the genre's conventions. As I grew older I was drawn to early-mid 20th century writers: Steinbeck, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Salinger and others.
My late teens and early twenties were spent as an English major at the University of Buffalo. It was the 60's, a turbulent time when UB was known as The Berkley of the East. The office doors in the English Department sported names like Barth, Creely, Corso, Dennis, Fieldler, Olsen, Logan, Weiners, Coetzee and Barthelme. The educational environment wasn't all serious, however. Folks in this department threw pretty mean parties, gatherings where literate conversation shared space with stoned and/or drunken monologues, drum circles and seductions that crossed gender lines.
After university my favorite authors were the major American novelists of the time: Roth, Updike, Vonnegut, Joseph Heller and others. Later, the names John Irving, Pat Conroy and Cormac McCarthy became important to me. Last, and most important to my own writing, came Anne Tyler.
Tyler, the author of twenty novels, explores relationships among and within families of every conceiveable combination. She has an ability to reveal the significance within life's mundane moments, and to create characters as real as that person sitting next to you on the bus.
I've written exactly one fan letter in my life and it was to Ms. Tyler. In it I complained that writing a fan letter to an author was an intimidating task, akin to "…trying to literally sing the praises of Pavarotti." A few weeks later I received a postcard from Ms. Tyler thanking me for my letter and assuring me that I was up to the challenge.
Years later, when illness made of me a shut-in, and my wife helped motivate me to write more, those words were a source of encouragement. I would look up at that postcard pinned to my bookshelf and think, "Maybe I can do this."
To date I've been fortunate enough to have had essays and short stories published in my hometown newspaper, web magazines and print anthologies. There are also four novels, as yet unpublished, resting uncomfortably on a bookshelf in my den, waiting for the right opportunities to present themselves.
In closing, I must express thanks to the family of the man whose lung now resides within me. It was their courage and compassion (along with the support of Camille and the skilled staff of the Cleveland Clinic) that led to the successful organ transplant that saved my life.
If you're not already a designated organ donor, please consider doing so today.