One of my earliest memories is of me sitting in my mother’s lap, thrilling to the adventures of The Five Little Firemen. She read it with sound effects, complete with sirens, bells, and the sound of spraying water. It was especially exciting because, more than anything in the world, I wanted to be a fireman. We read it so many times, Mom can probably still recite it more than forty years later. Sadly, I didn’t grow up to be a fireman, but those five brave heroes ignited a love of reading in me, and it has never waned.
I don’t remember exactly when I started reading on my own, but when I did, I couldn’t get enough. I read all of the books in Gertrude Chandler Warner’s Boxcar Children series, then started on the Hardy Boys mysteries. My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George, took me to the upstate New York wilderness to live in a hollowed out tree, and Anne Holm’s North to Freedom carried me across a hostile, foreign country, running to Denmark and freedom. Every summer, I would ride my bike to the Florence (SC) Public Library and sign up for the Summer Reading Club. Then, I would spend the next several weeks traveling the world in the pages of the books I’d list on the tracking sheet.
Throughout my childhood, my love of the written word grew, and it led me to earn an English degree in college. I always felt like I was getting away with something, since I got to spend most of my time reading. A creative writing course was offered for the first time at the start of my junior year, and I signed up for it. The professor encouraged me to keep writing, but I didn’t have the desire or the confidence to tell a story my way, so I didn’t pursue the craft after that class. Sometime during my thirties, though, a story demanded to be released from my brain, and I decided it was time to put that English degree to good use.
I’m currently sixty-two thousand words into my second novel, working title Mammon, and though it’s set in the South, I’ve ventured into the realm of horror with this project. I never knew how much fun I could have conjuring up ghosts and demons and wreaking havoc on people’s lives. This first excursion into the genre has been so much fun, I’ve got two more novels sketched out. I just hope my long-suffering wife can stand it.