I was born in 1974, in Quincy, Illinois. When I was very young my family spent a year in Memphis, Tennessee. My one memory of that time involves my mother asking me what color crayon I was using, and I answered, “Brown.” This caused some sort of an uproar that included my father saying, “It’s time to move.” I realize now that I must have spoken in a Southern dialect. My parents deny any memory of this episode, but I believe it to be the real reason we eventually relocated to the south suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.
Baseball, GI Joe, Legos and Star Wars dominated my grade school years. I attended Orchard Hill Farm School, which was unique in that it was actually located on a small farm. It even boasted a handful of horses and sheep. Much of my time at Orchard Hill was spent convincing my teacher not to bust me too hard for not doing my homework. I was awarded “Most Likely to Become a Swamp Salesman.” Not kidding.
Orchard Hill also saw my first foray into the theater arts. When I was ten years old I wrote, directed and starred in a stage adaptation of Voltron. Yeah, the cartoon. Again, not kidding. It was a huge hit.
My parents divorced when I was nine years old. When I was ten, my dad remarried and moved the family to Muskegon, Michigan. I entered the Mona Shores public school system, where my swamp-selling skills did not serve me nearly as well as they once had. But I did get to play football, which helped. During my first few years in Muskegon I also began a life-long relationship with authors like JRR Tolkien, Arthur C. Clarke, and (my personal hero) Stephen King. Later, in high school, my interest in performing reappeared when I enrolled in the school choir.
At best you might say I was an indifferent student in high school. I was uncomfortable and awkward around people my own age, preferring instead to stay in my room reading with the stereo cranked. The big threat was always, “If you don’t get your grades up, you won’t be able to go to college.” As far as I could tell, “college” just meant more school, which was the last thing I wanted. My parents grounded me regularly as well, but since I mostly wanted to stay in my room and read anyway it made for an ineffective deterrent. Don’t feel bad for me; I got over it eventually.
I did manage to graduate high school and spent the next few years floating around Muskegon, trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I wrote fiction off and on, but lacked the discipline to really get serious about it. I attended the local community college with disastrous results. The one bright spot was the local theater scene. For a small blue-collar town where the most popular hobbies all involve shooting things, Muskegon has a surprisingly large theater community. At the time the town boasted a civic theater company, an independent non-profit theater company, a professional summer-stock company, and a fine arts camp. Also, the community college’s productions opened their auditions to the public. There was plenty of stuff to do. Very little of it paid anything, but it was a lot of fun. Also, it gave me a direction to explore career-wise. In 1994 I bit the bullet and moved to Chicago with the intention of pursuing a career in theater.
It didn’t take long for me to realize I had no idea what I was doing. I decided to give school one more try, enrolling at Columbia College Chicago where, aside from a decent education in the craft and business of theater and a few enlightening classes in fiction writing, I met Mandy, my future wife. After dating for eight years, off and on, we tied the knot in the fall of 2004.
My theater career remained stagnant until about 2004, when I declared that I was no longer pursuing acting as a career but instead relegated it to “hobby” level. Then I got cast in a production of A Clockwork Orange, which I almost turned down but cause it ran until the week before my wedding. Mandy told me to go for it, though, and I’ve been pretty busy ever since. I average four or five shows on stage per year, and another two or three behind the scenes providing stage combat choreography.
I do still write, although that comes and goes. There is a Gloria Steinem quote that defines me: “I hate writing, but I love having written.” Every once in a while I do manage to crank something out, though. I sold my first short story, Highway Robbery, to Allegory e-zine (formerly Peridot Books) in 2001, and I am a two-time winner of National Novel Writing Month.
I stand 6’1″ and am very overweight, although I’m working on that. I’ve got blue eyes, and brown hair with hints of red (and also a little gray) that I’ve been told is my best feature. I’m a rabid Chicago Bears fan. I love movies, and have a pretty extensive DVD collection. I don’t read comic books very much, although I am really into anything Batman-related. And few things make me happier than loud, heavy, aggressive music.
I have two sisters, a half-sister, a half-brother and two step-brothers. I’m older than all of them. We’re spread out all over the country, from Michigan to Indiana, to Arizona and Washington state. At home there’s me and the wife, and our two cats, Zoe and Smogs.
That pretty much covers it. If anything major occurs I’ll update this page. Otherwise, my regular blog entries should keep you up to date. Let me know if you have any questions.