I’ve been a consumer of the written word for as long as I can remember—fairy tales, science fiction, fantasies, mysteries; comic books, magazines, newspapers, graphic novels. From the simple Dick and Jane books to the elegant and compelling sagas of J. R. R. Tolkien, Frank Herbert, and the like, I have been a voracious reader. I remember the first time I entered the room in the library where the big kid books were shelved—the room next to the children’s section. I kept wondering if somebody was going to find me and send me back to the children’s section. But nobody did and I never looked back.
As a young reader, I didn’t pay attention to ancillary material in works of fiction. Acknowledgments, dedications, tables of content, blurbs, indexes, glossaries, lists of characters, about-the-author pages—I ignored them all. I dove straight in to the book—the first paragraph of the opening chapter—and once I was reading I just kept reading. I didn’t pay attention to chapter titles. Shoot, early on in my reading life, I couldn’t even tell you who wrote the book I was devouring. At least not while I was reading it. Occasionally, when I finished a book I would check out the other-books-by section—to see if there were more books in the series or another series by the same author.
And those excerpts at the end? The teasers about the author’s next book. The ones that tricked you into thinking there was more left to read than there really was. I actively disliked those and never read them.
As I got older, I learned to pay attention to the writer’s name and I appreciated having a list of characters for more complex books. As an author I’ve even come to terms with those back-of-the book previews. (Some readers like them and they help sell books.) I like acknowledging all the people who’ve helped with the book and dedicating it to people who’ve been especially important in my life. Table of contents? Chapter titles? Glossaries? They all make sense now.
Unfortunately, when it comes time to write the about-the-author section I find myself wishing I’d been paying attention all these years. What do authors say about themselves when they’re writing these sections?
Now, having done my homework—having read a bunch of current about-the-author sections—I still haven’t figured it out—what about me might you, the reader, be interested in?
I grew up in Tuscaloosa, a town in Alabama bigger than most but by no means what you’d call a big city. Lived there until I left to go off to college, where I had so much fun that I ended up taking an involuntary year off. The Vietnam War was in full swing and I had a low draft number, so I dodged the draft by joining the navy. Served my hitch, went back to college, fell in love, married, graduated, and got a job in New York City. Over the years I’ve tried my hand at a number of different occupations and have finally settled on one.
Writing. Writing what you’re reading. I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them.
For information about my writing, check out the FAQs tab. Are there other things you’d like to know about me? Send me your question(s) via the Comments tab. I answer all comments, and who knows, your question might make it into the FAQs or the next installment of About the Author.
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