I used to say that I grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, when, in truth, I only started growing older there. After nineteen years I left to go to college and, for the most part, spent the next twenty years aging somewhere else—New Jersey, Florida, Panama Canal Zone, Massachusetts, and Georgia. Then I returned to Tuscaloosa and continued the maturation process for another twenty-six years. In 2015 my wife and I moved to Vero Beach, Florida, where I hope to continue growing older for a good long time.
The locations I’ve lived in have had more influence on my mystery novels than on the fantasy series. The town of Shelbyville is based in large part on Tuscaloosa with some wrinkles from other locations thrown in to keep things interesting—and keep the inhabitants guessing. That’s not to say that the places I’ve been aren’t reflected in the fantasies—but most of the geography of Narne is imaginary.
While growing older, I’ve tried my hand at a number of jobs—newspaper collator, darkroom technician, farmhand, factory worker, sailor, salesman, underwriter, account executive, accountant, systems administrator, information specialist--and professional writer. As an author I find that those earlier experiences contribute to what happens in my novels—again more in the not-as-fictional mysteries than in the fantasies. There’s just not enough magic in the real world.
Interestingly, the event that crystalized my decision to start writing full-time is one that I haven’t used in any of my novels. The tornado that ripped through Tuscaloosa on April 27, 2011, destroying an eighth of the town—including the back half of my house—hasn’t made it into any of my novels. Shelbyville and Narne have both been spared.
On the other hand, the support, encouragement, and editorial assistance my wife provides have been part of every novel since the beginning.
I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them.