I like to create things. I found a whole bunch of old wood chisels in the shed that belonged to my partner’s grandfather, and after a few days of cleaning and sharpening they were ready to use on all that wood abandoned under the house.
My first novel started the same way. Some skills that needed cleaning and sharpening, some old ideas left ‘under the house’ … It was a lot of work, but it sure was fun. Since then I built another bench, and written six novels and a couple anthologies.
I was born and raised in Northern California. It was a fantastic place to grow up: the Sierra Nevadas were on the horizon, the American River Canyon was right below the house. Many a day, and sometimes nights, was spent down there. I was lucky to have parents who always questioned the party line. I also grew up with a huge map of the world on my wall. When I got old enough I checked myself out of high school, slaved away in some manual labour jobs (including on the railroad, but mostly digging trenches and hauling lumber around construction sites), and finally bought a backpack and travelled the Pacific. It was my first visit to where I now call home, 35 years in the past when my hair was half way down my back, and much thicker.
I lived in the UK for almost 15 years, and then Alaska … what an incredibly beautiful place! I had a favorite glacier, as you do. I got to watch bears and eagles, as well as a year in the total dark (and light) of the arctic. And (back) to New Zealand, now three passports in hand, in a way only those circles tend to happen in life.
Living and thinking beyond borders is a real theme in my life. I currently work in the deep sea fisheries as a Fisheries Observer for the Ministry of Primary Industries, which puts me about two hundred miles off shore some days. Its a role that helps ensure sustainability in New Zealand waters, and gives me time to keep writing. Not a bad combination!
For a more personal introduction, read my memoire/confessional of a part of my life spent in the United Kingdom. Comprised of vignettes (what can be written on a vine leaf), poetry, and a few short stories written in an Irish pub. On an Island Surrounded by Water is an effort to acknowledge both the place and the experience that has shaped me in so many ways.
from the Introduction:
“Twenty years ago, I left the British Isles. I was happy to do so at the time, always the foreigner, always the one with an accent. But returning to the US I was again the one speaking funny or different. Words and phrases and pronunciations inhabited my tongue, moved right in without my even noticing. Now I always get the question, ‘Where are you from?’ no matter where I am.”