So, how did it all start for me? What’s my origin story? Sadly it does not involve radioactive spiders or being launched from Krypton as it exploded. At least, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t.
The following is a look at how I became a storyteller. Note that I use the word ‘storyteller’ instead of ‘author.’ As you’ll see, I was telling stories before I ever started writing them down. Parts of this are shamelessly cannibalized from the ‘About’ section of my website and this blog.
So, I grew up in a pretty small town rural Texas. I often describe it as being a lot like The Dukes of Hazzard, though with far fewer car chases. I was an only child. Though I had plenty of cousins who were like brothers and sisters (and still are to this day), I was often in need of ways to entertain myself. Television of the ’80s played a big part of my childhood. Sure, many of the shows like The A-Team and Knight Rider really don’t hold up all that well when you watch them now (even if they have very hummable theme songs), but they were fertile soil for my young imagination. It also sowed the seeds of my eventual fanboy-dom.
Both of my parents were big fans of Star Trek. Some of my earliest memories of watching TV include scenes of Kirk, Spock, and Scotty arrayed in their bright ’60s uniforms. I think the Enterprise (1701) started me on my life-long love of ships. I was pretty young when I started creating stories in my head. Sure, most kids make up stories at that age, but I found that I built up a repertoire of stories that I could recite consistently and on command. And, well, I never really stopped after that.
Many of those early forays included cartoon characters from the ’80s teaming up to go on adventures together. (The tale of Optimus Prime and Rick Hunter teaming up to defeat the mechanized legions of Mumm-Ra springs to mind.)
I also found my love of reading at an early age, which was the gateway drug into writing stories. In 2nd Grade, I wrote a story in the form of a Twilight Zone episode entitled “Identity Crisis.” When I read it to the class I did my best impression of Rod Serling speaking the intro, complete with the intense eyebrows.
Even back then, I knew that the fantastical side of fiction was what really called to me. It wasn’t that I found real life boring. No, it was largely the creative canvas that fiction afforded me. If I wanted the colors of the rainbow arranged in a different order than they appeared in the sky, no problem. Say I wanted the Pacific War fought with dragons launched from giant turtles instead of aircraft carriers. Done. Not even the sky was the limit. I could take reality and reshape it as I saw fit.
Since that time, the thrill I get from creating worlds and writing fiction has never left me.
Sure, I could go into my years at school, which led to college, and my eventual writing career, but all of that is mundane, the kind of stuff they skip in the comics or at the beginning of a movie.
Without a doubt, those early influences put my life on its current trajectory. While I didn’t uncover a powerful alien artifact or find that I’m a latent telepath, I did discover a deep and abiding love of stories, characters, and far away horizons.
That love is a big part of who I am today.