My writing career began in kindergarten when I wrote, on a single yellow sheet from my Big Chief notebook, the unacknowledged classic, Santa Claus And The 27 Bad Boys. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’d found my material for a lifetime of fiction writing: a stubborn fascination with the mythological and supernatural creatures that haunt and enliven our culture, an affection for odd and strange characters, and a desire to be both comic and serious.
I wrote a lot of bad fiction before I wrote some good fiction. While all this was going on, I traveled a lot and lived in a lot of places. I met a girl and fell in love and we got married. I got a couple of degrees, a BA and an MFA in writing. I found work that I like, teaching writing at Austin Community College, and that affords me time to write fiction.
Alien Invasion & Other Inconveniences was written in about five weeks—the first time. The rewriting took more than a year, and then there was more rewriting with my agent, Sara Crowe, and my editor, Jen Yoon. I got a lot of help, which most writers get and need. Lots of things changed as I revised. One thing that didn’t change was my idea that the invasion wasn’t the story. The invasion is pretty much over in the first sentence. “It takes them less time to conquer the world than it takes me to brush my teeth.” I wanted this to be about what happened after the aliens conquered the Earth. Another thing that didn’t change was the theme of blind arrogance. A lot of powerful nations on this earth have been so arrogant toward conquered peoples. They didn’t treat them like human beings. The aliens in my novel act like that toward humans. It’s quite a surprise for the humans to be treated that way.
Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:
1. The first writer I ever saw up close was Kurt Vonnegut. He didn’t see me. I was sixteen and went over to my friend Mark’s house. My friend said, “That’s Kurt Vonnegut eating dinner with my parents.” I said, “Wow, Kurt Vonnegut. Who’s Kurt Vonnegut?” He gave me Cat’s Cradle to read. It’s an amazing novel. Right after that I read the even more amazing Slaughterhouse Five, also by Kurt Vonnegut. I started to think maybe I would like to be a writer, too. I didn’t do much about it for a long time, but I did become a reader. Thank you, Kurt.
2. I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
3. When I was young I hitchhiked around most of America, parts of Mexico, and parts of Europe. I met a lot of interesting people. I saw many, many things I’d never seen before. It was an education as important to me as college, and it was a lot cheaper and more scenic.