As Walt Whitman said, “I am large, I contain multitudes!” The epigraph of every writer, really.
I was conceived in northern Alaska, and was born to a bohemian veterinarian mother in a hospital on the shores of Lake Michigan. I endured numerous hellish years of school, and I can say with reasonable veracity that I have forgiven all my teachers and even the poor children who had to figure out how to deal with me. I survived. I thank the best of you, and the worst of you get to look forward to seeing yourselves eviscerated in fiction, so there’s an end on it.
Instead of a social life, I swam in books. I became a devoted follower of Diana Wynne Jones and Douglas Adams. I studied acting and Shakespeare with the Young Shakespeare Players of Madison, Wisconsin, and it deeply impacted my direction in life. I then discovered historical re-enactment, where I hung about in velvet, idly strumming a harp while men in plastic armor hit each other with sticks. That too was most enlightening. Despite collecting a technical degree in commercial goldsmithing I instead pursued writing as my primary means of unemployment. I moved with my family to a tiny ranch in rural Oregon, where I still live with my daughter, my mother, and assorted Irish wolfhounds.
Most people, when they want to pursue a career in writing, go to college and take courses on creative writing. As I first said when I was seventeen, “If I were to get a degree in creative writing I fear I would no longer be fit to creatively write.” I never understood why everyone laughed at that.
Instead I read a lot: mythology and folklore as well as fantasy and science fiction, both for adults and children. I reread a lot, to better understand what I was absorbing. At sixteen I wrote my first novel, which was published serially in a friend’s newsletter about rats. Between that and A Long, Long Sleep, I’ve actually lost count of the number of novels — or at least novel-length manuscripts — I have written. Many of them aren’t very good. Many of them are just fine, but odd, and I’m not sure I have the patience to rewrite them to market standards. They might just sit stewing on my computer, creating a thick mulch for new novels to spring from. I try to write two books a year, barring unforseen disaster. Unforseen disaster keeps knocking at my door, I’m afraid — as friends and family can attest — but in general I still manage. A Long, Long Sleep is my first published novel. It fell out of me almost complete in just four weeks. If only all of them were so obliging.
Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:
1. I hand-milk a Jersey cow every day around midnight.
2. Before I wanted to be an author, I wanted to be an astronaut. At nine years old I realized I didn’t have the math skills, or the personality, so I write about people who look to the stars, instead.
3. In public I always wear a battered black hat, and I use a belt pouch instead of a purse.