Doing author interviews is a great way for writers to connect with readers. I’ve done a few of them, and I’ve answered random reader questions on Goodreads and Facebook. Often, I’ll get asked a question that is just plain fun to answer, and I find myself wanting to preserve my responses to these questions. So, I decided to start this ongoing self-interview on my blog. I will periodically post great questions and my answers to them. So, here is the first one . . .
Q: At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
A: Without a doubt, my first fascination with a book was with Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I guess I first encountered this book in kindergarten, so around age five. You know, there have been a few happenings in my life that left such marked impressions that I can remember sensory details about the experience—things like the taste of what I was eating, the smell in the air, the colors I saw around me. Sensory memory is a very powerful thing. Reading Where the Wild Things Are is the only experience which left a memory of playing inside of my imagination. Yeah, South Park got it right. Imagination Land does exist. I’ve been there. I remember, fairly vividly, pretending to be Max and living among the wild things. My bedroom became just like his bedroom. I remember more than just pretending to be Max; I remember what it was like to be Max (in Imagination Land, of course). That book was more than just a bunch of pages with pictures and words, it was an experience. That was my introduction to the power of books.
I started writing in high school. I think it was an expression of teen angst back then, like it is for so many teens (funny how they use the very mode of expression that many of them rebel against in English class—namely poetry). I wrote small bits of poetry in the form of song lyrics. I had them stashed all over my room as a teenager. Sadly, most of them are lost now. I never believed in myself enough to preserve them, to take my writing seriously. Then, when I went to college, I was fortunate enough to land in the writing class of Dr. Ron Colthard. In one of my typical smartass moves, I turned most every piece I wrote in that class into a humorous essay. Rather than chastise me, he took it upon himself to edit and critique those crazy things. He made me see that my self-indulgent bull could be turned into little gems of at least moderate literary merit. Before that class was over, Dr. Colthard tried numerous times to get me to submit something to the Cold Mountain Review (ASU’s creative writing publication), but I was too scared or maybe just too young and stupid. It took me two major jobs, a master’s degree, and twenty years to gain the courage to put my work out there. Now that I’ve done it, I wish I could go back to 1992 and smack my former self right across the head.