I grew up in Northwest Indiana in a rough-around-the-edges community, where I eventually ended up teaching high school for thirty-five years, wonderful years that produced my third book, COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, a memoir filled with many characters from a freshman boy whose faculty code name was “Spawn of Satan” to a sweet senior girl whose water broke during a pop quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICHANS. The book is one that expresses both the humor and pathos of teaching. My first book was ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, An Indiana Childhood, the story of a bewildering time of growing up and finding what matters…and my second book, COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AINT NO BALLET, a memoir about middle school, high school, and college through the voice of someone who always felt just outside the coveted realm of normalcy. All three books make readers laugh aloud and see themselves in their own struggles to grow up.
What inspires you to write?
My greatest inspirations come from actual people I’ve known and the often hilarious situations that abound in daily life, along with the sometimes touching incidents that make us stop in our tracks to understand that life is also rich with sadness tha somehow helps to make us whole and heals us.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m old fashioned in the sense that my writing begins with spiral notebooks and pencils. There is an organic feeling to holding a wooden pencil that has my teeth marks on it and through which my emotional and intellectual blood can flow from my brain, down my arm, and onto a sheet of paper in what appears to be graphite. Then I use the word processor on my computer to begin editing and polishing the writing before sharing it with anyone. Some of my best writing begins with things that my irritate me most about society and where it occasionally appears to be going in its seemingly eternal descent into rudeness and selfishness, sometimes comical, sometimes not.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My characters are magnets for everything that has ever happened to me or that I wanted to happen to me. They exist after a while almost independent of my control, like wayward children. At times I have to let them tell me what they need or want to do. I listen and observe, trying all the time to recognize their motives, fears, hopes, and dreams. Writing isn’t always about control. It’s also about discovery and revelation. Surprise in the writer’s own mind is often a key element of his creations.
What advice would you give other writers?
Most often I let them interact with each other. As the writer, I’m only a voyeur.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Friends encouraged me. I gave up on finding a good agent and pursued independent publishing through Kindle and paperbacks on Amazon, which led to my books becoming available at store like Barnes & Noble…and even the Indiana State museum Bookstore in Indianapolis.
My second and third books are available as paperbacks as well as Kindle versions on Amazon.com. I’m especially pleased with COME SEPTEMBER, because it’s the story of my years as a teacher. Readers have said that it’s very funny but also heartwarming. Please have a look at the link to the paperback editions of COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, and COME ON FLUFFY, THIS AIN’T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age.
Link to Kindle version of Come September
Link to Kindle version of COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN’T NO BALLET
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Despite the fact that I love my Kindle and Nookbook, I still love the feel, smell, and sound of pages in a “real” volume. I have over two thousand hardcover and paperback books, some of which go back to my childhood (the Mesozoic Period?), so it’s hard for me to think of such a wonderful legacy evolving into yet another technological promise that something will be improved, whether we want it or not. It makes me question what is meant by “progress.”
What genres do you write?
Memoir and fiction
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print