- Please tell us a little about yourself.
My first response of course is, “Well… What do you want to know?” I’m always at a loss as to how to answer that question… Let’s see… Born and raised in West Virginia, and currently living in a small West Virginia town with deep family roots. I’ve managed to not do too many stupid things and have made it to middle age mostly intact. I’m an avid reader, and buying books, chocolate, and coffee are about the only vices I have left. I have a wide variety of interests, including cooking, hiking, gardening, working on my house, exploring new and old diners and museums, and of course, writing. My reading interests include history, the Beats, comparative religion and mythology and folklore, some sci-fi and fantasy, poetry, psychology and addiction studies, the natural world, and the classics.To balance all of that out, I’m also a fan of The Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes, and Pearls Before Swine. I’m currently a student at WVU working on my dissertation for my doctorate in Higher Education Administration (Ed.D)
2. What do you write (genre, length)?
I write poetry whenever the Poetry Muse smacks me upside the head and demands that I put something on paper. It can range from humorous to social activism, inspirational and thought provoking, and sometimes disturbing. I can’t sit down and tap out a poem, like I’ve seen some of my colleagues do. Poetry has to come to me.
I also write non-fiction. My first book is a book on early recovery from addiction that took me many years to write. I recently revised and updated it, adding some of my poems and commentary.
3. What is/are your current project/s? Please give us some details.
I’m kind of stalled out right now. I’ve recently moved, and I’m working on my house and in the middle of writing my dissertation as well as working full time. I’m just a little bit busy. But the project I’m dreaming of, that’s in the back of my mind and half-way finished, is a book that compares Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” to the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. In my way of thinking, people who are recovering from addiction through the 12 Steps are going on their own Hero’s Journey, one that is described and laid out in our own myths, religions, and stories. It’s the story of personal growth, overcoming obstacles, fighting our own demons, gaining the treasure, and returning back home to heal the land. I want to track that growth process and show recovery through a wider lens, demonstrating that it’s a very human thing, one that’s been mirrored in our stories and myths for ages.
4. Who (author or otherwise) or what book inspired you to write?
For my first book, I remember running across a book called Living Sober published through Alcoholics Anonymous World Services. I was working as a counselor in a prison at the time, and I liked how the book broke down complex topics into simpler one-line statements that would be easy to remember. That’s the format I used when I wrote my own book.
5. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write what you want. Forget what’s popular and what’s in demand. Write what moves you. And forget about word count. That’s a nice motivator, but it’s getting what is inside of you out onto paper is what really counts. Oh… and read. Read everything.
6. What do you do for a living?
I’m a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in the state of West Virginia. I’ve been licensed since 2002, and work primarily with adults and juveniles facing addiction, anxiety, depression, and PTSD at a community mental health center.
7. Who is/are your favorite author(s)?
Oh gee… There’s so many! Let’s see… Richard Bach, Henry David Thoreau, Joseph Campbell, Albert Schweitzer, John Steinbeck, George Orwell, Robert E. Howard, Arthur Conan Doyle, the list could go on and on… Of poets, I’m a fan of Walt Whitman, the Beats, James Kavanaugh, Hafiz, Poe, Robert Service, and Don West.
8. What is/are your favorite book(s)?
I like to take Walden by Thoreau with me when I go hiking or backpacking. Illusions by Richard Bach was an eye opener in my youth that I’ll re-read again and again. The Count of Monte Cristo remains a treasure that I’ve read a couple of times and will probably dive into again when I have the time. Other favorite books? I have treasures such as Carl Jung’s Red Book, my childhood copy of White Fang and a collection of science fiction stories I checked out from the library as a child and now have on my shelves. I’ll return to Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces as part of my research for my WIP and enjoy it all over again. Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, the poems of Hafiz, Allen Ginsberg, and James Kavanaugh still get me.
9. What’s the best compliment someone can give you as an author?
The best compliment I ever got from someone was when they told me that they’re going to take my poem home and put it up on the refrigerator. It makes me feel good when someone tells me that I’ve touched them through my words.
10.What is the strangest/most interesting/coolest/weirdest/scariest thing you’ve had to research for a book or short story?
For my WIP, I’ve researched ancient mythologies, gods and goddesses, various religious texts, modern stories, folktales and poetry, and found so many common links between them. It’s amazing when you find that it all interconnects and resonates within our very own modern human nature.
11. What is the most difficult part of writing for you? Why?
Self-discipline! I can’t wait until I win the lottery or retire so I can dedicate days to research and writing. I can’t sit down and pick away at a writing project for a few minutes each day. And I get distracted so easily…
12.What is your favorite genre to read? Why?
Oh… let’s see… I guess history… no… poetry… no… comparative mythology or religions… no… how about the classics… rats… I guess it depends on my mood.
13.What are some little known facts about you? Hobbies, talents, anything?
I like to cook, and sometimes I think I’m fairly good at it. I enjoy cooking Italian, American, and Chinese. I love my cast iron skillet, I have a favorite Chef’s knife, and I like to haul out my wok every now and then and play.
I have a bit of a green thumb, too, I guess, and would like to someday have a rose garden again. My last one had over a dozen roses including a cream white climber that went over the top of the front door.
I like haunting book sales, looking for odd, unusual books, or ones to fill gaps in a collection, and visiting mom-and-pop diners with friends.
When I get the chance, me and my hiking staff will go disappear for a day.
14. Do you like physical books, ebooks, or audiobooks better? Why?
Call me old fashioned, but physical books does it for me. I’ve tried ebooks and audiobooks and really haven’t got into them. There’s nothing like the feel of a physical book, and nothing beats the smell of old books.