Funny, even though I know I’m infinitely fascinating, it never occurred to me to put a bio up. But I shall rectify that now.
I was born 50-odd years ago in England, to an American father (working civil service on a base there) and an English mother. I grew up in Stanmore, a little village in Middlesex County. So little I usually just say “Harrow” which is a nearby town—it’s much more likely someone’s heard of that.
My dominant influences, as much as I can remember them were Dr. Who, British kids’ books (Anthony Buckeridge, Enid Blyton, Richmal Crompton), comic books and animals. I was fascinated by the animal kingdom and knew from childhood that some sort of zoological career was my destiny. Though in hindsight Dad buying me Justice League of America #30 when I was six had much more of an impact on my future than any of the natural history books I read. It introduced me to a world where everything was a 100 times more amazing than life in elementary school. Flying through space, working magic, outwitting villains, mind-controlling people—what’s not to love? It gave me a love for the more-than-ordinary that never wavered.
Come 1969, my father landed a job on Eglin AFB in Florida so we upped and moved stakes across the Atlantic. Our destination: Fort Walton Beach, a small, very conservative tourist town on the Northwest Florida coast (variously known as the Panhandle or more specifically the “Redneck Riviera.”). The culture shock was intense at times: I vividly remember asking for tea when we stopped for dinner after getting off the boat and they brought me tea … cold. With ice in it.
I went from sixth grade through 12th grade in FWB, graduating in 1976, the bicentennial year. My commitment to science never wavered. I did, however, get a new passion when I took a theater class in 11th grade and my life changed as much as when I read that first comic. I was a rather withdrawn kid, but Jo Yeager was an awesome drama teacher and her classes were warm, friendly and fun. Looking back, I think that’s when the plant I had been began to flower.
After graduation I went off to Oberlin College for the next four years. More flowering followed, but my enthusiasm for a science career began to wane. By graduation, it was gone; whether it was my taste changing or more exposure to the field, I don’t know.
During senior year I’d begun work on an Arthurian fantasy. Looking at graduation with no particular career plans I figured well, why not try being a writer? So I did. My parents, who had anticipated me progressing through grad school until probably my Ph.D., were gobsmacked and not happy.
Much to my surprise, I liked writing. And I was even good at it, for a rookie. Of course that’s a long way from making a living at it: I sold my first story in the early 1980s for a big $10, and maybe one more in the decade. So I spent the era working a variety of grungy jobs and branching into nonfiction. I sold several articles to Dragon and more to a variety of trade magazines. Enough to help me stay afloat, but not enough to be a full-timer.
In the late 1980s, I began working as a stringer (freelancer) for one of the local papers. After a couple of years, I decided it might be possible to freelance full-time, so I quit my day job and tried it. After a year, I was job-hunting again. The two fatal weaknesses were me (back then I just didn’t have the discipline for the gig) and the paper cutting its budget big-time so my steady stream of assignments dwindled away.
Fortunately I landed on my feet. Instead of jobs I hated I wound up working at Waldenbooks (sibling to Borders) which I loved and as newsletter editor for a local construction-industry group, plus freelancing on the side. That kept me going (if not flush with cash) until 2000, when I began work at the Destin Log as a full-time reporter. Where I still might be if I hadn’t met TYG in 2008 at a Mensa convention. After moving up here in 2010, I began freelancing while I tried to find a job—and I’ve been full-time ever since. TYG and I married in 2011, which was an even bigger moment than finding that awesome issue of JLA.
If you want to find me on Twitter, I’m at bogatyr5.
(Cover by Mike Sekowsky, rights with current holder)