The problem with putting just a little bio on the internet is that you’re trying really hard to encapsulate who you are in a really small space, and it tends to give a very broad picture. Inspired by a few podcasts I’ve listened to, I thought this section might help to give you a better picture of who I am and the sorts of things I enjoy. If you’ve got other icebreaker questions you’d like to ask, feel free to send them my way, and I’ll add them to the page here!
How long have you been writing for?
Almost as long as I can remember. I used to ask for blank notebooks for Christmas every year, and no matter what toys I played with as a kid, I was happier creating my own stories than following the actual canon. Besides, how else where you supposed to combine Gobots, Transformers and Voltron, or G.I. Joe, Star Wars and the bevy of generic soldiers every store carried?
What are your proudest writing moments?
Winning the Oklahoma PTSA Reflections contest and competing nationally in high school, publishing my first story in Wall, the literary magazine of Saddleback College, and putting out the first Path of the Just book. It’s far from perfect, but it was a lot of effort and there’s something special about people putting down their hard earned money to buy something you wrote.
Anything you’re not proud of?
There’s probably still a lot of bad fan fiction kicking around the internet. While I think it’s actually a nice way to learn writing, it’s not my best work by a long shot. Don’t look, I implore you.
How long have you been into photography?
While I can remember getting my first camera when I was really young(a Fisher Price model that took 110 film, a reference I expect only a handful of people to get), I actually didn’t get serious about photography until I got my Panasonic DV351, which had a very basic still picture function(640 x 480 baby!). When we moved from Arizona to Oklahoma, my wife’s grandfather gave us a far better point and shoot, and that really started it all. I’ve now got two DSLRs, an HD video camera and tons of gear.
Anything photography-related you’re proud of?
Being almost completely self taught outside of a few web sites and books, and having managed to win several ribbons in the Oklahoma State Fair, having sold rights to multiple photos and most recently, winning first place in the Carnivores category in the Capture The Wild contest at the Oklahoma City Zoo. This really meant a lot because the Zoo is special to me and most of my family got to attend the award ceremony. And again, any time people spend their money on prints of my work, it’s very gratifying and humbling.
Besides the writing and photography, what other hobbies and interests do you have?
I still play video games pretty frequently, and I’m partial to JRPGs, platformers and fighting games, though I’ll usually check out just about anything as long as it isn’t too boring. I love cooking(this might be something I talk about here in the future), reading about wildlife and astronomy and sometimes watching sports on television. I love amateur filmmaking, but I work overnights and it’s hard to commit to doing much of anything. I’m also prone to trying new things all the time… you never know when you might find something else that catches your attention.
Who are your sports teams?
Making no geographical or logical sense whatsoever… the Oklahoma City Thunder, Arizona Cardinal and Atlanta Braves.
Dogs or cats?
This is a tough one, as we’ve got two really great cats… but I’ve got to go dogs here, in part because their behavior is a little easier to interpret, and in part because the overt loyalty and affection is something I love. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s pretty close and winning the truth and love of a cat is a pretty big accomplishment.
Most prized possession?
Crasher and Spay-C, original Gobots figures. Crasher was my first ever transforming toy, while Spay-C belonged to my younger brother who passed away very young.
What’s your dream job?
Fringe utility player in Major League Baseball. Think about it, those guys get paid six figures to practice, take maybe 20-30 at bats a year, and the rest of the time sit on the bench and do silly things with their hats when the team is behind. Be funny enough and you might even get a radio gig out of the deal!
Serious answer? Anything creative.
Favorite place in the world?
Gonna surprise some people and say Walt Disney World actually comes in a very close second here… but only because Dana Point, California exists and is just about the most beautiful and perfect place on Earth in my book.
I will read just about anything Lawrence Block writes, though I’m more partial to the Bernie Rhodenbarr books. Mick Foley is another writer whose style I love, both in his memoirs and fiction. I loved The Martian, and can’t wait to see what Andy Weir does next. I’ll read just about anything Laura Hillenbrand writes as well. I’m also a huge fan of Michael Carroll, who might be the closest writer out of anyone I’ve listed to the kind of fiction I enjoy writing. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko here, as I think between Avatar and Legend of Korra they’ve created one of the most new worlds of recent years.
The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams is one book I can go back to time and time again and love reading. Have a Nice Day by Mick Foley, any of Michael Carroll’s Young Heroes series, Seabiscuit and Origins by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith are others I’ll reread once every few years.
Even though we work on largely different subjects, Clark Little is the standard which I can never hope to achieve.
I’ve got a few that rotate in and out of the top spot, depending on my mood at any given time, and I also like to put a moratorium on adding any movie that’s come out in the last couple of years, just because I want to see if it will stand the test of time. That said, I’ll say Iron Giant, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, The Third Man, Princess Bride, Tangled, Adventures of Robin Hood(the Errol Flynn version), Kung Fu Panda and Unbreakable are all films I’ll answer pretty readily.
Movie you’ll watch any time it’s on television?
Pirates, though Princess Bride is a close second here.
Favorite bad movie?
It depends on your definition of bad movie, because there are plenty of movies people consider bad that I find something to enjoy. That said, I go back to Masters of the Universe and Street Fighter a lot, primarily because of two performances(Frank Langella’s Skeletor and Raul Julia’s M. Bison) that deserved better films. Go watch Masters sometime and tell me that Langella wouldn’t have made an incredible Doctor Doom if they could make a Fantastic Four film that wasn’t cringe inducing.
Favorite television shows?
I’m far more into animation than live action shows. Avatar: The Last Airbender, Legend of Korra, Green Lantern the Animated Series, Generator Rex, We Bare Bears, Star Wars Rebels, Gravity Falls, Star vs. The Forces of Evil… I could probably go on for a while. I love comedy and I think Key and Peele was one of the most brilliant things I’ve seen in a long time. I’m hard pressed to think of a narrative live action series that’s must watch for me. Community until its last few seasons, the first season of Sleepy Hollow and random episodes of Frazier are the stuff that spring to mind there.
How about retro cartoons?
You could probably hit all the big ones with me: G. I. Joe, Transformers, He-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, all of the Disney Afternoon shows through Gargoyles…. but I also loved more obscure shows, like Bionic Six, Centurions, M.A.S.K. and Challenge of the Gobots. No, I’m not joking about that last one, either. I also enjoy the heck out of BAD 80s cartoons, like the second G.I. Joe series. You might eventually see me talk more about these here.
I love swordfish, which makes it ever so perfect I’m living in landlocked Oklahoma right now, and if we’re skipping to dessert making it key lime pie. Hamburger pie, made using my grandmother’s recipe, and my own pasta salad and buffalo chicken lasagna are two more that I really love.
Favorite place to eat out?
The more I think about this question, the more I realize they’re all in California or Florida. Thanks for making me sad. Seriously though, I could live on nothing but food in the Polynesian Resort and be happy for the rest of my life.
As for specific foods, the best burger I’ve ever had is tied between Meers here in Oklahoma and the Mythos Signature Burger in Universal Studios Islands of Adventure in Orlando. The best burrito is Lucha Libre in San Diego, the best swordfish is The Wave in Walt Disney World, and the best key lime anything is the Key Lime and Mango cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory.
Red panda. This answer will surprise no one remotely familiar with me. Common dolphins are right up there, though.