Available formats: epub, mobi, pdf, rtf, lrf, pdb, txt
I received a degree in journalism from the University of Florida in 1982 and wrote features for several Florida daily newspapers before becoming senior editor of Men's Health magazine in 1989. My debut novel, Ember From the Sun (Delacorte 1997) was published in ten languages; my second novel, Down to Heaven, was published in four and was a huge hit in Holland.
I have taught "Multicultural Film Studies" and "The Craft of Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy," and now teach "Intro to World Religions"--all at Florida State University.
LONGER, MORE LYRICAL STORY OF MY LIFE:
Born in the summer of '52, in Owensboro, Kentucky. Raised with two older brothers and a sister in the farm town of Maceo (pop. 400) in rolling farm country along the Ohio River. Belonged to the only Jewish family in the entire world. My father was an orthopedic surgeon who had graduated from a Jesuit college in Baltimore; my best friend's father was a hog farmer who had learned all he could stand by the eighth grade.
I remember air thickened by the smell of horse manure flung from fertilizer wagons onto tobacco fields; sweet fumes of corn mash wafting from the giant Kentucky Bourbon whiskey distillery; fragrant tobacco leaves curing in tall barns, the tobacco dust so rich you could chew it; flood season and the stink of muddy river water mucking up each breath; hot summer days, when it's better to be outside than inside an outhouse.
Fresh from the boondocks, we arrived in 1964 on the unspoiled east coast of Florida near Cape Canaveral, when palms and wind-twisted pines still lined the endless beaches. Became a cool surfer dude all through junior high and high school; read Burroughs, Heinlein, Asimov, Sturgeon and Clarke, and felt it through my soul and through my soles when Saturn V rockets blasted off the cape with their Gemini crews.
Then skin cancer ate my step-father down to his bones and both my brothers got drafted. I went to live with my father (whom I hadn't seen for six years) in a Jewish suburb of Rochester, New York. It was the Summer of Love, but I could not have felt more landlocked or lonely. My senior year in high school--I'd never seen lox on a bagel, or a high school with a symphony orchestra; my classmates had never seen a green leaf of tobacco or a surfboard.
Awarded New York Merit Scholarship. Became conscientious objector. Dean's list at Boston U. Dropped out to pursue dharma-bum adventures. Hitchhiked and jumped trains across the Western States and Canada. Went through jobs from dishwasher to surgical orderly. Lived in two yoga ashrams and taught hatha yoga and meditation. Drummed and sang in a rock/jazz group and in an Afro-Cuban drum and dance ensemble. Drove a bloodmobile on a loop throughout upstate New York. Earned an undergraduate degree in counseling and became a professional listener at a home for runaway girls in Charlottesville, Virginia and a residential high school for emotionally disturbed teenagers in Citra, Florida. Joined an urban commune in Haight-Ashbury. Became a counselor at a Quaker wilderness camp for boys in Vermont. Paid my way through the University of Florida School of Journalism by working as a stagehand for rock bands, theatrical shows and the circus. Became a licensed massage therapist and practiced and taught massage for two years. Gave pre-med a try.
Then I became a feature writer at the Bradenton Herald: stripped with male strippers, dove with dolphins, jumped with skydivers, raced a stock car (blew the engine), and told the many-layered stories of the fishermen and gator-hunters and the granddaughters of slaves--the people of Manatee County, Florida.
At last, I'd found myself. Writing made me happy.
Married a nurse-midwife, Margaret, who grew up in Chile, Thailand and India. Got even happier. Fathered two sons--Orion (now 18) and Blake (now 16)--the orchards of my eye. Became senior editor at Men's Health magazine: wrote about prostates and baldness treatments, why men are fascinated by violence and how to drive a woman wild in bed. Cut back to contributing editor at Men's Health, while working on my first novel, Ember from the Sun. Sold it four weeks after typing the last word. It was eventually published in 10 languages. Wrote a second novel, Down to Heaven, published in six languages.
Back to college: Master's degree with "Highest Distinction" from Florida State University's Program in the Multicultural Humanities.
I now teach as an adjunct instructor in the religion department at FSU.