Available formats: epub
AR Simmons was born on Chicago’s north side, but grew up in the Courtois Hills region of the eastern Missouri Ozarks. He attended a one-room school through the eighth grade (valedictorian in a class of 3). His father and mother were factory workers, and the whole family worked a subsistence farm on land cleared from the native forest by his grandfather. Although not the proverbial (or should we say, “Hollywood”) hillbillies, the old folks often slipped into the Scotch-Irish dialect while he listened to their stories.
His first step away from the insularity of rural life came when he entered high school where each class numbered perhaps 500. (He was not valedictorian.) College did not immediately follow graduation. Instead, he worked as a carpenter’s helper and a factory worker before doing a stint in the Army, including a tour of duty in the Far East.
His military experience provided an invaluable opportunity to see a world far different from his own. Perhaps even more importantly, it allowed him to become acquainted with his country. The racial, ethnic, and cultural makeup of his squad was varied. The men came from every quarter of the land. This diversity changed forever his concept of “American.”
He came away from the military with something else, the GI Bill, which he used to finance his entire college career. After declaring and rejecting majors in Business (lacked interest) and Art (passably talented, but color blind), he settled on History, in which he obtained BA and MA degrees. Passing up a doctoral program (he was 27, married, and had no job), he took a public school teaching position “until something better came along.” He discovered, to his amazement, that the calling suited him. Teaching in the hills proved to be as instructive to him as the military had been since it put him into contact with, and allowed him to get to know people from all walks of life.
A voracious reader from the childhood, he read everything from The Hardy Boys, to pulp science fiction, to the monthly abridged novels sold by Reader’s Digest. As any History major can attest, research is the heart of the curriculum and writing its blood. History is a search for the “truth” underlying events as well as the divination of motivations. Perhaps this is what drove him toward the mystery/detective/suspense genre in first his reading and then his writing.
The work required of a history major did not lead to the love of writing “at first sight.” Literature classes did, however. He began writing shortly after he started teaching (supplemental essays on the history of technology and on foreign policy). Then he began writing fiction, short stories (science fiction), and gradually progressed in a few years to the mystery/suspense novels he now writes. Some ten years ago (2003), he began serializing his novels on-line.
Today, he and his wife (life partner, collaborator, illustrator, and muse) still live on the farm his grandfather settled. His roots (four generations deep) are in the Ozarks where the Richard Carter series is set. Using the culture, language, and mores of this “Bible Belt” region, he writes culturally immersive stories of obsession set amidst the small-town and rural life that he knows.
Some of his favorite authors are Solomon, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Mark Twain, Francis Parkman, Joseph Conrad, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, Dashiell Hammett, James Lee Burke, Tony Hillerman, Faye Kellerman, Jonathan Kellerman, Isabel Allende, and Herman Wouk.
His favorite novel changes. His favorite short story is "Youth" by Conrad. His favorite poem is “If.” His favorite literary characters are Antigone and Don Quixote.
Once a hobbyist programmer, he now is an addicted Tweeter and an inconsistent webmaster. He loves chess (favors the French Defense), golf (once a scratch player), reading, writing, and imagining. Other passions include rescue dogs (Shady and Cookie), baseball (Cardinals), ethnic cuisine (Hispanic, Italian, Szechuan, and fusion), local history and geography, and stories about real people doing heroic things (rather than heroic people doing unreal things.)
Oh! He dislikes biographies. (They all end badly.)