I grew up in Decatur, Alabama, which had three miniature golf courses and not much else.
In tenth grade, I was assigned Return of the Native in English class. A quarter of the way through Thomas Hardy's horrible, horrible masterpiece, I made my smartest decision to date: to never, ever open any book assigned in class again and spend my time reading whatever I wanted. This included plenty of X-men comics and horror novels, but I also managed to fit in some Kafka and Poe, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, a healthy sampling of the Beat poets, Maus, Harlan Ellison and Ray Bradbury, Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, and A Clockwork Orange among others.
While still in high school, I decided my life's ambition was to make as much money as possible without having to get up before noon. Thus, I set out to become a writer. I sold my first story to a small horror magazine for five dollars. The check bounced, and I was charged a twenty dollar service fee. Some might have taken that as a sign, but I remembered my motto, Carpe Afternoon, and soldiered on. Since then, I've worked as a paramedic and in a psychiatric hospital while learning to write.
I still have not finished Return of the Native.