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Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, I was always intrigued with special effects in movies. At a young age, I started drawing animated characters. I would always give them names, and incorporate a storyline. I was never a very good artist, but I knew what I wanted to see in a character. So I created it. One of my good friends, however, was a very good artist – his imagination had limitations – but he could draw. I would create different characters and bring them to my friend to perfect them. We would give them names and write scenes – we pretended we were George Lucas and Steven Spielberg! It was my passion and still is.
During those same years, I saw the movie Star Wars and it changed my life forever. After watching that movie, seeing all the different characters and how George Lucas thought so far outside of the box, I knew then that my wild imagination wasn’t so unusual. I fell hopelessly in love with that film. It was love at first sight! George Lucas and Steven Spielberg became my inspirations, and inspired me to think and do things beyond the norm. Years passed me by as I tried to figure out what kind of story I wanted to create. I knew I wanted something totally unique. I wanted to tell a story that no one had ever heard. I wanted to be an innovator.
One day at work, I saw a huge cockroach. It was so enormous that I was actually scared to squash it. Now, I’m a 6’2” – 230 pound man. For me to be scared to kill this cockroach? It had to be really terrifying! I eventually got up enough courage to walk up to it, planning to squash it…but something amazing happened. This ancient creature stopped – with its antenna moving slowly – as if it knew I was about to end it. It looked up at me – seemingly directly in my eyes – and said, “Why would you squash me? I have every right to live and to breathe this air as you have. You don’t see my species harming yours. We have been here millions of years! You’ve NEVER heard of us doing anything to harm your kind. So why would you do a terrible thing like this, huh? Why?”
I couldn’t move. I stopped and just stood there in total disbelief. After a few seconds, it slowly walked away – back into a crack in the wall. Yes. I know it sounds crazy! And no, I didn’t actually hear an insect open its mouth and speak. That would not only sound crazy… That would BE crazy! But that IS how I came up with the idea for La Cucaracha. By thinking outside the box. And by seeing the world through a cockroach’s eyes, I told a story that has NEVER been told. I made my dream of becoming not only an author but an innovator, come true.