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M. J. Carlson is a fiction author and activist. His futuristic suspense stories have received an honorable mentions in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016 Writers of the Future science fiction contest and been finalists in the 2010 RPLA short story and novel categories. He’s authored articles in The Florida Writer and short stories for The Prometheus Saga, In Shadows Written, and Dragon Writers. He currently has five novels, Engines of Destruction, Disinhibition, The Missing Trick List, Indigo Man, and Changed as well as two non-fiction titles; Hurting Your Characters - a writer’s guide to describing injuries and pain from the character’s point of view, and The Unofficial Scrivener Workbook.
Okay, enough of the Wikipedia answer.
Who am I?
The Real Me
Like the caterpillar’s question to Alice, I’ve always found “Who are you?” to be the most difficult one to answer. More so because it has always struck me as less about personal trivia than the more esoteric aspects of personality, like “what are your beliefs,” and “what is your philosophy,” or “what color are the glasses through which you peer at life?”—not to be confused with the question I’m more commonly asked—“what color is the sky on your planet?”
I’ve always believed that the inner person is reflected in his or her description of their world. Not all, perhaps, but more than a curriculum vitae will ever tell me.
My home is Florida. It’s who I am. But my Florida isn’t tied tightly together by six-lane ribbons of asphalt, or strutting, pastel, multi-million-dollar beach sandcastles. It’s a Florida of scrub palms and sand spurs; of cool December beach breezes, forty-minute four o’clock August thunderstorms, and sultry, honeysuckle-scented summer nights. And when I say Florida, I mean all of it. I’ve lived in every corner of my prickly paradise, from the rusty buckle of the bible belt in the northeast corner to a stone’s throw from Ft. Lauderdale’s Slip F-18; from Gainesville’s pines dripping with Spanish moss to walking distance from where the road ended for Jack Kerouac. I’ve watched the sun rise over the Atlantic and drop into the Gulf on the same day; walked the heat-shimmered backroads, raced motorcycles across the Everglades, and awoke, bleary-eyed and cotton-mouthed, on Key West’s Duval Street more than once.
Along the way I’ve met good people and said good-by to some bad ones; made a few friends and, I hope, not hurt anyone too badly. Over the decades, Florida’s changed under my vagabond shoes, but my restless quest for the perfection of the next butterfly wing continues. Somehow, I found a statuesque, gray-eyed, blond, native beauty who manages to read my first-drafts and still believe in me as we search together for those ever-elusive slow-gin sunsets. When I get old enough, I want smile lines deep enough to hold all my memories, and when I’ve run far enough and I’m done skinning my knees, I want my ashes to feed the mangroves and orchids.