Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Berkley, a small suburb of Detroit. I was part of a large family in a little house, so we were quite close and still are. In another sense, I grew up in 'humble' circumstances as part of the most wealthy population in human history. So while there are cultural narratives ready-made for me--the small town, the humble circumstances, the Catholic school--I have to be aware of the literally parochial character of these narratives and their effects on me. To put a twist on a Springsteen line, I have to remember I'm 'a rich man in a poor man's shirt.'
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I don't have as much time to write as I need. I work in a hotel, do some tutoring, do some freelance hack writing for peanuts, and I'm a good dad. Still, I do have time to write, and I manage to fritter away some of that.
What's the story behind your latest book?
It's what needs to be written.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
"'Oh, Dick,'" said Jane." Never recovered.
When did you first start writing?
Well, we all start writing when we're kids. Some of us ramp it up us we get older and some of us fall away. But the internet has shown us just how fundamental writing is to us. Look at the blogs and Facebook and Twitter. And who knows how many other digital venues and genres? People want to write. The diaries and recipes and short stories that were tucked away in dresser drawers are now published on the web. And before anyone retorts with a sneer, let me say that all press is vanity press.
I personally began to ramp it up under the basement stairs in our old house. I wrote Star Trek and science fiction stories. And I arranged my desk, painted the stairs, taped up pictures of the space shuttle and Guy Lafleur. I created my own space, and it was a space for reading and writing. I was creating an identity. Afterward I dropped the crayon, as we used to say, writing only for school and then writing songs with a friend and, in my twenties, letters to friends. Stories and novels never got past the second page. Now I have a clear idea of what needs to be written, and I am taking it up as work.
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