Michael Stoneburner lives in Sydney, Australia where he was a primary teacher for almost 10 years before focusing all of his time on his writing. He has donated his time to the local writing groups where he helped organise publications, radio shows and public readings. He loves cats and feisty grandmothers. He lives with his biggest fan and partner, Joel, who has given him all his hopes and dreams.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Growing up in America I got to see two sides of the country. Born in Phoenix, Arizona I experienced the dry heat and the desert regions, but around 5, we moved to Michigan to get a fresh start where I experienced snow, snow, sleet, ice, cold, and more snow during those wintery months and the deep green of the grass and trees during spring and summer.
Most of my life was spent in smaller towns in Michigan so everyone seemed to know everyone and the secrets were kept close to the family. If not, the whole town would end up knowing about it. I learnt at a young age not to 'air out the dirty laundry' and so many things were internalised.
Also being in a small town meant living outside of town as well. In Coleman, Michigan, the A-Frame we lived in was miles and miles from the Main Street of town. We had more trees than neighbours, so going outside and playing was pretty much me and my siblings. (Also my cat, Whiskey.) We had great adventures and it really contributed to my imagination and helped develop my skills in writing! When we moved again, we were in a little community against a lake just outside of town and so that provided an even different environment to adjust to, but again, it was a small town and our family at this time were very private. So there were many years of sitting beneath my favourite tree writing poetry and stories.
When did you first start writing?
I love telling this story. I was in my early years of primary/elementary school. I had a lovely teacher who took me under her wings and nurtured me. My writing came about because I would tell these exaggerated stories at Show and Tell. It would drive the kids crazy because I would act out that they were real. The teacher took me aside and told me that I had a great imagination and a great skill for telling stories. She'd spend time tutoring me in writing sentences and working on my spelling. She never focused on my handwriting or the way I held my pencil, so I didn't feel any pressure to get it right. She accepted me the way that I was. Of course, she'd write down a lot of my ideas as well. She tutored me in reading and even a bit of drama I think to help act out my stories as I wrote them. Soon, my Show and Tells were just me reading out my stories. I'd totally add more in as I read it and the teacher noticed and loved it. I've been writing ever since.
Michael thought he was a normal 5 year old boy who seemed to have the idyllic life his father always wanted for him. After witnessing a violent push, Michael's world drastically changed while his father slipped further into the shadows. With only his faithful cat and a feisty grandma, Michael faced a world that gave him reasons not to be a boy who smiled.